GENEALOGY AND HISTORY SITES THAT ARE FREE TO ACCESS AND FREE TO USE

Hard to find but free places where you can research genealogy on line, without having to pay. Your comments and feedback are welcome to any post.

About me: Jerry E. Reed
First and foremost, I am a seasoned voice talent and media/public relations specialist with many other interests. I have been helping businesses with their narrations, presentations, commercials, and more all of my adult life.
For more information about Jerry Reed - Voice Talent visit:
http://jerryreed.com

I am also a genealogist, a
n avid photographer, and artisan bread baker.
My genealogy interest began before personal computers were a family "must have." Personal genealogy computer research has blossomed in the past 15 years. It wasn't long before someone decided that they could charge for information that should be free and in the public domain. I have always been frustrated by that. Now, thousands and thousands of pages of useful facts are coming on line daily in free-to-access digital archives located all over the world. So, I'm constantly searching for new sources of free on line material. Blog updates follow this section and all links are added to the master list below the new posts.
Updates are posted when
I discover another new source or when something I have already reviewed gets a major update.
Have fun and enjoy.
Note: if you find a link no longer works, please let me know so I can research and update it.



Saturday, November 29, 2008

Utah Digital Archives

Often when we think of Utah and genealogy we first think of the Mormon records in Salt Lake City. However, the state of Utah has a series of digital collections from the Division of Archives and Records Service. Three digital collection in particular caught my eye: Prisoners' pardon application case files, 1892-1949; Sanpete County Clerk Death Register, 1898-1904 and Death certificates, 1904-1956. Once you search and find the person you can view the actual document on line. There are other records available here also such as the Utah Governor records; Brand Books from 1849-1930 and Fifth District Court Cases - Beaver County, 1986 - 1998 . Here's the link for another gem of free to search and free to access on line genealogy information.

archives.utah.gov/digital/index.html

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Mayflower Families (Through the Looking Glass)

This site has quite a few original documents that have been scanned and are available primarily in the document center area. Other areas of the site include text transcripts.

www.mayflowerfamilies.com/documentcenter/

The Document Center houses many New England And Miscellaneous Early American Documents. You'll find document scans of wills, deeds, land transfers, warrants and others. They consist primarily of documents found at auction and according to the web site "are included here in the hopes that the genealogical content will be of value to users." So, what you'll find is quite at random and often quite rare. But it's worth a visit.
Here's the link to the main site.

http://www.mayflowerfamilies.com/

Monday, November 24, 2008

African-American Newspapers and Periodicals

This on line archive comes from the Wisconsin Historical Society. The African-American Newspapers and Periodicals site contains digital copies of many newspapers and magazines by and about African-Americans. The oldest recorded publication, Freedom's Journal, dates back to 1827. Also in the collection, available on line, are hundreds of other newspapers published in the United States, Canada, and the Caribbean.
The link is here:

wisconsinhistory.org/libraryarchives/aanp/aanpbib.asp

Saturday, November 22, 2008

Territorial Kansas Online

This site focuses on the turbulent times of Kansas. Here you will find hundreds of personal letters, diaries, photos, and maps that concentrate on that period in the area's history known as "Bleeding Kansas." This site offers scans of original documents from the time people from the east began to arrive and settle there and focuses on that period prior to the Civil War when there was a fierce debate over slavery. This is another of those hidden "free" gems found on the Internet.

www.territorialkansasonline.org/cgiwrap/imlskto/index.php

Friday, November 21, 2008

Illinois State Archives

The Illinois State Archives has many databases online for searching. Among them are a marriage index from 1763-1900 and two death indexes: Pre-1916 and 1915-1950. There are also several Illinois veterans databases and repositories from about seven universities located in the state and more. Check it out at:

www.sos.state.il.us/departments/archives/databases.html

Digital Quaker Collection

This collection from the Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana is a digital library containing full text and page images of over 500 individual Quaker works from the 17th and 18th centuries. You can search and browse the collection of over 500 volumes considered to be in the public domain. According to the web site, "The geographic range takes in England, Ireland, and America. One can find in this collection journals, histories, doctrinal works, letters, sermons, pamphlets, and proceedings. The Digital Quaker Collection represents a portion of the holdings of the Friends Collection of Lilly Library of Earlham."

esr.earlham.edu/dqc/index.html

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Germany - Bremen Passenger Lists 1920 - 1939

If your roots are in Germany, like some of mine, you may find this one helpful, especially if the time of emigration is between 1920 and 1939. Unfortunately, my German ancestors came to the U.S. about sixty years earlier. This project was completed with the help of the Bremen Chamber of Commerce. You may hit the jackpot if the time period is right, but you should know that only 2851 out of 4420 listings for that time period are still existing and have been transcribed completely. Passengers in total: 637,880

www.schiffslisten.de/index.php?lang=en

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Danish Emigration Database

If you have Danish roots, this site could be a helpful place to start.

