14 September 2013

ItalianGen Launches a New Look

For those immersed in New York City genealogy there is no greater website than ItalianGen.org (IGG) and its sister site the German Genealogy Group (GGG).[1] While there are some differences in the databases they host, for the most part they share the glory as the go-to places for indices of NYC vital and naturalization records. A few days ago I noticed some changes on the GGG. But, I use the IGG most often. So, I didn't linger on the GGG changes. This morning, however, I noticed that IGG has also changed (they must be using the same web designer) for the better. Change can be difficult, but in this case, I'm already smitten.

The redesign is clean and clear and not too far removed from the previous version (we are, after all creatures of habit). Click on Database Searches and options drop down to reveal record sets. 

When one selects a record set, one is presented with some of the same search choices available previously as well as some improvements that address (for me) some previous annoyances. 

For example, previously with naturalization records, one could only select one court at a time.[2]  Now, one may search all the naturalization indices at once, if one chooses.

The results pages provide improvements for determining the correct record and for acquiring it:
  • Results may be sorted by clicking data in columns. One may sort results by year, first name, last name, volume, etc. This is very helpful when trying to ford though many records for people with a common name. I did notice; however, that in the naturalization index there were some format variations with dates (see example below) that would make sorting by date problematic.
  • When results are many, one may now scroll through rather than click though pages. A huge improvement.
  • Links to forms for ordering records, which have been broken for some time, are now fixed. Now one may relatively painlessly order New York naturalization records from the National Archives branch in New York City or vital records from the Municipal Archives.
  • Hundreds of diligent volunteers (including me) have worked to prepare these indices and mistakes (and fuzzy copies of the original) happen. Now, one may click one button to send in corrections to the IGG.
One thing to note: the conventions for wild card searches have changed. Now instead of the more standard * or ?, one must use % or _ .
Wild Card - With this option you can replace part of the surname with a % to match any number of letters, or _ to match a single letter. So for example, Sch% will return all names starting with Sch. Similarly, Schl_tz might return results such as Schlitz or Schlotz.
Congratulations to John Martino and the group at ItalianGen.org for some improvements that will be greatly appreciated by users. Now we just need to continue to provide our donations of time and money so they can continue putting new and expanded indices online.

1. OK, maybe Steve Morse's One-Step website, but I'm talking here about the sites that actually host the databases.

2. As of this morning (14 Sep 2013), Steve Morse's access to this site has not yet caught up with this change and still requires selection of specific court of naturalization. Of course his also includes one index not included on the IGG, "Kings County (Brooklyn) Supreme Court 1907-1924" which is hosted by the Jewish Genealogical Society of New York.

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