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, February 28, 2009

Time Off

I will be taking a few days off from the site due to a death in the family. I'll be back at updating and posting next week.

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg Foundation - Digital Collection

When most people think about The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation they often think of the wonderful living history village located in Virginia. Often overlooked is the on-line digital collection of documents relating to its history. Today's focus is just that. In the Colonial Williamsburg digital library you will find four sections:
* Manuscripts -transcripts and images of selected documents from seven of the Foundation’s collections
* Research Report Series -documents about the history of the origanization
* Virginia Gazettes (newspapers) - includes images of almost all the known issues
* York County Probate Inventories - these are transcripts from the original documents.
Take a look. Here's the link.

research.history.org/DigitalLibrary.cfm

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

The Digital Mirror - National Library Of Wales

The Digital Mirror is a great resource for people with Welsh ancestry. This site is a project of the National Library of Wales and has original manuscripts, diaries, biographies and much more. One particular collection caught my eye. St Asaph Notitiae (SA/MISC/1300-1491) is a survey of the population of the St Asaph diocese in the 1680s. The survey lists all the heads of families in the parish as well as the number of people in that family. The Lampeter vestry book is also an interesting resource that often cites individuals. The decription of this section states, "From the sixteenth century until the late nineteenth century, the parish as an unit was responsible for an ever increasing range of matters including the care of the poor, repairing and improving highways, and some aspects of law and order." The vestry books is contains the minutes of each meeting. Explore the site. The Digital Mirror has a great deal to offer.

www.llgc.org.uk/index.php?id=digitalmirror

Monday, February 23, 2009

Corpus Christi Library - Local History, Genealogy & Archives

I often think that there must be a limit to the number of free places where a person can find genealogical information. But, as soon as I start entertaining those thoughts, I find more. Today's focus is on Corpus Chisti Texas. The Local History, Genealogy & Archives section of the Corpus Christi Public Libraries has a nice selection of information including an index of obituaries from the Corpus Christi Caller, Corpus Christi Times, and the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. The index covers the dates 1893-1903 and January 1950 through April 2008. The site also features information from the Old Bay View Cemetery, the oldest military cemtery in Texas with burials dating back to 1845 and a death the occurred during the "Mexican War." You'll also find a special section on Spanish and Mexican Colonial documents, which includes Chapa, a Study of the Descendants of Juan Bautista Schiapapria (Chapa) Through the XVIII Century. Here's were you find it on the web:

www.library.ci.corpus-christi.tx.us/localhistory.htm

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Old Fort Collins, 1865 - Colorado

Old Fort Collins, 1865 is an online digital archive and is only a small but significant selection of historical materials, records, and photographs located in the Fort Collins Local History Archive. I found the News Flashbacks, Local Anecdotes and WWII Oral History sections to be fascinating reading and full of information about the people who settled in the Fort Collins area.

This site also has two of the larger Fort Collins cemeteries, Grandview and Roselawn, on-line. The search takes a little getting used to as you are taken to a sub site called FCMaps. Along the ribbon bar at the top you select a menu option to search for surname. That seems to be the easiest way to search this data.

history.fcgov.com/

Friday, February 20, 2009

Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections

Local libraries and regional library systems have proven to be a great source of information that will help genealogists and family historians. The Birmingham Public Library Digital Collections in Alabama has a nice site. Two of their collections stand out: Birmingham Iron Age, a newspaper that began publication in Feb 1874, then changed its name in May of 1884 to The Weekly Iron Age. The second is Birmingham Neighbors a collection made up of images, pamphlets and newspaper clippings from various Birmingham newspapers. There are also several more collections on the site to browse. So, check it out.


www.bplonline.org/resources/digital_project/Collections.asp

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oklahoma Yesterday & Today at Oklahoma State University

Oklahoma Yesterday & Today in the digital collection of Oklahoma State University is a nice site that focuses on Oklahoma as a state and territory. Two specific collections are quite good; Chronicles of Oklahoma is the journal of the Oklahoma Historical Society, produced in cooperation with OHS, and the Encyclopedia of Oklahoma History and Culture also produced in cooperation with the Oklahoma Historical Society. Chronicles issues are available in html/text format for volumes 1-20 and the years 1923 to 1942. Volumes 21-40 are available in PDF format and the table of contents for later volumes are on line, while the actual articles for volumes 41- 80 are not yet available on-line.

