Friday, May 1, 2009

May 2009 e-Resource of the Month - HeritageQuest

Patrons can use HeritageQuest to find their ancestors, trace their paths across America, and learn what life was like in the areas where they settled. This essential collection of unique material is for both genealogical and historical researchers, with coverage dating back to the late 1700s. Specifically, HeritageQuest combines digital, searchable images of U.S. federal census records with the digitized versions of over 24,000 family and local histories; 2.1 million genealogy and local history articles; selected records from the Revolutionary War Era Pension & Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files; individual records from the Freedman’s Bank (1865-1874), which was founded to serve African-Americans; and Memorials, Petitions and Private Relief Actions of the U.S. Congress in the LexisNexis U.S. Serial Set.

HeritageQuest is available 24X7 from the library’s Web site with your Fauquier County Public Library card. Below are some tips for searching this database.

Searching Census Records: Things to Note

  • In most cases (except 1880), indexes only the head of household;
  • The years 1830-1850 are not completely indexed;
  • The 1930 census is only partial - VA, MD, TX, CT and DE. When asked for a timeframe as to when this will be expanded, the trainer said that it's basically at a standstill, ever since ProQuest started selling access to Ancestry Library;
  • 1880 census - This is an unusual index (you'll usually get a big spike in records for this census if you search multiple census years) because every single name was indexed, versus only the head of household. In addition, ProQuest added some enhancements, including omissions of the original records that they received from the Church of the LDS. Ancestry Library does NOT include those enhancements. More details on Ancestry Library vs. HeritageQuest at the end of this post;
  • 1890 census - Most documents were destroyed in a fire and you won't get many results for that year. Only 6600 names remain from the fire;
  • Searching by name can be difficult. Given names may have been abbreviated by the census taker. The surname may habe been misspelled by the census taker;
  • No truncation/wild cards can be used to search;
  • Since the search is by exact match only, with a name like "Smith," you may have to search under "Smythe," etc.;
  • If you are searching for someone with a unique last name, it's best to only search by the surname, not include given name;
  • You are limited to viewing 1,000 results at a time and you may be asked to limit your search by state, county, etc.;
  • HeritageQuest, unlike AncestryLibrary, allows you to sort your results by age, sex, race and birthplace;
  • Prior to the 1850 census, age, sex, race and birthplace were NOT included;
  • Includes access to The Census Book by William Dollarhide. You'll get links to the book in search results, over on the left side of the screen (Help with the Federal Census). This book includes all the blank census forms, which can be helpful to use/print out when you're looking at real records. That is because sometimes the column headings are cut off on the census records themselves and you can use these blank forms as a key;
  • The Advanced Search option is helpful when the person you're searching for has a common surname;
  • The Find By Page Number search is helfpul if you know the microfilm reel number.
Searching Books: Things to Note
  • Full-text searchable;
  • Covers family and local histories;
  • People and Place search is basically the same thing, results just sorted differently;
  • The books actually exist on microfilm (UMI microfilmed a large genealogy collection);
  • HeritageQuest is continuing to expand/grow/digitize content;
  • When searching for a name, Boolean logic used. If you type the first and last name, the database automatically searches for those 2 names within 4 words of each other as the default. If you use quotes around the 2 names, it searches for an exact match;
  • If you want, in any search input box for the Name search, you can use Boolean to search for (gertrude flanagan near michigan) and you'll get results that only have all gertrude within 4 words of flanagan and Michigan within 10 words, limiting you to results that have all those words on one page in a book;
  • If you choose to View Image, you'll be taken to the cover/1st page of the book. If you choose to View Hits, you go to the list of contents noting how many hits are on those pages.
  • The Search Publications mode allows you to search by a specific citation. This is helpful if you're trying to obtain via Interlibrary Loan. You can search in HeritageQuest and may find it there. You can then download 50 pages at a time.

Searching PERSI: Things to Note

  • Stands for Periodical Source Index;
  • Allen County Public Library in Wayne, IN actually maintains the index;
  • Over 2M records, indexing genealogy-related articles;
  • Primary English language, but a good dose of French-Canadian (thus French language), too;
  • Not full-text, just indexing of articles. If patron wants the complete article, either obtain through ILL or click on the link at the bottom to obtain through Allen County PL for a fee;
  • No boolean logic allowed in searching (no wildcards, etc.);
  • When searching, best to not be too specific (just use surname) especially since these records don't have a whole lot of information;
  • Updates are made once a year (late 2006 is the latest showing);
  • Articles, which go back to the mid-1800s, are sorted by showing the most recent first.

Searching Revolutionary War Records: Things to Note

  • Selected (not all) records of the original files, selected by the National Archives;
  • Records often include information on spouses;
  • No boolean logic allowed in searching (no wildcards, etc.).
Searching Freedman's Bank: Things to Note
  • Records for African-Americans who applied for Freedman Bank accounts;
  • The banks opened in 1865 but closed in 1874;
  • Includes information on spouses, children, even master/mistress of the plantation that the slave came from;
  • All names are searchable, not just the applicant;
  • No boolean logic allowed in searching (no wildcards, etc.).
Searching U.S. Serial Set: Things to Note
  • Search for information about people and places in the Memorials, Petitions and Private Relief Actions of the U.S. Congress (i.e., a petition to increase a war veteran's pension, for example);
  • These records allow you to place someone at a particular point in time and entries often include personal beliefs, financial situation of person, etc. In the example shown during the training session, voting records noted how people actually voted and their reasoning why;
  • Documents span 1789-1969.
Printing from HeritageQuest: Tips

  • If you click on the print button, it will print a low resolution image. It's best to choose download and you can view/print the image in Adobe Acrobat (supports versions 5+);
  • If you print from Adobe, note that the zoom feature in the toolbar will allow you to view the image at a bigger percentage, but it won't print out larger. If you want to print out larger or select/zoom just a particular section, you need to use the Snapshot tool in the Adobe toolbar (represented by a camera icon). Complete instructions for printing via Adobe Reader are available at ProQuest > Training (scroll down and see HeritageQuest documents...they cover several versions of Adobe Reader);
  • Users who download can also save/download a PDF or TIF.

NOTEBOOK Feature

  • When you're searching in any of the modules, you'll see a check box for "Add to Notebook." When you check it, a link will appear to "Take Notes." These allow users to create a list of citations and any related notes which they can then e-mail or print (download not an option for us due to security settings);
  • No images included, just citations;
  • Notebook list goes away once you log off/close out of the database.
HeritageQuest Online Census vs. Ancestry Library

The US Census (1790-1930) is the only overlap with Ancestry Library. However, the indexing is different and the quality of images are superior (higher resolution) to what you'd find in Ancestry Library.

Indexing

  • In HeritageQuest, census records for 1830-1850 are not completely indexed, and the 1930 census is partial. Only 5 states (Virginia, Maryland, Texas, Connecticut and Delaware) are included. Ancestry doesn't have these gaps;
  • In most cases, HeritageQuest only includes the head of household in the index, whereas Ancestry Library includes other names (spouses, children, etc.);
  • HeritageQuest claims a higher accuracy, however, because the indexing has been done by paid humans. Ancestry reliews on electronic scans to read characters and index;
Image Quality
Ancestry's Image Viewer is somewhat clunky and only allows you to save images as low-resolution JPEG format. HeritageQuest allows you to download/view as a PDF or a TIF. Many users first search for records in Ancestry and then go to HeritageQuest to view the image.

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