Internet Archive logoSince 1996, Archive.org has been quietly building one of the best online FREE libraries in existence. I’m fairly certain they’ve got the Google books database beat.

There you can find old texts such as the Hotten’s Lists of Original Persons of Quality (something you’ll pay quite a bit to search on Ancestry.com) or the Calendar of State Papers (the British version of the colonial records for English dealings with its colonies around the world through about 1738, not available on Ancestry.com) and you have so many options for digging into their contents — some specific to North Carolina, others of good benefit to genealogical researchers anywhere.

I encourage you to go to the site and do some digging, yourself, but to get you started, here are some of my favorite options:

  • Click right on the animated image of the book pages to open an online version of the actual book — scanned and ready for you to either flip the pages, page by page, by simply clicking on either the right or left page depending on whether you want to go forward or backward, or you can use the search box to the right of the book reader and find specific words or names in the book. Even use partial spellings if you want. The search works great!
  • If you find a volume is particularly useful, you can typically go back to the main page for that volume and you have options for how you can download that particular book. I recommend downloading it as a PDF, because you’re able to still view the book exactly as it was published in its scanned form, but you’re also able to do word searches within the PDF, as Optical Character Recognition (OCR) has been done on the text so the book is still fully-searchable even once you download it to your PC. That’s something the books on google do NOT offer.

Here are some examples of some great resources on Archive.org:

  • The original lists of persons of quality; emigrants; religious exiles; political rebels; serving men sold for a term of years; apprentices; children stolen; maidens pressed; and others who went from Great Britain to the American Plantations, 1600-1700 : with their ages and the names of the ships in which they embarked, and other interesting particulars; from mss. preserved in the State Paper Department of Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, England (1874) – by John Camden Hotten
  • Pitt County Genealogical Quarterly (Volumes 1-20; 1994-2014)
  • Roster of Volunteers in the Spanish-American War, 1898-1899
  • Revolutionary Leaders of NC – R.D.W. Connor (1916)
  • North Carolina 1780-1781, Invasion by Cornwallis
  • Muster Rolls of the War of 1812
  • History of North Carolina Continental Troops and Roster of Officers (1896)
  • History of the German Settlements in North Carolina
  • The History of North Carolina (by Connor, Boyd and Hamilton) – 1919 – v. 1. The colonial and revolutionary periods, 1584-1783, by R. D. W. Connor.–v. 2. The federal period, 1783-1860, by W. K. Boyd.–v. 3. North Carolina since 1860, by J. G. de R. Hamilton.–v. 4-6. North Carolina biography, by special staff of writers
  • The Free Negroes of North Carolina – David Dodge (1886)
  • Historical Sketches of North Carolina – 1584-1851
  • Makers of North Carolina History – R.D.W. Connor (1911)
  • Eastern Band of Cherokees of North Carolina (1892) – Special Census Bulletin
  • The History of North Carolina, from the earliest period – Francois-Xavier Martin (1829)
  • Quit-rents and Currency in North Carolina – Edwin Wexler Kennedy (1902)
  • Graveyard of the Atlantic – David Stick (1952)
  • Births, Marriages, Baptisms and Deaths of Coventry, Connecticut – (1897) Susan Whitney Dimock
  • Boston, Mass. Births, Baptisms, Marriages and Deaths 1630-1699
  • Register of Baptisms, Marriages and Burials in St. Michael’s Parish – Cambridge, England 1538-1837
  • (BRITISH) Calendar of State Papers – The British equivalent of the Colonial Records, this link will bring up all available volumes on Archive.org. Please note this list of volumes available and what you’ll find in each one so you won’t have to go clicking aimlessly through all the volumes to find the one you want to search (Note: Some of these volumes are focused on the East Indies, China, Japan and Persia, so unless you have family from that part of the world, those may be ones you want to skip.):

    [Vol.l] [America.and West Indies,] 1574-1660.- [Vol. 2] East Indies, China and Japan, 1513-16- Vol. 3] East Indies, China and Japan, 1617-1621.- [Vol. 4] East Indies, China and Japan, 1622-24.- [Vol. 5] America and West Indies, 1661–[8.- [Vol. 6] East Indies, China and Persia, 16–[629.- [Vol. 7] America and West Indies, 1669-[674.- [Vol. 8] East Indies and Persia, 1630-16 [Vol. 9] America and West Indies, 1675-1676,da, 1574-1674.- [Vol. 10] America and West Indies, 1677-1680.- [Vol. 11] America and West Indies, 1681-1685.- [Vol. 12] America and West Indies, 1685-1688.- [Vol. 13] America and West Indies 1689-1692.- [Vol. 14] America and West Indies, 1693 – 14 May, 1696.- [Vol. 15 America and West Indies, 15 May, 1696 – 31 Oct., 1697.- [Vol. 16] America and West Indies, 27 Oct., 1697 – 31 Dec., 1698.- [Vol. 17] America and West Indies, 1699; with addenda, 1621-1698.- [Vol. 18] America and West Indies, 1700.- [Vol. 19] America and West Indies, 1701.- [Vol. 20] America and West Indies, Jan. – Dec. 1, 1702.- [Vol. 21] America and West Indies, Dec. 1, 1702-1703.- [Vol. 22] America and West Indies, 1704-1705.- [Vol. 23] America and West Indies, 1706 – June, 1708.- [Vol. 24] America and West Indies, June, 1708-1709.- [Vol. 25] America and West Indies, 1710 – June, 1711.- [Vol. 26 America and West Indies, July, 1711 – June, 1712.- [Vol. 27] America and West Indies, July, 1712 – July, 1714.- [Vol. 28] America and West Indies, Aug., 1714 – Dec., 1715.- [Vol. 29] America and West Indies, Jan., 1716 – July, 1717.- [Vol. 30] America and West Indies, Aug., 1717 – Dec., 1718.- [Vol. 31] America and West Indies, Jan. 1719 – Feb., 1720.- [Vol. 32] America and West Indies, March, 1720 – Dec., 1721.- [Vol. 33] America and West Indies, 1722-1723.- [Vol. 34] America and West Indies, 1724-1725.- [Vol. 35] America and West Indies, 1726-1727.- [Vol. 36] America and West Indies, 1728-1729.- [Vol. 37] America and West Indies, 1730.- [Vol. 38] America and West Indies, 1731.- [Vol. 39] America and West Indies, 1732.- [Vol. 40] America and West Indies, 1733.- Vol. 41. America and West Indies, 1734-1735.- Vol. 42 America and West Indies, 1735-1736.- Vol. 43 America and West Indies, 1737.- Vol. 44. America and West Indies, 1738 V. 45. America and West Indies, 1739

 

This article was originally published May 31, 2011. It was most recently updated Aug. 29, 2016.