Monday, May 4, 2009

100 Genealogy Resources to Discover Your Ancestors

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100 Genealogy Resources to Discover Your Ancestry
Research and discover your ancestry with these 100 tools to get you started building a family tree. Trace back as far as you can find and share your results with friends and family. Many of the forums in this list will also garner you a few new friends in the genealogy spectrum. Tracing your roots will give you insight into your family’s past and give you an edge in your own forensic education endeavors.

Genetree: You belong here—Genealogy for the electronic age. Genetree lets you forgo traditional genealogy research methods (dusty books and more library visits than you can shake a family tree at) for a free electronic database that helps you find your connections all over the world!

Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation: Growing the Genetic Family Tree One Branch at a Time—Also offering an online genealogy search engine, the SMGF site focuses primarily on DNA. Going off of a DNA database of samples submitted by volunteers, the site offers “participation kits” that lets you join the database, helping family find you even as you’re finding them.

mitosearch—This no frills search engine is ideal for those who want to quickly begin their genealogical research. You can also compare yourself to users of the site, offering a useful way to find new friends—and even old family.

WorldGenWeb Project—While offering search engines like many sites, WorldGenWeb is much more specific, hosting specific websites for different regions across the globe. These regions are easy to search, and maintained by volunteers—and the site is always looking for those willing to help others in their genealogical quests.

The Federation of East European Family History Societies—Named one of the 101 best sites for genealogy, this site offers a little of everything for genealogical researchers. Hosting resources for different regions and featuring heritage websites of different members, this site’s primary focus is more academic in nature, offering links to various genealogical journals and conferences from around the world.

Access Genealogy: A Free Genealogy Resource—Another no-frills site, Access Genealogy has resources broken down into very specific areas. These include cemetery records, military records, census records, Bible records, and more!

The Ancestry Insider—This site has one very specific purpose: to analyze all aspects of and Sometimes this means defending them, and sometimes it means criticizing them…in all of their actions, however, the site serves as a valuable resource for keeping the world of genealogical research honest.

FamilySearch—The aforementioned FamilySearch offers a quick, registration-free search for ancestors. It also helps you find your nearest family history center—ideal for those eager to pursue genealogy, and not knowing where to begin.—Also featuring a free family search, offers a good mixture of quick searches and in-depth records. Additionally, it offers “recent buzz” about genealogy from sources like the LA Times and USA Today, helping you keep track of rising trends in genealogy. Archive of Genealogical Data and Document Images—While it does offer the online surname search you’ve come to expect, packs in some pleasant surprises. These primarily include image records (such as newspapers, obituaries, and school yearbooks), which supplement the directories in helping you find ancestral information.

Family Tree Magazine—This site provides an ideal beginning for researching your genealogy. It features free how-tos, free downloadable forms, an active forum and a monthly podcast, in addition to offering deep discounts on the print magazine.

FamilySearch Labs: Future Tools to Dig Up the Past—User participation is at the forefront of FamilySearch Labs: as they put, they need your input to “refine new ideas” about genealogy technologies that “aren’t ready for prime time.” More of a site for the leisurely researcher, this offers you an opportunity to find a diamond in the rough—one of these unmarketed projects may hold the key to your genealogy!

Find a Grave—As the name implies, this site’s specialty is in helping you find images of graves, whether of famous people or of your own ancestors. As an added bonus, there’s a discussion forum and a macabre online store of grave-related paraphernalia.

Heritage Quest Online—This no frills site offers quick access to census records, books, and specialized databases. Having been around for 10 years, Heritage Quest is a genealogy search that you can trust. Cemetery Records Online—This site offers transcriptions from over 5,000 cemeteries across the world. In addition to offering regional searches and an informative blog, also lets you publish your own transcriptions online. free search through census mortality schedules—Specializing in offering information above and beyond what was put into census data, this site offers a new way of exploring genealogy. Searches are broken down by state, rather than region, making your inquires more specific. Explore Your Family in History—Boasting the largest newspaper archive for family history research, this site is an invaluable resource for your research. Offering monthly, annual, and trial subscriptions, this site’s ready access to over 2400 historical newspapers and documents will keep you coming back for more.

Footnote: The Place for Original Historical Documents Online—Offering a search by names, events, or dates, this site also features a high level of user participation. Featuring over 2500 uploads by members per week, this membership site offers a chance for you to join an entire community of genealogy enthusiasts.

