More than one million records of interest to genealogists have recently been placed online. The records include:
Nova Scotia Births 1864-1877
Nova Scotia Marriages 1864-1930
Nova Scotia Deaths 1864-1877 and 1908-1955
Best of all, these are not just simple transcriptions with associated transcription errors. Instead, when you find a name you can then view an image of the actual document in the original handwriting, all at no charge. If you want a higher quality image or a printed copy of the document, you must pay a fee.
The "Births and Deaths for Nova Scotia 1864-1877" and the marriage records starting in 1864 and as late as 1918 for some counties have previously been available on microfilm. However, Deaths 1908-1955 and Marriages to 1930 are brand-new: they have never before been available to the public.
Quoting information on the web site:
"Civil registration of vital statistics began in Nova Scotia in 1763 with the introduction of procedures for obtaining a marriage licence; the procedure was optional and the surviving records are incomplete. Formalized registration of births, deaths and marriages began in 1864 and continued to 1877, at which time record-keeping lapsed for births and deaths, but continued for marriages. Compliance was not universal during this period and there are gaps in the surviving records. Since 1 October 1908, birth, death and marriage registrations have been collected and maintained continuously."
NOTE: Birth records of 1 October 1908 and later, marriage records of 1931 and later and death records of 1956 and later are all available only at Vital Statistics, Service Nova Scotia and Municipal Relations. These newer records are not available online.
I found the site to be easy to use, although a bit slow. That's not unusual for new web sites that haven't been fully optimized just yet, especially if lots of people are using the site. Many new web sites run slowly for a few weeks, then speed up as usage declines and the support personnel do some fine tuning.
I searched for Weeks, a family name in Nova Scotia that interests me. I only entered the last name of "Weeks" and left the first name blank. The site returned 28 birth records, 110 marriages and 124 death records for people named Weeks. I selected the birth record for John Wingate Weeks, born 1870 in Hants County.
At that point, I was prompted to download the Viewpoint Media Player, a web "plug-in" that this site uses to display records on the computer's screen. I downloaded the Viewpoint Media Player and installed it on the Firefox web browser on my system. The next screen that appeared had a tiny image of the record I wanted.
When I say "tiny," I mean it was really small. I use a 22-inch LCD computer monitor but the image was only displayed in a window of about 8 inches by 3 inches. On a smaller monitor, the image itself would be even smaller. I'm glad I wasn't using my tiny, handheld computer!
The image itself was crystal clear and I was able to zoom in to enlarge the letters. However, the overall size of the displayed image did not change. I felt like I was looking through a keyhole.
To be sure, I was looking at the image free of charge. I can understand why the web owners want to restrict the ability to view the document as they charge money for full-sized copies of the entire document. If you were able to see a larger image on the screen, that probably would eat into document sales. Nonetheless, it is a significant impediment for anyone trying to use the site.
The viewer does work with Microsoft Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows Millennium Edition, or Windows XP as well as with Apple Macintosh OS X 10.2 or later.
It was nice to view a crystal-clear image on my screen, free of charge. I found that I could order a full-sized copy of the entire image for $9.95 (Canadian dollars). Each image is immediately available for you to download as the final step in the online purchase transaction. You will also be sent an e-mail message containing your receipt, plus links to an online access site where your purchase will be accessible for three (3) days. Once you have downloaded and saved these images, you will be able to print them. The purchased images are high-resolution jpeg image files, four times' higher resolution than what is displayed online.
Another option is to purchase a certified paper copy of the same image for $19.95 Canadian. The image(s) you purchase will be sent to your mailing address via regular postal services. Paper copies are high-resolution images, laser-printed on quality bond paper, certified, signed, embossed, and suitable for framing, scrap-booking or long-term preservation.
All in all, I was pleased with this new service. Even with the minor drawbacks, it is great to be able to view crystal-clear images of original vital records in your home at your convenience, especially when the original documents are stored thousands of miles away. I suspect the new Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics database is going to be very popular.
You can access Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics Online by pointing your Windows or Macintosh web browser to: https://www.novascotiagenealogy.com.
My thanks to David Lambert for telling me about this great new online resource. You might be interested in reading David's blog at http://www.davidlambertblog.com.