By William H. Teschek, Assistant Director
If you are interested in genealogy we've got a treat for you on the library's computers. Through a service of the New Hampshire State Library we offer access to AncestryPlus, a website that offers a wide variety of databases to help the family researcher, including: images of all available U.S. Censuses from 1790 to 1930, many with indexes for easier searching, military service databases, such as the Civil War Pension Index, the Immigrant and Passenger List for one of the largest collections of immigration information, and the Social Security Death Index which covers individuals who died after the advent of Social Security. AncestryPlus also contains a wide variety of other sources such as city directories, published histories of families and counties, old birth and death records, plus much, much more. It also has a growing collection of records from foreign countries.
Access to the census records alone make this web resource a real treasure. Since 1790 the U.S. government has taken a census of its population every ten years. Those records are open to the public up to the year 1930, but beyond that, records are unavailable for 72 years. Before these records were made available on the web in places such as AncestryPlus, one had to travel to a library or archive that had microfilm copies of the records, or else order them through inter-library loan at your public library. Now these records can be easily accessed online if you have a subscription to the service. This subscription is only available on library computers, so you can't do it from home unless you purchase your own subscription.
We also subscribe to another service called "HeritageQuest", which allow access to census records from home as well as from the library. They index some years that AncestryPlus does not, so they compliment eachother well. In addition, HeritageQuest makes available the full text of tens of thousands of genealogy and local history books. Looking for a family that lived in Wisconsin in the 1800s? You're not likely to find a book on the town they lived in here at our library, but now through HeritageQuest you might be able to access it online, from the comfort of your own home.
Census records can tell you a great deal about your family that you may not have known. As an example, take the case of one of our library volunteers, who, using the 1920 and 1930 censuses, was able for the first time to discover the names of her mother's parents, and the fact that her mother had a sister she never knew about. In my own personal research I've enjoyed looking up my parents and my wife's parents as well as branching out to view the families of my grandparents' and great-grandparents' siblings. Going back into the 1800's census records are one of the best (and occasionally the only) sources of information on many of our ancestors.
If you are a novice to genealogy, AncestryPlus can help you out here as well. They offer a library of online articles that are helpful for beginners, as well as some that may help you when you have hit that brick wall and need a nudge over it. A learning center will help with those areas that complement genealogy, such as history, geography, and computers.
Our library's website has several more sources of information of interest to genealogists. To check them out, go to the library's website (www.hampton.lib.nh.us) and click on the "Reference Weblinks" button on the big blue toolbar at the top of the page, the select "Genealogy" from the subject directory that comes up.