Monday, August 27, 2012

Book Review - Online State Resources for Genealogy E-Book, Version 2.0

Michael Hait, a professional genealogist residing in Delaware, revised his eBook in PDF format recently.  It is titled Online State Resources for Genealogy, and is available as an online download through (see the links at bottom of this review)

The Introduction notes:

"Many researchers are unaware of the sheer volume and variety of records that have been brought online, at no cost, by government agencies and others active in individual towns, counties, and states. This book will provide a directory to sites that offer record images and indexes nationwide, including:

*  state archives
*  state libraries
*  state health departments
*  county clerks
*  historical societies
*  genealogical societies
*  university libraries
*  public libraries
*  others"

It also notes that online indexes and databases provided by free (e.g., FamilySearch, Find-A-Grave, Rootsweb) and subscription (e.g., Ancestry, Fold3, GenealogyBank) genealogy websites are not covered by the book.

Michael has added many more resources to this book - there are now 428 repositories covered, with over 6,000 links.  The initial version had 201 repositories listed.

There are 765 pages of state resources described in this book!

In the book, each state has a chapter, and within that chapter are links to governmental, institutional,  genealogical and historical society archives and libraries with online indexes and databases.  In many cases, there are links to the different online collections available at the entity.  For each database entry, there is an explanation, usually in the website's own words, about the content of the database.

An example entry from the Illinois section (I picked one that almost every researcher knows about):

"Illinois State Archives  
and down the alphabetical list a bit:

Illinois Death Certificates, 1916–1950 ( : “This database provides listings of death certificates filed with the Illinois Department of Public Health between 1916 and 1950. As a result of 1989 legislation, that agency makes available for public inspection at the Illinois State Archives only copies of death certificates produced 50 years ago or longer (410 Illinois Compiled Statutes 535/24). The Illinois State Archives has determined that this Web site is an extension of its Reference Room services. In accordance with a policy agreement with the Illinois Department of Public Health, the Illinois State Archives will make the index to death certificates produced fifty years or longer available on its Web site.”

There are now 17 California repositories listed (there were 4 in the first edition) with 76 collections on 14 pages; 6 Colorado repositories listed (there was 1 in the first edition), Illinois has 21 repositories listed (there were 6 in the first edition), and Maryland has 11 repositories listed (there were 9 in the first edition).

The book includes websites that have both freely available databases and members-only access to other record databases, but the book does not include the members-only databases.  An example is the Illinois State Genealogical Society.  However, state and regional level institutions that do not have have any freely available state record indexes and document image databases - the New England Historic Genealogical Society in Boston comes to mind, are not included in the book - see Update below!  

The book does not include repositories that have online indexes for catalogs but no actual online data in index or document image form.  For example, the California State Libraries (not listed in the book) at, has no actual data (transcriptions or images) at the library website - only a searchable catalog of books on the shelf at the library.  A casual reader might assume that there is no State Library or that it has no web presence at all, when the reality is that there is no actual data available online.

Those are not "complaints," they are statements of fact about the contents of the book.  The Introduction notes that:

"Only the most useful resources for genealogy research, and contextual historical information, have been included in this guide."

One of the very best features of this book are the active hyperlinks in the text.  The reader can click on the hyperlink, which is often very long, and go directly to the online database of interest.

This updated and extensively revised book is an excellent compilation of the state resources freely available in online databases with actual data - index information and/or document images.  It will be very valuable to every researcher trying to perform a reasonably exhaustive search for their ancestral families.  

I know that I will use the resources in this book in my genealogical research.  It will be a valuable addition to any American researcher's genealogical library.

The cost of this book is $15.99 for a PDF download from ( ).  An e-reader EPUB version of this book can be purchased for $15.99 from (

All purchasers of this edition will be eligible for one complimentary updated edition. 

Disclosure:  Michael Hait contacted me last weekend asking if I would write a review of his book, and he provided me with a PDF copy of the book.  I try very hard to write objective reviews of books for the benefit of my readers.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver

Updated 1 PM:  Tessa Keogh commented on Google+ that the New England Historic Genealogical Society offers a range of free databases - see  I stand corrected!


Unknown said...

Some researchers are unaware of the crucial information. This information for genealogy records search is very helpful for them.
For more information regarding Illinois public records visit:

Master Ultan said...


Man, I HATE these sites. There are a million and one just like it:

Enter your credit card number here.

What a waste of time following that link!