According to the web site information, there were a number of scandals prior to 1868 in which unsuspecting emigrants were conned by Danish emigration agents. So the Danish parliament passed regulations that year requiring the Copenhagen Chief of Police to approve and monitor all emigration agents in Denmark. Subsequently, he was also required to authorize all overseas tickets made out in Denmark. The information from each ticket was copied down in ledgers, and thus became the Copenhagen Police Records of Emigrants. A total of 90 thick volumes were compiled but are difficult to use.
In 1990 the Danish Emigration Archives began compiling a database including all the information provided in the police records for all Danish emigrants. Currently the database contains records for 394,000 persons who emigrated from May 24, 1868, to December 1908.
Source: The Provincial Archives of Sealand, Copenhagen Police Records of Emigrants 1868-1940: no. 21-58 Direct emigrants; 198-248 Indirect emigrants; 59-196 Ships sailings with passenger lists.
Be sure to read the FAQ on the site for more insight into the database and how to do an effective search.
This link:
www.emiarch.dk/home.php3?l=en

Monday, November 17, 2008

Maryland State Archives

Within the web site of the Maryland State Archives is a sub section of online records called "Archives of Maryland Online." This one has some really good material going back to the early history of Maryland. Four collections here caught my eye: Early State Records, Military, Probate and Provincial Land Records. If you have ancestors that lived in Maryland, you'll want to pay this site a visit. Some of the records here go back to 1634. Under the Early State Records link you'll find some newspapers dating back to 1802.

www.msa.md.gov

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Civil War Soldiers and Sailor System

The National Park Service in the U.S. has this free service compiled from service records and other resources. It's a a computerized database containing very basic facts about servicemen who served on both sides during the Civil War. This project began with the Names Index Project, a project to enter names and other basic information from 6.3 million soldier records in the National Archives. This site also includes information from regimental histories (Union and Confederate)and links to descriptions of 384 significant battles of the war. In time the system is expected to expand to include information about soldiers, sailors, regiments, and battles, as well as prisoner-of-war records and cemetery records.

http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss/

Mississippi Digital Library

I am amazed at the number of cooperative projects underway around the country between major universities and state archives providing free access to images of original documents on line. The latest one I discovered is a cooperative project between the University of Southern Mississippi, Delta State University, the University of Mississippi, Tougaloo College, Jackson State University, and the Mississippi Department of Archives and History. This one, called the Mississippi Digital Library, includes cemetery tombstone listings with obituaries, marriage listings, oral histories with leading citizens, college yearbooks and other documents. The site also features original images of many letters, including some from John Quincy Adams. One particular item I found quite interesting was the Jefferson Davis Soldier's Home dining hall record. This document includes daily entries listing the food served at each meal during the day and usually includes a brief note of daily activities such as reunions, deaths, visits, and other events. Mississippi Division, Sons of Confederate Veterans started The Jefferson Davis Soldier's Home for Confederate Civil War Veterans and their wives in 1902 on Jefferson Davis' estate, Beauvoir, on the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Here's the link:

http://www.msdiglib.net/

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Ohio's Heritage Northeast

This site is a nice starting point for research in Northeastern Ohio and is actually a portal to many different collections and repositories of Ohio material. The web site describes it as "Digital treasures from Northeast Ohio's libraries and archives."
Ohio's Heritage Northeast includes images of original documents which are fully viewable. The collection is quite vast. I found images of actual bible records, photographs, civil war collections including some diaries. You might have to be a little creative with your search terms and key words. Check it out at:

http://ohiosheritagenortheast.org/

Friday, November 14, 2008

Kansas Memory

This project of the Kansas Historical Society also has documents from the Kansas State Archives. There are quite a few levels and menus. But, after you poke around a bit, I think you'll find there is a great deal of information here for people researching their ancestors and the history of this plains state.

