50 Best Family History Blogs

Difficult as it was to choose only 50 family history blogs as top selections, here are the most entertaining examples of what is traditionally an amusing genre. There’s a vast range, a library’s worth of different perspectives to be found on these sites: some are very personal stories, glimpses of not only family history but also human nature. Others are scholarly historical works that compile every known detail on a particular set of related families. You’ll discover facts about the lives and times of everyone from crowned heads of Europe to medieval weavers of silk tapestries and American pioneers who came to the colonies, won their independence, and kept roaming farther south and west. It’s a series of history lessons related by the participants. In addition to being entertaining and educational, it is our aim that these top sites also help you to explore otherwise hidden parts of your own family history.

  1. Adams Family Papers – The Adams Family Papers are billed as “An Electronic Archive,” which reflects the precision and thorough nature of their acquisition and presentation. These documents were assembled by the venerable Massachusetts Historical Society, which was founded in 1791 and thus is part of history in its own right, and they contain the personal records of John Adams, second president of the United States, and his wife Abigail, a staunch advocate of public education. The site has posted beautifully organized collections of letters, a diary belonging to Adams, and Adams’ autobiography, plus detailed descriptions of what the collections contain, transcripts, and images of the pages themselves.

    Adams Family Papers

    A painting of President John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd president of the United States, by Asher B. Durand (1767-1845). Courtesy of U.S. Navy.

  2. Jewish Gen – The Jewish Gen site is a central repository of genealogical records belonging to Jewish families in countries all over the world, from Belarus to Austria to Scandinavia to South America. Based in New York City, Jewish Gen is affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage, known for its focus on the Holocaust, and the sheer volume of information in its possession is impressive, as you can see from the databases section. Examples of what you can find are a searchable database of surnames and towns (the Family Finder) and a burial registry covering 4,000 cemeteries in 81 countries.
  3. Van Antwerp Family – The Van Antwerp Family blog is a charming little scrapbook created by George Van Antwerp in 2007. The author stated in one of his first posts, which concerned the city of Antwerp, that he wanted to start a conversation about the family, and his notes on other Van Antwerps (a pottery company, a set of condos, a building in Mobile, Alabama) are cleverly designed for that purpose. There’s a post with some 17th century history of the Van Antwerpens of the Mohawk River Valley, an article about the author’s father’s missionary work in Brazil, and many other highlights from the family’s chronicles.
  4. Kemp(e) Family History – This site, which is devoted to the genealogical project known as a one-name study, also includes information on the surnames Kemps and Kempf, and although data for living members of the family is not made available on the web, you may use the contact link to make that type of request. The site layout is exceptionally logical, showing a selection of data types (from photos to headstones) and a division of the family tree into maternal and paternal lineage. There’s even a page of statistics on the Kemp(e) data collection, with fun facts like the total number of family members (94,825) and the lifespan of the oldest Kemp known (125 years).
  5. ScotWeb Clan And Family Histories – ScotWeb is the web commerce branch of that famous producer of woven tartans, D.C. Dalgliesh, and its research into the Scottish clans for which its artisan fabrics are named contains any number of fascinating footnotes to the country’s history. For instance, the son of the original laird of Anstruther was known for his generosity to the monks of Balmerino Abbey, and the founding father of Clan Mackintosh obtained his lands by fighting under King Malcolm IV. If you’re inclined to don a particular plaid, you can also pick up some facts about those who originally wore it on ScotWeb.

    ScotWeb Clan And Family Histories

    Soldier of the Black Watch. Engraving of Samuel MacPherson of the 43rd Regiment of Foot. Courtesy of National Army Museum, London; John Prebble, Mutiny, 1984 edition; colour realization by Helena Zakrazewska-Rucinska.

