This page updated 25 May 2017
There are hundreds, probably thousands, of useful sites on the Internet – here are a few I've found. As with any other subject, there is a lot of false information, or at best simple errors, to be found on genealogical sites. But there is a wealth of invaluable information as well. Just pay attention to what you are looking at – see my article Genealogy and the Internet for more on this.
These are the ones nearly everyone recommends:
|FamilySearch||The LDS (Mormon) Church's site has received a major overhaul, and now offers images of many sources, as well as databases and contributed trees, all free. It also includes the online catalog to the Family History Library microfilms that you can borrow at your local LDS Family History Center.|
|US GenWeb||Locate state & county libraries, official repositories, query boards, transcriptions of local records, cemetery information, and more, all free.|
|Ancestry.com||Simply the best subscription site – US Census images, passenger list images and much more. Available free at some libraries.|
|RootsWeb||Thousands of e-mail lists focused on families, localities, software, and other subjects of interest, as well as databases, contributed trees, and more, all free|
|FindAGrave||Tombstone information from millions of graves, in many cases with additional information as well, all free.|
|Cyndi's List||Thousands of genealogy sites listed, categorized into hundreds of useful groups|
|Google or your favorite search engine||The problem is getting past all the modern records for the name you are searching for and finding the one you want. Since the one you want may not be popular, be sure to look through several pages of results – the one you want is likely to be on page 6! Try given names spelled out and with initials, and try putting the name in quotes to reduce false hits. If you do that, try the surname both first and last.|
|Google Books||Google has scanned and indexed many old books, including many of the old local histories and family histories, with full images of the original book. Search either for specific names, or something like "history of lyon county ky" and then search for names once you find a promising book.
More modern books are also included, but often without images or full text available. In those cases you can see a small extract, and if it looks promising there are links to places you can find a copy, often in a local library.
These sites are newer, and thus have less broad offerings than some of the more established sites. But they are very worthwhile if the happen to have what you need, and they are adding more all the time:
|Fold3.com||Is partnering with major archives to offer images of a wide range of historical documents. Some is free, but much by subscription. Especially useful are Revolutionary War pension files. Now owned by Ancestry but is still a separate subscription.|
|GenealogyBank||Historical books, newspapers, obituaries, and more. By subscription. If they happen to have newspapers from where your ancestors lived, this can be a treasure trove.|
|Newspapers.com||Another subscription newspaper site. Generally has different newspapers than GenealogyBank, so which is best depends on where your ancestors lived. Also owned by Ancestry.”|
|New England Historical Genealogical Society||The Society isn't new at all, but its website was enormously improved recently. Contains images of the Society's Register, published since 1847, other books, and databases not available elsewhere. An essential subscription if your ancestors lived in early New England.|
A growing number of public archives and libraries are putting databases, and increasingly, actual images of public documents online, all free. Here are a few examples:
|Library of Congress||Has extensive collections on-line images as well as the catalog to the complete holding. The "American History & Culture" and Historic Newspapers" sections are especially useful. The site is extensive, so may take some exploring. Don't miss the sections below, some of which are hard to locate.
The Manuscripts section has images of early correspondence of major figures (did your ancestor ever write to Thomas Jefferson?). Century of Lawmaking has the American State Papers and U.S. Serial Set (printed transcriptions of tons of early records), and U.S. and Confederate Senate and House Journals (did your ancestor ever serve as military or civilian officer in either government?).
|Library of Virginia||Has an amazing number of Virginia records, and even family Bible pages, online. But again there is so much information it can be difficult to find what you want. Don't miss the Land Office Grants section if you had ancestors in early Virginia. Search in the Archives & Manuscripts section for images of family Bibles.
You can also find the Library's extensive collection of County Records on Microfilm and order the films through InterLibrary Loan at your local library.
|Missouri State Archives||Has images of death certificates from 1910 to 1957, and a database of older records|
|Bureau of Land Management||Has databases and images of land grants|
|Shelby Co. Tennessee||Has images of deeds, birth, marriage, and death records, and more|
|Illinois State Archives||Has state-wide marriage and death indexes.|
|Kentucky Land Office||Has images of land grants|
|Congressional Biographies||The "official" biographies of United States Senators and Representatives.|
If these don't cover where your ancestors lived search for archives where they lived on Goggle.
These two sites may help in understanding what you find on those census records you can find on several sites.
|Instructions for U.S. Census Enumerators||See what was supposed to be entered in each of those fields, even if sometimes it wasn't.|
|The Census Taker Cometh||A fictionalized account that may explain why the data appearing on the census doesn't say what you expect.|
There are hundreds of organizations dedicated to specific families or surnames – Here are some examples that relate to my family lines. Use a genealogical or standard search site to look for any that relate to your lines.
|The Meriwether Society||Cobb and Cobbs Website|
|Montague Millennium Page||Riegel/Riggle Freundschaft Association|
|Deacon Edmund Rice (1638) Association||Willard Family Association|
Here are a few sites that I've used that can help with overseas connections:
|GEN-Medieval Website||FreeBMD - England & Wales|
When dealing with foreign languages an on-line dictionary can help, though I find they don't do all that well with old terms. Here are two I've used:
|Google Translate||LEO English/German Dictionary|
Sometimes the best resource is a book. The Internet can be a great resource in finding them. Used bookstores can sometimes supply out of print books that are difficult to find elsewhere - Here are some that seem to carry titles I've looked for:
Another great source is local historical and genealogical societies. Find them by following the links to the state and/or county of interest on USGenweb
You might even find them on-line:
|Internet Archive - Text Archive||Google Books|
Some of these might be of interest, or at least illustrate some of the variety of things that can be found on the web:
|Augustan Society Home Page||Fraudulent Genealogies|
|Mayflower Passenger List||Watch Out for Fake Family Trees|
|James Savage's Work|
PeopleFinder's Genealogy Resources page has a links to a large number of well-done articles on topics ranging from "That is Genealogy?" to "Hiring a Professional." (Thanks to an eighth-grade student in Ms. Burke's middle school social studies class for bringing this one to my attention.)
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