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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Go Shopping At Ancestry Mall

Donna Potter Phillips The Spokes

On the outskirts of most every American town or city is a sign declaring its name and population, and offering a welcome to travelers.

So it is with the Internet “town” of Ancestry.

Typing in the address http:/ / will take you to the “Welcome to Ancestry Home Town” site on the Internet. It’s almost one-stop-shopping for genealogists. Or should I say one-stop-learning, or one-stop-finding?

The Ancestry home page is modeled on a small town and all its links spring from places in that town. There’s the home town Newsstand, a weekly electronic newsletter with the latest information in the genealogy community. Ancestry Times can be read online, with information about regular contributions from three of the nation’s most recognizable online genealogy experts, including Richard Eastman (Compuserve), Dear MYRTLE (America Online) and Myra Vanderpool Gormley (Prodigy).

The Mall is a secure online site where genealogists can shop for books, magazines, CD-ROMs, software and other products sold by genealogy vendors. The home town Travel Bureau contains links to hundreds of other important genealogy Web sites.

In the Ancestry Academy, visitors can freely browse professionally prepared lessons created by DearMYRTLE and other experts. The Community Tree is a database of contributed pedigree information from genealogists worldwide and can be freely searched by visitors to the site. The Town Hall asks for readers’ input and ideas via online surveys, and the home town Detective Agency offers professional genealogy help.

This Ancestry Library is one place all genealogists should head for when accessing this site. It has a Free Reading Room and a Paid Subscription Section housing what’s said to be the largest online databases.

Some databases in the free section include: the Social Security Death Records Benefits Index, American Marriage Records Before 1800 (some 75,000 marriages), a Geographic Reference Library, an American Biographical Library (nearly 2,000 prominent Americans born before 1800) and many more. Ancestry intends to continually add new databases to this section.

For a charge of $4.95 a month, or $49.95 a year, Ancestry home town citizens can buy a library card allowing unlimited access to an enormously growing library of online databases. Included are all of the free section databases, plus two long pages of database descriptions too lengthy to include here. And, at the recent National Genealogical Conference in Valley Forge, Pa., an Ancestry representative said the company intends to add new databases monthly.

Another announcement was that Ancestry Publishing has acquired the exclusive electronic publishing rights to the PERiodical Source Index (PERSI). With more than 1 million citations, PERSI is the largest and most-widely used index to English-language genealogical and historical periodicals in the world. Prior to this agreement, PERSI was only available as a multi-set of large and expensive books. (This reference set is in the Genealogy Section of the downtown Spokane Public Library.) Now PERSI will be available in its entirety on a full-text searchable CD-ROM from Ancestry. I don’t yet know its price and availability, but it wouldn’t surprise me if sometime in the near future, this fantastic index would show up in the Paid Subscription Section of the Ancestry home town Library.

I have my Ancestry home town Library card and I suggest you obtain one, too.

Donna Potter Phillips welcomes letters from readers. Write to her at The Spokesman-Review, Features Department, P.O. Box 2160, Spokane, WA 99210. For a response, please include a self-addressed, stamped envelope.

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