Newspaper Abstracts: Finding Our Ancestors in the News!—As the name implies, this site lets you search newspapers by state, county, and event. Precise information is supplied about the paper itself, making it easier for you to obtain the full article.

We Relate—As “the world’s largest genealogy Wiki,” this site features pages for over 2 million people. The highlight of the site is its community portal, combining the features of information encyclopedias and social networking sites. growing closer—One of the top 500 Web companies in the world, FamilyLink is a social networking site with over 31 million users. In its quest to help family members find each other, FamilyLink has defined over 150 million relationships since its inception in 2007.—This searchable database features over a billion available records. Hosting several major collections as well as the latest in genealogy news, this site is an all-purpose stop for your research.

Bureau of Land Management: General Land Office Records—This government-run site provides access to Federal land conveyance records for all Public Land States. This includes image access to over 3 million Federal land title records issued between 1820 and 1908, offering a visual tour of both federal and family histories.

The USGenWeb Project: Land of the Free…Genealogy—This easy-to-navigate site provides access to free genealogy websites at all levels. This includes state, county, and even national searches, making this volunteer-run site an impressive wealth of info.

USGS: Geographic Names Information System—Another government site, USGS epitomizes the no-frill site. This resource lets you search, by name, for various landmarks, from woods to bars and everything in-between.

Special Collections and Family History—This specialized site lets you search by groom and bride marriages to delve further into genealogical history. It also lets you browse by counties and states, letting you track Cupid’s arrow through your family history.

Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names Online—Offering a unique way of searching for genealogical history, the Getty Thesaurus specializes in finding information about family when you have too little or—ironically—too much information. You can search by multiple names (ideal for families that experienced a name-change), but you can also search by limited info—if you know a city a relative lived in but do not know what the corresponding state is, it will search all possible matches, helping you narrow things down.

Genealogy Insider—Sponsored by Family Tree Magazine, this blog offers non-stop genealogy news from around the world. For researchers on the go, you can subscribe to their RSS feed for updates, and even follow them through Twitter.

Now what? Expert Answers to Your Genealogy Questions—Another Family Tree blog site, this page focuses primarily on what to do after your genealogy has been researched. These focused entries include how to read old documents, converting old slides to digital formats, and even which for-pay database sites are really worth it.

Family Tree Magazine Forum—This links you directly to Family Tree Magazine’s active community of forum-goers. The primary focus is on questions regarding various software and databases, from how to conduct surname searches to how Google Earth can help trace ancestry.

The Ships List—A very specialized site, The Ships List focuses on passenger manifests on various ships, helping you to trace the comings and goings of your ancestors. Additionally, the site features immigration reports, newspaper records, ship pictures and more, giving you a 3-dimensional view of your high-seas legacy.

Ellis Island: FREE Port of New York Passenger Records Search—Originally envisioned by Ronald Reagan as a simple restoration project of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, this project eventually yielded a searchable database of immigration records. Requiring no subscription at all, this site is ideal for retrieving information about your ancestors’ arrival to America.—Offering a wonderful complementary service to the previous site, Castle Garden offers Ellis Island-related immigration information for the years 1830 through 1892. Subscription-free and easy to navigate, this site lets you begin searching immigration records immediately.

The National Archives—This site preserves the 1-3% of documents and materials produced each year by the US Government, forever. In addition to providing valuable information about family histories and military records, this site features amazing information on budgets and rules, as well as a wealth of informational resources.

Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild: Bringing Our Ancestors Home. Reuniting Our Families—Another highly-specialized site, the ISTG page offers you an opportunity to search the records of immigrant ships spanning nearly 400 years. As an added bonus, the site helps link you up with genealogists living in the cities of your ancestors, allowing you to form ties across the globe in tracing your family history down.

Genealogy Today: Because Your Ancestors Are Waiting!—This site’s focus is on very specific searchable collections, in addition to their genealogy search. These collections include funeral cards, railroad employees, and even criminal records!

Family Tree Connection—Offering subscriptions for as little as $2.50 a month, Family Tree Connection offers it own special blend of highly specific databases. These include school records, church memberships, employment and tax records, and even old telephone directories!

AfriGeneas: African Ancestored Genealogy—Devoted to African-American genealogy, Afrigeneas offers interactive chats with other members in addition to its vast array of searchable records. The specialty of the records is finding the last slaveholder and first African in every family, offering an amazing link to the past.

Documenting the American South Homepage—Sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, this site features uniquely southern perspectives on history and culture in America. Offering text, images, and other material, this site is invaluable for students, teachers, and genealogy researchers alike.

