Ever what happened today one hundred years ago? What about current events the day you were born? Curious if there is a story behind the picture on your grandmother’s mantle? GenealogyBank can help answer these questions. It has been my favorite genealogy source by far, and I am very excited to be an affiliate! I used GenealogyBank every day the year I worked at the Local History library. This fall, I took the plunge and opened up my own account.
What is Genealogybank?
Unlike Ancestry, GenealogyBank has no social networking features. It is exclusively a document database. It’s main feature is the thousands of historical newspapers. It also boasts a collection of historical books, government records, and the social security death index. There is also a streamlined obituary database as well. Use the search to find records about your ancestors and related historical events. Over 6 million documents are added each month to the site. Subscriptions can be obtained monthly or yearly. A yearly subscription is cheaper per month than paying month to month.
Things I like about genealogybank.
There are certainly more positives for me than negatives about GenealogyBank. I prefer focusing on my own searches and research without the additional input of others. I have found several errors within linked family trees on Ancestry and found myself double checking the whole tree anyway. With GenealogyBank, I focus on the task at hand with the primary documentation to back me up. I also love general historical research about every day life, recipes, and retro advertisements. GenealogyBank is a treasure troth of these from all over the United States! Here is quick tour of my favorite features.
The Advanced search feature
GenealogyBank has an advanced search tool that is effective in quickly limiting searches. I can search for names, keywords, states, dates, and collection. The search engine also has an option to exclude words from a search. For example, if I am researching coffee, and only want articles. I would type “coffee” into the keyword search, and exclude “advertisement” in the other box. Search results can also be sorted by oldest, newest, and most relevant. The website also will react to search commands such as quotation marks.
The left sidebar
After beginning a search, you can use the left sidebar to quickly filter your results. No need to fear getting 600,000 search results! You can also expand. I usually begin with Mississippi, and expand to neighboring states when necessary.
Ever use the old microfilm reader? Strain your eyes using it from the blurry images? Not on GenealogyBank! The resolution even for the 1800s newspapers is very clear. Zooming in and out does not effect the picture quality. The search term is highlighted in bright yellow so the article stands right out from the page.
Clip and Save
Once you find the perfect article, there are multiple save options. You can save the whole page or you can crop only the section you need. I like both for various reasons. Save the whole page if there are multiple images or the article is quite large. I have been using the clip option to save recipes I have been coming across. (Chocolate ice cream pie? Yes, please!) I am slowly creating my own digital recipe box.
Things I dislike about genealogybank.
I think the absence of a family tree maker and social networking features could be large downside for some. However, the downsides to me are from using the interface frequently and the way it works with my Safari browser.
The Page Tracking
When an article or document is opened sometimes my cursor will not be able to move it around the screen. It will sometimes move too quickly. I have not tried the site with a different browser in a long time. It may do better with Firefox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer.
organization for saved documents
All saved items are kept under a “my folder” tab, but the no other organization is available. I would love to create sub folders by family, topic, or search term. Alas, that is not an option. You can title the document and create research note with it. My dream is for this to scan and save like a Pinterest board!
Gaps in documents
GenealogyBank sometimes will have gaps in the newspapers available. My local paper only goes to 1955. (When I worked at Local History it only went to 1923!) It is annoying to have a hot lead only to find that year is unavailable. However, with 6 million documents added a year it is possible for the site to catch up. I also use neighboring newspapers for big events with some luck sometimes.
GenealogyBank may not be for everyone, but it has definitely been a valuable resource for me. Here is a list of ways I use GenealogyBank in my research:
- Finding obituaries for relatives and ancestors
- Reading marriage, birth, and baptismal records.
- Trying vintage recipes, and housekeeping tips.
- Admiring old ads.
- Reading the “sensational” gossip of the time.
- Researching the story behind a picture I scanned in my family photo project.
- Imagining these cute parties thrown in society houses.
- Gazing at pictures from the past.
- Searching for my ancestors in old documents.