28 January 2009

Get Original at Footnote

A good part of a genealogist's research includes locating original documents that can provide facts that are so critical to telling the stories of our ancestors. Footnote.com, a database of documents and images, seeks to enable researchers in that quest.

Founded in 1997 as iArchives, Inc., Footnote is a subscription based web site that features searchable original documents that provide users with an unaltered view of the events , places and people that shaped the American nation and the world. At Footnote.com all are invited to come to share, discuss, and collaborate on their discoveries with friends, family, and colleagues. For more information, visit www.footnote.com.

Read the original press release for the launching of Footnote.com.

I heard about Footnote.com at a genealogy conference this past fall and was told that NARA (National Archives and Records Administration) had a free copy for researchers to use since they contributed a lot of their documents to be scanned. So, I tried it out and found documents I had not found for my research subject in other ways, including items from several vintage newspapers, and naturalization and passport applications from 1899.

I did other searches and did not have good results, since the scanned newspaper articles would pick up the first name (but it would be someone else) or the last name, but not always the two together. I didn't read the instruction for Boolean searches. I found that the first two or three hits were the best.

The Footnote.com results page gives you a quick glance at the first bit of the article or document so you can decide if it is the one you want. The results page looks a lot like the wonderful and valuable Brooklyn Eagle historic newspaper pages. Also, you can print free at NARA for a donation (or not). Try it out at a NARA branch to see if you can find what you're looking for, or subscribe to Footnote.com via the website.


Barbara Holz Sullivan

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