Lately, I've been looking into purchasing a few books for my genealogy library. Two of the books I have on my list are Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources and The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy. Like most budget-minded individuals, I've been researching prices on various sites to find the lowest one. So you can imagine my surprise (and delight) when I learned that both of these books are available online for free.
While browsing through the articles at Ancestry's Learning Center (free), I came across a reference to the site's Wiki, which I didn't know existed. So I decided to check it out. I learned that it is composed of four parts-Red Book: American State, County, and Town Sources; The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy; other great Ancestry content and user-submitted content.
It turns out that the first two parts are the actual books, which were digitized by Ancestry in 2010. Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources is broken down into an introduction, sections for family research in each of the fifty states and an index. Clicking on the link for a specific state takes you to a section that is further broken down into vital records; census records; background sources; maps; land records; probate records; court records; tax records; cemetery records; church records; military records; periodical, newspaper and manuscript collections; archives, libraries and societies; immigration; naturalization; natives; and district, parish or county resources.
So if I was curious about what records exist for say Georgia tax records, I would click on Georgia Family Research. Then, I would click on Georgia tax records. There I would learn about the history of tax records in Georgia and where I could find the ones that are still in existence today.
The Source: A Guidebook for American Genealogy is set up a little differently. Its sections include foundations of family history research; computers and technology; general reference and guides; business, institution and organization records; census records; church records; court records; directories; immigration records; land records; military records; newspapers; vital records; African American research; Colonial English research; Colonial Spanish Borderland research; Hispanic research; Jewish American research; Native American Research; and Urban Research.
Also included are the appendixes of the book which include abbreviations and acronyms; family associations (coming soon); genealogical societies; hereditary and lineage organizations (coming soon); historical societies; the LDS Family History Library; the National Archives and its regions; and state archives.
These incredible finds brought to mind something noted genealogist Arlene Eakle said in one of her lectures I attended at the 2010 Atlanta Family History Expo. I can't remember her exact words, but it was something to the effect that you never know what you might find until you take the time to look around and see what's there. While she was talking about libraries and archives, I'd like to think it applies here as well.