Wednesday, December 18, 2013

On Line State Resources for Genealogy 3.0

There's an old saying, "When you're tired of London, you're tired of life." Well, when you get tired of browsing this book, you're tired of genealogy.

Earlier this month my friend and colleague Michael Hait released the third edition of his On Line State Resources for Genealogy. It's up to 1140 pages and more than 9000 resources -- hosted at a bewildering variety of web sites, with a much deeper and different reach than the popular free and subscription mega-sites.

Contrary to the title, the book includes on-line resources at the national level including the National Archives. Some sites require sign-in. "Resources" include images of original records; derivative records (such as transcriptions and abstracts); authored works; and finding aids and indexes. As stated in the introductory material, use the finding aids and indexes and derivative sources to lead to the original records when possible.

The table of contents is arranged by state and then by repository in apparently random order within each state. A click on any entry in the table of contents takes you directly to the repository's listings, and a click on the specific repository's link takes you there.

Midwestern researchers will be interested to know that Indiana listings occupy 92 pages, Illinois 61, Ohio 46, and Michigan and Wisconsin each 14.

This undertaking is nothing less than gargantuan. And it includes resources I did not know about but should have. Still it doesn't have everything: absent are La Crosse, Wisconsin, city directories; the Monroe County, Wisconsin, Local History Room; and several name indexes available at the Chicago branch of NARA.

But as the numbers mount up this enterprise faces a deeper problem -- how to organize the resources. Not only are they proliferating daily (the Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center just announced eleven new ones). Often the originating agency may be different, or in a different place, than the record itself (such as county records created and listed under the name of a state agency). Equally bothersome, it is also often difficult to discern where one repository ends and another begins, since the same collection may be reached through more than one portal. It certainly helps that this book is searchable and not in print form, but part of its value is that the resources also be rationally browseable.

This compilation is itself an essential part of a "reasonably exhaustive search" as prescribed by BCG's Genealogy Standards, but other searches need to be made both within and outside of it.

Another form of browsing is to follow the compiler's new blog featuring a resource every few days.

Michael Hait, comp., On Line State Resources for Genealogy, third edition (PDF/ebook, privately printed, 2013).

Harold Henderson, "On Line State Resources for Genealogy 3.0," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 18 December 2013 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

Harold Henderson, "On Line State Records for Genealogy 3.0," Midwestern Microhistory: A Genealogy Blog, posted 18 December 2013 ( : viewed [date]). [Please feel free to link to the specific post if you prefer.]

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