There's information and amazing photos of significant periods in Kansas history including the "Dust Bowl days" of the great depression. You can search or browse by subject and you can even brows by time period such as the Civil War period of 1861-1865 and the Cattle Drive period from 1867 to 1885 and much more.

I think you'll finding the clock will tick away the hours once you land on this site.

www.kansasmemory.org/

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Kentuckiana Digital Library

The Kentuckiana Digital Library is another great find of free to access and free to use information from state archives. This one includes rare and unique digitized collections housed in Kentucky archives. By now you know I get excited about old newspaper being available on line. This collection offers about 36 different newspapers fully viewable on line. Plus, there are old photos from the Lexington Herald Leader, antiquarian books, oral histories, old manuscripts and more.
Follow this link to get there:

kdl.kyvl.org/

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

Veterans / Military Records at NARA

More and more records from the National Archives are showing up as searchable databases on line. You'll find a treasure trove of great information at the National Archives sub site called: Access to Archival Databases (AAD)
Since this is Veteran's Day in the U.S., I should point out that there are quite a few military databases available including: World War II Army Enlistment Records; Records on Korean War Dead and Wounded Army Casualties; Records of World War II Prisoners of War; and Records with Unit Information on Military Personnel Who Died During the Vietnam War. There's more here beside military records, including passenger lists.
Another great free resource, although technically U.S. citizens paid for this through their generous tax dollars.
Here's the link:

aad.archives.gov/aad/

Monday, November 10, 2008

The Adams Family Papers

No... it's not about Morticia, Gomez, Lurch and uncle Fester. It's about our second president and his wife Abigail. The Massachusetts Historical Society makes this one available and according to the web site, values it as one of its "most important collections." It contains digital images of the letters exchanged between John and Abigail Adams, John Adams' diary, and John Adams' autobiography. They are all presented alongside transcriptions for easy reading.
While you may not have a direct connection to this family, I think you'll find them interesting reading.
The direct link:
www.masshist.org/digitaladams/aea/

Sunday, November 9, 2008

Washington State Digital Archives

This is a very robust collection located in the state of Washington and is unique because it combines not only records from the various state agencies, but also from the counties and towns.
You can view the results using the special DjVu Browser Plug-in from LizardTech to view the images, but they provide a link to easily download the special reader to your computer. I had difficulty getting the link to work. But, if that doesn't work you can view the results as a jpg image. There's also information in the site about ordering paper copies and the costs. However, the on-line data is free to access and free to use.
The link:
http://www.digitalarchives.wa.gov/

Friday, November 7, 2008

Georgia's Virtual Vault

This collection is subtitled "Digital Treasures from the Georgia Archives" and is just that, a treasure of great information that is free to access and free to use. Several particular sub collections really caught my eye here: Colonial Will Books 1754-1779;
Colonial Wills 1733-1778; Georgia Death Certificates 1917-1927 & Confederate Pension Applications 1879-1960. There are many more, but I think you'll find these quite useful.

Check it out:
content.sos.state.ga.us/

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Prairie Settlement - Nebraska Photographs and Family Letters

The collection from the Nebraska Historial Society is actually two collections in one; Solomon D. Butcher photographs and the letters of the Uriah W. Oblinger family.
The photographs were taken from about 3,000 glass plate negatives crafted by Butcher. They actually captured as images the process of settlement in Nebraska between 1886 and 1912. Butcher photographed mainly in the central part of Nebraska in the counties of Custer, Buffalo, Dawson and Cherry. The Oblinger family letters cover such things as land, work, neighbors, crops, religious meetings, problems with grasshoppers, financial problems, and the Easter Blizzard of 1873. Uriah Oblinger came from Indiana to Fillmore County, Nebraska in 1873. Even if you have no family connection, you'll find these fascinating reading.
Here's the direct link to the collections.

memory.loc.gov/ammem/award98/nbhihtml/pshome.html

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Florida Digital Newspaper Library

