Internet Archive Genealogy Collection – Who’s There?

You may be familiar with Internet Archive because of the Waybackmachine that archives websites that, if you’re lucky, you can find again once they are gone. Sadly, the old WorldConnect RootsWeb trees that included comments with so much valuable information can’t be found (or at least I can’t find them,) but many other obsolete websites are only available through Waybackmachine.

I must admit, I use this tool a lot. I also donate from time to time to help fund this valuable resource. However, there’s more to Internet Archive than Waybackmachine. A lot more.

Recently, I received an email with a link to their “Genealogy Collection,” here.

Just scroll down – but only if you have absolutely nothing else to do today.

I mean, you can get lost here forever.

You can browse on lots of pages, but you can also search.

I selected the surname Ferverda because it’s fairly unique. It was spelled Ferwerda in the Netherlands and is also spelled Fervida in my family line in the US.

Click to enlarge images

There are a total of 237 results searching the text contents, falling into several years, as you can see at left.

Scrolling on down that left-hand sidebar, you can see thatFerverda results fall into different categories as well.

Some of these, like Leesburg and Fort Wayne, I recognize based on knowing exactly where this family lived.

But Argentina? Did a family line immigrate there?

And the US patent office? Ok, I have to look, so I clicked.

I recognize the name of my uncle who was a research chemist in the paint industry.

I didn’t know he held patents though.

  • Ferverda, Harold L., to General Electric Co. Method of making a laminated core. 2,786,006, 3-19-57, CI. 154 — 80.
  • Ferverda, Harold L., to General Electric Co. Process for bonding dynamoelectric machine coil end turns and article produced therebv. 2,802,120, 8-6-57, CI 310 — 45.

Hey, look….there’s my grandfather who was the station agent for the railroad at one point in his life!

I wonder what this has to say about him.

Next, there’s the Ferwerda surname with all publications in Dutch, in the Netherlands, under the genealogy tab.

Some documents are available as images and some in a downloadable text version. Even if the document is written in a foreign language, automated translators are available through Google and other resources. Who knows what treasures might be lurking where you least expect them.

What interesting discoveries can you make? Maybe your names will be found in the genealogy collection too. Let me know if you find something good!



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11 thoughts on “Internet Archive Genealogy Collection – Who’s There?

    • Yes, the problem is that they converted the “source” field but not the comments, which is what I was after. Sad.

  1. is also a great place to access scans of antique and often quite rare books which are in the public domain, including many related to genealogy, not all of which are in the Genealogy Collection. As a librarian, it’s my “go to source” for scans of any book published prior to 1925. Google Books and Hathi Trust are also useful. but I find there is a lot of overlap and definitely prefer the reader to either of the others.

  2. I’ve added all my family history stories and all the stories about the previous owners of my house beginning in 1847. Although my house wasn’t actually built until 1880 but the land had some marvelous stories. And that’s how I started doing genealogy.

      • It certainly is a rabbit hole. Here are the total number of “Text contents” results retrieved for my Grandparents surnames:

        Kotter: 187 (I can deal with that)

        Midgley: 784 (a bit overwhelming)

        Norman: 29,425 (oh my, this is going to take a very long time!)

        Oliver: 32,738 (this is going to take even longer)

        Luckily, I know enough about these four lines in order to use the search limits on the left side of the screen to narrow things down, although for the last two I haven’t yet found a combination of limits that makes the results even close to manageable; even adding first names to the search doesn’t help much. So, it is pretty clear that this collection will be most useful for relatively uncommon surnames (like Kotter or Fervada) and/or for people who can narrow things down to specific dates, locations, etc. But no one said that genealogical research would be easy. 🙂

  3. You mentioned WorldConnect. It is not what it used to be in terms of searches and such, but it still exists at You can add /search/ for the individual search, but without the power of the prior WC search — probably an issue with the ownership being Ancestry. In reality, the link is I mention the latter since the “ancestry” is required to use a tree posted to worldconnect in the link you provide at 23andMe. My tree is at — probably the best use of worldconnect at this point to post your tree for use other places.

  4. Lisa Cooke has an excellent video on her “Elevenses with Lisa” You Tube channel about how to use the Internet Archive. One of her tips was to use quotation marks around your search terms. I tried searching for “Mack Senar” and got 4 hits in a national carpenters trade journal. Turns out Mack Senar was his local carpenter union financial secretary. The last hint was his listing for a death claim which gave the cause of death.

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