Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Utah Burials Database

If there's one thing Utah does well, it's genealogy. The Utah Burials Database is just one thoroughly splendid example. It now boasts more than 600,000 entries from 365 cemeteries—about two-thirds of the 550 known cemeteries in the state. If I have any criticism, it's that dates of birth seem to have been calculated in many cases from ages carved on stones (the submission format doesn't have "Age at Death" fields). But this is a small oversight, and one that can be easily overcome by driving 20 or 30 hours to Utah and consulting the original sources.

New Jersey State Archives Searchable Databases

New Jersey is building an impressive collection of searchable databases on its website. The Index to Marriage Records, 1666-1799 has "Secretary of State's Marriage Bonds and Licenses, 1711-1795, as well as marriages recorded in colonial deed books and other collections," while the Index to Marriage Records, 1848-1867 covers state marriage returns for the period. The Index to Supreme Court Cases, 1704-1844 has about 65,000 entries, indexed by plaintiff and defendant. Though each search page links to a schedule of fees, online ordering isn't available. This means that you'll have to leave your computer desk long enough to mail the check.

Thursday, May 25, 2006


SiteFinder from The Gold Bug takes place names from the USGS and elsewhere and plots them on Google Maps in one easy step. You can search for towns (cities, townships, etc.), cemeteries, courthouses, schools, churches, and military sites using the online version, though other types of locations may show up in your results as well. Buy AniMap Plus from the same company and you'll be able to track changes in county boundaries over the years.

Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War Grave Registration Database

If the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War have their way, the Grave Registration Database will someday include every known resting place of a Union veteran. There are now about 380,000 Union soldiers represented in the database—an impressive number, though less than a tenth of the 4.2 to 4.8 million who served. Despite the title, almost 4,000 Confederate veterans are listed here as well. Submission of new records is encouraged.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Genealogy.com Weekly Columns

Among the losses that followed MyFamily.com's 2003 acquisition of Genealogy.com were the weekly articles by Rhonda R. McClure. Her three columns—Ask the Expert, Twigs & Trees, and Overheard on the Message Boards—are still archived at Genealogy.com, and still provide hours of good reading. I especially like the "Overheard" articles, in which she stepped in to tackle queries posted to GenForum. I, for one, was sorry to see these columns go, but am glad to see they remain online.

Sunday, May 14, 2006

Canadian Census of 1851

I was pleased to learn today that the Canadian Census of 1851 has been placed online by Library and Archives Canada. The returns are not searchable by name, but are arranged by province, district, and sub-district (ward, town, village, or parish). Browse for sub-districts here, or do a geographic search here. (Use the Atlas of Canada to locate unfamiliar places.) Each census image is delivered as a PDF file, and those I viewed today were very legible. The lack of a nominal index requires some extra work on the genealogist's part, but this makes positive results all the more rewarding.

[hat tip: EOGN]

Friday, May 12, 2006

Historical Census Browser

The Historical Census Browser might help you put your ancestor's census data into perspective. Let's say you need the literacy rate in 1870 among white men over 21 living in Indiana. This site will tell you the number of reported illiterates in each Indiana county, and then will give you a map that offers immediate insight into their distribution. You can examine and map data in other categories as well, like employment, place of birth, and slave population. Looking at wage and employment data may explain why your ancestors left the farm to risk losing fingers in a factory.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations: Spanish-American War, 1898

Carded Records, Volunteer Organizations: Spanish-American War, 1898 from the National Archives features compiled military service records for 1,235 Rough Riders—including Teddy Roosevelt himself. The notoriously user-unfriendly NARA website requires that you jump through a few hoops to access the records. Follow the instructions here for using the ARC Search engine to view digitized images of the records.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Library Ireland

Library Ireland lets you sneak in the backdoor of the BooksUlster.com online bookstore and make off with an armload of useful Irish titles. The collection of free books and articles includes A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland, A Compendium of Irish Biography, town and county directories, religious histories, famine reports, and monographs on dozens of diverse subjects. By my count, well over 600 items are listed in the Subject Index—enough to keep your Irish eyes smiling for weeks to come.

Friday, May 05, 2006

German Genealogy Group

The German Genealogy Group's website is the perfect complement to that of the Italian Genealogical Group. In fact, the two groups have worked together on several important New York databases, like New York City Death Records, 1891-1948, and New York City Marriage Records. The German Group's website has extra features, like a contact list for German surname researchers, and baptism, marriage, communion, and burial records from five New York churches with German membership. As these records are part of the "invisible web" unindexed by search engines like Google, they are an easily overlooked and underappreciated resource.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Unsolved Ancestry

Placing a bounty on genealogical information is nothing new, but Unsolved Ancestry has managed to automate the process with a stylish and easy-to-use website. Users post their queries and offer rewards for answers—anywhere from $1 to $200 or more. Anyone seeking the same answer can add to a reward. The company takes a 3% commission on answered questions, and charges $10 per year if the post remains online longer than three months. For those who can spare the scratch, this could be a great way to break down the thickest brick walls.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Pennsylvania Warrant Registers, 1733-1957

Buried on the website of the Pennsylvania State Archives are scanned images of Pennsylvania Warrant Registers, 1733-1957. These are indexes to "the original land warrants, surveys and patents for about 70% of the land in the Commonwealth." Entries within each county are arranged (sort of) alphabetically by warrantee's surname, and then (kind of) chronologically by date of warrant. Patentee's names are included in the records, but are not indexed here.