Linkpendium: A Genealogy Gem!
Linkpendium is frequently the first website I visit when doing genealogy research, whether for a geographic locale I am familiar with or one new to me! The surprising aspects of this is that
the site is that it is completely FREE and that it does NOT contain any original data. It is a gateway that hosts a list of links, organized by state and county, of where data and information can be found online. And, it is not a "fancy" site and it makes up for its lack of glamour with the quality of what it contains!
Both free and paid resources are listed. Because of this, it is a fast and easy way to get a sense of what types of online resources are available for an area; if little is listed I know that offline resources will be very important and if a lot is listed, I have an increased chance that I might find what I seek without getting out of my pjs.
Linkpendium was developed by Karen Isaacson and Brian Leverich, founders of RootsWeb genealogical community site. Currently, it contains over 9,970,000 genealogy links.
The genealogy element of the website has three main sections -- Localities: USA, Localities: United Kingdom and Ireland (newer element) and Surnames: Worldwide. Most of my research time is spent perusing Localities: USA
Before focusing on the Localities: USA, let's get our feet wet and briefly discuss the Surnames:Worldwide component.
First, choose the first letter of the surname of interest. Then, you identify the first three letters. You will see a list of the surnames that match your criteria -- click on the one that interests you.
You can then click on any of the links to access the referenced material.
This is the page where I typically start my use of Linkpendium, http://www.linkpendium.com/genealogy/USA/. We'll use North Carolina as our reference state for our foray into Linkpendium. There are currently over 31,600 links included for North Carolina. When you click on North Carolina (or any state), you are then taken to a page that includes:
- Statewide resources
- Independent cities, renamed counties, discontinued counties
- A list of each modern county
For example, for North Carolina, there are several obsolete counties that a researcher needs to be aware of. For each of these, the modern county where relevant records may be found are listed.
Now, let's look at Wake County, North Carolina. There are over 830 resources listed. These resources are organized alphabetically by topic. Each resource is identified, the source for that resource is given and if it is free, or if payment is require, it's indicated with ($). The majority of what is listed can be accessed via the Internet, however, there are references to books, CDs and other resource collections that cannot be accessed online, but can be purchased (e.g. items published by Genealogical Publishing Company).
For each topic there is either a visible list of relevant resources (e.g., Bastardy Bonds and Records, Wake Co, 1772-1878), or you will find an entry like "Cemeteries (28)" where the word cemeteries is a hyperlink. This tells you that there are 28 entries for this category and that they are listed on a separate page. If there are no relevant resources of a particular type (e.g., "Bible Records"), then that category will not be included.
This website offers a wealth of resources for researching genealogical resources at the county or state level. Though I find Linkpendium fairly comprehensive, it is not exhaustive. I still check subscription database services, local repositories and societies, Cyndi's List and other online resources I believe can be relevant to my search. And if you know of a link to information that they don't have, at the bottom of almost every page, you will find the option to "Add your favorite websites to this page".
Some of the types of information listed are obvious, but if you look around, you can find useful data in unexpected places. If you are like me, two categories that appear easy to ignore are Projects and Miscellaneous Data. Projects is an area that you do not want to overlook, as it includes links to USGenWeb, American Local History Network, Genealogy Trails History Group and local projects whose goal is to preserve information on our ancestors, typically with free access.
As you survey the wealth of data available online, you will find wonderful bits and pieces specific to a state or county. Returning to Wake County (NC), we find some of the following Internet-based resource collections, some of which are unique to Wake County and some which are also available for other counties:
- Bastardy bonds (select counties)
- Bird's eye view of the city of Raleigh, North Carolina 1872
- Raleigh City Directory, 1899-1
- An abstract of North Carolina Wills (statewide)
- Dictionary of North Carolina biography index (statewide)
- Cemetery census (select counties)
- News Items & Marriage and Death Notices in Weekly Standard, 1859-1864 (a statewide newspaper published in Raleigh)
- Denmark Photography of Raleigh
- and much, much more
Linkpendium is a website for anyone doing US genealogy -- instead of searching blindly around the Internet, check out what is listed here! I start just about any project, whether I am researching a familiar location or embarking on my first foray into a new county, here. As mentioned, I find that I quickly get a sense of what I may or may not find online and I am frequently "pleasantly" surprised by what is available online.
If resources are not available online, then I have easy access to the contact information for the local libraries, government entities and genealogy societies that are available to assist my research. Because of this, Linkpendium is one of the few resources that I can say I consult for every genealogy project that I work on.
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