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The Secret Files that Might Save your Research

If you've never heard of the American Genealogical-Biographical Index, don't be worried-although it is one of the best research tools available for United States genealogical research, it is also very unknown and unused. However, use this option when you begin your research and you won't be disappointed; there are over 6 million entries, and most of these have never been published before and do not overlap with information you can collect at other places. Now online and on CD-ROM, the American Genealogical-Biographical Index, AGBI for short, is much more accessible and growing in popularity, as opposed to seven years ago, when only about 200 libraries nation-wide had access to it in print version.

Also known as the Rider Index, the AGBI began as a project by a librarian in the 1930s. He borrowed hundred of different kinds of records from researchers, churches, etc to publish an index in print form. As of the beginning of the 21st century, it included names from over 840 sources, many of which are from the New England states, but records from all thirteen colonies, as well as from other early states, are included. You can find this database online now at Ancestry.com, one of the best online resources for people researching their family tree.

Each entry in the AGBI includes six parts: surname, first name, birthday, state of residence, biographical information (whatever is available, such as occupation or military service information), and citation. You can access this information online, or you can find a print version of the AGBI in your state's major research libraries. Since print copies are huge and hard to find, the Internet is probably your best bet. However, if you live in Connecticut, you might want to consider traveling to Middletown to the Godfrey Memorial Library, where the project began over three-quarters of a century ago. There, not only can you find a print version of the AGBI, but many print versions of the sources sited in the AGBI as well. The Family History Library in Utah is another good place for research based on the AGBI.

Don't overlook this wonderful tool when you are researching your family tree. Although you may not gain much more information than you already know, what you will find is a source for this information that may lead you to finding more ancestors. Thanks to modern technology, this information is not available online so that you can access it whenever it fits your schedule.

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