20 June 2010

Use your library card to access databases for free

Public libraries are wonderful resources. Not only can you borrow books, movies, and music, you can request materials from other libraries and access special databases that are often only available to libraries and schools.

My local library subscribes to many worthwhile reference databases. I can visit my library and search millions of records on Ancestry.com, without paying an annual membership fee. Other databases are accessible to me at home by using my library card number. For example, I can search for obituaries and news stories from the Boston Globe, the New York Times, and several local newspapers—both recent and historic issues. For me, however, the most useful database accessible through my library card is HeritageQuest Online. And I can view it in my pajamas!

Currently, HeritageQuest has seven different searches:

Census: Images from the complete U.S. Federal censuses from 1790 to 1940.

Books: 250,000+ local and family histories, searchable by names and locations. You can browse through the list of books alphabetically and even read a book page by page.

PERSI (or PERiodical Source Index): Search through this index of 2.1 million genealogy and local history articles by name, place, or keyword. Search periodicals by title or look for how-to articles by record type.

Revolutionary War: Search selected files from Revolutionary War-era pension and bounty land warrant applications. Note: These are the “selected” files, chosen for their genealogical value, not the complete files.

Freedman’s Bank: This bank served mostly African Americans after the Civil War (1865-1874). Details may include parents, siblings, spouse, children; birth and death date and place; plantation, master; current residence; military information; occupation, etc.

U.S. Serial Set: Search for private relief actions, petitions, and memorials handled by the U.S. Congress.

Check your local library to see what databases are available to you for in-library use or with remote access. Many libraries subscribe to HeritageQuest Online and various newspapers as well as biography, historic and current events, and reference databases.

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