By: Carolyn L. Barkley
I’d like to introduce you to a new product from Gale/Cengage Learning – Genealogy Connect. This product currently provides online access to 579 titles from genealogical.com (the parent company of Genealogical Publishing Company and Clearfield). Over the next twelve to eighteen months, the collection is projected to grow to over 1,500 titles.
Genealogy Connect will be offered to libraries in subscriptions that include either the entire collection, or in “bundles” that can be combined to meet the needs of an individual library. Six bundles are currently offered, including “Getting Started” (32 titles), “Essentials (93 titles), “Immigration” (160 titles), “Colonial and Revolutionary” (189 titles), “Royal and Noble” (40 titles), and “Native American” (65 titles). Let’s take a look at the individual bundles for a better understanding of their contents.
- The “Getting Started” bundle includes how-to books and research guides to help develop a beginning genealogist’s research skills and understanding of the basics of genealogical methodologies. These are books that might be or have been in a library’s circulating collection. The contents of this bundle are available to researchers in a subscriber library or online 24/7 to the customer accessing the library’s website remotely (for those of you who like to work at home late at night in your jammies). As a user, you will be able to read a title in its entirety, or consult it as needed during the process of your research, with no restrictions due to circulation periods, renewal limits, or in-library use by another library customer. Titles include the entire Genealogy at a Glance series, Getting Started in Genealogy Online, Roots for Kids (2nd ed.), The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy (3rd ed.), You Can Write Your Family History, Sleuth Book for Genealogists, and Unpuzzling Your Past (4th ed.), among others.
- The “Essentials” bundle offers titles that are particularly important to any research spanning the seventeenth, eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. They begin to advance the beginning researcher from purely how-to information into more data or content-oriented resources. Titles in this bundle include Colonial Families of the United States of America (7 vols.), Evidence!, Guide to Naturalization Records in the United States, International Vital Records Handbook (5th ed.), New England Marriages Prior to 1700, Tracing Your Scottish Ancestry, Virginia Immigrants and Adventurers 1607-1635, Richard Griffith and His Valuations of Ireland, and Reading Early American Handwriting, among many more.
There is no overlap in titles between the “Getting Started” and “Essentials” bundles, and the two, taken together, form a core collection of materials covering a variety of subject areas that will help both the beginner and intermediate researcher define research goals, learn about best practices and locate people.
The remaining bundles add depth to the collection, and are useful regardless of an individual library’s geographical location.
- The “Colonial and Revolutionary” bundle helps to identify the earliest settlers of America and their families. While I may be prejudiced having grown up in Massachusetts and having lived in Virginia for almost forty years, inevitably many research roads eventually lead back to the East Coast and colonial times. The titles in this bundle are equally important for researchers living in the Mid-West or on the Pacific Coast, and will help them locate source records, historical narratives, and family histories, relating to participants in various colonial wars, key players in the great westward migration, and even “hidden” female lineage lines. Titles in this bundle include: A Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Colonial Gentry, American Colonists in English Records, Bounty and Donation Land Grants in British Colonial America, Genealogical Gleanings in England, Gulf Coast Colonials, Maryland Revolutionary Records, and Rejected or Suspended Applications for Revolutionary War Pensions, among many more.
- The “Immigration” bundle provides unique coverage of immigration data prior to 1820. As many researchers trace their origins through a U.S. port of entry, rather than to a state’s pioneers, this group provides convenient, comprehensive access to passenger lists and directories. Titles include A List of Emigrants from England to America, 1718-1759, A Collection of Upwards of Thirty Thousand Names of German, Swiss, Dutch, French and Other Immigrants in Pennsylvania from 1727 to 1776, Early Eighteenth Century Palatine Emigration, Scots in the USA and Canada, 1825-1875, and German Immigrants: Lists of Passengers Bound from Bremen to New York.
- The “Native American” bundle supports research in an increasingly popular subject area. This bundle’s strength is three fold: 1) teaches how to research Native American ancestors in the period before their forced migration westward in the mid-1830s; 2) provides the ability to research Native Americans who escaped forced relocation; 3) contains indexed lists of Native Americans that have otherwise been unpublished. Titles in this bundle include: Tracing Ancestors among the Five Civilized Tribes, Applications for Enrollment of Creek Newborn – Act of 1905 (6 vols), Cherokee Descendants West: an Index to the Guion Miller Applications (3 vols.), and Chickasaw by Blood (5 vol.), among others.
