Happy 2019! I hope that your year has started with good things and blessings. After enjoying time with friends and family, I’m ready to dig into genealogy research again. In the past we’ve talked about the plethora of resources available online.
I’ve recently spent time exploring the Digital Public Library. The concept makes so much sense. This site provides access to digital records across a variety of topics regardless of the location of the original source. Let’s dive into this site!
The Digital Public Library (DPLA) can be found here. Per their site: “DPLA connects people to the riches held within America’s libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural heritage institutions. All of the materials found through DPLA—photographs, books, maps, news footage, oral histories, personal letters, museum objects, artwork, government documents, and so much more—are free and immediately available in digital format.”
Within the site itself you can choose to search immediately using the front and center “search bar” or you can pause and read one of their user guides to help you navigate the site. Here is the link to the Family Research Guide. I’ll admit that I jumped right in and began searching by locations to see what type of information was available. It was a pleasant surprise to find books, maps, plat maps, oral histories, photos of quilts and furniture and photographs related to areas where my ancestors lived. Most of the books and pamphlets had text searching features. While somewhat similar to the HathiTrust Digital Library, my search provided different results and resources so I would recommend using both sites when looking for information.
You can fine-tune your search by making selections in the left-hand column: type, subject (subtopics), date, location, contributing institution, and partner. Here’s an example. Looking for the last name of “Bodendein”, the results included an eighth grade class photo which is a great genealogy find. Choose View Full Item to see more information and magnify the picture. While the photo lists the students but not their location on the print, it does hyperlink the names so that you can click to see if there are other pictures or information about one of these students. Plus, if you know what your ancestor looked like, you might be able to identify them.
As you continue to view this page and the results, other details provides include the source material, the contributing institution and partner information. You may want to contact these locations to see if there is more material related to your search that is not digitized but available onsite.
Try entering the name of your ancestor’s hometown or a family name. It’s surprising what information comes up. I enter the name of “White Rock, SD” which is now a ghost town and was very surprised to see photos of currency specific to the 1st National Bank of White Rock. Some other towns in that area had similar currency with their town name imprinted on the bills.
Aside: Well, you know the curious …so after a bit of searching I learned that “Antique national currency was printed between 1862 and 1935. National currency was issued by any bank in the country that nationalized and desired to print money. 12,635 banks printed currency.” You can view more about National Bank Notes here. Who knew?!! It certainly gives a twist to the phrase “old money”.
Back to the Digital Public Library…Much thought has gone into this site to make it searchable and useful to the family history researcher as well as those interested in cultural heritage. Plan to take some time to explore this site. You never know what nugget of information you’ll find.
“As the world becomes a more digital place, we cannot forget about the human connection.”
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.