15 Minutes of Family History
This page contains free online databases and quick family history research resources.
Pioneer Ancestors Coming Across the Plains: www.lds.org/churchhistory.
Click on “Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel.”
Ordering a Patriarchal Blessing: www.lds.org/churchhistory/archives/pbinfo.
Photos, Journals, Sound Recordings, and Letters from Early Church Members: www.lds.org/churchhistory.
Click on “Resources Available,” then search the “Church Archives Catalog” to see what exists. Surname, First Name. Author search for journals and letters. Subject search for Photos, oral histories, etc. Visit or write for copies of items of interest. PH & CR = Photos; OH = Oral Histories; AV = AudioVisual; MS = Manuscripts, journals, letters.
Locate Civil War Soldier: http://www.itd.nps.gov/cwss.
Click on “Soldiers” and search by name and state (if known) for an ancestor who would have been age 16-50 between 1860-1865. Once the regiment/company are known, additional records may be easily located. If you know if they were in a prison, click on “Prisoners.” If they were Union, search Andersonville, if Confederate, search Fort McHenry. If you don’t know, search both. See Military Records and More below.
'Homestead' or Land Patents: www.glorecords.blm.gov.
Click “Search Land Patents” at the top of the page. Enter a zip code, then select the state where an ancestor may have bought or homesteaded land from the federal government. New records are added every day. Click on the ancestor’s name. If ‘View Image’ is available, you may see the original document. Using the coordinates from the land patent, find the homestead or land using GoogleEarth. Use Step 10 to order the whole homestead packet.
Newspapers: There are MANY online newspaper resources, usually put online by a University in the state, or a public library. Utah newspapers were digitized by the U of U. BYU also uses the U of U database. www.lib.utah.edu/digital/unews. New papers are added every day. Search for an ancestor’s name in the search box under all newspapers first, then narrow the search if the results are too great.
'Illinois' Records Online: www.cyberdriveillinois.com/departments/archives/databases.html. Locate and search the desired database. This includes military records, birth, marriage, and death records, and various other databases listed by the hosting University.
'Arizona' Records Online: http://genealogy.az.gov Death Index 1878-1956 & Birth Index 1887-1931
'West Virginia' Vital Records Online: http://www.wvculture.org/vrr. This database is incomplete but contains many birth, marriage, and death records for West Virginia, from the 1700s-1970s. (West Virginia was Virginia prior to 1863).
Immigration Records: www.castlegarden.org Before Ellis Island there was Castle Garden. To locate immigrants who arrived in New York between 1830-1892, search this database. In 1892, Ellis Island opened, and all immigrants arriving in New York were filtered through this location. A free registration is required to use this resource. Go to www.ellisisland.org and click, ‘Sign In,’ then click, ‘Yes I am New to this Site.’ Fill in the registration, check the box, and click, ‘Submit.’ Now click ‘Passenger Search’ on the toolbar and begin searching.
Military Records and More: http://www.archives.gov/research/order/orderonline.html Once an ancestor’s regiment number and company number are known, service records may be ordered. Many ancestors also applied for a pension. Order these online from the National Archives. You are not charged if they do not find anything. Click ‘Proceed to Order Online,’ then click ‘New User.’ After registering, repeat the previous steps, and log in. Click ‘Made-to-Order Reproductions.’ Select a military service record or Union pension record for order, fill out the order form, and watch your mailbox for the records to arrive! You may also order immigration, naturalization, homestead files, and Native American records following these instructions. Call 1-86-NARA-NARA for help.
'Utah' Vital Records Online: http://historyresearch.utah.gov/indexes/index.html. Death certificates from 1905-1956 are available online as well as many other databases and indexes. Search this page to see what is available. More records are added every day, listed by county.
Utah Cemetery/Burials: http://history.utah.gov/apps/burials/execute/searchburials. This database is still growing, and is easy to use to find ancestors buried in Utah.
Any U.S. Death Since About 1940: http://ssdi.rootsweb.com. The Social Security Death Index lists anyone who had a Social Security Number who is dead. This free online database is also available on www.familysearch.org. With a person’s SSDN, their application may be ordered, listing parents, birthplace and birth date, and other useful information. Once you locate the record on rootsweb, click ‘SS-5 Letter,’ print it out, fill in your personal information, and mail it with $27.00 to the Social Security Death Administration to obtain the application.
Various Free Records: www.rootsweb.com. These are individually hosted sites and may contain a variety of records contributed by volunteers.