Monday, March 16, 2015

HeritageQuest from ProQuest Gets Remodel and Upgrades Thanks to Partnership with

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Have you visited HeritageQuest lately? 

About 10 days ago, the site got a makeover and some new research tools for patrons to utilize.

Michigan residents can access HeritageQuest from home through the which is the Michigan Electronic Library website. The service is free for Michigan residents who access the site using their Michigan Driver License/State Identification Card or participating Michigan Library Card. Many other states have similar setups though the state access website would go by a different name.

HeritageQuest is offered as a subscription service for institutions by ProQuest. According to a press release earlier this month, "The enhancements are a result of the expanded partnership and distribution agreement between ProQuest and Ancestry announced last June [2014.]"

So what is different or new?

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With regards to the CENSUS on HeritageQuest, gone are the former census images and the limited search capabilities. Now HeritageQuest is utilizing Ancestry's census images and search engine -- every name indexed with the power of Exact, Soundex, Phonetic and Wildcard search capabilities. (The internet might be a little slower at night with more researchers and their bunny slippers staying up late to get find just one more relative in the census before calling it a night or morning.)

With regards to the FAMILY AND LOCAL HISTORY PUBLICATIONS, there are a quite a few changes. The collection has been expanded and now includes city directories. There has also been a major redesign of the search engine. Results will give a thumbnail image of the hit, and hits will be highlighted. Choosing People, Publications or Directories presents you with different search parameters.

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I am not sure if I like these new search engines because my test results were not encouraging. Using the People Search, I entered Pazzi Lapham in the First Name and Last Name fields. If I just left things as is, I got way too many results. (I've done this search prior so I know what I should get and 5,624 results means anything and everything barely close to what was entered in the search fields came up as a result.) If I changed both fields to exact, I got not one single result. (I know this is wrong.) So I tried "Pazzi Lapham" in quotes in the Keyword field and got the results I expected to see the first time.

Unfortunately it looks like my favorite way to search is no more. The Publications Search no longer has a keyword parameter field -- only the People and Directories Search has it now. My favorite way to search was to put just a word or two in the Title search field (like a State or County name) and generally a surname in the keyword field. I often found things using this method that would not come up in other searches. I'll have to see if my second favorite way to search (keywords only) works the same under the new People Search as it did under the old Publications Search.

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With regards to the US Revolutionary Pension and Bounty-Land Warrant Application Files, this collection has NOT changed. These are still digitized images of the selected microfilming of these files. That means only certain pages from each file were chosen to be microfilmed. The search engine to this collection is not an every name index to any name that appears in the files. It is only an index to the soldiers/pensioners for whom files exist.

There had been some mention that these were now digitized images of the complete files meaning every page microfilmed. But I did a couple tests and my results say otherwise. In a search for the file of Caleb Foster of New York, the first page after the image of his file cover (looks like an index card) is an inserted sheet of paper that says "selected" indicating this is the selected filming.

A second test was for an ancestor's brother, Robert Rider of New York who served and never requested a pension or bounty-land for himself but did write affidavits for his fellow soldiers. Robert did not come up in the old HeritageQuest Revolutionary Files search and still does not come up on this revised website. But Robert does come up as a result on Fold3's collection because it has an every name index to the digitized images from the filming of the complete files. Though Robert does not have a file himself, because it is an every name index Robert's name appears because he is mentioned in other soldier's files. So my tip here is if your ancestor does not come up in a search at HeritageQuest, check Fold3 -- many libraries have subscriptions if you don't have one yourself.

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With regards to the Freedman's Bank collection, there appear to be more search parameters to utilize on this updated website. Earlier this year or late last year, a couple more locations were added. It is not clear if all surviving records have been added to this collection making it complete or not.

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With regards to the PERidoical Source Index (PERSI), this collection is now an archive version. The search engine to this collection has not been updated. The information in this collection which covers articles from the years 1800 to 2009 has not and will not be added to because the contract for PERSI online is now held by FindMyPast. So if you use this collection, remember it only goes up to the year 2009. Regardless, there is a lot of information there to utilize. Categories to search under remain: People, Places, How To's and Periodicals.

For newer articles from the year 2009 and forward, you will have to access PERSI on FindMyPast. If you don't have a FindMyPast subscription yourself, go visit your local Family History Center (FamilySearch Center) at an LDS Church and ask to use their portal services to access FindMyPast for free -- just pay for printouts or bring a USB drive with you.
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With regards to the U.S. Serial Set, it too has not changed and is still using the old HeritageQuest search engine. This collection is used to find memorials, petitions and private relief actions of the U.S. Congress.

In addition to HeritageQuest's collections, there is now a Research Aids collection and a Maps collection. 

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The Research Aids collection consists of a variety of tips and guides covering six major research areas: Getting Started, Census, Beyond the Basics, Immigration, Military and Ethnic. Essentially this is a learning area where you can expand your genealogy and research knowledge.

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The Maps collection allows you to see boundary changes for individual states or the entire United States through the decades from 1790 to 1920. The title of the collection is, Map Guide to the U.S. Federal Censuses, 1790-1920. It is a good tool for seeing changes at the country or state level.

For another boundary change resource that covers a greater time period, try the Newberry Library's online Atlas of Historical County Boundaries. In addition to the online interactive version, you can download data files to use with Google Earth.

Have fun exploring these changes.

Side Note: I am still working on my Clean-Up My Act. It is slow work but I am making progress. I am currently working on cleaning up my sources in my new file/program that did not transfer between programs very well. I'll explain more later.

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1 comment:

  1. Don't forget to read my March 19 post, where I correct myself and explain the Revolutionary Pension/Bounty-Land collection at HeritageQuest,