Tuesday, September 18, 2007

BYU Digital Archives - Family History Archives

I went to the Family History Center today to collect more images from the Jamestown (RI) town Records of probate and land records for my colonial Rhode Island ancestors.

After an hour of scanning and saving then copying to my flash drive, I was done. So I went to the computers to check if the Premium Databases had been connected to this FHC and they have not.

Then I checked the Family History Library Catalog for some of my "new" surnames - the families related to Cornelia Bresee - names like Van Deusen, Scism, Meyer, Dyckman, etc. - all Dutch families from the Albany/Rensselaer area of colonial upstate New York.

One of the book references for the Van Deusen surname had a link that said "View Book." I couldn't resist, of course, and immediately found myself looking at the Family History Archives at Brigham Young University. The search box for this collection is at http://www.lib.byu.edu/fhc/.

When I put the surname "Van Deusen" into the search box, I got a page with 4 matches. I clicked on the first one titled "Abraham Van Deusen and many of his descendants, with biographical notes; 1635-1901."

A web page with a Table of Contents on the left hand side and the first page image on the rest of the page, within a frame. The page was in PDF format. I could Print, Save to File, Send to Kinko's, Start a Web Meeting, Zoom In or Zoom Out using the icons at the top of the preview page. For the next page, I had to click the "Next Page" link at the top of the left hand panel.

When I got home, I duplicated my search and I saved some of the pages for the Van Deusen book to my hard drive, and will read through them at my leisure. I chose to save the pages using page numbers, using a three-digit number (e.g. p005) so that the pages would be in order in the file. Unfortunately, you get only one page at a time, so reading these pages will be click- intensive.

This works pretty well - the pages load quickly and the navigation and execution are flawless.

There are now over 5,100 family history books - surnames and locality books - in this Family History Archive. That sounds like a lot, but it really isn't. If you put in a list of surnames, only a few will have a match. Same thing with localities - you will get a few hits. The books that are there are out of copyright, most were published before 1923. There are other web sites that have these books and many more, but most of them are not FREE like this collection is.

Most of these books have been digitized by the Genealogy society of Utah and are linked to the Family History Library Catalog. A few were digitized by the Allen County Public Library.

Have you checked the BYU Family History Archive of books? If not, you should check it for your surnames and localities. Try it!

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