Jefferson County [Alabama] Probate Court, Loose Records (1852-1936)

Jefferson County Probate Court, Loose Records (1852–1936) (Birmingham Public Library)


This online database provides access to over 600 boxes of loose probate records for the Birmingham area, available in the Probate Records Room in the Jefferson County Courthouse.

For each entry, the index provides names, dates, the type of proceeding, the Family History Library microfilm reel (if microfilmed), and notes. Types of proceedings include administrations, apprenticeships, adoptions, birth records, land divisions, and many others. For adoptions, the notes may include name changes and both birth and adoptive parents’ names.


Many of the records included in this database have not been microfilmed, so this index offers a much-needed finding aid. The robust search engine allows searching by first or last name (including options for “starts with,” “contains,” “exactly,” and “sounds like”), probate date (+/- 5 years), type of act, and keywords. Copies of original records can be obtained from the Jefferson County Courthouse.

Explore the “Jefferson County Probate Court, Loose Records (1852-1936)” database at

This resource is one of over 9000 listed in version 3.0 of Online State Resources for Genealogy. To purchase the ebook, visit


Heyward Album (South Carolina)

Heyward Album (University of South Carolina University Libraries Digital Collections)

Heyward Album

Historical collections related to the Civil War era have been increasingly digitized over the past few years. The “Heyward Album” (donated by Katherine Bayard Heyward and Duncan Heyward) contains dozens of portraits of prominent Confederate officials, including leading secessionists, members of the Confederate Congress, and officers in the Confederate Army.


Southern genealogists and historians may enjoy putting faces to the many names we come across in our reading.

Explore the “Heyward Album” collection at

This resource is one of over 9000 listed in version 3.0 of Online State Resources for Genealogy. To purchase the ebook, visit

1829 Alumni Catalog (Illinois College)

1829 Alumni Catalog, Illinois College (Consortium of Academic and Research Libraries in Illinois)

The title of this digitized book is misleading. Illinois College was founded in 1829, but this volume was published in 1912, providing the names of former faculty, alumni (by graduating class), and former students (listed alphabetically). Where known, the then-current address of each person is also provided, as well as details like degrees earned, organization membership, and current occupation.

This volume may provide access to further information about Illinois College attendees and graduates. For further research, it may be possible to locate yearbooks or mentions in student newspapers for some of the later graduates.

Explore the “1829 Alumni Catalog (Illinois College)” collection at

This resource is one of over 9000 listed in version 3.0 of Online State Resources for Genealogy. To purchase the ebook, visit

“Mary Ambler Archives” (Lindenwood University)

“Lindenwood University, Mary Ambler Archives” (Missouri Digital Heritage)


The digitized Mary Ambler Archives collection of Lindenwood University currently contains two items:

  • “House of Bethany Journal”
  • Missouri Law and Form Book, and Legal Manual

The House of Bethany “was a Christian sisterhood organization formed to visit the families of soldiers and all others who needed special attention.” The journal begins in 1866 and provides details of the organization and its activities in support of victims of cholera and destitute families. Most of the recipients of the sisters’ attention are not identified by name, but a few are. For example, “Frank Lovelace, a little boy 10 years old was picked up in the street sick – was brought here the 12th of Novbr” (page 8). Several subsequent entries detail the search for a home for Frank. The journal concludes at the end of 1868.

In general, this journal can provide great contextual information about some of the health issues confronting Missouri immediately following the Civil War. You can conduct a full-text search of the journal, though a few of the handwritten words may be missed.

The second item in the collection, the 1857 Missouri Law and Form Book, and Legal Manual; Containing a General Abstract of the Laws of the State Relating to Contracts, Sales, Administration of Estates, Boats and Vessels, Sales of Lands, Deeds and Acknowledgments, Justices of the Peace, Liens, &c., With All the Forms Requisite for Business, Adapted to the Revised Statutes of 1856, is a topical guide to late-antebellum Missouri law. Some of the subjects most useful to genealogists include administration, aliens and naturalization, guardians, securities, slaves, and wills and testaments. The main topics are presented in alphabetical order for very easy reference. The text can also be searched using the site’s search function.

Explore the “Lindenwood University Mary Ambler Archives” at

This resource is one of over 9000 listed in version 3.0 of Online State Resources for Genealogy. To purchase the ebook, visit

“Sir Edward Coke Collection”

Leon E. Bloch Law Library Sir Edward Coke Collection (University of Missouri Digital Library)


As my friend Judy G. Russell, “The Legal Genealogist,” would surely agree, no study of the past can be complete without studying the laws of the past. The legal systems of most of the British colonies in America were of course based on the English common law system. The most commonly cited source for information on English common law is Sir William Blackstone’s 4-volume Commentaries on the Laws of England (1765–1769) and its many later abridgments. Published just prior to the American Revolution, however, there may be significant differences between the laws in Blackstone’s day and the laws of the earliest American settlements 150 years earlier. The common law was often amended by later colonial statutes in ways quite different in, say, Virginia than in England proper.

According to the introduction to the “Sir Edward Coke Collection,”

Sir Edward Coke, also known as Lord Coke, was a prominent British jurist and politician of the late sixteenth to mid-seventeenth centuries. He is remembered as, among other things, the author of a four-volume legal treatise titled Institutes of the Lawes of England, which set forth the then-evolving common law of England and which has played a significant role in the development of the common law system worldwide. Lord Coke also generated a 13-volume collection of Reports, which included his commentary on cases he had heard as well as information on prior precedents.

