SNGF: Genealogy Database Wish List: PA Marriage, Deed, and Probate Indexes

<div class=\"postavatar\">SNGF: Genealogy Database Wish List: PA Marriage, Deed, and Probate Indexes</div>

Randy Seaver poses the question for this week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun : Define one or more genealogy or family history databases, that are not currently online, that would really help you in your research. Where does this database currently reside?

I have two database wish lists. Well, both wishes would be considerably more than two databases – maybe two series of wish lists would be more accurate. The first already exists in many of the PA county courthouses I have visited. The second is something that I have almost never seen, but would love to see one day.

1. PA Marriage, Deed, and Probate indexes: These indexes are already available at most of the courthouses to which I’ve been. Several, including Jefferson and Armstrong counties, already have the deeds themselves scanned and available in-person. If these databases are available on-site – how much more difficult would it be for one of the major genealogical companies to purchase or lease the rights to use the already-created indexes? Many PA counties already use a similar, pay-as-you-go service to access many of their records, so perhaps there is a conflict there. Maybe a privacy law issue? I’m not sure, but I AM sure I’d love to see all those indexes available to browse from home over the holidays!

2. This is a dream index – and perhaps not for the armchair internet genealogist who doesn’t want to have to leave the house. Wouldn’t it be great if you could go to the website of any county of whichever state you might happen to be researching and find a complete catalog of all the county records since the county’s inception? You could look at a table that tells you the record collection’s name, what years it covers, a brief description of the records it contains, and where the original and other copies of that collection exist. As they come online, why not link to those collections? And I’m not talking about just the birth, death, and marriage records. I’m dreaming man, I want ‘em all – anything and everything that was created at the county level. While we are at it, let’s make it keyword or tag-searchable so we can find any and all records of a particular type or containing particular information.

But enough about receiving – this is the season of giving. Why not volunteer to help with (or organize, if need be) an indexing project at a local historical society or any one of interest to you? That is one of my(okay, so far the only) New Year’s resolution: I resolve to participate in at least one indexing project this year. Let’s not simply be users of these databases – let’s help to be creators. Happy Hunting, everyone!

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One Response to SNGF: Genealogy Database Wish List: PA Marriage, Deed, and Probate Indexes

  1. avatar Staats Chris says:

    I’m not normally critical of paying for the use of online information, databases, and images, but…

    Since posting this wish list a few minutes ago, I decided to check into whether or not any new info was available in some of the PA counties I normally research. I was initially excited to see that the many of the indexes, and even some of the images were available through a company called Infocon on a subscription basis. My excitement quickly abated as I read the subscription agreement: $25 “setup fee”, $1.10 PER MINUTE, with a minimum bill of $25 per month? So in the first month, the least amount I can expect to pay is $50? Then if I use the system at all the next month, I get another $25 bill – even if I use 3 minutes? I also love the disclaimer that sometimes system access is slowed down by circumstances out of their control. HOW ABOUT NOT CHARGING PER MINUTE THEN?

    Sorry – but I can’t see any way to justify that kind of cost. At $325 per year (assuming the setup fee and minimum monthly billing, which allows you a little less than 23 minutes per month), that is more expensive than Ancestry’s full-access membership. I don’t understand who this would be useful to at that price and that little usage.