What's New On the Internet
I am not sure what I was thinking back in September of 2008 when I agreed to do this lecture in October 2009. I guess that it was a combination of the old adage about giving the customer what they wanted and the fact that I was writing the NetFamilyHistory column for the Everton's Genealogical Helper.
I thought that I would be looking at the newer and better U.S. sites during 2009. Unfortunately, as you are probably aware, those articles were never created since Everton ceased operations. What was I going to do?
An ancient Chinese proverb came to mind to help me solve the problem.
Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day.
Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
In addition to telling about some of the new websites and databases I figured that it would be good to also show them how they can find out what is new on the internet for themselves in the future.
The following article/handout includes the links to the websites discussed during the lecture along with some of my comments.
What's New on the Internet?
By Jeffrey A. Bockman
New sites are good but we might as well start with some of the better ones.
Family Tree Magazine 101 Best websites
They listed the 10 best in 10 categories. We reviewed the list of Vital Records, and Cutting Edge websites. Some of their best websites were new ones, and others have become standards with added content.
I like to know what's going on in the genealogy world as well and I check a few of my favorite blogs every day or two. A quick search of Google and found millions of entries for "genealogy blogs". One entry in particular that caught my eye was:
ProGenealogists - 25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs of 2009
www.progenealogists.com/top25blogs2009.htm their list included:
Dick helps to keep people informed on both technical and genealogical issues. Leland's site includes a little more personal information. They both carry announcements about new records at FamilySearch and some of the other Megasites. Check the blogs for the new entries but also search by categories of interest occasionally to see what has been recently posted. I have seen some very good articles at Kimberly's blog but I have not visited it that often. Bloggers have tools to search the web for new announcements plus they have friends and "informed informants" that send them items to post.
The ProGenealogists' website www.ProGenealogists.com was very helpful when I was looking for the best foreign websites. They had descriptions of the various records and links to many helpful websites.
These large sites are constantly posting new data. Some of them have blogs or email services to keep you informed of new items.
FamilySearch.com - www.FamilySearch.com
Record Search: http://pilot.familysearch.org/
The free indexed or browseable vital records include Cook County IL Marriage Records that have images that are superior to those that I had obtained from the County Clerk years ago.
Footnote.com $ - www.Footnote.com
Ancestry.com $ - www.Ancestry.com
Databases Posted or Updated Recently: http://www.ancestry.com/search/rectype/recent.aspx
WorldVitalRecords.com $ - www.WorldVitalRecords.com
Recently Added Databases: http://www.worldvitalrecords.com/RecentContentListing.aspx
It was noted that now only some of the newly posted records have free trial periods.
Online newspapers are a great resource to find out both what your ancestors did and to learn about the world or location in which they lived. The indexes created by optical character recognition at many of the sites vary both quality and in what is indexed. Some include every word while others are only indexed by the category of the article and not every word in the article.
GenealogyBank $ - www.genealogybank.com
New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/
Search Since 1851: http://query.nytimes.com/search/sitesearch?query=&more=date_all
Colorado Historical Newspapers: http://www.coloradohistoricnewspapers.org/
Papers can be searched or browsed.
Proquest Archiver: http://www.pqarchiver.com/home.html?type=newspaper
While offered as a subscription service to libraries, users can search and see small previews or purchase an article.
Need to Focus!
You could spend the rest of your life trying to find out what is new on the Internet. If you want to actually do some research or live a life you will need to focus your attention on those areas that will actually help you.
Location & Time Period
: If you do not have a very good memory or a very short research todo list you will need to know the time periods for each location where you ancestors lived and for your research. Knowing that every birth, marriage, and death for an area is now online is nice, except that it will probably start with the day after your family moved away from the area.
Research or Verification?
Are you looking for records to verify a known event vs. trying to find new family members? Remember to keep an eye out for the new digital images of vital records where the copy that was obtained years ago was typed or handwritten. An image of a signature can be priceless.
Names & Dates or More?
The names and dates are necessary but learning about what the people did, the industry in which they worked, what was going on where they lived all let you learn more about the person. When you are stuck at a brick wall this information may actually give you the clues as to what they might have done or where they might have gone.
While looking at the lists of "What's New" keep thinking about:
What Do I Need?
Finding other Researchers to obtain:
Copies of Home Sources
Entire Family Trees, especially helpful for your inlaws' family.
