Websites for Family History Beginners
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
- 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 MyFamily.com (now Ancestry.com) in June 2000. Users can also upload GEDCOMs of their information to RootsWeb WorldConnect for others to view.
- 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.
- BYU Guides and Tutorials: This website includes online family history tutorials and area-specific research guides.
- USGenWeb: Free websites for genealogy research in almost every state and county in the United States.
- WorldGenWeb: Free websites for genealogy research in countries of the world.
- RootsWeb's Guide to Tracing Family Trees: Free step-by-step guides created by professional genealogists, Julia M. Case, Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG and Rhonda McClure.
Directories of Genealogical Websites
- ProGenealogists: A professional genealogical company that conducts family history research. Their web site includes two specific pages that have useful links to other genealogy web sites: a United States Genealogy Sleuth page, and an International Genealogy Sleuth page.
- 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.
- Family Genealogy and History Internet Education Directory: a humanities and social sciences portal with links to a large collection of primary or secondary database records.
- A guide for finding vital records: Links to online birth and marriage records indexes and records for the United States, arranged by state. For death records and indexes.
- Record Search: 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 web site 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 Ancestry.com data, is available free in larger Family History Centers.
- Footnote.com $: 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.
- BYU Family History Archives: The Family History Archives is a collection of online digitized books that includes family histories and some oral histories. It is sponsored by the Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library.
- 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.
- 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.
- International Library Index by Country: This is a listing of academic and public libraries around the world. Choose the country first, then go to the specific locality.
Maps and Gazetteers
- 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.
- Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names: This website allows you to search for a geographic name and shows the hierarchy of jurisdictions associated with that location.
- David Rumsey Map Collection: A collection of over 21,000 historic maps online. The web site includes a link to the David Rumsey Blog for additional information.
- Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection: An extensive collection of maps at the University of Texas at Austin. Many have been scanned and are available online, most of which are public domain.
- Castle Garden: Free index to New York City passenger arrivals from 1820 to 1892, containing roughly 12 million immigrants.
- 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.
- Immigrant Ships Transcriber's Guild: Over 11,000 ships passenger manifests.
- US Passenger Lists: This web site 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.
- 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.
- One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse: A search engine for selected genealogical websites.
- Council of State Archivists: A directory of state archives and records programs, with links to archives' websites.
Related Wiki Article
- Wikipedia contributors, "Ancestry.com," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ancestry.com
- Wikipedia contributors, "Genealogy," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Genealogy
- Wikipedia contributors, "WorldCat," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/WorldCat.
- Wikipedia contributors, "Geographic Names Information System," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geographic_Names_Information_System
- Wikipedia contributors, "Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Perry-Casta%C3%B1eda_Library_Map_Collection