Saturday, September 1, 2007

What's Free on Footnote? is a commercial web site with historical and genealogical data. They have an arrangement with the National Archives to digitize documents and post them - you can see the announcement and list of databases at

You can browse all of their titles at There are some very useful genealogy databases on this list - but not all of them are complete yet. They claim that almost 18 million documents are online today, and that they are adding 2 million per month.

Most of their databases is behind their subscription pay wall, which is $59.95 for an nanual subsciption and $7.95 for a monthly subscription.

There are several interesting and potentially useful databases that are available to anyone to view for free - see the list at They include:

* US Milestone Documents
* Project Bluebook (UFO documents)
* Pennsylvania Archives
* Papers of the Continental Congress
* Miscellaneous Papers of the Continental Congress
* Constitutional Convention Records
* Copy Books of George Washington's Correspondence

You can read, annotate, print and download from these databases one page at a time. It looks like you have to be a registered user (not necessarily a subscriber) in order to download and print.

You can search for terms in each database. I put in the surname Houx in the Pennsylvania Archives and got 6 hits, 3 with actual records and 3 index items.

The reader is much different from other readers. You see only a portion of the document but you can scroll up or down using the scroll bar or the "hand" inside the window. It takes a while for the page to load. There are thumbnail links to about 20 pages below the actual viewing window, but clicking on another page takes as long to load as the previous page takes. Printing also took a fairly long time.

If you had Pennsylvania ancestors during the colonial to Civil War time period, you might want to search for them in the Pennsylvania Archives, especially if you don't have easy online access to them.

From what I can see, the Pennsylvania Archives is the only real genealogical database available for free at Footnote at this time. offers a seven day free trial at - but you have to register with a name, email address, password, agree to terms, and enter a credit card and billing address. You can access all of their databases for seven days. After 7 days, your credit card will be billed $59.95 for a one-year membership.

Note that I do not have a Footnote subscription nor am I associated with them in any way. I do receive emails from them and read their Footnote blog.

1 comment:

Bill West said...

Hey Randy,
I used a month or
so back on the free one week trial
and finally broke down this past
week and went for the monthly
membership because its less painful to my finances at the moment.

The viewer and download are a bit slow but I've found it worth the wait do far.