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Library offers online resources for genealogists

Coming in January to Cook Memorial Library are two new databases of
interest to family history researchers and genealogists — HeritageQuest
Online available from home or office with a library card, and Ancestry
Library Edition, available only in the library.

HeritageQuest Online is designed to help amateur and professional
genealogists, local historians and library patrons search and use data
from the U.S. Census from 1790 to 1930.

Also in the program are  more than 25,000 full-text family and local histories, and the PERiodical Source Index, a subject index of over 6,500 local history and genealogy periodicals since 1800.

The database includes Revolutionary War pension and bounty-land-warrant application files, as well as the Freedman’s Bank Records, an important resource for African-American genealogical research.

Additionally, there are more than 250 primary-source documents such as tax lists, city directories and probate records.

Ancestry Library Edition is the largest online family history resource available. This database provides unprecedented access to family history via documents that record the lineage of individuals from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia and more.

Distributed exclusively by ProQuest and powered by, it brings the world’s most popular consumer online family history resource to the library.

“Ancestry Library Edition makes genealogy research more productive and accessible than ever before, even for beginners,” said Library Director Terri Washburn. “Using in the library is a great tool for helping those who have thought about tracing their roots to move from interest to  action.”

People can meet their families firsthand with millions of unique, full-text primary sources and enhanced images, including census records from the U.S., the U.K., Australia, and Germany; the Canadian Census (1851-1911); birth, marriage and death records for the U.S., Canada and the U.K.; Canadian Genealogy Index (1600s-1900s); U.S. military records (back to the 1600s); and Canadian military collections.

Also available are the  Drouin Collection of French-Canadian and Quebec; historical records (1621-1967); immigration, emigration, passport and naturalization records; Jewish family history records; U.S. and Canadian passenger lists (1865-1935); and directories and members lists from the U.S., Canada and the U.K.

Court, land, tax and probate records are also available.  In addition to collections from the U.S., Canada and the U.K., Ancestry Library Edition also features major collections from France, Germany, Sweden, Italy, Australia and China.

People can see how the family lived with additional collections that add context and background to individuals’ stories, such as biographies and histories.

That material includes the American Genealogical-Biographical Index and WPA Slave Narratives, collections that bring together diverse materials on communities of people, such as Jewish family history and photos and maps, ranging from postcards and panoramas to family photos and headstones.

Ancestry Library Edition features helpful tools such as charts, summaries, calendars, message boards and more.

Beginners can use the tools and resources in the Learning Center to start their family trees, get the most out of historical records, connect with other researchers, find answers to tough research questions and more.

“Answers await all users — professional or hobbyist, expert or novice, genealogist or historian — inside the thousands of databases of family information,” Washburn said.

She added that user-friendly search tools and comprehensive indexing make it easy to start discovering personal histories.

“While there is nothing better than doing research in person, having the original documents scanned and online is a great convenience,” she said. “The indexing that has provided makes the records more accessible than they have ever been.”

Washburn said patrons can access the database just as they do any of the other databases the library’s website,

Click on “links to databases and external websites,” find the database on the list and click on the link.

A prompt will ask for a library card number and possibly the patron’s personal identification number.

Washburn also said HeritageQuest is for beginners and Ancestry is for those who have run out of leads or are more serious researchers.

Ancestry is what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints uses in their Family History Centers.

Washburn said she urges everyone with an interest in family history to stop by the library soon and explore their family tree.

She said the databases are expensive, and that the library won’t continue with them if they do not see use.

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