The “Leon E. Bloch Law Library Sir Edward Coke Collection,” presented by the University of Missouri Digital Library, includes digital copies of all four volumes of the Institutes and all thirteen volumes of the Reports. The first volume deals with land tenure, a subject that certainly affects the early colonial settlement of America in profound ways. It begins, “Tenant in fee simple is hee which hath Lands or Tenements to hold to him and his heires for ever.” This concept itself is easily familiar to any with experience in colonial (and later) land records. Volumes two through four focus on “Ancient and Other Statutes” (Vol. 2), “High Treason, and Other Pleas of the Crown and Criminal Causes” (Vol. 3), and “the Jurisdiction of Courts” (Vol. 4).


Finding references of interest is through a “Table” (index) at the end of each volume. Though dealing ostensibly with land tenure, one might be surprised by some of the subjects addressed in Volume 1. Some of the topics appearing in this first volume include “Names,” “Marriage,” and “Inheritance.” Reading Coke’s commentaries on these various subjects may provide great insight into the origins of colonial laws. These discussions should be studied together with the colonial laws of interest for the most benefit to genealogists.

Explore the “Leon E. Bloch Law Library Sir Edward Coke Collection” at;c=klc.

This resource is one of over 9000 listed in version 3.0 of Online State Resources for Genealogy. To purchase the ebook, visit

“Army Officers’ Wives on the Great Plains, 1865–1900”

“Army Officers’ Wives on the Great Plains, 1865–1900” (University of Nebraska Lincoln)


Genealogists often decry the absence of our foremothers from so many of the records we use regularly. Women most often appear only in connection with their fathers or their husbands. This online exhibit presented by the University of Nebraska Lincoln tells the story of a subset of midwestern women pioneers, using their own words as written in diaries, journals, and letters.

The exhibit is primarily comprised of a narrative, with sections on “Daily Life” (subsections include “Daily life in a Great Plains Military Post” and “Procuring Food and Clothing,”), “Family Life” (“The Army Marriage” and “Raising Children on the Great Plains”), “Rank and Class,” and “Indians.” Using quotations from the writings of Army wives living in the frontier, each essay provides much needed context to the lives of others not quoted.

Another very important part of the collection is the biographical section entitled “The Women.” Each of the 16 wives quoted throughout the exhibit’s essays has her own brief biographical entry. The entries themselves have limited usefulness due to a complete lack of source citations for the details, but the real value comes in identifying published writings for each woman. Many of these works were published by university presses during the mid-1970s explosion of women’s history. However, some of them—such as Reminiscences of a Soldier’s Wife by Ellen McGowan Biddle (1907) and Cavalry Life in Tent and Field by Frances Anne Mullen Boyd (1894)—were published much earlier, and are now available at no cost online through Internet Archive and/or Google Books.

Explore the University of Nebraska Lincoln’s “Army Officers’ Wives on the Great Plains, 1865–1900” at

This resource is one of over 9000 listed in version 3.0 of Online State Resources for Genealogy. To purchase the ebook, visit

“Ages of U. S. Volunteer Soldiery” (1866)

U. S. Sanitary Commission Statistical Bureau, Ages of U. S. Volunteer Soldiery (New York, 1866) (New York State Library)

R. A. Gould, the Actuary of the U. S. Sanitary Commission, wrote in the introduction to this report,

On taking charge of the Statistical Department of the United States Sanitary Commission, in August, 1864, it was found that considerable progress had been made in collecting the ages of the soldiers of our volunteer regiments. … Tables have thus been formed for twenty-seven States, Territories, or geographical groups, exhibiting the number of men at each year of age in the volunteer organizations, at the time of their muster into the service of the United States.[1]

This historic government report represents a unique application of statistics to the U. S. military during the Civil War. The report contains heavy mathematics in its discussion of the methodologies used to collect and analyze data on U. S. soldiers, but the conclusions should be able to be understood by most genealogists.

One very interesting revelation in the report comes in the discussion of enlisted men below and above the legal military age (defined in 1862 as between the ages of 18 and 45[2]). Table I, “Classified Summary of Enlisted Volunteers,” notes that 113 infantry soldiers reported their age at last birthday as just 13 years of age! The numbers double (or more) for each year of age up through 17. Perhaps less astonishing, but still worthy of note, 1,942 infantry men were aged 50 years and over.[3]

The statistical analysis is not limited to the sole purpose of compiling the ages of soldiers, however. These numbers are also compared to statistics provided by the 1860 federal census. The author of the report believed that the ages of enlisted men provided significant insight into the populations from which these enlistees originated.

The report does not provide any names of individual soldiers, so some genealogists may overlook this source. This would be a mistake. The Civil War affected nearly every family in the country at least peripherally. This statistical report provides little-known data about those who served in the U. S. Army in general, and applies the data to society at large. Those with a background in statistics may find more value in the report, but even those with no such understanding can benefit from the report’s conclusions.

Explore “Ages of U. S. Volunteer Soldiery” at

This resource is one of over 9000 listed in version 3.0 of Online State Resources for Genealogy. To purchase the ebook, visit


[1] U. S. Sanitary Commission Statistical Bureau, Ages of U. S. Volunteer Soldiery (New York, 1866), 1; digital images, New York State Library ( : accessed 7 December 2013).

[2] The Statutes at Large, Treaties, and Proclamations, of the United States of America …, volume 12 (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1863), 597, chapter 201, “An Act to amend the Act calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections, and repel Invasions, approved February twenty-eight, [1795], and the Acts amendatory thereof, and for other Purposes.”

[3] Ages of U. S. Volunteer Soldiery, 5.