  6. Andy Randazzo family history – This page was started in 2010, and it has material on not only Randazzos but other Sicilian families like the Vitales, Cianciolos, and Palmisanos. Sicily is the largest Mediterranean island and it has passed through the hands of many rulers beginning with the Greeks and continuing through the Roman and Byzantine empires to ancestors of the French (Normans), Germans (Hofenstaufens), and Spaniards (Catalans). Accordingly, to learn the history of Sicilian families like the Randazzos is to learn centuries of regional history. The current access code hint to view data on the site refers to the castellated city in which the family originated, and if you can solve this or a similar riddle, you will be admitted.
  7. Williams Family Tree – The Williams Family Tree site announces itself as a new, improved iteration of the original, and while it is delightful it’s also flash-intensive, so not all its image enhancements are available on every device. However, it is well worth moving to a browser that can view the Williams Family Tree as designed, because the webmaster put years of experience into the product and obtained a very good result. The site welcomes reader contributions, and the number of additions by members of collateral branches (Hake, Harper, Hoggett, and so on) has turned the collection into a vast library of valuable information on British families.
  8. Minnesota Historical Society – The Minnesota Historical Society has set up a family history/people finder page on its website, holding indices of birth and death certificates, a catalog of resources from local public libraries, state census records, and an online assistant to help you construct your family’s history. There’s a list of links to special databases on other sites, such as Veterans Graves Registrations, family history searches for descendants of the Dakota and Ojibway tribes, maps, and histories of towns and buildings. You can also search for information about your ancestors’ lives in the oral histories, Civil War data, and national/ethnic groups collections such as lists of Chinese and Norwegian settlers.
  9. Richison Family History – Jerry Gregory reserved part of his personal website for a compilation of data on the descendants of George Washington Richison and Sarah Marade Barrow, who married in 1846. Neither was a lettered individual, so the name is alternately recorded as Richardson and Richison (even sometimes Richeson, Richerson, and Ritcheson), and modern genetic testing suggests the Richisons were indeed members of the Richardson family of North Carolina. The great flexibility in spellings mirrors the ease with which many of them moved around from state to state in the southern U. S. There’s an extensive alphabetized list of surnames belonging to people who married into the family, and a linked assortment of photos taken over many years.
  10. Jewish Encyclopedia – The Jewish Encyclopedia was published in 12 volumes between 1901 and 1906 by Funk & Wagnalls, and it is a compendium of information on Jewish families, histories, literature, theology, and many other aspects of Jewish life and tradition. One could easily spend weeks wandering around the histories of families like that founded by Sir Albert Abdallah David Sassoon, an Anglo-Indian merchant born in Baghdad, or reading tales of various Rosenbergs (Russian-American writer Abraham Hayyim, Prussian physician Albert, or Julius, a Hungarian deputy of the 19th century). The Jewish Encyclopedia is well respected for its scholarly scope, accuracy, and thoroughness.
  11. Ten Generations – Three Centuries – Another scholarly approach to family history, this time studied as a bridge to a greater understanding of the recent history of Finland, is the five-year project recorded on the Ten Generations – Three Centuries web page. The Academy of Finland is financing this study of cultural transmission from generation to generation of Finland’s families, and when completed it will contain detailed information on fifty thousand individual Finns, including interviews to gather the family history of each as well as genealogical data. These researchers will trace the progress of social changes at the national level by observing their effects on single families and their members.
  12. The Sanchez Family Tree – The Sanchez Family Tree is filled with Sanchez news, photos, and links to individual descendants’ sites, which in turn have pages for each of their family members, and so the network of multiple linkages created on the web traces the same paths as the family’s relationships. The family tree for which the site is named is a very clearly laid out genealogical flow chart showing six Sanchez generations. The stories of the three sons are very different: one is living in Oregon and studying to be a priest, another is married and teaches mathematics at a high school in California, and the third teaches biology at the college level.
  13. A Guide to the Bellamy Family Papers – This collection, and its web page, are housed in the University of Florida’s George A. Smathers Libraries (look in the Special and Area Studies Collections). The Bellamy documents consist primarily of personal correspondence, chiefly that written by Eliza A. Bellamy and her son Burton William Bellamy in the period 1825-1894. The site includes a history of the Bellamys of East Florida, who moved to Tallahassee at the city’s inception in 1821. The patriarch of the family, John Bellamy, is remembered as the man who built the Bellamy Road running east to west along the route of the old Mission Trail.
  14. A Family History of the Thomas, Goldsmith, Button and Barrow Families – This site unites the four related families, hosting a link for each: the Thomas family (Halifax, Yorkshire), the Goldsmith family (Portsea/Portsmouth, Hampshire), the Button family (London and Suffolk), and the Barrow family (New Forest – Hampshire and Dorset). Each family has an interesting history in its own right, all dating back to the latter half of the eighteenth century (1760s-1780s), and each site has its own Family Finder index to locate connected surnames and related individuals. There is a meticulously assembled downloadable .pdf available for each family, giving names, occupations, and brief lives of all descendants.