Lowcountry Africana—This specific site is dedicated to documenting families and heritages of African-Americans in “the historic rice-growing areas of South Carolina, Georgia and…northeastern Florida.” This site offers a valuable mixture of informative articles, key websites, and research materials.

Afro-Lousiana History and Genealogy—Run by Dr. Gwendolyn Hall (professor emeriti of history at Rutgers University), this site features a search engine derived from her own extensive research. Tracing the genealogy of African-Americans in the Louisiana area from 1699-1860, this site is amazing for scholars and genealogical researchers alike.

American Battle Monuments Commission—This government-run site has a very specific purpose: letting you research information about soldiers interred overseas. Offering a wealth of information, this site specializes in overseas-interred soldiers from World Wars I and II as well as the Korean War.

Civil War: Soldiers and Sailors System—Another government-run site, this page focuses on quick searches for simple information regarding sources on both sides of the Civil War. In addition to specific searches, the site features specific soldiers, sailors, regiments, battles, and more.

American Civil War—The focus of this site is community interaction. It features interactive battle maps, forum discussions, insightful polls and links to the most recent Civil War information.

eHistory—Run by the Department of History at Ohio State University, this site features a rare treat: a searchable database of “The Official Records of the War of Rebellion” (the Civil War). In addition to this awesome resource, eHistory features book reviews, timelines, maps, and more Civil War info than anyone can process in a single sitting.

United States Department of Veterans Affairs—The primary focus of this governmental site is allowing you to search for the gravesites of deceased service men and women. Additionally, it offers info about military burials—from honors and burial benefits to (and this is most important to genealogy) obtaining military records and medals.

The American Civil War: forging a more perfect union—The official National Park Service Civil War web site, this site serves as an all-purpose destination for information regarding the Civil War. This information comes in the form of info about Civil War parks, Civil War lesson plans, and information about how you can participate in preserving historic American battlefields from the Civil War.

Library of Virginia: Military Records and Resources—This site has a single purpose: allowing you to search military documents, including payrolls and pension records. Serving more as an informational hub than a database itself, this site prominently features useful search engines and collection guides to help in your genealogical research.

Louisiana State Archives: Genealogy and History Section—An utterly no-frills site, these archives are invaluable for those researching ancestors in Louisiana. This site requires no subscription or other forms of registration, allowing you to search immediately!

New York State Archives: Where History Goes on Record—This site focuses on military service persons, allowing you to search by regiment, specialty, and race. In addition to these searchable archives, the site provides countless pages of information on the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, World War I and more.

Pennsylvania State Archives—Like its name implies, this site offers you access to various sections of Pennsylvania’s Archives Records Information Access System. Highlights for genealogy researchers include archives for National Guardsmen, Civil War vets, Revolutionary War files, and more.

Archives and Manuscripts: Texas State Library and Archives Commission—Like it sounds, this site focuses on various Texan documents, such as maps, Confederate pension applications, and even the (not yet fully prepared) records of George W. Bush. This site is an amazing resource for those tracing their ancestors through the Lone Star state.

Archives of Maryland Online—This site provides quick access to over 471,000 historical documents from Maryland’s government. The ability to search fiscal, land, military, and even probate records will help you track your ancestry to and through the great state of Maryland.

Arizona Department of Health Services: “Leadership for a Healthy Arizona”—The ability to search through Arizona’s birth and death records is this site’s primary specialty. For those tracking ancestry through Arizona, this site is an awesome resource, complete with information to contact them quickly if you need help.

The Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection—This no-frills site provides exactly what it sounds like: a searchable archive of Colorado’s newspapers. The site also lets you browse papers as well—an ideal solution for those who don’t have full information before beginning their search.

Florida Memory: State Library and Archives of Flordia—This specialized collection offers a sunshine state’s worth of info about Florida, including World War I service cards, Florida’s early constitutions, Spanish Land Grants, and more. Of particular note to art-minded genealogical researchers is The Florida Folklife Collection, offering 88 individual series documenting Florida’s cultural and historical contributions.

Illinois State Archives—This Illinois-specific site offers a wealth of information on Illinois war veterans. Additionally, the site links to records in a variety of Illinois universities, offering a selection of academic resources beyond measure. Official Website of the State of Maine—Obviously focused on Maine records, this site offers genealogical research drawing from court, census, land office, military, and local records. One nice feature of this site is the ability to instantly consult librarians, making your own genealogical research that much smoother.

Making of America—This digital library focuses on the social history of America from the antebellum period to the reconstruction period. You can search for specific terms or people, or simply skip to a subject search, making this no-frills site as navigation-friendly as it is browser-friendly.

Massachusetts Archive—While offering a vital records search, this site primarily focuses on Massachusetts history, from 1841-1910. This site is backed up by the actual archive in Massachusetts, making it a natural stop for those whose research takes them to Massachusetts.

Minnesota Historical Society: People Finder—Also named one of the 101 best genealogy websites by Family Tree Magazine, this site has all your needs covered when it comes searching Minnesota records. This includes searchable birth and death records, a census index, immigration resources, and more.

Missouri State Archives: Research Room—While it is more famous for its documents about Jessie James and Harry Truman, these archives boast an impressive amount of searchable information. Their records (County, Judicial, Land, Military, and more) are paired up with an impressive set of photography and digital resources.

New England Historic Genealogical Society - What separates this New England-centric searchable archive apart from the rest is its frequent updates. As of this writing, they’d added seven databases within the last month, which range from the census and cemetery records you’d expect to immigration sketches and Bible records.

Oregon State Archives—In addition to providing an easy surname search through their archives, this site offers lots of information about Oregon itself. This includes historical and county records, as well as provisional and territorial records, providing your genealogical quest with maps, images, and much more.

Washington State Digital Archives—Another no-frills site, the Washington State Digital Archives offers an easy search engine that peers through over 64 million records. While offering the standard collections as well (browse through birth, death, contractual, institutional records, and many more), it also offers rare audio records, helping to bring your past to life.

Wisconsin Historical Society—Offering a searchable genealogy index as well as a genealogy service that can help you immensely, this site’s other focus is on Civil War records. They prominently feature Civil War service records, rosters, and other key information about Civil War vets.—For those weary of various pay databases charges, this searchable genealogical index prominently features an assortment of free databases. It also includes loads of practical information, such as how to interview family members in order to dig up information about your familial past.

American-French Genealogical Society: A genealogical and historical organization for French-Canadian research– This site’s specific mission is to preserve vanishing Franco-American traditions by helping users trace down their own ancestors through Canada’s emigrant past. Offering a mailing list, lending library, and other archival sources, this site will help trace your Canadian ancestry.

Cyndi’s List of Genealogical Sites On the Internet—Just like it sounds, this site is Cyndi’s compiled list of sites, broken down by both region and circumstance (adoption, orphans, even oral history). What’s impressive here is not the site layout (though there is something to be said for its pleasant simplicity), but the sheer amount of sources she has found, making this a site you should bookmark immediately.

The Genealogy Register—Providing thousands of links to surname, census, military, passenger records (and many more), this no-frills site gets you right into the action. It also has specific city directories and a helpful messageboard.

Genealogy Spot– While offering links to various records on and offline, this site’s specialty is helping beginners start their genealogical search. It also offers a sobering reminder about double-checking the veracity of online searches, reminding researchers of the need to, well, re-search for corroborating info.

Social Security Online: The Official Website of the U.S. Social Security Administration—A source that is often overlooked by genealogy researchers, Social Security Online has helpful guides to requesting records from various government agencies. And, of course, you can easily request help, on- and offline, for your search.

Surname Genealogy Search—Billing itself as the first genealogy search that only needs your surname, the Surname Genealogy Search has been helping online researchers for almost 15 years. With one quick, you’ll have access to your surname referenced across the years and across the globe.

Make Your Family Tree—After you’ve done some level of genealogy research, this site helps you form a family tree from your information. This site serves as a quick and easy guide for this crucial step of the genealogy process. Online since 1996—Another decade-plus veteran site, helps you search for family, document findings, and even develop a family homepage. It also hosts a very specific message board, where you can request that folks help you track down specific people. Finding Our Roots Together—Another site ideal for beginners, rootsweb takes you through the entire genealogical process. It is also very community-oriented, hosting multiple pages for its own members, a mailing list, and a message board.

National Genealogical Society—Founded over a century ago, NGS caters to novice and experienced historians alike. Their primary purpose is academic in nature, offering a wealth of trustworthy resources and online courses that will help hone your genealogical research skills.

Caleb Johnson’s—This site is advertised as the “most complete and accurate” website for information on the Mayflower, Plymouth Colony, and the Pilgrims themselves. Now in its 15th year, this site is a treasure trove for teachers and genealogical researchers alike!

