What is the difference between a website and a database? There are more technical and precise definitions of each term, but for our purposes a website is free to everyone. A database must be paid for either by the individual or the institution wishing to use it. The library provides access for its patrons to some subscription databases. Depending on the provisions of individual database providers, a patron who lives in Newton may be able to access the database from home. Others can be used by anyone using the library, but must be used at the library only, not off site. For a complete list of all databases, click here. Those provided by the state of Massachusetts can be accessed from anywhere within the state. The list of genealogical databases provided through the library follows.
Ancestry Library Edition (In Library Only)
Ancestry Library Edition allows you access to more than three billion names using a number of different records that it provides online. Once you find a transcribed record through Ancestry’s “Search” function, the database often allows you to click onto a photographic copy of the original record. Never rely on a transcription when you have access to an original record. There can be major discrepancies between the original and the transcription. Another Ancestry tip: their section on federal census records allows a search for neighbors. This is often very useful for finding additional family members. If you are looking for recent immigrants, it also helps you find other people from the town or village of origin. People coming to a strange country often settled around other people they knew or who shared the same culture. Ancestry does not allow the library to provide remote access, so it must be searched here at the Newton Free Library.
American Ancestors: Member Website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (In Library Only)
The New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), founded in 1845, is the nation’s oldest and largest genealogical society with a research library of over 200,000 volumes. Even if you do not have New England ancestors, you will find that NEHGS is an important resource for helping you to track information about your family history. If you do have New England ancestors, it is a treasure trove that you must check.
This database provides most of what is available to its members online to anyone using one of the library’s computers. Here you will find extensive family resources, including databases, how-to articles, research columns, bibliographies, free queries, and discussion groups. You may also browse through the online book catalog for New England, New York, and other regions. This site is not limited to the New England area as its new title suggests. Non-members can access some sections of the American Ancestors site from home. Anyone working within the library can access the database as though you were a member. Check with a librarian if you need help.
America’s Obituaries and Death Notices database contains the largest and most comprehensive online collection of newspaper obituaries and death notices published from 1980 to the present. Each obituary or death notice is indexed by the name of the deceased person. In addition, the text of each obituary or death notice is searchable, making it easy to find other categories or leads such as a place of residence, occupation, names of family members, or other personal information. There are over 29 million listings. Not all newspapers are included. For a list of newspapers and the dates covered by each, click here.