Websites for Family History Beginners

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Many websites can help beginners with family history research. This article lists websites that can be used at the Family History Library, Family History Centers, from home, or wherever one has access to the Internet, such as cybercafés or libraries.

Electronic Family Trees and Family Websites[edit | edit source]

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  • FamilySearch: Largest free online collection of genealogical databases, including Ancestral File, International Genealogical Index, 1880 U.S. federal census index, Pedigree Resource File, U.S. Social Security Death Index, and the Vital Records Index—North America.
  • RootsWeb: A free genealogy community that makes use of online forums and mailing lists to help people research their family history. RootsWeb was founded in 1993 by Dr. Brian Leverich and Karen Isaacson as the Roots Surname List, and quickly grew from there. It is the oldest free community genealogy research site. RootsWeb was acquired by (now in June 2000. Users can also upload GEDCOMs of their information to RootsWeb WorldConnect for others to view.[1]

Research Aids[edit | edit source]

  • FamilySearch Wiki: The FamilySearch Research Wiki is a place to search for information to help you with your genealogical research. As a user-contributed and edited site, it is similar to Wikipedia in nature. This page is a part of the FamilySearch Wiki.
  • USGenWeb: Free websites for genealogy research in almost every state and county in the United States.
  • Genuki: Free virtual reference library for United Kingdom and Ireland research. Gazetteer, guide for first time users.

See also Twenty Ways to Avoid Genealogical Grief

Directories of Genealogical Websites[edit | edit source]

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The usage of "Mormon" and "LDS" on this page is approved according to current policy.

  • Cyndi's List: A large genealogical directory that can be searched by location or topic. Select a location or topic, then select a category of records or topics. Scroll to the specific record or topic desired.

Original Records[edit | edit source]

  • Family Search Historical Records: A free site that contains indexes and images of U.S., Canada, and international records. For the U.S., it includes selected federal and state censuses; birth, marriage, and death records; funeral home records, Freedman's Bank and Freedman's Bureau records; military pensions; probate records; passenger lists; WWI draft registrations; and land records. Check back often as this website is updated with new records regularly.
  • Ancestry or Ancestry Institution $: Ancestry is a subscription site, but access is free in the Family History Library. Ancestry Institution, with a limited subset of data, is available free in larger Family History Centers.
  • Fold3 $: Contains digital original sources such as naturalizations, Revolutionary War papers, Civil War papers, Mormon Battalion pensions, newspapers, Southern Claims Commission, and Texas births and deaths. Free at the Family History Library and many Family History Centers.
  • HeritageQuest $: This website contains indexes (1790-1820, 1860-1880, and 1900-1930) and images (1790-1930) to U.S. federal censuses; over 22,000 family and local histories; PERSI, an index to 2 million genealogical periodical articles; Revolutionary War pension and bounty-land warrants; Freedman’s Bank records; and U.S. Congressional records. It is free at the Family History Library, larger Family History Centers, and many public libraries. Check with your local library for free access to HeritageQuest. 
  • World Vital Records $: A subscription website with vital records, church records, newspapers, and other information from around the world. Free access is available at many Family History Centers.
  • My Heritage free & $ features: Subscription website with records (US and some international), family trees, articles, record matching.
  • GeneaNet free and $ features: Collaborative website with family trees, record databases, guides.
  • Lost Cousins free and $ features: Matching service for selected censuses - US, United Kingdom, Ireland, Canada.

Books[edit | edit source]

  • Google: Google Books contains a large number of public domain family histories and genealogies, plus many local and regional histories of value to genealogical researchers.
  • Internet Archive contains public domain books, including family and local histories, records transcriptions, and more.

Libraries[edit | edit source]

  • WorldCat: WorldCat is a union catalog of the collections of 71,000 libraries in 112 countries that participate in the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) global cooperative. It is built and maintained collectively by the participating libraries. Created in 1971, it is the world's largest bibliographic database, containing more than 150 million records pointing to over 1.4 billion physical and digital assets in more than 470 languages.[3]

Maps and Gazetteers[edit | edit source]

  • Geographic Names Information System: The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS) is a database that contains name and location information about more than two million physical and cultural features throughout the United States and its territories. It is a type of gazetteer. GNIS was developed by the United States Geological Survey in cooperation with the United States Board on Geographic Names (BGN) to promote the standardization of feature names.[4]
  • David Rumsey Map Collection: A collection of over 21,000 historic maps online. The website includes a link to the David Rumsey Blog for additional information.

Passenger Lists[edit | edit source]

  • Ellis Island: 1892-1924 New York City passenger arrival index and passenger list images showing ethnicity, arrival date, residence, age, ship, port of departure, passenger manifest image, and ship’s image. The site is also indexed at One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse.
  • US Passenger Lists: This website includes links to transcribed passenger records and indexes.
  • The Ships List Website containing transcriptions of worldwide passenger lists, newspaper records, shipwreck information, ship pictures, ship descriptions, shipping-line fleet lists and more.

Search Engines[edit | edit source]

  • DogPile:DogPile is a metasearch engine. It gathers information from several search engines and displays them under one search site. This allows the user to search several search engines with only one display list.
  • Clusty: Clusty is also a metasearch engine, but the results are delivered in clusters of information.
  • Kin Crawler Kin Crawler is a genealogy SPECIFIC search engine. They have indexed thousands of genealogy homepages, ancestry trees, family history message boards, state/local genealogy resources, and much more
  • One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse: A search engine for selected genealogical websites.
  • Mocavo: A genealogy search engine for free websites.

Free Genealogy Lookups[edit | edit source]

Worldwide State Archives[edit | edit source]

Related Wiki Article[edit | edit source]

See also Major Databases for Beginning United States Research.

See also Cyndis List for Beginners

Sources[edit | edit source]

  1. Wikipedia contributors, "," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
  2. Wikipedia contributors, "Genealogy," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
  3. Wikipedia contributors, "WorldCat," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
  4. Wikipedia contributors, "Geographic Names Information System," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,
  5. Wikipedia contributors, "Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia,