In the last few years a huge volume of material for genealogists has been published on CD-ROM. You can choose from hundreds of discs with everything from family histories, census indexes and passenger lists to clip art, maps and complete runs of rare genealogy journals going all the way back to the first issue. Books that take up several feet of shelf space require only a few inches in electronic form. Best of all, CD-ROMs usually cost only a fraction of what you’d have to pay for the same material in print.
But which to choose from this outpouring of shiny new genealogy resources? How can you tell which CD-ROMs are worth their weight in gold and which are better used as Frisbees or drink coasters? Try to answer several questions before you buy:
• What are the program requirements? Nearly all genealogy CDs run under Windows 95 or later, but some will also work with Windows 3.1 or a Macintosh.
• Does the disc contain material that you will refer to again and again or do you just need to look up a single name? You might be better off waiting until you get a chance to visit a library that has the CD or the original book.
• How comprehensive is the disc’s index? Beginning in 1850, for example, US federal censuses list every person. Some CD-ROM census indexes for 1850 and later, however, list only heads of household, while others cover every single name.
• What is the CD’s scope? Some publishers bestow CDs with titles that suggest far broader coverage than the discs actually contain. For instance, you might reasonably expect the CD called Civil War Confederate Pension Applications Index to contain a fairly comprehensive list of Confederate pension applications. As it turns out, the CD covers only veterans who lived in Tennessee.
Find out if the data on the CD is also available through online subscription services such as Ancestry.com <Ancestry.com >, Genealogy Library <www.genealogy.com/gl> and the Heritage Books Online Library <www.heritagebooks.com/online_library.htm>. Each of these annual subscriptions costs the same as one or two CDs, yet gives you access to much more data.
You may still find it worthwhile to purchase a CD-ROM even if the data’s online. The CD-ROM versions of some databases such as the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) give you more search capabilities than their online counterparts. Other CD-ROM databases actually contain more information than the online version. And accessing a CD-ROM you own can be faster and surer than logging on.
To get you started, we’ve sorted through the stacks of CD-ROMs and picked a selection of useful discs that should appeal to many users. We’ve noted with a code such as “AC” for Ancestry.com if the data is also available online (see the box on page 51 for the key to these codes). Most of the prices quoted do not include taxes or shipping. The dealers listed on the next page carry many other CD-ROMs, so be sure to browse their online catalogs to find more titles that might meet your particular research needs. And check out the links on the CD-ROM page at Cyndi’s List <www.cyndislist.com/cd-roms.htm> for other dealers.
By taking advantage of CD-ROMs to quickly search through huge databases, you can uncover the clues you need to make a breakthrough in your research. But keep in mind that just because something appears on a CD-ROM (or in print or online) doesn’t mean it’s true. Always try to document the information with original sources. For example, if you find a reference to a marriage on one of these CDs, see if you can get a copy of the original marriage record to verify that the information was copied correctly and to find additional clues.
African-Americans in the 1870 US Federal Census: This CD covers the entire US and lists 1,672,418 heads of household recorded as black or mulatto or born in Africa. Windows, Heritage Quest
Freedman’s Bank Records: These records provide the names and family relationships of 480,000 newly freed slaves who used the Freedman’s Bank from about 1864 to 1871. Windows, FamilySearch
Bibliographies and Indexes
American Genealogical-Biographical Index: Based on material compiled by the Godfrey Memorial Library, this set of two CDs indexes nearly 4 million names in printed genealogical records and family histories. Windows, Ancestry.com, (AC) Periodical Source Index (PERSI): Based on a database created by the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library, this CD contains 1.7 million citations to articles in almost 5,000 genealogy and history periodicals. Windows, Ancestry.com, (AC)
The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England, 1620-1633: Carefully researched by Robert Charles Anderson, these biographies of more than 1,000 17th-century immigrants include place of origin, date of immigration, occupation, dates and places of birth, marriage and death, and many other details. Windows, New England Historic Genealogical Society, (AC)
1881 British Census: This set of 25 CDs lists 30 million individuals from England, Wales, Scotland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. (You can also order separate CDs for Scotland, Wales and regions of England.) Windows, FamilySearch
British Isles Genealogical Register (“Big R”) 2000: This CD lists more than 155,000 surnames, along with the family’s place of residence in England, Scotland, Wales or Ireland, a time period and the researcher’s name and contact information. Windows, FFHS Publications Ltd.
An Index to Griffith’s Valuation: Carried out between 1848 and 1864, this survey lists every landholder and householder in Ireland. In the absence of census records for this period, Griffith’s Valuation can help you identify an immigrant ancestor’s exact place of origin in Ireland. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogical Publishing Co. or Genealogy.com, (IPRS)
Irish Immigration Bundle: Both CDs in this set provide each immigrant’s name, village of origin, age, gender occupation and date of arrival in North America. One CD lists 1.5 million Irish immigrants who arrived in Boston and New York from 1846 to 1865. The other includes images of pages from 12 volumes of passenger lists of Irish immigrants spanning 1803 to 1871 and is part of the International & Passenger Records Subscription online. The bundle also includes a book, American Passenger Arrival Records, by Michael Tepper. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogy.com, (IPRS)
National Burial Index for England and Wales: These two CDs list 5.3 million burial records and include name, date of burial, age, place and county. Windows, FFHS Publications Ltd.
Acadian-Cajun Family Trees: This pedigree database contains information on more than 600,000 Acadians. Windows, Progeny Software
Canadian Genealogy Index, 1600s-1900s: This index references more than 2 million individuals named in more than 1,000 sources, including city directories, marriage records, land records and census records. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogy.com
Dictionnaire Genealogique des Families Canadiennes by Rev. Cyprien Tanguay: This CD includes images of all pages from the original seven-volume “dictionary” of French-Canadian families from 1608 to about 1760. Another CD, lists 600 pages of additions and corrections from a supplement. Mac or Windows, Quintin Publications
La Collection Tanguay: Similar to the CD above, this includes more than 250,000 records plus the supplement, a clergy directory and Gleanings from the Registers. Mac or Windows, GlobalGenealogy.com
1790-1900 Census Records: These CDs cover selected counties in 40 states. Most span a single county and year. Windows, Census View
1790-1920 Census Records: Heritage Quest has scanned all 12,555 rolls of US federal census microfilm from 1790 to 1920 and put the images on 12,555 CDs. You can view the census records on your computer screen, zoom in for greater detail and print any page. Windows, Heritage Quest
1790-1920 Census Records: Each of these CDs covers the records for one county in one census year. Only selected counties are covered so far. Mac or Windows, S-K Publications
1850 Census Records: These CDs include both head-of-household indexes and census images for 22 of the 37 states covered by the 1850 census. Each of the 12 sets of CDs covers one or more states. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogy.com, (GL)
1790 to 1880 AIS Census Indexes: This series of 26 CDs includes one CD for tax lists before 1790, one CD for each of the six US federal censuses from 1790 to 1840, seven CDs for 1850 and another seven for 1860. The 1870 indexes, on five CDs, cover only selected states and a partial index to the 1880 census is on one CD. Most of these indexes list only heads of household, but the 1870 index to Minnesota covers nearly every person. Windows, Ancestry.com, (AC)
1790 to 1910 Census Indexes: This series of 25 CDs includes one CD for tax lists before 1790 and one CD for each of the eight US federal censuses from 1790 to 1860. The CDs index all the states through 1850, but only selected states after that year. Most list only heads of household, but the 1870 Massachusetts index and the 1910 Idaho index list every person. All of the 1870 indexes except Massachusetts include place of birth. The 1860 Indiana index covers every person and includes all information in the original census. Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogy.com
1870 Census Indexes: This series of 25 CDs covers heads of household in the entire US. Also included are every male over age 50, every female over age 70 and anyone with a different surname than the head of household. These indexes include age, race and place of birth. Windows, Heritage Quest
Your Family Name in 1870 America: You specify a surname and receive a custom nationwide listing of every head of household in the 1870 census with that surname plus all Soundex variations (to catch various spellings). The index includes age, race and place of birth. Windows, Heritage Quest
1880 US Census and National Index: These 55 CDs include not only a national index to about 50 million individuals, but also a complete transcription of almost all the information from the original census records. (See the February 2002 issue of Family Tree Magazine for a review of these CDs.) Windows, FamilySearch
1910 US Census Indexes: Both heads of household and anyone with a different surname than the head’s are indexed on these CDs. References include age and place of birth. The first CDs cover Connecticut; Delaware/Washington, DC; Indiana; upstate New York; and New York City. Windows, Heritage Quest
1910 US Miracode Census Indexes: These CDs index not just heads of household, but everyone listed in the census. The first states covered were Kentucky, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Virginia. Each state’s index is published on two or more CDs. Windows, Ancestry.com
Dover Electronic Clip Art: This series includes more than 4,400 ornamental designs and frames on eight CDs, including Celtic Frames, Heraldic Designs and Old Fashioned Floral Designs. Mac or Windows, Petersen Reproductions
