Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Historical Documents Available Online

Historical Documents Available Online
from the New York State Library

The New York State Library in Albany has started scanning and posting on their website several very good research items. There will be a great assortment of them as time goes by but you can start right now with what I consider to be the very best book for New York State research, which is French’s 1860 Gazetteer of New York.

When ever I have teach classes in genealogy I usually start out by saying “Read French’s Gazetteer from cover to cover twice, and then start your research." Tongue in cheek of course, but it is truly one of the most important books there is to get a feel for the communities your ancestors lived in. What ever you do make sure you read all of the footnotes associated with your page of interest, because you will get many specific details on the earliest settlers, churches, businesses, etc.

Some of the other excellent items of interest are a great assortment of maps, Red Books, Atlases, Census info, 41 county and town histories, and one of the most beneficial collections will be the Reports of the Adjutant General for all of the New York Civil War units. If you have used that great collection of books in the past at your local library you will remember that most of them are rough and broken through years of use. This collection is not complete yet but is a work in progress.

There will be many goodies posted as the project moves forward, so bookmark the site, or add it to your favorites and return often.


Now, for what ever reason, it seems to work best with Microsoft Internet Explorer. I have been using Mozilla Firefox almost exclusively for a few years now but the library’s digital images did not want to open too well, so I tried IE 6.0 and the images do come up, though slowly. You will absolutely need a high speed Internet connection, (or the patience of Job.) You must allow pop-ups for the website because it opens each document in an Adobe Acrobat pdf format. One other thing I noticed was that the search feature within the documents did not work (at all.) Maybe it is just a bug that needs to be worked out, but you can read all of the documents in their entirety!

Thanks, New York State Library, and all the nice people working on this project.

1 comment:

Jim Allen said...

Hi Dick,

It just occurred to me that I forgot to say, "THANKS!!!" after I returned from the trip to Albany last month.

I copied over 200 pages of material on the NY Armstrongs and related in-laws. Your advice on how to start, where to spend time and what index's to check was the key reason I was able to get all the research and copying done in time.

As it was, my colleagues had to drag me out of there. The best info was in a type of DAR record I didn't even know existed. I sent for the application files and hope to meet the DAR who applied.

The American Pulpit series was another great surprise since it had detailed bios for two uncles.

Anyway, after reading about your goals in the "About Me" on your blog site, I realized you might like to know that I am grateful for your expertise and desire to share. If you don't mind, I'd like to add you to the "Thank You" page of the family memoirs book I'm writing.


Jim Allen
Rochester, NY