Thursday, May 07, 2009

Electronic indexes for sale

At the Middlesex North Registry of Deeds, the Grantor and Grantee Indexes from 1976 to the present are available in a single, searchable computer database that is fully available on the registry’s website ( Although Indexes from 1629 to 1975 are not yet on the internet, they are available as “electronic index books” at the registry.

These “electronic index books” were created by scanning the original paper index books and saving the resulting images in the PDF format. We have retained the original date ranges of the indexes (for example, 1916-1925; 1926-1940) but within each date range, we have separated the pages of the index into separate files based on the first letter of the last name.

Because some of the letter files are more than 1000 pages long, we have created a sub-index at the beginning of each file. This sub-index is a spreadsheet that contains the first name on each page of that letter file along with the corresponding page number. By finding the name closest to the one of interest to you and using the “go to” function in the PDF program, you can jump to the area where your name is located. Once there, you can use the forward and back arrow buttons to flip through pages just as you would with the printed/bound index book.

We have now established a pilot program to test the market for selling these indexes to our customers. We have purchased a number of 16 gigabyte flash drives and have copied the entire 1629-1975 Grantor and Grantee Indexes onto each. Customers may purchase one of these flash drives by coming to the registry in person and paying $50 (we can only take checks payable to “Commonwealth of Massachusetts” as payment). Once you have purchased one of our flash drives, you may copy the data to one or more computers and use it however you wish. It is not our intent to make a profit on these transactions: the $50 just covers the cost of purchasing the blank flash drives. We haven’t given up on getting all this data onto our website; it’s just taking much longer than we had hoped. These individualized copies of the index should serve as a useful bridge to the time when a web-based solution is available.

No comments: