One of the most useful links you will ever bookmark

How many times have we run across a genealogy site that we bookmark because it has interesting and/or useful information on it? Sometimes its sits in the bookmark folder for years and we forget about it until one day, in your research, you run across something that reminds you of it and you say “oh yeah! I forgot about that site, I will go back and get that info I never copied last time I visited”? You click on the link eager with anticipation and then…you get that nasty screen that tells you the website no longer exists…at best the site is still there but the the information you were wanting has been pulled for whatever reason and you sit there with your bubble burst. Well never fear…this IS a little glimmer of hope.

It always amazes me that when someone mentions the above scenario to me and I ask if they’ve check the Way Back Machine…I get dead silence…and then…”What’s that?” Such a thing happened with a cousin last week. There was a personal site that had transcriptions of letters written home by one of her ancestors during the War Between the States, she had read them, but had never gotten around to printing them out, when she DID go to do it, the website was gone. I asked if she’d tried the Way Back Machine…and as usual, “No, what’s that?”

For those of you that don’t know, the Way Back Machine is a website that has cached versions of just about every website that was ever on the internet, and they can, in some instances go back YEARS. Its one of the greatest tools I know of especially when so many “family” sites come and go and loads of genweb sites change hands and information gets lost or removed for whatever reason.

Using what my cousin needed, here is an example, this was the original URL for the website

www.mindspring.com/~redeagle/Oakwood/Davis.htm

if you click on that you will see message “Sorry. It looks like there isn’t a page on our website at the address you requested (or it may be temporarily unavailable).”

now…if you go to http://www.archive.org and enter the url and click the “take me back” button it will take you here

http://web.archive.org/web/*/www.mindspring.com/~redeagle/Oakwood/Davis.htm

and you can see they have cached versions of the website from 2001 to 2006. You simply need to explore each cached version to see if they have what you are looking for.

I wont say this will work 100% of the time, but more often than not it will, so its most definitely worth trying and its DEFINITELY worthy of a place in your bookmark folder!!

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