The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


June 13, 2010

Patty Crane, Book Review: Genealogical databases available at library

JOPLIN, Mo. — Do you know or have ever wondered who your great, great, great grandfather was and what he did? How about grandmothers, aunts and uncles?

Many people do. Two of the most used resources at Joplin Public Library are for helping to find that information: Heritage Quest and Ancestry Library Edition. Both of these resources offer a wealth of information to help in researching family history.

Heritage Quest is comprised of six modules that can be searched individually. “Search Census” has the original images of every federal census from 1790 to 1930 that is still in existence. Census records were lost for some early years and for 1890 when 99 percent of the records were destroyed in a fire.

Before beginning a search, a researcher should look at the “What You Should Know About the Federal Census” link or the “Help” link. Each link details how the indexing works and what names and information are available for each census.

To look for ancestors in written histories, try the “Search Books” section. It has more than 28,000 family histories, local histories and other books. The books are full-text and are searchable by name, place, keyword, and title. Clicking on “More” next to the search will provide very helpful information on composing searches to get good results.

More than 2.1 million genealogy and local history articles from periodicals published around the world are in “Search PERSI” (Periodical Source Index). Search by people, place, or publication. The “How To’s” search leads to articles about how information is gathered, the collections and information that can aid structuring of searches.

“Search Revolutionary War” contains the records from the Revolutionary War Era Pension & Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files. Information on more than 80,000 American Army, Navy, and Marine officers and enlisted men is available.

480,000 names of African American applicants and their dependents and heirs are searchable by name, year, and bank location in “Search Freedman’s Bank.” This collection contains the records from the Freedman’s Bank (1865-1874) which was established to serve freed slaves after the Civil War.

The last module is “Search U.S. Serial Set.” Serial Set records are the memorials, petitions, and private relief actions made to the U.S. Congress. The 480,000+ pages are searchable by person, place, and keyword.

Heritage Quest is a valuable research tool and is available to everyone who comes in the library. With a Joplin Public Library card it can be used at home through the library’s Web site, On the home page click on “Reference” then choose “Genealogy” from the list.

The other resource to research family history, “Ancestry Library Edition,” is only available for use in the library. It is one of the premier databases for genealogical research.

More than 5 billion individuals worldwide are included in some form in the database. It may be in birth, death, or marriage records, census records, military records, passenger lists, naturalization records, or other records too numerous to list.

The database does include some of the same information as Heritage Quest, such as census records and local histories. But in “Ancestry” you can search multiple sources in one search. However, Heritage Quest is the better choice for reading and printing Census records, because some effort has been made to clean them.

Researchers will have access to vital records from the U.S., Canada, Germany and the United Kingdom. Also available are the Jewish collections, military collections and collections from France, Sweden, Italy, Australia, and China. Some of the collections contain photos, maps and headstones and there are thousands of family trees in the database.

Besides the wealth of information to be found in this database, forms and charts can be downloaded and printed. Researchers can use the Learning Center for help on how to begin a family tree, use records and more.

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