A Checklist of Compiled Sources and Where to Find ThemEdit This Page
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Proceed with caution
A primary source record is one created at or near the time the event occurred by a person who was present at the place of the event. All other records are secondary in nature. For example a death certificate may be a primary source for death information, but a secondary source for birth information.
To the extent possible genealogical research should try to rely on primary records. This not always possible and often, genealogists have to use secondary material. The term "compiled sources" refers to collections of the names of families and individuals, sometimes in the form of family trees but also including surname books, extracted records and other similar records.
All records, whether they be primary, secondary or compiled, must be evaluated for their accuracy. Any compiled record, such as a surname book, is suspect, especially if it does not contain citations to primary or even secondary source records. Any information obtained from such a compiled source should be evaluated and verified by more reliable source records before incorporation in your own database.
About this List
This article contains a list of online resources that may contain references to compiled sources. These compiled sources may or may not be verified or contain original or primary source references for the information submitted or collected. Searches in compiled sources should supplement, but not replace, your genealogical researching in original i.e. primary and secondary record sources.
Regardless of your experience as a family history researcher in using primary and original records, and no matter how many years of experience in researching family trees, it is best not to forget that compiled sources may help you more comprehensively search for data already submitted about your family lines. Family history seekers are guaranteed a pleasant surprise as they strike ‘gold’ by discovering already completed research on at least one or some in-common ancestral family lineages. However, be careful not to accept any records for which there is not adequate documentation from original i.e. primary or secondary (rather than compiled) sources. Copies of copies do not become sources.
It is also helpful to realize that additional information concerning your family lines may appear online at any time. It is a good idea to review this type of source from time to time to see if there have been any additions.
- Some of the following sources have compiled family tree information. Others contain digitized copies of surname books and other extracted records. On the other hand, some the links include sites with original source records and have been included because they also contain compiled records. In every case, any record found must be evaluated as to its reliability whether primary, secondary or compiled.
List of Sources
- WorldCat.org In the 'Subject' field enter the surname plus the word “family” e.g., Prescott Family. This searches the catalogs and displays the results from thousands of especially U.S. libraries at once. Some of the types of documents you can find on WorldCat can be considered primary data sources. Others, such as compiled surname books, are definitely compiled.
- $ Periodical Source Index (PERSI) allows searches for a family name in over a million article titles in genealogical periodicals. If the Article “Results List” is too long, redo the search but in the Keyword field add the two-letter postal abbreviation for the state where they lived. Some libraries may have free access to HeritageQuestOnline.com which contains the entire PERSI index.
- $ and Free: Google books type in the surname and another key word such as the locality, i.e. town, or county or state/province.
- Internet Archive The Internet Archive has a huge collection of digitized genealogical materials, some of which are primary or secondary source records and others are compiled genealogies.
- The Family History Library Catalog Do a “Surname” search. This searches the world’s largest genealogical library holdings for published works cataloged by surname.
- GenForum of Genealogy.com has 170 million names; quarter of million a week
- $ Ancestry.com has one of the largest database listings of compiled data on families in their Family Trees.
- $ Findmypast.com has 2 billion of records and newspapers from the US, UK, Ireland and New Zealand and Australia. Many of their English, Welsh and Irish records cannot be found elsewhere online.
- $ MyHeritage.com has millions of records mostly in the form of family trees submitted by members. But it also owns WorldVitalRecords.com and other websites for primary and secondary sources.
- USGenweb.org or Canadagenweb.org or BritishIslesgenweb.org–numerous aids, databases online by state & county
- Genealogy.com (FamilyFinder) - has enormous databases (300m entries) for families
- Roots Surname Lists
- $ MyTrees at [www.Kindredkonnections.com Kindred Konnections] a fabulous site for surnames
- $ [www.GenesReunited.com Genes Reunited] the largest UK site with over 650 million UK names; perhaps the most effective, powerful web site whose offerings allow researchers to find distant cousins working on in-common ancestry
- $ [www.lostcousins.com Lost Cousins] a wonderful site that provides access to hundreds of millions of UK-based and other ancestral names throughout many parts of the world
- $ [www.Onegreatfamily.com One Great Family] has over 130 million names worldwide
- FamilySearcy.org has scanned several tens of thousands of free, published family histories all scanned, imaged, indexed and online
- [www.one-name.org Guild of One Name Studies] or with nearly 8,000 UK surnames registered
- $ New England Historic Genealogical Society
- Allen County Public Library One of the largest genealogical collections in the United Sates.
- Google on 1) family “surname”, 2) “family history” or “genealogy” and 3) “town” or “city” name
- Ancestor Hunt has numerous databases and links to databases for those seeking compiled data on families; a great website.
- $ Daughters of The American Revolution (DAR) has one of the most exhaustive listings for family Bibles available (online) anywhere; visit periodically for new listings.
- Roots UK has census and family links.
- Ancestral Findings has several offerings worth searching.
- $ Fold3 (formerly Footnote.com) works with US government agencies and provides hundreds of millions entries with data on families.
- GenServ is a large gateway website with 1000’s of website links to it.
- Rootsweb.com is a well known site providing a search of nearly 300 million names with already completed data Repositories and libraries Search those libraries and repositories holding the largest collections of compiled sources with online catalogs. Many of them especially hold published or manuscript family histories, genealogies, biographies and other compiled family and local histories (and many of which may have one and often more—internal alpha-arranged listing or index or related database[s]). If an publication is found, often you can order it through the Inter-Library Loan Service.
For additional compiled sources you may wish to check local, county, state or province and national libraries. For links to libraries see Archives and Libraries for each jurisdiction in the Research Wiki.
Search compiled sources or indexes in the host country of settlement
Key indexes and databases to original record sources to search can be found in the following record sources (clue: first search for "indexes" to each record-type; i.e. just about all 50 states and most Canadian Provinces now have some indexes available online. And nearly all have at least manuscript indexes to most of the following record-types!):
- vital (esp. death & marriage certificates; sometimes birth; i.e. see wiki.familysearch.org or fhlfavorites.org --see US/Can/ UK , etc.)
- church (see fhlfavorites, familysearch.org--search IGI and/or its FHLC [online catalog]
- obituaries (see fhlfavorites under i.e. USA)
- passenger lists (10% or less give specific birthplace; ancestry.com has largest database of immigrants)
- census (FindMyPast.com, Ancestry.com)
- Other "indexed" original records may include:
- naturalization (FHLC, Naturalization Indexes--USA
- local (county & county) histories
Search in indexes (and in the original record) sources in the country of origin
After tracing for and obtaining the specific place of origin, researchers can then access the following indexed sources to England's major genealogical records and with confidence, identify the name[s] of ancestors to find them in these sources:
- civil Registration
- city/county directories
- church records
- church records
- marriage indexes
- society: member interests
- county surname collections
- This page was last modified on 24 July 2013, at 22:38.
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