Monday, February 26, 2007

Put French's Gazetteer around your neck.

Presuming you are all serious genealogists, you have a few books, right? Like good looks and dollars, “you just can’t have enough of them.”

My library has been building throughout my 40 or so years of snooping into the past business of persons before us, to about 4,000 volumes, primarily on genealogy and local history. I still buy books every time I go to a seminar or genealogical gathering, or wander around a used book shop, or enter a store that specializes in Out-of Print and Rare Books. Lately I have also been purchasing some on-line through eBay and some other sites, that are on CD-ROM, and they are very handy.

Remember, we are genealogaholics, and even though there is a twelve step program cure, no one has ever taken it yet.

This collection might seem excessive, however most of the hard copies were gathered back when “gas was cheap” so to speak, and it has been a huge comfort to be able to reach on the shelf and pull down an old friend to look up some tiny detail that I might not otherwise bother to take the time to do if I were in a large library.

Well, I have mentioned this before in other Blogs, but this past weekend I spent some time downloading many excellent old and very rare books in full, for absolutely no cost whatsoever, other than a high speed Internet connection. has been posting hundreds of thousands of books on-line since I last mentioned it. It seems like they may some day have “EVERY” book on-line! The ones I downloaded were primarily on New York State history, go figure, but they have books on every subject, for any location, and any time period that you might desire.

The books that I received (for “FREE” remember,) came from three different university libraries, Stanford, University of Michigan, and most came from Harvard. Google must have many crews working in major research centers all over the country, and it is good…

You can obtain snippets of books that are still in copyright, of which you may copy the exact title, and author, and there are links to be able to either locate a library that has this book or links to sources where you may purchase a copy.

The best method is to look for books that are “out of copyright,” and search for books by key words, using the “Full view books” search block. What that means is that the books that are returned by your search term are totally free to be able to download to your own hard drive, or to put on disk or a thumb drive, CD-ROM, or whatever. The downloads will be in pdf format and you will need Adobe Reader or what ever pdf viewer you prefer.

These books will be yours to keep to use at any time. FREE, FREE FREE…!

You will be able to build a reference library in a few weeks, to have instantly at your fingertips, that took serious researchers scores of years previously. Here are just some of the titles that were obtained most recently:

FRENCH, Joshua V.H., “Historical and Statistical Gazetteer of the State of New York,” Syracuse – 1860. (This is probably the single most important book to own for genealogical and historical research in NY State. - IMHO.)

BARBER, John and Henry HOWE, “Historical collections of the State of New York.”
New York – 1842. (Has all of those old lovely woodcuts of village scenes.)

JONES, Thomas, “History of New York During the Revolutionary War.”
New York – 1879.

WOOLSEY, C.M., “History of the Town of Marlborough, Ulster County, New York.”
Albany – 1908.

HALL, Edward Hagaman, “The Sons of the American Revolution, New York State Society, 1893-94.

BENTON, Nathaniel S., “A History of Herkimer County Including the Upper Mohawk Valley…” Albany – 1856.

HOUGH, Franklin B., “A History of Lewis County, New York.”
Albany – 1860.

BOLTON, Robert Jr., “A History of the County of Westchester…”
New York – 1848.

RICKETSON, S., “An Account of the Times and Places of Holding the Meetings. New York Yearly Meeting of Friends.
Poughkeepsie – 1821. (Quakers)

These downloads were not all without glitches. The ISP that I use is through a satellite system formerly called DIRECWAY and now is HUGHES NETWORK, but is really a very poor system. The weather affects it greatly and half way through a download the system will burp in one way or another and the file will be corrupted and you have to start all over again.

There is no way that I could ever recommend a satellite system. It is crummy at best, but where I am now there is nothing else available, (yet.) If you have a broadband connection through a cable service or through DSL on your telephone system this will be an excellent way to build a reference library that you can keep for ever and ever.

So put Joshua V.H. FRENCH around your neck, on a thumb drive necklace, to be able to have and use at any computer you might run across while doing your research, I’m sure Josh would be happy, if he only knew…

Dick Hillenbrand
Upstate New York Genealogy

American Express

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