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Net Notes March 2007
Web sites and related news that are sure to be of interest

The Genealogist’s Address Book
The Genealogist’s Address Book, a popular resource for genealogists and family historians, has recently been updated and is also available as a CD-ROM and as an e-book.

The Genealogist’s Address Book provides researchers with names, addresses, telephone numbers, fax numbers, websites and e-mail addresses for some 28,000 organizations from archives to societies, religious organizations to special interest groups, and almost everything in between.

Author Elizabeth Petty Bentley has expanded the book to now include the County Courthouse Book (1995), and to cover more international addresses. The website rightfully boasts that the fifth edition should be renamed The Genealogist’s and Historian’s Address Book, because it now includes many more primarily historical resources, such as the New York State town and village historians and numerous museum libraries.

The physical edition of this latest edition is 791 pages, and costs about $50 us, plus shipping, the CD-ROM version 5.3, is approximately $20 us plus shipping. The e-book is about $20 us.
Purchasing the CD or e-book entitles the buyer to four fully updated versions of the database, sent via e-mail on a quarterly basis, as there are approximately 1,000 changes to the listings every month.

Victoria King

Our Roots/Nos Racines

Wherever your ancestors lived, chances are that a local history has been written about the area, at some time. And, if that area happens to be in either Canada or the United States, chances are pretty good that the text of that book might be online, somewhere — with the odds increasing all the time. For locations in Canada, your best first place to check has got to be the Our Roots/Nos Racines website.

A “local history” is not like the textbooks we had to plow through in high school history class. They deal with a much smaller area — usually, just a village, city or county — and tend to focus more on the people. In fact, you will often find two or three generations of some families discussed.

Of course, even if you don’t find specific mention of any of your own ancestors, there is immense value in simply knowing more about the community in which they lived, worked and socialized.
Available in both English and French — although the digitized page images appear only in the language they were printed in — the Our Roots website claims to be “the world’s largest digital collection of published Canadian local histories”.

The search function is available in both a “simple” form and a very comprehensive “advanced search”. If you are looking for a particular name, location or event, use the keyword search. You can search on “any words”, “all words”, “exact phrase”, “none of the words”… and even within a particular year or span of years.
Alternatively, you can browse by title, author or subject (recommended, due to some rather obscure titles in this field!).
Our Roots is one of my own favorites — uncluttered and fairly easy to navigate. And, with a choice of three different image resolutions (and, therefore, sizes), even someone with a lethargic dial-up connection can view plenty of pages in an evening.

Al Henderson

National Archive of Memorial Inscriptions (NAOMI)
For many family historians, inscriptions on gravestones (memorial inscriptions or MIs) are a valuable source of information. In the UK, they are particularly useful in establishing family relationships for the period when there was no civil registration of births, marriages and deaths (this began in 1837) and no useful censuses (the first one with good records of individuals was that of 1841).

Before this time, the most important source of information was that of the parish registers, and here you are in the hands of the incumbent of the period and place. Sometimes the registers give some indication of relationships, often none, but MIs nearly always do this — “In affectionate remembrance of Sophia Robinson, daughter of David Robinson and Mary his wife.” This information enables you to build up your family tree.

The problem is that MIs are difficult to find, particularly for those living outside the UK. Where they have been recorded, they exist in a variety of formats, and there is no central database where they can be searched. It was to make MIs more accessible that the National Archive of Memorial Inscriptions (NAOMI) was recently set up, supported by Heritage Lottery funding.

The NAOMI website, which went online in November 2005, enables family historians to check, without charge, whether or not there are any memorial inscriptions from the UK which are relevant to their researches. If you find what you want, then you can download and print not only the inscription itself, but also, if available: A brief description of the memorial; a photograph of the church or chapel; a plan of the burial ground; and some historical information about the church as well. For this, the fee is between £4 and £7 (about $7.50 to $13 us), depending on how much information you choose to retrieve.

Finally, it has another purpose; To encourage the recording and saving of the inscriptions, which are such a valuable source of information for family historians, and yet are vulnerable to weather and vandalism. To achieve this, providers of the data are paid by the system of royalties out of the income generated by those who make use of the site.

At present NAOMI is working with the Norfolk Family History Society, but it will be expanding into other areas when it has done all it can in this county. There are already more than 100,000 names from some 300 burial grounds in the database, with as many again already digitized, awaiting checking, formatting and inputting. Most of these are inscriptions from parish churchyards, but they also include nonconformist burial grounds, war memorials and cemeteries.

The more the site is used, the more rapidly this process will be carried out, so as to make it increasingly useful to family historians, especially those who live a great distance from the UK.

Dr. Richard Smart is the Director of the National Archive of Memorial Inscriptions

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