Thursday, August 18, 2011

World Vital Records Online Subscription Access

Thanks to an anonymous donation to the Local History department, another online genealogy giant is now available to our patrons.  Already available at any of our seven library locations is Ancestry Library Edition (ALE).  In addition, American Ancestors (formerly New England Ancestors) is available to patrons who use the Local History Collection in Decatur.

Now we add to the list World Vital Records (WVR), another player in the online community of genealogical subscription databases.  WVR has been around for quite a while, but it hasn't been until recently that they have improved their selection of databases to the point where they are competitive with other subscription sites. 

WVR does have a tendency to regurgitate content from other websites, some that are already free access.  The biggest examples of this are Google Books and Find-A-Grave.  They also include in their selections the WWII Enlistment Records which are already available on Ancestry.com and for free on the NARA website.  Even though WVR does draw some of their search results from free outside resources, they do so efficiently and neatly, allowing you to search many sites at once and the hit list arrangement is pleasing.

There are quite a few things that appear to be unique to WVR, not least of which is the many newspapers they have available, fully searchable.  This is done through a partnership with NewspaperARCHIVE.com.  WVR also has the images of the Everton Pedigree Charts & Family Groups Sheets collection, something that was sponsored by the Everton Brothers (publishers of the Genealogical Helper) a couple of decades ago.  Back in the days when I was using the Roots III software to organization my genealogy (1994), I printed out a stack of family group sheets and sent them into Everton Brothers.  I never heard anything more about them and never knew where they went, but now see images of them on the WVR site.

The main search page is very similar to others of its kind, allowing for name variations using wildcards, and the narrowing of a search by location and time period.  Some of the database categories that you can expect to find on WVR include: 

  1. Newspapers & Periodicals (from in & out of the U.S.)
  2. Vital Records
  3. Yearbooks
  4. Military 
  5. Census & Voter Lists
  6. Local & General History
  7. Family History & Biography
  8. Family Trees
  9. Land & Property Records
  10. Court & Probate Records
  11. Directories
  12. Government Records
  13. Historical Maps & Gazetteers
  14. Church Records
I have also noticed that the term "World" in WVR is legitimate as there is significant content from other countries in most of the categories. As I touched upon in my previous blog about free content on subscription websites, WVR has quite a few things that may be viewed for free.  Searching is always free, but you don't always get to see the results without a subscription.  Sometimes searching alone can be very helpful.

All-in-all, WVR is worth a peek for some of those illusive ancestors.   For more information about how to access World Vital Records through the Van Buren District Library, contact us.

Nameless Picture of the Day

 Unnamed Civil War soldier
picture part of the Renbarger family estate,
founders of Galien, Michigan
M1784
Can you identify the soldier in this photo?  Please contact us if you any information and we will publish it in a future blog.  Please include the five character catalog number with your e-mail.