Wednesday, September 2, 2015 Adds 170 Million Indexed U.S. Probate Record Images

The press release headline is Ancestry Launches Largest Online Collection of Wills and Probate Records in United States.  The lead paragraphs say:
"More than 170 million pages from the largest collection of wills and probate records in the United States is now available online exclusively on Ancestry. With searchable records included from all 50 states spread over 337 years (1668-2005), this unprecedented collection launches a new category of records for family history research never before available online at this scale the United States. 
"Until now, these records have only been available offline. Ancestry spent more than two years bringing this collection online, working with hundreds of different archives from individual state and local courts across the country and making a $10M investment to license and digitize the records. The documents cover well over 100 million people, including the deceased as well as their family, friends and others involved in the probate process. Ancestry expects to continue to grow the collection, with additional records available over the next several years."
Please read the whole press release for more details.

The last paragraph says:
"To celebrate the launch of the new U.S. Wills and Probates collection on Ancestry,, the collection along with all U.S. birth, marriage and death records, will be available to explore for FREE, September 2 (12 p.m. MT) through September 7 (10 p.m. MT)."
Now, I love probate records - they are my favorite record type because they provide significant information about names, relationships, property, location, etc.

Ancestry has provided these records by states - here are links to each collection
I finally found a record for one of my ancestors.  Here is a Mercer County, Pennsylvania will book page for Martin Carringer (1758-1835), my 4th great-grandfather:

However, I could not find the probate records for Daniel Spangler or Cornelius Feather in Mercer County, Pennsylvania, which I have found on FamilySearch.

I have poked around in these records for awhile (about an hour), and have noted:

*  The collections are not complete - there are probate records that I have accessed online at FamilySearch, AmericanAncestors,  and on FHL microfilm that are not included in these collections.  County courthouses may have additional probate files available.  Ancestry may add more content over time.

*  The collections are not every name indexed - the searchable indexed names seem to be those that were in indexes.  In some cases, only a last name, or even no name, are indexed even though the probate record provides a name.

*  The records can be searched by name and by county, and they can be browsed by county and volume.  

*  This will be an extremely valuable collection, but it is not the only collection available to find probate records online or offline.

*  This collection greatly adds to the online corpus available for searching and finding probate records and will help online researchers add rich and significant content to their ancestor's life stories.  I'm going to repeat what I said last week:  "My view is that probate, land, tax, town, and church records are the key to solving many difficult research problems."  

I'm going to poke around more!  I will have more comments, and probably lots of examples, in later posts.

UPDATE:  Juliana Szucs has a helpful blog post on the blog - U.S. Probates are Here!  This has a link to a FREE Probate Research Guide.

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Justin said...

A lot of the names I've searched for come from an index, such as It says that something was recorded in volume 50 on page 282. If I then try to browse the collections for Fulton County, NY, there is no volume 50. Am I understanding this correctly? An index with no attached information is not worth very much for me.

Koshkonong Genealogy said...

Great news! Randy, I am not going to get any sleep tonight!