    A Family History of the Thomas, Goldsmith, Button and Barrow Families

    Buccleuch Cottages, Beaulieu, New Forest. Courtesy of Jim Champion.

  15. GeneaNet – GeneaNet is an online collection of historical resources boasting over 400 million records in the following categories: family trees, records from sources like parish churches and government census rolls, and photographs. The beauty of a set of hypertext genealogy pages like that created by GeneaNet is that you can link every single piece of information, so it’s quite simple to trace where a particular piece of data originates. For instance, if you follow the name link for Salomé Groehly of Alsace, you’ll discover all her personal information was located in her hometown of Illkirch-Graffenstaden, and that for Veit Harsch comes from Vaihingen-sur-l’Enz (Germany, called Allemagne on the Francophone subject page).
  16. The Story Curator – The Story Curator takes a literary approach to a family history, inserting the reader intimately into a virtual museum of family life at the point of a European-American woman named Moussia, a cosmopolite artist whose daughter is a poet. Moussia is summed up from her daughter’s perspective as “Russian by birth, French by taste,” which is a lovely phrase, and her sophistication and elegance are the informing spirit of the Story Curator blog, the aesthetic that guided the writing, the image selection (old family photographs of artistic quality), and every detail of the web presentation. There are fifty finely crafted episodes in Moussia’s story.
  17. Windhorst, Bottge, Leistikow & Vandervoort Genealogy – This site collects old photographs and local histories of the Windhorst, Bottge, Leistikow, and Vandervoort families, with some material from relatives belonging to the Seebach, Jepson, Bratsch, and Schuyler branches. The histories are linked at the top of the page, and the downloadable report called Windhorst Genealogy, by Richard Windhorst, a history of the Windhorst family of Olivia, Minnesota that was completed by its author in 1995, is a fascinating read. Cousin Peter Windhorst added newly discovered information and an updated Foreword in 2010 which describes the origin and nature of the additions (for instance, the family tree in Wesenstedt, Germany now stretches back to Gercken Windhorst, fl. 1600).
  18. Greek Genealogy – The Greek Genealogy site traces the family tree of a Greek-American dentist named Lica Hariclea Catsakis (Bywater), who grew up in Greece and emigrated to the U.S. at the age of 42. The emigration triggered a deep interest in her Greek roots, and Dr. Catsakis has made numerous trips back to her homeland, beginning in 1977, to interview relatives and search local records in order to amass a collection of her family’s historical data. She has uncovered previously uncollected materials on four ancestral families belonging to the Katsakis, Kitsikopoulos, Mantafounis, and Vlahopoulos branches, and has written several treatises on her research in both English and Greek.
  19. L’Association de la Famille Boudreaux/Boudreau/Boudrot/Boudreault – The Boudreaux Family Association embraces all the variants on the name found in South Louisiana. Based in a town called Lafayette, this clan has a governmental organization structure (president, vice-president, and so on) to handle the genealogical business of the family, in which the student of French government will recognize an echo of the mairie. Sadly, former president Donald Joseph (Don) Boudreaux recently passed away, but new webmaster Larry Boudreaux has stepped up to meet the challenge and make sure the Boudreaux family history and site remain available, which is an especially important function since the planning for the family’s 2014 congrè (congrès, or reunion) is now underway.
  20. South Carolina – Genealogy and Family History – This state genealogy page is hosted by Sciway (South Carolina Information Highway), an online repository for South Carolinian resources. Resource categories are extensive, listing everything from cemeteries and churches to maps and plat books. Sciway has compiled a very useful list of links to individual counties’ genealogy sites, and a look at the counties shows you that many are named after American revolutionaries, as you might expect from one of the original 13 colonies. For example, Horry County was named after a Revolutionary War colonel and General Francis Marion was the inspiration in naming Marion County, while Lee County’s name honors the Confederate commander.
  21. House of History, LLC. – The House of History will be happy to help you research your family’s history, and even arrange a trip for you to visit your forefathers’ homeland (called an “Ancestry Event” by the Hvizdos family, owners of the business). For an example of the available research services, visit the Review page, where the owner’s mother describes the many documents assembled by the House of History in a research effort which eventually permitted the women of the line to fulfill a long-cherished ambition and join the Daughters of the American Revolution. On the other side of the family, successfully tracing the peregrinations of the Gulas family of Slovakia resulted in a trip to Europe to meet long-lost relatives for the first time.
  22. RoyaList – The RoyaList, or “royal list” site is a compendium of biographical data on the royal families of England and Scotland painstakingly collected by Alistair Grieve. The genealogy section explains a number of interesting aspects of the database: due to multiple intermarriages spanning many centuries, it contains information on many of Europe’s royal houses as well. The target population is confined to immediate family of the royal lines, but you will also run across the occasional distantly related celebrity (George Washington and George Bush are two). The database design is worthy of note, offering features like a kinship calculator for any two individuals on record, and as the examples show many of the relationships you will discover are multiple.

