Feature Article: GenealogyBank Keeps Growing—Now Over One Billion Articles and Records!

[Editor's note: Tom Kemp, NewsBank's Director of Genealogy Products, has been with GenealogyBank since before it launched on October 18, 2006. He has been pleased to watch its steady growth ever since, both in terms of its continuously-expanded content and its number of users. As we near our Fifth Anniversary, GenealogyBank has reached an important milestone: we now have more than one billion articles and records in our vast archive! In the following article, Tom talks about GenealogyBank's remarkable growth and the incredible material it offers.]

This week GenealogyBank went over one billion articles and records. It now covers more than 5,500 newspapers—when it launched almost five years ago it had 160 million articles from just over 2,000 newspapers. With coverage for small towns and big cities from all 50 states, newspapers are the go-to resource for documenting every day of our ancestors' lives.

From the obituary of Peregrine White, who was born onboard the Mayflower as it was anchored off the shore of Cape Cod in 1620—the first English child born in America—to today's current new stories and obituaries, GenealogyBank gives you the largest newspaper archive for family history research available anywhere, as well as a wealth of historical books, documents and government records.

Boston News-Letter (Massachusetts), 24-31 July 1704, page 2.

We have read newspapers all of our lives and seen the news about our family and friends. Births, engagements, marriages, awards and breaking news—how many times have we gone out to buy extra copies of a newspaper to save the article about our daughter's wedding or our son joining the Navy?

Newspapers have been read, clipped, passed down and relied upon as the way to share family stories and milestones for hundreds of years.

Over the past five years I have found so many interesting items in GenealogyBank. Probably the most unusual was this passenger list. No, not a ship passenger list—but a stagecoach passenger list! I had no idea they even existed.

Rocky Mountain News (Denver, Colorado), 8 April 1861, page 3.

Speaking of lists—I didn't realize that newspapers routinely published the names of newcomers who were being naturalized. But there are thousands of such lists, providing a very helpful resource for genealogists. Here's an example, from the News Sentinel (Fort Wayne, Indiana), 29 August 1922, page 13.

Another important list GenealogyBank provides is the five-volume pensioner list for 1883. This basic reference set, actively used by genealogists, is in the "Historical Documents" section of GenealogyBank.

List of Pensioners on the Roll January 1, 1883; giving the name of each pensioner, the cause for which pensioned, the post office address, the rate of pension per month, and the date of original allowance, as called for by Senate Resolution of December 8, 1882. Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1883. Senate Document. Serial Set Vol. No. 2078, Session Vol. No. 5; Report: S.Exec.Doc. 84 pt. 1-5.

This valuable resource lists the pensioners by state and county, as well as providing their post office address.

Each entry gives:
  • Name of pensioner
  • Pension certificate number
  • Date of the original pension
  • Reasons why the person received the pension
  • The monthly pension payment
  • Post office where the pensioner receives their mail
Tip: This is a crucial source for identifying pensioners from all wars still living in 1883 and it pinpoints where they were living, anywhere in the U.S. or around the world.

Volume One
Connecticut; District of Columbia; Maine; Massachusetts; New Hampshire; New Jersey; Rhode Island; Vermont

Volume Two
New York; Pennsylvania

Volume Three
Illinois; Iowa; Ohio

Volume Four
Alaska; Arizona; California; Colorado; Dakota; Idaho; Indiana; Kansas; Michigan; Minnesota; Montana; Nebraska; Indian Territory (Oklahoma); Nevada; New Mexico; Oregon; Utah; Washington; Wisconsin; Wyoming

Volume Five
Alabama; Arkansas; Delaware; Florida; Georgia; Kentucky; Louisiana; Maryland; Mississippi; Missouri; North Carolina; South Carolina; Tennessee; Texas; Virginia; West Virginia, plus:

Countries of the world, including Hawaii (which was listed as the "Sandwich Islands"). Also: Africa; Austria; Belgium; Brazil; Denmark; England; France; Germany; Ireland; Italy; Madeira Island (Portugal); Malta; Mauritius; Mexico; Netherlands; New Zealand; Norway; Peru; Romania; Russia; Scotland; Spain; Sweden; Switzerland; Wales; West Indies; and the category "Foreign Address Unknown"

There is so much in GenealogyBank! Not just its incredible collection of historical newspapers, but additional resources you won't find in other genealogy websites. It's been exciting watching GenealogyBank grow over the past five years, and I look forward to seeing all the new content that is coming.