Saturday, February 21, 2009

The Value of Indexing Imaged Pages

I offered to search http://www.footnote.com/ for one of my CVGS colleagues last week to see if there were any records for Benjamin and Anna (Johnson) Sherman - two of her ancestral many-great-greats.

I found pages in the Revolutionary War Pension File for Isaac and Rebekah (Cole) Johnson that contained a letter from Anna (Johnson) Sherman stating that her father was the soldier Isaac Johnson, and that Anna's mother was his widow, Rebekah (Cole) Johnson. It also contained Isaac's birth, marriage and death dates in central Connecticut. There was a letter from Benjamin Sherman confirming his wife's memories and statements, and indicating their marriage date and place. The letters contained Anna and Benjamin's signatures too. The entire Revolutionary War Pension File for Isaac Johnson is 52 pages and a treasure trove for descendants.

If my colleague had not known Anna Sherman's maiden name, this document would have provided it, and her mother's maiden name, besides the marriage information that may not be published elsewhere.

All of this happened because http://www.footnote.com/ indexed all of the names in these records -- not just the soldier's, and his widow's, name - and provided access to the images and the indexing. This is a tremendous resource, and provides an excellent example of research benefits to come from the FamilySearch Indexing project, from the Ancestry Archive Project, and additional imaging and indexing projects on commercial and free genealogy web sites.

Just think of the land deeds, tax records, town records, probate records, court records, and other resources that are on microfilm in the Family History Library Catalog. When all of those microfilm images are digitized and indexed, then genealogists will have a lot more original source records to find, read and use to prove their genealogy and family history research.

I can hardly wait! I hope I last that long...I'm not getting any younger - ten years concerns me! As these record images and indexes come online, all of us will be able to do more research in a shorter period of time than ever before. Another concern is that this means that researchers will be able to find more ancestors and fill in more unsourced family trees before they even know that they've made a misteak!

You younger genealogists are going to be able to do a lot more research from your home computer sitting around in your snugs, drinking your favorite beverage, petting the cat while watching RootsTelevision on your 4-way split screen monitor. I hope you appreciate what we more seasoned folks have had to go through over the past decades. It took us much longer to make a misteak doing it the old, traditional way than doing it this new-fangled, pajama-sitting, pet-stroking, multi-tasking way of doing geneology research. And longer to fix the misteaks too!

2 comments:

TamuraJones said...

I think Miss Teak's name was originally Miss Take.

Brian said...

Every time I do genealogy research online I respect the people that used to do it by hand. I can't imagine how long it would've taken me to get as far as I am without the Internet. And, I also love footnote.com.