Saturday, January 5, 2008

The Full "Ancestry" at the FHCs

Ancestry and the LDS Family History Library announced two weeks ago that they had agreed to provide the full suite of Ancestry databases at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and at 13 large Family History Centers around the country (including San Diego).

I went to the San Diego FHC today and tried it out. From all of my testing, it appears that Ancestry Family History Library Edition is the World Deluxe database collection. I was able to access the Canadian and United Kingdom records in addition to all of the USA records. I tried to access Australia, Germany and Italy but it gave me the "we're busy - check back soon" message.

So that is wonderful news. Having the Canada and UK records is a step up for those of us with a US-only subscription. My society colleagues will be thrilled to have it back after 9 months.

Of course, that wasn't the only thing I did at the FHC today. I read my Glocester RI probate record microfilm and then searched for my elusive Russell Smith on Footnote and WorldVitalRecords. I'll report on that in a separate post.

Then I decided to check for RI and Connecticut records in books on the shelf, since Russell Smith was born in RI according to the scant records we have. The three-volume book "Genealogies of Rhode Island Families" published by the NEHGS has a large section (over 150 pages) on the descendants of John Smith the Miller of Providence (as opposed to my ancestor, John Smith the Mason of Providence). In that work, there is reference to an Elizabeth (Arnold) Hawkins, widow of William Hawkins, who married (2) Israel Smith. The book says she died, as Elizabeth Smith, in Glocester in 1758. I had the date, and an abstract of the probate record, but did not have it on my list of probate records to obtain from Glocester RI. Now I do! It was just happenstance - perhaps even serendipity - that I saw this in the article. A case of being lucky and good, I guess.

I asked one of the center managers about New FamilySearch and when it might be available to non-LDS members; he said by the end of the year. I also asked him why Ancestry and the FHL agreed to put Ancestry in the FHL and 13 FHCs - he said that it helps both organizations, and that the FamilySearch Indexing projects created both competition and cooperation. I don't know how plugged in he is to the FamilySearch folks, but it was an intriguing comment.

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