Xtenda Line Data Graphs: These collections feature dozens of images and unique lettering. Choose from six CDs: Migration, America, Denmark, Ireland, Scotland and England & Wales. Windows, Petersen Reproductions
GPC Family Histories: Hundreds of genealogical books naming millions of early American settlers have been published on more than 40 CDs or CD sets, such as Early New England Settlers, 1600s-1800s, German and Swiss Settlers in America, 1700s-1800s and Southern Biographies and Genealogies. Each CD typically contains images of pages from a dozen or more volumes and an index of names. Some of these resources are now part of Genealogy Library online. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogical Publishing Co. or Genealogy.com, (GL)
HB Archives: Genealogies: These 23 CDs contain images of every page from dozens of family histories. Each CD typically has five or more genealogies totaling between 500 and 4,000 pages and an index of names. Some of these resources are now part of Heritage Books Online Library. Mac or Windows, Heritage Books, (HBOL)
Index of French Genealogies in Print: This CD catalogs nearly all French genealogies ever published in print or manuscript form and covers 72,000 names. For each family it provides the province of origin, coat of arms and references to sources at the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Power Mac or Windows, Alsyd Multimedia
Genealogy Research Guides
Ancestry Reference Library 2000 Deluxe Edition:
The new version of this CD contains the full contents of 20 of the most important genealogy reference works in print, including The Source, Ancestry’s Red Book and Printed Sources. Some of these sources are online at Ancestry.com. Windows, Ancestry.com, (AC)
Family History SourceGuide: This CD contains electronic versions of more than 150 research outlines describing major information sources in the US, Canada and other countries. Windows, FamilySearch, (FS)
The Genealogist’s All-in-One Address Book: The electronic version of Elizabeth Petty Bentley’s three popular genealogical directories lists the names, addresses and phone numbers of 25,000 libraries, genealogical societies, historical societies, vital-records offices, county courthouses and family associations. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogical Publishing Co. or Genealogy.com
German Genealogy Research Guide: This CD combines four books: Angus Baxter’s In Search of Your German Roots, Ernest Thode’s Address Book for Germanic Genealogy and German-English Genealogical Dictionary, and George F. Jones’ German-American Names. These resources will help you trace your ancestry in all the German-speaking areas of Europe. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogical Publishing Co. or Genealogy.com
Passenger and Immigration Lists: Germans to America: The first CD lists 2 million immigrants with Germanic surnames who arrived in the US from 1850 to 1874, and the second CD lists 1.5 million from 1875 to 1888. Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogy.com, (IPRS)
Passenger and Immigration Lists Index, 1500s-1900s: P. William Filby compiled this list of about 3 million immigrants to the US and Canada. Sources include published passenger lists, naturalization records, church records and other sources. Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogy.com, (IPRS)
Mayflower Descendant Legacy: This CD features 34 volumes of the Mayflower Descendant, 1899 to 1937, plus several other sources. It includes town vital records, cemetery records, wills and probates, diaries and research notes. Mac or Windows, Search & ReSearch Publishing
New England Historical and Genealogical Register. This set of nine CDs includes all 56,000 pages of volumes 1 through 148 of the quarterly journal published from 1847 to 1994. In addition to in-depth articles on history and genealogy, you’ll find cemetery, church, Bible and vital records, along with an index of names. Windows, New England Historic Genealogical Society
National Genealogical Society Quarterly: These two CDs contain every page from volumes 1 through 85 of the NGS Quarterly published between 1908 and 1997. Included are guides to research, compiled family histories and an index of names. Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, NGS Bookstore or Genealogy.com, (GL)
The Virginia Genealogist: This CD has an image of every page from the first 20 volumes of this quarterly, as well as an index to names, locations and subjects. Mac or Windows, Heritage Books
AAA Map‘n’Go: This program shows detailed maps of the entire US, Canada and Mexico. Windows, DeLorme
AniMap Plus: In addition to maps showing changes in county boundaries for the lower 48 US states for every year since colonial times, this program also includes databases of more than 200,000 places and more than 100,000 cemeteries. Windows, Gold Bug Software
The Civil War CD: This CD features detailed official battle reports, military correspondence and statistical data from five important works in 74 volumes. Windows, Ancestry.com
HB Archives: Civil War, Vols. 1 & 2: These two CDs have images of 3,607 pages from 10 books of Civil War history. Some of these books are part of the Heritage Books Online Library. Mac or Windows, Heritage Books, (HBOL)
Loyalists in the American Revolution: The 13 volumes published on this CD provide details on colonists who sided with the British during the Revolutionary War. Sources include land and pension records, recruitment lists and muster rolls. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogical Publishing Co. or Genealogy.com
