The Record: Indexed and Full-Text Versions

The New York Genealogical and Biographical Record has been published continually since 1870, accumulating over 600 issues of useful genealogical scholarship and material. 

As such a crucial resource for New York family history, our society has ensured that The Record is more accessible to researchers than ever. NYG&B members have access to the full run of The Record on our website in two formats - a full-text searchable version, and an every-name index version. 

This article will explain the difference between the two versions. 

Overview of Differences

Indexed Version: Your search queries a structured index to The Record, which includes the following fields:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Alternate name 
  • Title of article in which the name appears
  • Event type
  • Event year
  • Volume, issue, and page

Not all entries have alternate names, event types, or event years.

Full-text Version: Your search will query the entire text of every issue, and results will display the portion of the text that matched your search. 

Both versions allow you to click a link to view the digital issue that contains the match to your query. 

In short, you can find names of ancestors by using both versions. The indexed version is better at finding names, while the full-text version is better for searching keywords and locations. 

Indexed Version: Details

The every-name index is essentially a large table that includes every name found in The Record. It was originally compiled by Jean Worden and has been continually updated by NYG&B staff and volunteers - creating this index takes a lot of work and requires a knowledgeable person to do it. 

There are over 1.2 million names found in The Record, so there are over 1.2 million rows in the index. Here's what the index itself looks like:

Last Name First Name Other Name Event Year Vol Issue Page Article Title Image
Leisler Jacob   Birth 1640 94 2 67 Jacob Leisler's Fifty Militiamen View
Leisler Jacob   Birth 1667 120 4 199 European Ancestry of Jacob Leisler View
Leisler Jacob       7 4 146 Contributions to the History of the Ancient Families of New York City View
Leisler Jacob     1676 129 3 174 Fanatiks and "Fifth Monarchists": The Milborne Family in the Seventeenth-Century Atlantic World View
Leisler Jacob       139 2 89 Jacob de Lange, Surgeon of New York City, His Origins and Descendants: Blanck, Stephens, Wendel, Woodside View

When you search the indexed version of The Record, you are searching the type of table above, and results will be returned based on whether or not your search matches the information in any of these fields.

In the search results, all fields for each row are shown, which means you have additional information right away - this will help you decide whether or not to view the original image. 

It's important to remember that if you enter a term into the keyword field, that term will only query the above table - if your keyword is found in an article title, you'll have a match. But if your keyword is elsewhere in the article text, it won't match (use the full-text version instead). 

To summarize, keep the following things in mind about this version of The Record:

  • It is best used for name searches
  • Keyword searches query the index (including article title), not the text of the article
  • Additional information (such as article title and event info) is shown in search results
  • This index is created with care by human indexers

Full-text: Details

The full-text version of The Record is simple to understand - a computer program has gone through every digital issue and extracted all of the text.

When you search this version, it's a similar experience to searching the web - the results returned will show you the matching portion of the text, and results with a higher frequency of your search term will be ranked higher. 

But because there is no structured index, that's all you will see - the matching portion of the text, and a few details like volume, issue, and year. You can click to view the original image to get the full context of the search result. 

This version is most useful if you're searching for something other than a name - many researchers search the record for locations, record types, institutions, or other proper nouns - this version is optimized for that purpose. Of course, name searches will work as well but many users prefer to use the indexed version for that purpose. 

To summarize, keep the following things in mind:

  • The complete text of The Record is searched with every query
  • Optimal for keyword searches, but also works for name searches
  • Search results display the search term and the surrounding text
  • Text is automatically extracted by a computer program

This explanation should help you optimize your use of both versions of this useful periodical. If you still have questions, send us an email and we'll get back to you as soon as we can.