More states, regions and cities are taking their archived records out of moldy basements and stuffy stacks and digitizing them for all the world to see and use.
Pennsylvania, for example, recently launched the Archives Records Information Access System (ARIAS) at www.phmc.state.pa.us. This site offers 200,000 images relating to Pennsylvanians who participated in the Revolutionary War, Spanish-American War and World War I. Now 300,000 Civil War and Mexican Border Campaign service-card images are being loaded into the system. Eventually, state officials say, the site will feature millions of digitized records, including 19th-century county birth, death and marriage dockets, and photograph collections.
The Arkansas History Commission has posted the first batch of 13,000 historical images at www.ark-ives.com/photo.
Galleries available for viewing include Ernie Deane Photographs, Barber Photographs, Donaghey/Bryan Campaign Tour, Travelers Baseball, 1927 Tornado and Occupied Arkansas. Search the collection and, if you find a photo you’d like to keep, order it as a photographic print or digital file. The commission plans to add smaller groups of photographs as funding permits.
The Minnesota Historical Society recently launched an online index of death certificates to improve access to this valuable resource. The database indexes certificates from 1908 through 1946, and you can search by name, year of death or county of death at people.mnhs.org/dci.
“This is just the first phase of an ongoing project to increase access to Minnesota’s official death certificates,” says Duane Swanson of the society and state archives. “More years will be added as records are microfilmed and available at the Minnesota State Archives.” To get copies of the original record, you can visit the society library in St. Paul, Minn., or order a certified copy by mail for $8.
In Tampa, Fla., one retired couple created a database of almost a half-million Tampa Bay area deaths between 1895 and 1979. Art and Norma Schmidt spent the last five years transferring obituaries from local newspapers into an electronic database of 421,000-plus deaths. Search for a name or year, and you’ll find the date and page of the newspaper with that person’s funeral notice or obituary. The Schmidts also added articles from historical society journals about Tampa Bay history to their database, called TRAILS (Tampa History Research Automated Index to Library Services). You can access the TRAILS database from your own computer through the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library site at www.thpl.org/thpl/eresources/thor/thor_dialup.html.
Susan Wenner is associate editor of Family Tree Magazine.