Monday, November 24, 2008

Houston Public Library's Fantastic Collection Coming Online

There is some really exciting news coming from the folks at FamilySearch and The Houston Public Library. (See press release below) In the October 2008 Episode of The Family Tree Magazine Podcast I had an opportunity to interview Susan D. Kaufman, manager, Houston Public Library’s Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research. They have a fantastic collection of genealogical resources. Listen as Susan discloses what one of her favorite collections at the Houston Library happens to be!

Gulf Coast State Histories Slated for Online AccessHouston Public Library Joins FamilySearch in Digitization Effort SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH

Thousands of publications that capture the diverse histories of Gulf Coast states will be accessible for free online.

FamilySearch and the Houston Public Library announced a joint project today to digitally preserve and publish the library’s vast collection of county and local histories, registers of individuals, directories of Texas Rangers, church histories, and biographical dictionaries. The digital records will be available for free online at and

“Houston Public Library has one of the top 10 genealogy libraries in the nation and a very strong Gulf Coast and international collection,” said Susan D. Kaufman, manager, Houston Public Library’s Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research. “Visitors come from all over the country to visit the library. Researchers will benefit from the convenience of online access to the collection targeted under the joint venture with FamilySearch,” added Kaufman.

In 2007, FamilySearch announced its plans to create the largest and most comprehensive collection of free city and county histories online. Over 23,000 digital publications have been made available online since then. The addition of Houston Public Library and its collection furthers that goal.

Under the agreement, FamilySearch will digitally preserve thousands of Houston Public Library’s historic publications collection and provide free access to the images online. The targeted publications range in date from 1795 to 1923.

The new digital collections published online will have “every word” search capability, which allows users to search by name, location, date, or other fields across the collection. The search results are then linked to high quality digital images of the original publication. Users will also be able to just browse or read the publications as digital books online if they prefer.

The digitization efforts have already begun, and publications are now viewable online. Texas records are the first publications targeted by the initiative, followed by other Gulf Coast states. The project will take up to five years to complete.

Digital publications will be noted and hyperlinked in the Family History Library Catalog at as they are digitized. The growing collection can be accessed currently at (go to Search Records, and then Historical Books).

“We are honored to be part of such an important and beneficial initiative with a world leader like FamilySearch,” said Kaufman. “The digitization and online publication of Houston Public Library’s historic collections will help increase the inquisitiveness of library patrons and create a heightened sense of awareness of the library’s resources—which then brings customers back more often with more research questions. It’s a win-win for everyone,” Kaufman added.

FamilySearch is providing the computers, scanners, and camera operators required to complete the project. FamilySearch previously announced projects with Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, and FamilySearch’s own Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

The Houston Public Library’s Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research is also a FamilySearch Affiliate Library. That means local patrons have access to millions of microfilms from FamilySearch’s vast genealogical collection in Salt Lake City, Utah. Patrons can order research material from FamilySearch through the library and use the library’s film readers and copiers to further their genealogical efforts.

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