27 April 2017

Genealogy Indexer – Do NOT let its simplicity fool you!

Genealogy Indexer – Do NOT let its simplicity fool you!

Just over 3 years ago, I introduced you to Genealogy Indexer -- a neat little website that just might have what you need.  Back then, the amount of available material was 350,000 pages and now, this website has more than doubled the number of pages available.

Search 850,000 pages of 1,700 historical directories (business, address, telephone, etc., mostly from Central and Eastern Europe), 114,000 pages of 256 yizkor books (memorials to Jewish communities destroyed in the Holocaust), 32,000 pages of military lists (officers, casualties, etc., mostly from the Russian Empire and Poland), 43,000 pages of community and personal histories, and 24,000 pages of Polish secondary school annual reports and other school sources. New genealogy sources are added weekly.

I keep tabs on this website as my paternal ancestors were Galician – Russian speakers who lived in SE Poland.  I once again searched on Malecka and there are so many entries now found.  Some as modern as a 1949 Leipzig Address and Business Directory and as old as an 1807/1808 Warsaw Homeowners Directory.

I next searched on Pietrusza (the family came from Pietrusza Wola) and many entries were listed, including those in Russian, Петруша. Also checked into Deszno (another ancestral home place) aka Дешно.

And, there is news from the mastermind behind the website …

There is a major new development at Genealogy Indexer.  From the list of directories below, the additions for this week, can you guess what it is?  (Scroll down quickly to avoid spoilers!)  Something is different about most of these directories from all other 2,500+ sources on the site.  1939 Frankfurt, 1864 Riga, 1897 Danzig, 1936 Stolp, 1856 Silesia...  Before this week, it would have been impossible to add these directories, but now I can and will add thousands more like them.  What makes them different?

The answer is the font.  These directories use Fraktur, Gothic, or blackletter typefaces, which are especially challenging for OCR.  I was never before able to accurately OCR these typefaces, so many German-language sources were out of reach.  I am delighted to report that obstacle has been overcome.

Thanks to the generosity of OCR software company ABBYY, I am now able to OCR Fraktur/Gothic/blackletter sources using their advanced Recognition Server software with FineReader XIX module.

Thousands of directories and other genealogical sources that I could not make searchable before are now on my to-do list and many are likely being processed as you read this.  In addition to enabling OCR of these challenging fonts, Recognition Server has automation capabilities that allow me to dramatically increase the rate at which I add new searchable sources…

This is important to my own research since where my ancestors lived was part of the Austro-Hungarian empire and that means that many publications relevant to that research are in German.  I used to have a massive German dictionary and to be honest, I found it such a challenge to try and just "read" the printed German text that I pretty much gave up.  Who knows, I may resume research into my Galician sometimes in the near future!  

To keep abreast of news like this and a list of the most recently added resources, you can subscribe to the Genealogy Indexer Mailing List, http://genealogyindexer.org/news/?p=subscribe&id=1.

So, if you are researching Eastern European roots (or now Egyptian, French, etc), do check out this website.

What particular directory or document reveal your family?

What discovery most surprised you?

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