The Other Stuff
Where They Lived
Land or House
Maps: Historic & Current
Pictures of the Area
History of the Area
People or Industry
Google has a number of features to help refine or narrow down a search or to change how the results are viewed. Four features were reviewed:
Doing the same search over and over can sometimes find something new but Google has a feature to find only the newer results.
After the initial search, click on SHOW OPTIONS
Then Choose the desired option under ANY TIME
Recent results, Past hour, Past 24 hours, Past Week, Past Year, or Specific date range
More and more books and other publications are being digitized and put online.
A large collection of "Vital Records of name a town, Massachusetts, to the year 1850" are available with full view. These books can be searched or browsed and the pages downloaded. The Advanced Search features let you select by keywords along with publication date range, or author, or subject.
Translating webpages or blocks of text can be easily done to and from a variety of languages. When translating the text from online books the hyphenated words do not always get translated and if the OCR process did not correctly identify the characters then the word cannot be correctly translated. While often rather rough it does give a fairly good idea of the meaning.
This is an interesting feature that I first heard about last year from Beau Sharborough. At that time it was available under Google Labs. Dick Eastman recently Blogged about the feature and said that it would appear in the search results if you searched for "Anyname Family History." An easy way to access this feature that shows the results by the time period of the record and not by when it was posted is to
Then click SHOW OPTIONS
Change the View to Timelines
The option was not available on 10/28 but a comment posted at http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Web+Search/thread?tid=6dd4e2df6b584bcb&hl=en
says that it will be back soon after a problem is fixed.
Not all books are available online. Being able to search for and find a book or publication that helps your research is great but then being able to find the nearest library that has it is even better.
This worldwide library catalog lets you search by author or subject to see what books match your needs. After entering your zip code it will let you know the closest libraries where the book is available. Once you find a book of interest you can then search Google Books or other sites to see if it is available online. It does not show every book at every library. It shows 73 of the 105 libraries for my book. The worldcat entry for my book can be found at http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/145899855&tab=holdings.
For the last half of 2008 the NetFamilyHistory articles for the Everton's Genealogical Helper looked at the real records that were online for a number of foreign countries. These covered not only what the Megasites were posting but official and other sites as well.
The Best French & Italian Sites on the Net - "Coming in the Spring 2009 issue"
The Best Scandinavian Sites on the Net - January/February 2009, page 87
The Best German & Dutch Sites on the Net - November/December 2008, page 97
The Best British Commonwealth Sites on the Net - September/October 2008, page 75
More U.S. Digital Document Sites on the Internet - July/August 2008, page 87
During the lecture I briefly reviewed several of the websites covered in the articles.
Since the French article was never published I hope to get it reformatted and posted on Genealogy According To Jeff shortly. The regional archives are posting civil and parish records, population lists, historical maps, historical post cards, and a variety of other records. A good place to start until the article is posted is at the
Archives de France online
The Norwegian Archives has posted free parish records, census records (folketeljing 1875), along with Digitized Real Estate Registers that are linked to photographs of the farm houses.
Library and Archives Canada
The Canadian Genealogy Centre provides useful information about their records and has a large collection of online images.
Genealogy According to Jeff
Earlier this year I created this website to post some of the articles that had been published in Heritage Quest Magazine and the Everton's Genealogical Helper.
While searching for books about Nicaragua and the banana business that were published in the 1880 to 1910 time frame I came across an entry about Eduard Neuhaus, the brother or cousin of my great-grandmother Alva Neuhaus Bockman.
It said that Eduard's brother Johannes Neuhaus had written a book titled Nybyggerliv blandt Meskitoindianere (Pioneer/Settlers Life with the Meskito Indians), under the pseudoname of B. Werner. It was a first person account of his life near Rama in what now is Eastern Nicaragua telling about the banana business and dealing with the indians.
Using Worldcat I found three different entries for the book and looked for convenient libraries. The closest that would allow access was at the University of Michigan. I also discovered that they had a digitization project going on. With a little work I found that the book was online between two other publications.
Page 4. Showing a photograph of Edward's home
This site lets you view and download a jpg image of the page, a text version of the page, as well as a pdf version. Unfortunately the book had been written in Danish so I had to copy the text from each page and paste it into Google language and then translate it into English and then copy and save it into a document. After repeating the process 330 times I had a somewhat readable version of the book in English.
What's New on the Internet?
Google has probably found about 20,000 new pages in the past hour!