Monday, April 23, 2007

Top 10 Genealogy Web Sites

I am occasionally asked by members of our society: “what are the best genealogy web sites you use?”

It’s a difficult question to answer, since it depends on whether you are looking for genealogy data (names, dates, places provided in original sources or by other researchers) or genealogy information (history, articles, news provided by writers, speakers, etc.). I tend to search for both on a daily basis. Many web sites provide a mixture of the two.

Top web site lists are listed by genealogy magazines, columnists and bloggers occasionally.

Here are my Top 10 genealogy web sites, in approximate order of their value to me as a genealogy researcher:

1) Ancestry – a subscription site, but free at some libraries (including Chula Vista and San Diego libraries). Has the complete census records, with an every name index. Has over 25,000 databases, including books, city directories, newspaper archives, etc. with excellent search capabilities. Has PERSI access. Has recently added Canada and UK census records and other content.

2) Rootsweb Genealogical Cooperative – repository of user-submitted data. The WorldConnect database is very useful. The Social Security Death Index and other databases are helpful. The Rootsweb/Ancestry message boards for surnames, localities and general subjects are great ways to find others researching your family surnames. Rootsweb has the threaded genealogy mailing list archives and a search capability.

3) LDS Family Search – The LDS church databases (IGI, Ancestral File and Pedigree Resource File) can be helpful in finding extracted or submitted genealogy data. Has 1880 US, 1881 Canada and 1881 UK census transcriptions. Has excellent Research Guides for all states and many countries. Has the Family History Library Catalog (FHLC) where a researcher can determine the book, microfilm and microfiche holdings of the library.

4) Heritage Quest Online – must be accessed through a library that has a subscription, but can be accessed from home (with the appropriate library card). This site has all of the census images, with head-of-household indexes for 1790 to 1820 and 1860 to 1920. Has access to PERSI, Revolutionary War Pension Files, 25,000 genealogy books and Freedman’s Records.

5) United States Genealogy Web – Genealogy and history resources for each state and county, usually including vital records, cemetery records, published book lookups, etc.

6) New England Ancestors – Subscription site for the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) in Boston. Has images of the NEHG Register (1847-1994), Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850, Massachusetts Vital Records (1841 to 1910), access to the ProQuest Historical Newspaper collection, New England Sanborn maps, and many other databases.

7) Genealogy Research Guides - Joe Beine’s links to vital record indexes, military indexes and data, census indexes, passenger data, naturalization data, and many other indexes and sites.

8) – a subscription site, but it has some free elements. The census records and genealogy books are similar to HQO. The user-submitted data in the user pages can be helpful. The GenForum message boards for surnames, localities and general subjects are great tools to find others researching your family surnames.

9) Cyndi's List of Links – Excellent site with many links for information on history and genealogy research, but no actual data.

10) Steve Morse's One-Step Search Engine – a very useful list of one-step search engines for many databases, including Castle Garden, Ellis Island, New York vital records, and many more, including many Ancestry databases.

That’s my Top 10 – I know there are many wonderful sites that I haven’t mentioned, but almost all of them can be found by using one of these 10 web sites.

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