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Issue: Jun 13, 2019

Finding Family History Books and Vital Records with Archive.org

by Cynthia Carman

You may have used the Archive.org "Wayback" machine to find web pages that have disappeared from the Internet, but did you know that Archive.org contains scanned copies of 15 million books and texts; even vital records and census images? These copies are free to view online or can be downloaded for your personal use. Their conversion into text (OCR) is not the best but usually the title of the work is correct.

Of course the millions of books Archive.org has indexed aren't all family history books, so you will want to use their Advanced Search. to find a family history book about your surname or a resource about the location in which your ancestor's lived.

Let's first look at finding a county history book. On the Archive.org home page click the Advanced Search and enter a state or province name and the word history. For the example I entered "Indiana Pike County History".


Select a book from the results and when the book appears enter a name or city in the upper right box titled "Search Inside". (HINT: When the book first displays the "Search Inside" box will often already have text entered into it and the search result will automatically be triggered. Usually the text that is in the "Search Inside" box defaults to the search term you had used to find the book. For the best results in searching the text contents of a book, change the search terms in the "Search Inside" box to include only one or two words.)

The search result will appear at the bottom of the page as blue markers. If you hover over a blue marker, the text that has been located that includes your search term will appear. You can click the blue markers and the search will take you directly to the page in the book where your search term is highlighted in lavender. For my example I entered Sasser Sullivan in the search inside box and it found two places where my search term appeared. Fortunately one of those results was a biography of Sasser Sullivan. County histories often contain a collection of biographies in which your ancestor may be named.

Since many of my ancestors are named in this book I decided to download it in a PDF format. Scroll down on the page where the book is displayed and you will see the options for saving a copy to your computer.

How To Search the Contents of the Books at Archive.org

You may have noticed that on the Search page there is selection for "Search Text contents". Sometimes this can be helpful but only if the OCR was effective. In this example I used Sasser Sullivan, the name for which I was searching and put it in quotes so it would be found as a phrase. Archive.org found the name in multiple copies of the same book as well as other county or state histories.

If there are too many results you can narrow them by clicking the link "genealogy" listed under Topics & Subjects to the left of the results list. It may surprise you to know that Archive.org has images for the United States Federal Census for all states. These may be helpful when the images at other websites are too light to view the writing on the page. There will be a follow up article to explain how these images can help you view the census page.

I haven't found any of the state census images on Archive.org yet. However, I have found several imaged vital records sets. In particular New Jersey's Marriage Record Indexes 1665 to 2012 have been imaged and uploaded to Archive.org. To find them do a search using the terms New Jersey Marriage.

Providing a list of the imaged vital record selections available at Archive.org is beyond the scope of this article. In case you need additional help with searching, here are two links to instructions provided by Archive.org

https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360018359991-Search-A-Basic-Guide
https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360016405152-Books-and-Texts-A-Basic-Guide

Copyright © 2017-2019 Cindy Carman. All rights reserved.
No printed reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.
Links to this article are encouraged.

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Select Newsletter by Issue or Topic:

Ask Us
Issue: Jun 13, 2019

Finding Family History Books and Vital Records with Archive.org

by Cynthia Carman

You may have used the Archive.org "Wayback" machine to find web pages that have disappeared from the Internet, but did you know that Archive.org contains scanned copies of 15 million books and texts; even vital records and census images? These copies are free to view online or can be downloaded for your personal use. Their conversion into text (OCR) is not the best but usually the title of the work is correct.

Of course the millions of books Archive.org has indexed aren't all family history books, so you will want to use their Advanced Search. to find a family history book about your surname or a resource about the location in which your ancestor's lived.

Let's first look at finding a county history book. On the Archive.org home page click the Advanced Search and enter a state or province name and the word history. For the example I entered "Indiana Pike County History".


Select a book from the results and when the book appears enter a name or city in the upper right box titled "Search Inside". (HINT: When the book first displays the "Search Inside" box will often already have text entered into it and the search result will automatically be triggered. Usually the text that is in the "Search Inside" box defaults to the search term you had used to find the book. For the best results in searching the text contents of a book, change the search terms in the "Search Inside" box to include only one or two words.)

The search result will appear at the bottom of the page as blue markers. If you hover over a blue marker, the text that has been located that includes your search term will appear. You can click the blue markers and the search will take you directly to the page in the book where your search term is highlighted in lavender. For my example I entered Sasser Sullivan in the search inside box and it found two places where my search term appeared. Fortunately one of those results was a biography of Sasser Sullivan. County histories often contain a collection of biographies in which your ancestor may be named.