digital.library.okstate.edu/

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Fordham University Digital Collections

For genealogy, the digital online collections of universities are a great resource. However, often overlooked are the collections of college newspapers and image collections. Take for instance, Fordham University located in the Bronx of New York City. The Fordham University library has class photographs from some of the earliest graduating classes, starting in 1865. The collection is complete through 1918, when they started publishing yearbooks. In addition, some of the the college student newspapers are on line, specifically the Ram - Fordham Rose Hill student newspaper from 1918 – 1971 and the Observer - Fordham Lincoln Center student newspaper from 1982 – 2007. You may also want to check out the Fordham Photograph Collection featuring historical photographs from Fordham's early years, including old campus views, students, and faculty. While you're there take a look at the Maps of New Netherland, New Amsterdam, and New England. The collection is from 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries.

www.library.fordham.edu/catalogs/digitalcollections.html

Monday, February 16, 2009

Update: Lewis County NY Newspapers

The North Country Library System, based in Watertown New York, serves the north western counties of the state. One of my first entries on this blog was about the Old Newspapers the group has available on line. Several new titles have been added since October. These appear under the Lewis County link. Now, in addition to old issues of the Lowville Journal and Republican 1860-1940, you can search the following titles:
Black River Democrat, 1913-1943
Lewis County Banner, 1856-1859
Lewis County Democrat, 1867-1906
Lowville Herald & Lewis County Democrat, 1910-1914
Lowville Leader, 1943-1953
Lowville Leader and Lyons-Leyden Ledger, 1953-1954
Lowville Times, 1876-1884
Lowville Times & Lewis County Independent, 1884-1891

Here's the direct link to the Lewis County section:
news2.nnyln.net/lewis-county/search.html

Sunday, February 15, 2009

British Historical Directories

If you have ancestors that emigrated from England, you might find today's site very helpful. The resource is located at the University of Leicester. The description reads: "Historical Directories is a digital library of local and trade directories for England and Wales, from 1750 to 1919. It contains high quality reproductions of comparatively rare books, essential tools for research into local and genealogical history." The collection is grouped by decade: pre-1850s (directories from 1750 and 1849); 1860s; 1870; 1880s; 1890s, 1900 and 1910. Here's where you will find it:

www.historicaldirectories.org/hd/index.asp

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Utah Digital Newspapers

Today's entry comes from the J Willard Marriott Library at the University of Utah - Utah Digital Newspapers. Just about every county in the state is represented and the papers date as early as 1850 and some go into the 1960s, but most span the late 1800s to early 1890s. The searching is fast and the results are in PDF format. The scanning project began with three newspapers in 2001 and today the total number of newspapers offered is more than fifty. There's not much more to say other than check it out.

digitalnewspapers.org/

Friday, February 13, 2009

Norway - The Promise of America

Norwegian emigration to America and Norwegian American History 1825-2000. The sloop Restauration carried the first Norwegian emigrants from Stavanger to the United States in 1825. This site is bilingual in nature and is a multimedia website featuring a representative selection of Norwegian-American materials. One section that caught my eye features more than 500 letters written between 1850 and 1930. These letters are from the collection of the Norwegian Emigrant Museum, Hamar. Click on the tab "Letters Home." There's an extensive photo collection on the site as well as books and other materials concerning Norwegian emigration to America. Be sure you also visit the tab "Viking at Chicago." It's a rather extensive collection of clippings with biographies and other material printed in the various newspapers. If you have ancestors from Norway, this is a must visit.

www.nb.no/emigrasjon/emigration/

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Edgecombe County Memorial Library - North Carolina

This collection is small in comparison to others I have talked about but has some real interesting items available for viewing for free. Two caught my eye in particular. The first is Rev. Brown's 1913 Gettysburg Scrapbook taken on a trip to visit the battlefield. These photos are from a Confederate veterans point view of famous battle sites. The scrapbook includes captions and description by Brown as well as photos of markers for various regiments. This site also include a rare photo of African-American Veterans - members of the US Colored Troops who attended this reunion. The second one that caught my eye is the United Daughters of the Confederacy scrapbook from 1907 - 1968. This scrapbook contains newspaper articles, photographs and various other materials collected by the chapter. In addition to the two I mentioned above, there are several family collections including: John Lawrence Wiggins family; Solomon Nettles family; and the genealogy pages from the Bridgers' Bible.

