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

Immigrant Servants Database

Historians estimate that more than 75 percent of the colonists who settled south of New England financed their voyages to the New World as indentured servants, convict servants or as redemptioners. This project aims to identify all immigrants described as such from 1607 to 1820 and currently has more than 11,000 entries with more being added all the time.

You have three options for searching — alphabetical, simple and advanced. For the alphabetical search, you can choose a letter and then scroll through the entries, listed alphabetically by surname, then forename. For example, if you click on M, then scroll down to Morris, these are a few of the entries you will find:

When you click on “view”, you will then see the matching
individual record.

To the right is the record for one of the James Morrises found in the original search. Note that the actual full individual record also includes a research note which contains the source citation. So, if you know who you are looking for and where they lived, you can quickly search for them using this method (though the advanced search, below, may be a better choice for common names).

If you need to cast a larger net, try the basic search. You can just put in a term and indicate whether to use Soundex or not. This search queries all the text in the database for the words you enter. For example, if you enter the term “John Morris”, you will get back every entry that has the word John and/or the word Morris. As you can imagine, this can generate a large list of results!
If you find that you are getting a large results list, try the advanced search. For this search, you can enter a large number of parameters; besides the obvious of name, date and birth place, you can stipulate religion, whether or not they were an orphan, details of whether a convict or indentured, and the where and when of departure, arrival, indenture and much more.
So, if you think you may have an 18th-century indentured servant, convict servant or redemptioner in your family tree, check this website out. — Diane L. Richard


When we think of research resources on the Internet, we often think of databases and original documents. Don’t overlook some of the hidden gems! Prologue, a publication of the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA), is one of those treasures.

Prologue magazine is published quarterly and brings readers’ stories based on the rich holdings and programs of NARA, the regional archives, and the Presidential libraries from across the US.

The hidden gem element is that many of the articles from the current and past issues of Prologue are available online. Topic indices back to 1989 and select articles from issues back to 1973 are accessible at
/index/. For the more modern issues, most of the major articles are available online.

The main page will have the table of contents of the current issue, as well as highlights. Additionally, there is a “Genealogy Notes” page where select articles have been aggregated based on themes of interest to genealogists and family historians. And, four special issues have been produced focusing on African American history and Federal Records, the American Civil War, the American Civil War: The War on the Waters and the Spanish-American War.

So, check out Prologue and learn about a piece of interesting history; you just may learn about a NARA resource that you had not known about or have your memory refreshed of a long-ago visited one. — Diane L. Richard


Have you wondered if there is a library book on a topic relevant to your family research or whether your library might have some success getting a book via interlibrary loan for you?

If you answered yes to any of these, check out the more than one billion items listed in the catalogs of more than 10,000 libraries worldwide! You can search for books, CDs and videos — all the items you’re used to getting from libraries and some items that are becoming increasingly available through Internet resources and computer files. Not only can you learn about where a resource is located, you can also get the information needed to place an interlibrary loan request.

For example, a recent search was for the Jaeger family in Swift County Minnesota. Using WorldCat, I entered the terms: Swift County Minnesota history. Fifty-six entries were found and included the following:

which is in the collections of at least 21 libraries. Armed with the name, author, publisher and OCLC number, a request was made through my local library’s interlibrary loan program and a few weeks later, the book arrived for me to examine.

And, the secret we have discovered is that there are more microfilmed versions of original documents available than most of us are aware of. Whole collections of historical newspapers (serial publications) and documents have been microfilmed and these are housed at major universities (often several) — these same universities frequently participate in interlibrary loans. This means that you might not have to go to the archive that houses the original collection; you might be able to borrow a microfilmed version and view it at your local library or Family History Center.

A project to research the North Carolinian ancestry of an African-American orphan born in Harlem, New York, necessitated looking at some newspapers covering the 1940s-1960s. I knew that two relevant papers were The New York Age and The New York Amsterdam News. Using Worldcat, I learned that there were microfilmed versions of these newspapers at several universities, found the details on publisher and OCLC number(s) and I put in an interlibrary loan request for specific issues covering November 1941 to April 1941 and December 1960; the microfilms have arrived and they are waiting for me to look at them!

You will also find that for any search you perform, convenient ways to “refine” your search are offered in the left-hand column. These may reflect time period, geography, author, format, content and more.

To be able to easily learn that a resource exists, to see whether a local library or archives has the item, to determine if it’s readily available for interlibrary loan and to have a unique OCLC code number to make sure that everyone is talking about the same item, has really aided my research. It might do the same for yours. — Diane L. Richard

Free on Ancestry (
This website was working at the time of publication, but has since been taken offline

Did you know that has content that you can access for free? In addition to the comprehensive subscription-based content, there are resources that anyone can take advantage of. The hard part is finding them!

That’s where Free on Ancestry comes into the picture. Clear Digital Media, Inc. (publisher of and other websites), understood that while does have a lot of free stuff, they don’t make it easy to find. So, Free on Ancestry was created to show you where all the free stuff is.

While all the records and resources linked from this website are free, will still require you to create an account on their website, if you don’t already have one.

The content is organized with these categories: US, Australia, Canada, UK, Germany, Other Countries, Surnames and Families, and Research Guides and Tools. And, under US, there are categories for select topics and states. The majority of free resources are for US records, including WWI Civilian Draft Registrations, US House of Representative Private Claims Vol. 3, Kankakee City Illinois Directory 1876, Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy 1718-1820 (Slave), New York Marble Cemetery Records New York City NY 1830-1937 and many more. One can also find interesting tidbits for Canadian Cemetery Records for German War Graves in Kitchener, Ontario and Convict Records for the Rebellion of 1837 in Upper Canada, where the latter also relates to the history of Australia, along with the Australian Convict Index, 1788-1868.

And, don’t forget the “learning centers” available on Ancestry, such as: Census Records, Birth Marriage and Death Records, Family Trees, Immigration Records, Military Records, Directory and Member Lists, Family and Local Histories, Newspaper and Periodicals, Court Land and Probate Records, Reference and Finding Aids, and African American Research.

Now that Free on Ancestry has made finding the free content on a whole lot easier, don’t overlook the fact that many of the other paid subscription websites may have free content — though you may have to work to find it. — Diane L. Richard

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