Since many of my ancestors are named in this book I decided to download it in a PDF format. Scroll down on the page where the book is displayed and you will see the options for saving a copy to your computer.

How To Search the Contents of the Books at Archive.org

You may have noticed that on the Search page there is selection for "Search Text contents". Sometimes this can be helpful but only if the OCR was effective. In this example I used Sasser Sullivan, the name for which I was searching and put it in quotes so it would be found as a phrase. Archive.org found the name in multiple copies of the same book as well as other county or state histories.

If there are too many results you can narrow them by clicking the link "genealogy" listed under Topics & Subjects to the left of the results list. It may surprise you to know that Archive.org has images for the United States Federal Census for all states. These may be helpful when the images at other websites are too light to view the writing on the page. There will be a follow up article to explain how these images can help you view the census page.

I haven't found any of the state census images on Archive.org yet. However, I have found several imaged vital records sets. In particular New Jersey's Marriage Record Indexes 1665 to 2012 have been imaged and uploaded to Archive.org. To find them do a search using the terms New Jersey Marriage.

Providing a list of the imaged vital record selections available at Archive.org is beyond the scope of this article. In case you need additional help with searching, here are two links to instructions provided by Archive.org

https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360018359991-Search-A-Basic-Guide
https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360016405152-Books-and-Texts-A-Basic-Guide

Copyright © 2017-2019 Cindy Carman. All rights reserved.
No printed reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.
Links to this article are encouraged.

Newsletters

Select Newsletter by Issue or Topic:

Ask Us
Issue: Jun 13, 2019

Finding Family History Books and Vital Records with Archive.org

by Cynthia Carman

You may have used the Archive.org "Wayback" machine to find web pages that have disappeared from the Internet, but did you know that Archive.org contains scanned copies of 15 million books and texts; even vital records and census images? These copies are free to view online or can be downloaded for your personal use. Their conversion into text (OCR) is not the best but usually the title of the work is correct.

Of course the millions of books Archive.org has indexed aren't all family history books, so you will want to use their Advanced Search. to find a family history book about your surname or a resource about the location in which your ancestor's lived.

Let's first look at finding a county history book. On the Archive.org home page click the Advanced Search and enter a state or province name and the word history. For the example I entered "Indiana Pike County History".


Select a book from the results and when the book appears enter a name or city in the upper right box titled "Search Inside". (HINT: When the book first displays the "Search Inside" box will often already have text entered into it and the search result will automatically be triggered. Usually the text that is in the "Search Inside" box defaults to the search term you had used to find the book. For the best results in searching the text contents of a book, change the search terms in the "Search Inside" box to include only one or two words.)

The search result will appear at the bottom of the page as blue markers. If you hover over a blue marker, the text that has been located that includes your search term will appear. You can click the blue markers and the search will take you directly to the page in the book where your search term is highlighted in lavender. For my example I entered Sasser Sullivan in the search inside box and it found two places where my search term appeared. Fortunately one of those results was a biography of Sasser Sullivan. County histories often contain a collection of biographies in which your ancestor may be named.

Since many of my ancestors are named in this book I decided to download it in a PDF format. Scroll down on the page where the book is displayed and you will see the options for saving a copy to your computer.

How To Search the Contents of the Books at Archive.org

You may have noticed that on the Search page there is selection for "Search Text contents". Sometimes this can be helpful but only if the OCR was effective. In this example I used Sasser Sullivan, the name for which I was searching and put it in quotes so it would be found as a phrase. Archive.org found the name in multiple copies of the same book as well as other county or state histories.

If there are too many results you can narrow them by clicking the link "genealogy" listed under Topics & Subjects to the left of the results list. It may surprise you to know that Archive.org has images for the United States Federal Census for all states. These may be helpful when the images at other websites are too light to view the writing on the page. There will be a follow up article to explain how these images can help you view the census page.

I haven't found any of the state census images on Archive.org yet. However, I have found several imaged vital records sets. In particular New Jersey's Marriage Record Indexes 1665 to 2012 have been imaged and uploaded to Archive.org. To find them do a search using the terms New Jersey Marriage.

Providing a list of the imaged vital record selections available at Archive.org is beyond the scope of this article. In case you need additional help with searching, here are two links to instructions provided by Archive.org

https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360018359991-Search-A-Basic-Guide
https://help.archive.org/hc/en-us/articles/360016405152-Books-and-Texts-A-Basic-Guide

Copyright © 2017-2019 Cindy Carman. All rights reserved.
No printed reproduction of this article may be used without the express written permission of the author.
Links to this article are encouraged.

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