Saturday, June 16, 2007

Footnote.com Review - Explore Genealogical & Historical Documents at Footnote

Footnote.com
From Kimberly Powell,
Your Guide to Genealogy.
FREE Newsletter. Sign Up Now!
Guide Rating -
The Bottom Line
Important historic documents from the U.S. National Archives are now making their way online due to an agreement with Footnote.com. Digitized copies of documents such as Revolutionary War pension records and Civil War service records can be viewed and even annotated through what is possibly the best image viewer I've seen on the Web. You can also create free personal story pages to track your research or share your documents and photos. Search results are also free, although you'll have to subscribe to view, print and save most of the actual document images. In my opinion, Footnote.com is a bargain for the money.
Pros
One of the best image viewers I've seen for accessing images online
Offers access to millions of historic documents previously unavailable online
The ability to annotate and/or add comments to any individual document page
7-day free trial available
Cons
Requires the lastest version of Flash. In some cases, the site won't even load without it.
No soundex search. Some advanced search features are available, but not obvious.
No FAQ or easy answers to support questions such as the Flash issue.
Many document series are still "in progress"
Description
Over 5 million images of historical American documents and photos from the 17th, 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
Records include: Revolutionary & Civil War pension & service records, state naturalization records and case files of the FBI.
Annotate, comment, print and save digital document images.
Story pages allow you to create a simple Web page with point and click editing.
Upload and post your own historical documents for free.
Under the nonexclusive agreement, Footnote's images will be available on the National Archives' Web site after five years.
Guide Review - Footnote.com
Footnote.com allows you to search and view over 5 million digitized documents and photos from American history. Members can view, save and print the documents they find. A nifty feature allows you to highlight a name, place or date and add an annotation. Comments can also be added to post corrections or add additional information for anyone else who views the same image. The image viewer works as quickly and seamlessly as any I've seen. Since many of the titles are "in progress," I recommend that you use the "Browse by Title" feature to view the full description of the each document series, as it includes a nice completion status feature.
The biggest drawback for me at first was that the site would load slowly or hang my browser on a regular basis. A few people report not even being able to load the site. For all of you out there with the same issue, I fixed it by downloading the latest version of Flash player for my browser.

Simple search is just that - simple. You enter search terms and then choose whether to search across all documents, or within a specific document set, such as PA Western Naturalizations. There is presently no soundex search, or any way to narrow the search by document type, such as across all naturalization records. Advanced search features are available, but that isn't readily apparent to the casual user.

Footnote.com has the framework in place to be one of the most flexible and user-friendly sites on the Web for American genealogists. Once they add more records (and there are many in the works), upgrade the search feature, and do some tweaking, it has the potential to be a 5 star site. Despite being a newcomer to the world of digitized historic documents, Footnote has definitely risen the bar.
>

No comments: