Aren’t we fortunate to have so many online sites and search options today? We could search for the rest of our lives and never discover everything! I was reading an excellent article “Diamonds in the Rough” by David A. Fryxell in the May/June copy of Familytree Magazine. Among the free sites he reviewed, Internet Archive was featured. I decided to delve into this site myself and share what I’ve learned.
According to the site: “The Internet Archive, a 501(c)(3) non-profit, is building a digital library of Internet sites and other cultural artifacts in digital form. Like a paper library, we provide free access to researchers, historians, scholars, the print disabled, and the general public. Our mission is to provide Universal Access to All Knowledge.” The address of Internet Archive is www.archive.org which is not to be confused with www.archives.gov which is the National Archives (NARA). Another great site.
As the article points out, the easiest way to start looking is to use the search tab (not the advanced search) so that’s what I did. I searched for “Grafton North Dakota” to see what I could find. A variety of items were displayed; you can filter to only see text documents vs maps vs audio. Since the results were manageable, I chose to view all. Among the results was a copy of the “Walsh County North Dakota in World War”. Because I knew my grandmother’s cousin served in World War I and lived in Walsh County, I ‘opened’ the book and searched using the search internal option. The search provides markers on the progress bar below the book. This allows you to quickly go to the page found in the results. Below are screenshots from this search to give you an idea of what you could view.
When you choose a book or pamphlet you can either download it or you can view online. Turn the pages by tapping on the page you want 'turned'.
Results of the search within the book shows a picture and short bio of my Grandma's cousin.
Another search of “North Dakota” resulted in a brochure published by the United States Railroad Administration promoting North Dakota Agriculture in 1919. It includes great pictures and snapshot of the state. If you have family in North Dakota who are or were farmers, this might interest you.
There is another option on the site called “the way back machine” which searches for archived internet data. I think it might be useful if you had an old internet source from past resource and wanted to track down the data again or find additional information. My initial searches were not fruitful, but I will try this option again.
Play with this site and see what you can find related to the places your people lived or industry related and historical events. When we write our family stories, adding color and layers to the facts, help our readers understand their ancestors better. Happy searching and writing!
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.