Always looking for new ways to mine information and expand my genealogy research, I recently learned about ArchiveGrid. This search engine provides a unique way to search for archival information by the location you are interested in exploring. Let’s look.
According to the ArchiveGrid site, “over 1000 different archival institutions are represented with over 5 million records describing archival materials.” This allows researchers to find primary source materials held across the world. Some are available digitally while others would require access to the physical materials. When I first tried a search, I was disappointed to find mostly records that had to be searched onsite…at least right now when many places have not fully opened. Some day it will be fun to go to the actual archives. A tip for finding digital records only is to include the following behind your search term “has_links:1” to your search. This worked like a charm.
As an example of a search that I did: Calumet County Wisconsin “has_links:1” and it brought up several archives to explore. After exploring the results and choosing to see digital records for University of Wisconsin-Madison Library and then browsed in their Archival Resources of their Collection and found the Wisconsin Veterans Museum. I wasn’t familiar with this organization but in addition to the physical museum, they have digital records pertaining to veterans as well as oral interviews. I choose to research their Civil War Veterans database where I found confirming information about my Civil War veterans. It is always fun to see their names in a search. And remember that perhaps you’ll find someone from the same community or regiment that will give you clues about your ancestor’s experience.
I think this could be a gold mine for someone who finds an oral history or a photo of an ancestor or pictures of their uniform. This is a good example of how a site like ArchiveGrid broadens our search for family history. There are so many sites that don’t show up with an initial search using Bing or Google but using this tool to find archival information benefits the archives and us. And they already include archives from Canada, Europe and continue to expand. You can find more details about archival locations via the ArchiveGrid Wiki.
I’ll apologize in advance because once you start searching, zigzagging and leapfrogging to interesting sites and archives, you easily will see your entire afternoon disappear. Have fun exploring this interesting way to look for more resources as you research your family history.
With a lifelong passion for genealogy and history, the author enjoys the opportunity to share genealogy tidbits, inspiring others to research and write their family story.