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    ARGH! Strikes AGAIN!

    I’ve used HeritageQuest Online for years to access the U.S. census. It’s a service available through libraries which, unlike Library Edition, can be accessed from home using your library card number. Yes, the interface was a bit outdated and maybe not as pretty as some. You had to be a bit creative with your searches because of the way the indexing was presented, and while all available images for all years were there, not all years were indexed. The pages with the images themselves loaded relatively quickly, taking into account how large the files were, and there were several format options available for saving them.

    Enter, screwing things up again, a la RootsWeb and Find A Grave.

    I don’t know when HeritageQuest Online climbed into bed with, but some time in the last month or two, the website has been “updated.” At first I thought, “Ah! It hasn’t been abandoned by ProQuest after all!” The browse option I was looking for wasn’t immediately obvious — pulling up the image by series, roll and page. But I thought I just needed to get used to the new interface. Alas, if only that were the only “surprise.” Then I scrolled to the bottom of the page and found the footer info — and my heart sank.

    That browse option is history because doesn’t organize it’s offerings that way. Oh, joy.

    As I anticipated, when I tried to pull up the page I wanted — by doing a name search — I encountered’s image viewer. As I’m writing this I’m still waiting for it to load.

    Ah! Now I finally have the standard “We’ve encountered a problem” message that accompanies a slow internet connection. Let’s try the Basic viewer, shall we? When I right click on the image, none of my convenient “Clip to Evernote” — which I am cautiously testing again — or “Send to OneNote” options are there. Using these options to save the page, all the cite information was automatically included, as well as a link to the page.

    Let’s save it to the computer — the option to save as a PDF isn’t there anymore. It’s JPG or nothing. And the file name no longer includes the information I use to organize my census images: Series, Roll, Page. Now we get a generic file number of’s choosing.

    Yes, I can pull up the JPG in FastStone and save it as a PDF. Yes, I can rename the file with my Series-Roll-Page naming convention. Yes, I can cut and paste the page URL into my research log. But, dammit, I shouldn’t have too.

    The final insult? The image that I get now that has “improved” HeritageQuest Online is NOT the one I downloaded in 2008, and if was just a matter of improving the legibility — HeritageQuest Online images were sometimes not the best — that would be a candidate for the Silver Lining Department. But it’s not. The citation states that this page is no longer page 228, it is now page 229 — and there’s nothing on the image to indicate that. Instead of being able to browse through the pages sequentially, I’m finding that the next page that presents is . . . page 225?

    I’ve used Their indexing has helped me find some people I couldn’t find in other ways. But it isn’t my go-to site simply because it is SO SLOW! It isn’t designed for the unwashed masses who are still on dial-up. And their family trees are less than useless. 99% of the time, when I find something interesting, I don’t find a new source. I find that the “source” that was used was another family tree. You can follow that rabbit trail for a month and never get down to an actual source document. But does provide a valuable service, and the price isn’t too bad if you have the time to actually use it regularly.

    But I really am getting frustrated with the “All Roads Lead to” thing I’m running into constantly now that I have determined to set aside the time to do a little research. For a long time, a Google search for “Indiana Death Certificates” would pull up VitalRec, through which you can order them. And then dozens of link farms that had nothing more than links to, and now

    Even FamilySearch. It’s wonderful that you can now find great census indexing there. Unfortunately, too often, if you want the image, it’s on My solution to this was to take the new found information and pull up the census page in HeritageQuest Online. So much for that. I get or nothing, apparently. Are there really no other options available anymore? seems determined to take over the world of online genealogical research. It’s a business, I get that. I just wish when they scoop up these old, established, wonderful sites, they’d quit gutting and “improving” them.

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