Category Archives: Resources – Software, Websites, Records, Etc

Google Books and Google News Archive

Belated Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! It’s been so long since I posted to this blog that it almost seems like I’ve abandoned it. Well, I guess to a degree I have but maybe I can do better this year :).

Anyway, I just wanted to make a quick post about two features in google that I have been using fairly often to aid in genealogical research. The first is google books. I have started to find quite a few genealogy-related books on google, including several of the “Biographical/Historical” county books that were so popular in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Google has scanned them and made them available in pdf format. Continue reading


Pennsylvania – Throwing Up More Roadblocks to Genealogists!

I really hate to be negative, but Pennsylvania has done it again – and I don’t mean that in a good way! Here’s what has happened now. A while back I wrote about the Family Search Pilot site and two of their databases: the PA, Philadelphia City Death Certificates 1803-1915 and the PA, Philadelphia City Marriage License Index 1885-1951. Well, I haven ‘t had the need to search either in a while – until today. And as it turns out there are been some changes. One good and one not so much.

First, the good news is that the Marriage License Indices have been indexed and are now fully searchable! Previously we could only browse through the images. So this is a great enhancement and a big time saver! Kudos to Family Search and their team of volunteer indexers!!

Now the bad part — the death certificate images have been removed from the other database. Why? Well this is what Family Search has on their website:

“On February 4, 2010, the images associated with the index to the Philadelphia City Death Certificates were removed from Record Search because of a contractual agreement that states that the images are only available to registered users.”

It goes on to say that records post 1906 can be ordered from the state and pre-1906 from the county court house.

You may be wondering why this is such a big deal – after all, the essential data as transcribed by the Family Search indexers is still available. Well, that’s true, but it is always more desirable to see the actual record whenever possible. As wonderful as the indexers are, I have occasionally found that they have misinterpreted names and other of the hand written information. Also, not all the information on the death certificate is always recorded on the transcription form. That’s why it was so nice to be able to immediately check the actual record online.

And as far as ordering records from the state, Pennsylvania has some pretty arcane ideas about ordering death records – regardless of how long ago the person died. Generally, they want you to be a relative and to essentially provide the information you are most likely looking for (i.e. parents names)! And of course, there was the time I went to the Montgomery County PA Archives and Records Building and was told I could not look at the estate papers for a deceased relative due to a judge recently ruling that looking at estate papers violate privacy rules. The thing is that I wanted to look at estate papers from 1813!! So whose privacy was in jeopardy!! Ugh!!

Here’s hoping Family Search won’t have to remove the marriage index images! Well enough ranting.

That’s it for now.


UPDATE: Just an update for anyone running across this posting. The Philadelphia Death Certificate images are once again available online at You will, however, need to register with familysearch and be logged in to view them.

DAR Databases Now Online (Free!!)

I first read about it in Dick Eastman’s Newsletter and had to check it out! DAR has recently put online what they are calling a Genealogical Research System. It is a combination of several of their databases, with more information to be added in the future. You can check it out here. I tried it myself by entering a couple of my surnames into the ancestor search component. And … success!! Continue reading


Several months back, I wrote on this blog about how I had decided not to renew my membership to Well, with the money I’m saving from that, I decided to subscribe to genealogybank. Genealogybank is a collection of scanned historical newspapers, recent obituaries, and some other content. I was particularly interested in the historical newspapers and the obituaries. I was familiar with genealogybank and actually had access to some of the historical newspaper content through my Godfrey Scholar subscription a few years ago. I also had access to genealogybank when they made their content free for a few days as a promotion a while back. And so I was very anxious to plug in a few of the surnames I research and see what I could find.

First off, I was able to find a very good account of the execution of William Henry Howe. Continue reading

More Records added to Findagrave

I had not meant to let this blog sit idle for so long, but life sometimes just gets really hectic. So until the last couple of weeks, my genealogy research and postings had go to on hold. Recently, I started to try to ease back into it. I posted a lot more photos and memorials on findagrave.
These were mostly the backlog of photos that I had for a while, but hadn’t gotten around to putting online. I haven’t been the only one adding to the southeast PA cemeteries. If you’re researching people in this area, check it out and see if your ancestors have been added!

Anyway, this is just a quick update — will try to post again soon.