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Untapped Resource - Online State Archives

Continental US MapMost family history researchers are familiar with the National Archives along with the Library of Congress in Washington, D. C. and their web sites which provide some very useful resources to learn more about our ancestors and their hometowns. However, one major resource overlooked by individuals are the repositories within numerous states across the United States.

Many state governments have now digitalized countless documents, photos, vital records, newspapers, military reports, videos and sound recordings. These items all relate directly to places, events and individuals within that state and provide additional information on our ancestors. Unfortunately, not all 50 states have all or portions of their archives online. By the end of 2010, there were 24 states with varying degrees of information, photos and documents on the state archives web sites.

The following is a list of those 24 states with significant holdings online. The list consists of: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Maryland, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Texas, Vermont, Washington and West Virginia.

Over the next several daily blogs five states at a time will be reviewed for what their archives offer.

Alabama – Civil War records for 229,000 Alabama soldiers, Voter Registrations in 1867, Photograph collections, Alabama soldiers who died during World War One, Oral histories on videos, Creek Indians, Maps, Photos of civilians and soldiers during World War Two, Works Progress Administration Federal Writers’ Project of 1930s plus Church and Synagogue records. Comment: Overall a nice selection of information and images.

Alaska – In three locations; the Alaskan government, Alaskan state library and Alaskan university sites. Probate records 1885 to 1960, Photograph collections, Maps, Documents, Native Indian histories, oral histories, Index for Biographies of Alaska-Yukon Pioneers 1850 to 1950. Comment: A good selection on Native Indian tribes and events during the gold rushes.

Arkansas – Search first the CARAT (catalog of Arkansas resources and treasures) section. Biographical Index, Land records for 1853 to 1956, Arkansas Confederate pensions, online newspaper database, cemetery records, Old Soldiers Home records, newspaper obituaries, World War One Arkansas discharge records, photo collections, life in antebellum Arkansas, and Maps, Pamphlets, Artifacts as online digital archives. Comment: Excellent selection of online data, photos and information relating to citizens and events in Arkansas.

California – Numerous sections with documents, photo collections, maps and information. This site, the Calishpere, has the California gold rush period 1848 to 1865 and other historic periods. Comment: Not well organized even when using a search. Once material located there are some good information.

Colorado – the Colorado Historical Records Database. Offers summaries of records which include name, county and date. Then full copies can be ordered. They have inheritance tax, wills, voter registrations, birth index, Civil War casualties, auto vehicle tag license 1913-1917, Divorce index 1880 to 1939, Death index 1870 to 1905, and volunteers in the Spanish-American War. The Colorado State government has: Business Incorporation from 1861 to 1914, Details of the Ludlow Massacre in 1914, Index of Civil War volunteers from Colorado, City directories and prison records. The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection is online with 163 newspaper titles published across Colorado from 1859 to 1923. Comment: A wide variety of documents and information, some in full online content and other as an index. The newspaper collection is excellent.

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