Military Records Suite: These six CDs include Revolutionary War muster rolls listing 426,000 patriots, War of 1812 muster rolls listing 580,000 soldiers, 5.3 million records from Civil War muster rolls and records of Americans buried overseas, including 152,448 in World War II and 6,038 during the Korean Conflict. The overseas interments are available online on Ancestry.com. Windows, Ancestry.com, (AC)
Revolutionary War Pension and Bounty Land Warrant Applications: This series of 898 CDs contains data on 80,000 Americans who served in the Revolutionary War. Each CD corresponds to a National Archives microfilm. Windows, Heritage Quest
Revolutionary War Pension Lists: This CD lists about 120,000 veterans entitled to receive pensions. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogical Publishing Co. or Genealogy.com, (GL)
Roll of Honor Civil War Union Soldiers: This CD lists more than 200,000 Union soldiers who were buried in national cemeteries, soldiers’ lots and garrison cemeteries. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogical Publishing Co. or Genealogy.com, (GL)
SAR Patriot Index: This CD contains more than 610,000 family history records of patriots in the Revolutionary War and their descendants. Windows, Progeny Software
SAR Revolutionary War Graves: The Millennium edition contains more than 140,000 names and burial locations of soldiers, sailors and civilian patriots of the Revolutionary War. Windows, Progeny Software
Vital Information from the Guion Miller Roll: Eastern Cherokee Court of Claims, 1906-1909:
This CD lists all 46,000 persons who tried to document their descent from members of the Cherokee tribe in order to share in a million-dollar court judgment awarded in 1904. Mac or Windows, Heritage Books
American & European Family Forest Odyssey Edition: Combines family history data on Americans and Europeans, US presidents, founders and patriots, Delaware and Pittsburgh. Windows, Millisecond Publishing Co.
Pedigree Resource File: This series of CDs contains pedigrees that have been submitted through the FamilySearch Web site <www.familysearch.org>. Volume 1 contains about 27 million names and includes a Master Index for all 25 CDs. You can also order sets of five CDs and an index. The Pedigree Resource File can be searched without charge on the FamilySearch site, but the CDs also include notes and sources. Windows, FamilySearch, (FS)
World Family Tree: This series of more than 80 CDs contains thousands of pedigrees. Searching for names and getting submitters’ names and addresses is also easier in the online version. Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogy.com
Bible Records from the Manuscript Collections of the New England Historic Genealogical Society:
This CD includes 2,536 separate files, and many of these files contain records from more than one Bible. Mac or Windows, New England Historic Genealogical Society
GPC Early American Records: These CDs or CD collections contain church, land, military and probate records. Each CD typically includes scanned pages from a dozen or more books. Titles include Colonial Virginia Source Records; Massachusetts Probate, Town and Vital Records; and North Carolina Wills, 1665-1900. Some of these are part of Genealogy Library. Power Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogical Publishing Co. or Genealogy, com, (GL)
HB Early American Records: This series of 100-plus CDs contains images of books featuring all sorts of records, such as church, court, military, probate and vital records, from 26 states. Some of these CDs also have genealogies and town histories. Each CD typically has images of thousands of pages originally published in four to 10 volumes. Mac or Windows, Heritage Books, (HBOL)
Genealogical Research Directory 1990-1999: The CD-ROM version of the GRD lists 500,000 surname queries published in 10 years of the printed volumes. Coverage is international, but especially strong for the British Isles and Australia. Windows, GRD
Early Vital Records of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts to about 1850: These CDs include births, marriages, deaths and burials. Mac or Windows, Search & ReSearch Publishing Corp.
New England Marriages Prior to 1700: Clarence A. Torrey compiled this list of 37,000 marriages (about 99 percent of all marriages of New Englanders before 1700). The CD includes source references not in the book version. Mac or Windows, New England Historic Genealogical Society
State Vital Records from Ancestry: This series of 29 CDs features millions of birth, marriage and death records from 20 states. Windows, Ancestry.com, (AC)
State Vital Records from Genealogy.com: This series of more than 50 CDs features millions of birth, marriage and death records from 37 states and Ontario. Some of these resources are part of Genealogy Library. Mac or Windows, Family Tree Maker 3.02 or Family Archives Viewer 3.02, Genealogy.com, (GL)
Worldwide Vital Records: These CD-ROM sets feature 4 million vital records from North America on 7 CDs; 5 million from the British Isles on 5 CDs; 4.5 million from Australia on 4 CDs; 4.6 million from Scandinavia on 7 CDs; 12.5 million from Western Europe on 21 CDs; and 2.2 million from Mexico on 5 CDs. Windows. The Mexican Vital Records Index is already included in FamilySearch and more of the Vital Records Indexes are being put online. Windows, FamilySearch, (FS).
From the April 2002 issue of Family Tree Magazine