Thursday, March 26, 2009

"New" U.S. Public Records Index on Ancestry.com

....
I lamented the loss of the "old" United States Public Records Index (US PRI) yesterday in my post here. This "old" US PRI had records from about 2000 to the present time, and was useful in finding the address and phone number of living people.

In their Ancestry.com blog post last week, Ancestry.com stated that the "New" United States Public Records Index would provide records from 1950 into the early 1990's.

Here is my first look at the "new" US Public Records Index. The Search box for the specific database looks like:



I input my own name (given name = rand*, surname = seaver) in the search box and clicked on Search. The list of matches appeared:




There were 18 matches, including myself. If I run the mouse over my name, the popup box shows some information. I clicked on my name and the detail information summary appeared:



It lists my birth month and year, my address in 1993 and a former address (it says 1972). I was curious about the database details, so I clicked on the "Learn more..." link in the Description box. This page appeared:



Too much detail for you to read clearly, I guess. The important parts of it say:

"Source Information: Ancestry.com. U.S. Public Records Index [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: Merlin Data Publishing Corporation, comp. Historical Residential White Page, Directory Assistance and Other Household Database Listings. Merlin Data Publishing Corporation, 215 South Complex Drive, Kalispell, MT 59901.

"About U.S. Public Records Index

"The U.S. Public Records Index is a compilation of various public records spanning all 50 states in the United States from 1935 to 1993. Entries in this index may contain the following information: name, street or mailing address, telephone number, birth date or birth year. For more information about this database,
click here.

"The U.S. Public Records Index is a compilation of various public records spanning all 50 states in the United States from 1935 to 1993. These records are all accessible to the general public by contacting the appropriate agency.

"What types of public records have been utilized to create the U.S. Public Records Index?

White pages
Directory assistance records
Marketing lists
Postal change-of-address forms
Public record filings
Historical residential records

"Please note the following important details about the U.S. Public Records Index:

"People under the age of 18 are not listed in this index.
Because of the historical nature of this index, individuals may be listed in households with prior co-habitants, spouses, etc."

What I noticed while browsing through this database is that:

* There appears to be only one entry for each name. Even though I've resided at my present address since 1975, there is only one entry. There is one entry for my mother (in 1993), and two for Barack Obama (one in 1988 in MA, the other in 1993 in Chicago) - because he had a different middle name in the two entries.

* If there are records for a former address with the same name, a yellow triangle appears by the record and it is listed as another possible place with an earlier year noted.

* I don't see records of known deceased persons, such as my grandparents Carringer who died in 1976/7. Or John F. Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson, etc.

* The user can put in a street address, city and state to find occupants of a certain location. The user can input just a street and see a list of names and addresses.

* To narrow a search for a common name, the user can input a birth year and variances. However, if the record did not have a birth year, no match will occur.

Is this database complete, or is there more to come? I'm always a "glass half full" type of guy. My hope was that this database would at least show multiple entries for the same person.

Genealogists want to track a person or a family through time - to know where they were every year, not just in one or two years. This database, as it is presently constituted, provides one or two snapshots in time for a given person. These can be helpful to identify a location to continue a search in a city directory or other public records.

1 comment:

lyn said...

I tested this yesterday. Found myself and discovered I am now 109 years old!!!! Quite a surprise to me. Guess this explains a couple of my wrinkles. Could not locate any of 3 grandparents, an aunt, an uncle or my brother all living during the time period covered. Five of these six people were home owners and listed in phone books of the time. I'd expect them to be there. Not very useful data base for me to search for ancestors.