www.edgecombelibrary.org/History/historic_digital_archive.htm

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Matrimonial investigation records - San Gabriel Mission - California

The matrimonial investigation records, or diligencias matrimoniales, are part of the McPherson Collection at the Claremont Colleges Digital Collection. This material was collected originally by William F. McPherson, an Orange County California rancher, scholar and collector. The records, predominantly from the Mission San Gabriel (other California missions are also represented), consist of notarized interviews with couples requesting marriage in the Roman Catholic Church during the period 1788-1861. According to the description on line, "The purpose of marriage investigations was to prove that the parties were free to marry." These digital images are scans of the original documents and are in Spanish. So, you may need the help of someone you know that can read Spanish. As with most romance languages, you can figure out the surnames and many of the words because of the similarities. So, finding specific family surnames should be reasonably easy.
When you get to the site, just click on the large image on the left side of the scrren. That will take you to the images and descriptive summaries.

ccdl.libraries.claremont.edu/collection.php?alias=mir

Saturday, February 7, 2009

Chicago Ancestors - Newberry Library

The Newberry Library in Chicago a has long and storied reputation as having one of the premier genealogy collections. Their published catalog has been around for years. I recently discovered that Newberry has some very helpful Chicagoland resources at their Chicago Ancestors site where they suggest that you "discover the past by address." I wish there were more directories from other cities on-line. They are a great tool for researching families. Chicago Ancestors offers:
1. Chicago City Directory Street Guides
2. Chicago City Directories with PDF images of years: 1866; 1870, 1871, 1875, 1880; 1885; 1892; 1900; 1910; and 1923.
If you browse by collection (Browse tab at the top), there's an interesting resource that maps and documents homicides in the Windy City by location of the crime, and it also gives the name of the victim. I hadn't given crime records much thought when doing genealogy. I guess I never had reason to consider the obvious resource it can be.

ww.chicagoancestors.org/#tab-tools

Historic Pittsburgh

Today's post is actually part two of one started yesterday, also suggested by Suzie. Historic Pittsburgh combine access to several collections. They are: University of Pittsburgh's University Library System, the Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center, Carnegie Museum of Art, Chatham College Archives, and Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. Two areas of this site caught my eye. The first is the "Full Text Collection" and the "Census Records." The text section contains 1025 published works from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries documenting Pittsburgh history. And, of course, you know what census records offer. The Web-based catalog for the Library & Archives of the Historical Society of Western Pennsylvania (HSWP) at the History Center is also accessible here, but you'll have to plan a trip to the center to actually use the materials. The images section is amazing. Click "Images" on the top menu bar and you'll be taken to the Historic Pittsburgh Image Collection. The site provides access to over 10,500 visual images from forty collections held by the Archives Service Center at the University of Pittsburgh, Carnegie Museum of Art, Chatham University Archives, the Library & Archives at the Heinz History Center, and the Pittsburgh History & Landmarks Foundation. History and Genealogy go hand in hand. Check it out at:

digital.library.pitt.edu/pittsburgh/

Friday, February 6, 2009

Darlington Digital Library - University of Pittsburgh

Today’s entry comes from a tip submitted by Suzie Johnston, one of the regular readers of this blog. She points out the wonderful collection at The University of Pittsburgh – The Darlington Digital Library. This library which is a “work in progress” focuses on history and the people of Western Pennsylvania and Eastern Ohio from the 1700s to the late 1800s. The majority of this collection of books, images, broadsides, atlases, and manuscripts came from William M. Darlington who collected items that related to the settlement of colonial America, local history, and the manners and customs of American Indians. His collection also included books on the history of Pittsburgh and by Pittsburgh authors. There are two links associated with this collection. The first is a direct link to the collection at the University of Pittsburgh and the second is to the archive.org site where scans from this collection are also searchable. I'll talk about a couple other Western Pennsylvania sites she reccommends in tomorrow's post.

1. digital.library.pitt.edu/d/darlington/index.html
2.www.archive.org/details/university_pittsburgh

Thursday, February 5, 2009

I Need Some Feedback, please.

I've been doing this blog now for about four months. Despite my efforts to promote it and attempts to get it listed in the search engines and other web sites, statistics indicate that the traffic is very low. If you like what I am doing and want this to continue, please leave me a comment. I love putting this together, but if no one is reading it, then there's no point in continuing.
Talk to me...

Sociable