This collection is housed at the University of Florida - George A. Smathers Libraries.
Currently there are about 50 historic newspapers from the Sunshine State on line. Some of the newspapers date back to the mid 1800s and some are more recent. The searching is quite easy and the viewer provided is quite nice. While there is currently no apparent way to cut and past a portion of the image, like you can do with Adobe Reader, you can save the entire page with a right click of your mouse (on a PC) and do the cropping with your own image editing software such as Paint Shop Pro, Photo Shop or Gimp. Images are in the jpeg format.
This one is also free to access and free to use. I did note that at times the system slows down, probably from student usage at the university.
Here's the link:

www.uflib.ufl.edu/UFDC/?c=fdnl1&m=hsb

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Utah - Death certificates, 1904-1956

Often when we hear the state of Utah mentioned we first think of the massive holdings of the LDS Church's Family History Centers. The Utah Division of Archives and Records Service has a nice database on line from their collection of Vital Records and Statistics. You can search death certificates for the years 1904-1956.
Check it out. It's free.

archives.utah.gov/digital/81448.htm

Monday, November 3, 2008

University of Wisconsin -Kenoska County History

This collection spans the years between 1830s-1940s and contains materials covering the history of Kenosha County, Wisconsin. This county is located in the southeastern most part of Wisconsin right along the border with Illinois. In about 1835 settlers started arriving from New York and New England. Until the 1880s the area was mostly a farming community and after the 1890s experienced industrial growth through the 1930s. The collections sub headings include: People; Homes and Buildings; Business and Industry; Churches; Recreation and Special Events; Transportation; Local Government; Cityscapes; & Books.
Under books you find such popular references as "J.H. Beers and Co. Commemorative biographical record of prominent and representative men of Racine and Kenosha counties, Wisconsin, containing biographical sketches of business and professional men and of many of the early settled families (1906)" I always warn people to be careful with books like this as they are often examples of what I call very early "vanity press." Often the material contained in these publications is paid for by the family being written about and may or may not be 100% accurate. Or, lets say information may have been carefully omitted.

The link:

uwdc.library.wisc.edu/index.shtml

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Westchester County New York - Archives

Here you'll find some scanned copies of documents from the county's archives, including Washington Irving's will. In case you forgot, he's the author of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow" and "Rip Van Winkle." But, perhaps the best resource found here is the "Records of Veterans from the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War, Spanish-American War and World War I, and Cemetery Maps." These records were made possible through a Work Projects Administration project in late 1930s; While the source(s) for information recorded for each veteran are not available or even known, each index card contains such information as "place and date of birth, record of service, commendations, hometown, cause and date of death, and burial site." Of course with a project of this type, the amount of information available varies. But, it's a great place to start, if your family has origins in the county or passed through. Also included are maps of cemeteries with graves of veterans and war served in marked, but stops short of putting a name on the cemetery map. It's still a very handy source of information.
Here's the link:
www.westchesterarchives.com/HT/muni/wca/wca.html

Saturday, November 1, 2008

New Jersey Photograph and Manuscript Collection

More from New Jersey - the link will take you to another section of the New Jersey State Archives where you will find more than 3,000 images of photographs and items from its manuscript collection. The main headings include the following:
Portraits of Soldiers
Historic Structures, Sites and Parks
New Jersey Institutions
Transportation and Public Works
Military Activities & Monuments
Military Service Records
Governors' Documents
Slave Records
Lindbergh Kidnapping
Family Papers

Be sure you dig deeper in each category. There are some real gems here. For example; you will find 284 records from the "U.S. Colored Troops Service Files" during the Civil War; 57 images of Hunterdon County slave freedom papers, 1788-1836; and 415 birth certificates of children born to Hunterdon County slaves, 1804-1835.

Here's the link:
www.state.nj.us/state/darm/links/imgcollections.html

New Jersey State Archives Databases

The New Jersey Department of State has six searchable databases on line that include about 336,000 entries in the State Archive Collections as follows:
Supreme Court Case Files, 1704-1844
Marriage Records, 1666-1799
Index to Marriages, 1848-1867
1885 Census
Legal Name Changes, 1847-1947
Revolutionary War Damages, 1776-1782

These on-line databases gives you the basic information. In the case of Index to Marriages, you see the groom and bride's names, location or place of marriage, place of registration, the date and the original document reference number. If you need the original document there are instructions on how to order, as well as some ordering limitations. The information here on line is free to access and free to use.
Here's the link:
www.state.nj.us/state/darm/links/databases.html

Sociable