1/9/2008 1:03:00 AM Valley Living Section Genealogy News
By Julie Ann
Probably the best news for those of us who are searching for our ancestors is all the new records that are becoming available. The Internet and the availability and ease with which we can now digitize pictures and documents have combined and the benefits are huge.
The Family History Library, which is the largest genealogical library in the US, has combined with the Allen County Library in Fort Wayne Indiana (the second largest genealogical library) and Brigham Young University's Harold B. Lee Library to scan and index 100,000 books from their holdings. Digitization has started and as they are completed they are linked in the FHL's online catalog at www.familysearch.org. You can do an "every-word" search at BYU's Family History Archives site www.familyhistoryarchive.byu.edu.
A long awaited treasure trove will be a great benefit for the descendants of Holocaust survivors and those who lost ancestors in Nazi Germany. After World War II millions of documents were found and then taken to the International Tracing Service (ITS). The purpose was to reunite families separated during the war. These archives contain 30 to 50 million pages of documents which include records of concentration camps, prisoner transportation, ghettos and arrests. Index cards in the Central Name Index contain 17.5 million names. More information is on www.ushmm.ort/museum/exhibit/ While the records won't be posted, the museum is indexing them and will have its archivists quickly respond to requests for information. There will be priority given to those who lost ancestors in the Holocaust.
World Family Records is a fairly new site and I have found it to be very valuable. It is currently the fastest growing genealogy resource on the Web. There are parts of this site that can be viewed free and as records are added, they are free for a couple of weeks. It is found at www.worldvitalrecords.com. This site is exciting because it often allows you to view the actual digitized record. To use all the parts of the site you need to pay for a subscription, however, you can use it for free at your local Family History Center. Check it out free and if you find it worthwhile for your family research then you can purchase a membership very reasonably.
World Vital Records contains thousands of databases and is adding 10,000 over the next few months. Included are 200 issues of the Genealogical Helper Magazine and 3.6 million names from pedigree files and family group sheets. It has a large collection of parish registers and the Small Town Papers Collection as well as Newspaper Archive. There are also links to many free genealogy sites. Sometimes it is hard to locate the correct site for your research on the Web - but World Vital Records makes it easy because records are divided into sections, such as; Census Records, Family Trees, Newspapers, and Military as well as many others.
Many of these records are available because of volunteers. If you truly want to understand the many records that hold your family information, the best way is to get personally involved. A massive records indexing program is being undertaken by FamilySearch. You can help with this process if you have a computer and a bit of time. You go to www.familyindexing.org and register. Simple instructions and good help fields make the process very easy to follow. When you register you set up a password that allows you to access the system. You are then given instructions on how to download and complete the indexing. Records being indexed currently are U.S. censuses, and records from Germany, Mexico and Canada. When one group of records is finished a new one will be available to index. These indexes will be some of the best because each image is indexed by two different people and their results are viewed by an arbitrator who provides a final decision on any discrepancies. When finished these records become available free of charge through www.familysearch.org.
It is an exciting time to be searching for your ancestors. There is so much help available for you. Hopefully some of the above Web sites will help locate that elusive ancestor.