- The “Royal and Noble” bundle is designed for researchers who want to trace descendants from European monarchs and noblemen to American colonists and their progeny, and includes pedigree charts, narratives, and lineage records. This topic is fascinating to many individuals who want to document descent from someone famous like Charlemagne, a signer of the Magna Carta, or, particularly given recent news, Richard III. If a researcher can tie into one of the hundreds of proven royal and noble lines, they can satisfy their curiosity. Titles include A Directory of British Peerages, Magna Carta Ancestry, Pedigrees of Some of the Emperor Charlemagne’s Descendants (3 vol.), Plantagenet Ancestry of Seventeenth-Century Colonists, Queen Victoria’s Descendants, and The Blood Royal of Britain, among others.
Besides the content, Genealogy Connect is noteworthy for its powerful platform. For instance, it can search across all titles (or at least all titles in the combination of bundles a library has purchased). The researcher who is savvy technologically can access several useful options, including the ability to view an article right from the list of articles, can save the article, format it as a pdf, or email the article. When selecting an article to view, the researcher can have the article read to him or her and can download the article as an mp3 file. In addition, there is a language interface to thirty-eight foreign languages, as well as machine and text-to-speech translations into thirteen. And did I mention that, best of all, Genealogy Connect is available to library-card holders remotely from their homes, offices, or while on a research trip?
I conducted a very basic search for the word “Barkley,” across all 579 titles, and identified 261 articles including ship names, biographical entries, muster and militia records, lineage information, and state and vital records, among just a few. If I limited my search to Barkleys in Maryland, the number of articles was reduced to just eighteen.
I also searched for my eighth great-grandfather, Deacon Samuel Chapin, from whom I descend through my maternal grandmother, Mildred C. (Abbe) Smith. I had done very little earlier research concerning this individual. My files included only Samuel’s approximate birth date; the approximate date of his freeman’s oath in Boston, Massachusetts; his wife’s first name; the names of seven children, with birth or baptismal dates for just two of them; the approximate date of his move to Springfield, Massachusetts, where he was one of the original founders; and his death date. My basic search for “Samuel Chapin” in Genealogy Connect identified 478 articles. Looking at just two articles, I was able to add Samuel’s exact birth date and location in England; the names of his mother and father; his date of marriage; his wife’s maiden name and the name of her father; marriage records; and baptismal dates and locations for ten children. In addition, a possible grandfather’s name was provided, as well as lineages for this grandfather and for Samuel’s father, Samuel, himself, and two of his sons. While I have not yet reviewed all 478 articles, I will probably limit my search by geographical location to eliminate less relevant entries. For example, by adding Springfield as a limit, I reduced the number of articles to 184, and by adding Massachusetts as a further limit, I reduced that number to 56. If I wanted only articles mentioning Samuel’s son, Japhet, the number was further reduced to nine.
In a very short time, I added a variety of useful information about Samuel and his immediate family to my working files. Clearly, however, as the information was found in compiled or extracted record collections, I will need to pursue these clues and locate the sources of the original records. As I descend through two of Samuel’s sons, I have added this work to my list of research projects.
In summary, Genealogy Connect focuses on a period of American history that predates the keeping of many public records while also providing material from later time periods. Much of its contents are written by experts in their respective fields, and the majority of titles offered are unique, with very little overlay with Ancestry.com or HeritageQuest. Gale/Cengage Learning has added value to the content with indexing and retrievability.
This online resource may not yet be available in your local library, so recommend it to the librarians there! They can request a trial subscription by visiting the Gale/Cengage Learning site. In addition, an archived webinar presented to interested librarians on 26 February 2013, Engage your Genealogists and Enrich Their Stories -20130226 1836-1, is available for your listening and viewing enjoyment. The webinar runs 44 minutes (Although the first few minutes are missing from the recording, you will not miss much information and will still be able to view the live demonstration).
Genealogy Connect, whether subscribed to in its entirety, or in a combination of its various bundles, would be a crucial, well-used addition to any library’s online resources.