Finding An Database Online For Free recently indicated that the database of name changes in Massachusetts (titled as “Massachusetts, Name Changes, 1780-1892”) was “new.” How “new” it is I can’t say as the line at between “new,” “updated,” and “changed one out of 10,000 entries” is a very tenuous one. Despite that, the announcement makes for a good point to remember with some databases.

Actually it’s true for just about any website’s fee-based database access. This is not just about

The same book and content is available elsewhere online for free. That is no surprise. All the data is available elsewhere for free. It’s not a grand conspiracy on‘s part to sell the information. Part of what users are paying for is access and consistency of presentation. Users are also paying for the ability to insert data from books with a minimal of data entry. Another part of the benefit of an subscription is that indexes are created and that materials are gathered into one location and one can search using the search parameters. There are limitations to those indexes and how the search interface works. Subscribers can determine if the perceived benefits are worth the cost. If the benefit is not worth what you are paying, then cancel your subscription.

It’s that simple. You just may have to give up searching some things at 1 am in your jammies because an actual trip to a library may be required.

That’s not the point of this post.

mass-source “souce infomation” for “Massachusetts, Name Changes, 1780-1892.”

Whenever I see a database at that appears to come from a book that’s probably out of copyright, I search for a copy of that bookonline. It did not take too much search experimentation on Google to locate a digital copy of the book-for free.

That’s not a surprise and that’s not an indictment of That’s a simple statement of fact. In this case, I prefer to use the online digital copy instead of‘s database. Here’s why:

  • does not (currently) link to the actual book page images.
  • I’m reliant on how interpreted the text–and I’m betting a computer did it
  • The book has it’s own index–yeah, that’s right.

This book is available digitally on GoogleBooks. 

If  has a new index or database that appears to be from a book, search for that book. You may find it online.




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