The Linkages Projects—This site concentrates on its database on human communities from all over, offering over 150 ethnographic cases to aid your family research. Run by the University of California’s School of Social Sciences, this site is a scholar-friendly view of linked communities around the world.

National Obituary Archive—This streamlined site lets you find obituaries from all over the world. Additionally, the site features family memorials, including a special section for September 11th memorials.

JewishGen: The Home of Jewish Genealogy—As the name implies, this site focuses on genealogy research for those of Jewish heritage. In addition to its easy-to-use searches, the site features informative articles, active discussion groups, and links to various special projects.

Kansas Interactive Genealogy—Short and to the point, this site features searches for genealogy, history, and travel regarding Kansas. You can easily add your own Kansas genealogy research to theirs online, helping out countless others with their searches.—For more than 25 years, Lineages, Inc. has traced over 100,000 family lines for their clients. In addition to searches, they offer information on helpful software and other products to aid you in your research.

WWW Page Access Counter at Rootsweb—Part of the Rootsweb network of sites, this page offers a bevy of HTML tricks for creating your family history webpage. Offering visual examples of each trick, this is a great resource for soon-to-be webmasters.

ProGenealogists: Trust Family History Research—This site primarily serves as a hub for other searches, offering you a convenient, one-stop shop for genealogy research online. Additionally, the site features a large amount of free resources, easy any researcher’s wallet in this rough economy.

Ireland Roots—This free service has one goal: helping you uncover your Irish roots. Offering a healthy mixture of history, messageboards, and search resources, this site brings the luck of the Irish to your genealogical research.

GenWriters: Writing for Future Generations—A very specific site, GenWriters helps you make the most of your written family histories. From quickstart resources to detailed bibliographies, this site has it all.

FamilyTreeMaker—Run by, this site has everything you need to create your family tree. This includes software, tutorials, and a detailed set of frequently asked questions. Learning Center—This site offers how-tos, genealogy classes, and a wealth of other resources to help you research the past. Very newbie-friendly, this site walks you through every step of research, collaboration, and discovery.

Genealogy Resources—This site offers 89 links to genealogy resources around the web. While offering no unique resources itself, this site belongs in any genealogy researcher’s web bookmarks.

US National Archives: Records on Footnote—Representing millions of historic documents, this site gives equal exposure to documents, images, and indexes. Ideal for historians and genealogists alike, this site will keep you clicking again and again!

Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter—A daily newsletter for genealogy enthusiasts, this site prides itself on “straight talk.” The blog-like format mixes in gentle humor with insightful news and commentary, making it an easy read for those who wish to stay informed about genealogy.

National Archives Research Centers—As a break from all of the online research sites, this page has one focus: helping you locate national archives research centers all over America. For those willing to put their feet on the street for research, this site provides you with the very first step.

Genealogy Resources—Another link repository site, Genealogy Resources provides dozens of useful sites to aid you in your research. Aside from the links, the big draw for this page is its collection of genealogy white papers, offering an invaluable archive for family researchers everywhere.

The Genealogy Homepage—This no-frills link repository is helpfully broken down by region and subject. Operating for 15 years now, the Genealogy Homepage has received national attention through the New York Times, CNN, and has many more distinctions.

University of Minnesota: Genealogy Resources—Focusing on genealogy information and resources for Minnesota, this site offers a mixture of helpful reference info and research about common surnames. While very specific, it is difficult to imagine a more thorough site for Minnesota genealogy.

All Surnames Genealogy—The polar opposite of the more specific sites, this page provides an alphabetical list of all surnames. While it would likely be better to switch to more specific archives when you know more, this site is a great starting point, especially for beginners.

Genealogy Resources by State—This government-run link archive does just what you’d imagine: linking you to specific genealogy resources for each state. This site allows you to research in relative comfort, as the links provided have been verified as reliable by the US government.–Linking the World Together With Roots—This site boasts of having the world’s largest family history library. With news, tutorials, and specialized collections, this site helps you find your family tree.

WWW Virtual Library - American Indians: Index of Native American Genealogy Resources on the Internet—This Native-American-centric research site hosts information, links, and media regarding Native American matters. If you are searching for information about Native American ancestry (or just enjoy the historical information), this is the perfect site for you.
Now that you are on the right track to rediscovering where and whom you came from, share your family tree on a blog or in an email to encourage other genealogy enthusiasts to keep pursuing their roots too. You never know, you may even find a long lost cousin that way


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