Shoppers know you can go to Tar-zhay or Wally’s World and find something to fill every need – school supplies, a patio set and a gallon of milk. If it’s jewelry and clothing you’re after, you can find those in a big-box store as well, but your selection will be mass-market, name-brand items. You’re not going to find hand-made silver earrings with lampwork glass beads, or a designer dress. It’s the same way with genealogy sites – you can shop at Ancestry.com, the big-box retailer of the genealogy world and find a large selection of databases covering many locales and time-periods. But I encourage you to “shop” at some of the smaller, boutique websites for genealogy data as well.
I made a presentation to the Puget Sound Genealogical Society today in Bremerton, Washington. (They’re a delightful group and laughed at all the right places –thank you!). There I shared with them a few of my boutique websites. They don’t have everything, but you just might find some things here that you won’t find on some of the larger websites. Here are a few examples:
Don’s List – (http://donslist.net) This website centers on Pittsburgh area databases, so if that is an area of focus, be sure to check it out. But even if you’re not doing Steel city research, you might find some gems here. They have Oakland, California and Rochester, NY city directories for a number of years. I’ve been able to find many mentions of my ancestors in these, and any time I can find another data point for my peeps, I’m a happy girl.
Distant Cousin – (www.distantcousin.com) While Don’s List has many types of records including directories, Distant Cousin has nothing but examples of this wonderful resource. You can find directories from all 50 states as well as New Brunswick, Canada. More for some places, few for others, but you never know what you might see if you point your browser into this little boutique.
Linkpendium – (www.linkpendium.com) Linkpendium is by no means a hole-in-the-wall website. It has over 10 million links to genealogical data in the US, and a small beta-test section for the UK and Ireland. On Linkpendium you can pick a state, pick a county, pick a category (newspapers, ethnic resources, cemetery records, etc) and find links to free and paid sites. Some of the links connect you back to the big-box stores, but look at this one I found in Washington àKing County àVital records: Death certificates of Finns. (http://www.genealogia.fi/emi/emi3d20r1e.htm) It’s the perfect little “beaded handbag” full of records for someone with ancestors from Finland.
Spend a little time this week “shopping” for records in one of these charming little boutiques on the internet. You’ll be glad you did.
 Scroll down the page on Linkpendium. They’ve also got links for outdoor activities. Perfect for s summer outing (or my sister who couldn’t give a hoot about my genealogy but has never met a hiking trail she didn’t like. Love you, Tori!)
Mary Kircher Roddy is a genealogist, writer and lecturer, always looking for the story. Her blog is a combination of the stories she has found and the tools she used to find them.