For those of us who spend time researching our family trees, there is no lack of places to search. In addition to brick and mortar libraries, historical societies, archives and cemeteries, there are an increasing number of websites — too many to tackle it seems.
Here are just a few new spots I’ve come across or read about recently that are worth checking out.
• Fabulous news for those researching in Rhode Island is the addition of an online catalog for the R.I. State Archives at www.sos.ri.gov (click on the State Archives tab on the left, then on “For Researchers”). You can do a search or browse through the holdings alphabetically. Items range from a telegram from Abraham Lincoln to William Sprague requesting troops in 1862 and a list of R.I. casualties during the Vietnam War to aerial photographs and a list of vital records available on microfilm before 1853. There are some online, too. I’ve only browsed some of the myriad records. Take a look.
• If you’re not a member of the R.I. Genealogical Society (RIGS) you should join. They just created a brand new website at www.rigensoc.org and are adding lots of new information. There is a list of towns and counties, when founded and if they separated from an earlier town or county; a guide to basic resources for research; a list of organizations and places that can help you in your research, information on R.I. censuses, genealogy links, which resources can be found in which libraries around the state, FAQs on R.I. genealogy and R.I. cemeteries, links and a list of RIGS members who volunteer to help with research. It’s only $25 a year and you get a quarterly journal (which includes four queries a year), workshops and lectures, speakers at meetings, and a members’ only surname research page.
• If you miss RAOGK (Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness), check out Mocavo’s Genealogy Karma at www.mocavo.com/karma. Mocavo created Karma in 2011 to help fill the void for those who want to volunteer to help and those who need help. Go to www.mocavo.com/karma and you can post a query asking for help or check out the requests for help. This week, there were 363 requests listed by name and state. You can sort them by state; but, there were none for Rhode Island and two for Massachusetts.
• If you haven’t been to the National Genealogical Society’s website, check it out at www.ngsgenealogy.org. Even if you’re not a member (which is $65 a year), you can look at their calendar of events and conferences around the country and helpful articles, and access their library of over 20,000 titles (including 6,000 family histories, abstracts of records, and state, county and local histories) through inter-library loan. (These are available through the St. Louis County Library catalog. On the NGS website, click on Research References, then the NGS Book Loan Collection for a link.). NGS members get free courses on genetic genealogy, Civil War research, religious records, Social Security sleuthing, working with deeds and more. There are online courses and a home study course. Members also can access other members’ ancestry charts and the archives of all NGS’s publications.
• And, that leads to a mention of online library catalogs. These are gold. Before I head up to NEHGS for a day of researching, I troll through the online catalog and print out call numbers for any books that sound interesting to save time when I get to Boston. You can do this with any library’s online catalog, whether it’s a university, public library or organization’s library. Then you can check with your library and see if it’s available by inter-library loan. If you find a book you want through Google’s book search, you can input your zip code to discover the closest libraries that have it.
• A couple of gift ideas for the genealogist on your holiday list — Check out “Stories in Stone: A Field Guide to Cemetery Symbolism and Iconography” by Douglas Keister. Gravestones are an amazing resource if you know how to read them. I found the book on amazon, the Barnes & Noble website, itunes and good reads. Or, order it from your local bookseller.
Something a little more expensive would be a Flip-Pal scanner. These are amazing little scanners, small enough for trips, but smart enough to tile four images together seamlessly into one, so you can scan larger items. Visit http://flip-pal.com.
Or, get them a membership in a society or to Internet Genealogy, a magazine that is published six times a year and is $28 for U.S. subscribers. It covers researching around the world, computer programs, new products, researching tips, case studies, designing web pages, and a special issue each year available only online. Subscribe at www.internet-genealogy.com.
Lynda Rego has a Facebook page at www.facebook.com/lynda.rego where she shares tips on genealogy and other topics. Stop by, click on Like and share any interests you have for upcoming columns.