    RoyaList

    The Hampden Portrait, Steven van der Meulen. Courtesy of Sotheby’s Catalogue #L07123, Important British Paintings 1500-1850 22 November 2007.

  23. The Oliver Family – The Oliver Family site was created by a descendant named Jennifer Kolthammer who decided to research the history of the family founded by William Oliver and Ann Wilson, a Devon couple of the 18th century. Ms. Kolthammer has traced her family back to a son of those Olivers whose sons emigrated to Canada, and includes a link to the related Bonnycastle family site. Incidentally, the strikingly clean lines of the site’s design are due to a genealogy site builder called Second Site, which does achieves beautiful technical results but works with only one database format (called The Master Genealogist, trademarked).
  24. Digital Diaspora Family Reunion – In counterpoint to the single-family history that contains only relatives by blood and marriage, the inclusive model of the Digital Diaspora Family Reunion is filmmaker Thomas Allen Harris’ bid to unify the family photos of African-Americans as a collected whole, a digital document memorializing the African Diaspora. It is intended to be a project created by users who upload their media (including photos, video, audio, and text files) to a central repository, an online museum of family histories. This is your chance to participate in a national project online and contribute your family research to a collection of lasting historical value.
  25. Idaho County Genealogy Society – The Idaho County (Idaho) Genealogy Society is one of the local offshoots of the USGenWeb Project, which aims to create free, publicly accessible genealogy websites at the state and county or parish level. The goal is to encourage Americans to preserve and share records of their families’ history, and for the residents of Idaho County, this website serves as a collective resource, a shared scrapbook/historical volume. If you have any questions about the site, or you’d like to add your own research, web mistress and Idaho County native Penny Bennett Casey is always happy to hear from you.
  26. Lowcountry Africana – This is a truly impressive expansion of the old site, showcasing a large collection of genealogy and history resources covering the African-American population of South Carolina and northeastern Florida, specifically the Gullah or Geechee culture originating on the old rice plantations. The collection is sponsored by the Magnolia Plantation Foundation of Charleston, South Carolina, and their account of the development of this unique culture is remarkable: the rice workers from Africa had a resistance to malaria not shared by the plantation owners, and thus they worked and lived with minimal oversight. As a result, much of the workers’ ancestral heritage of language and tradition was preserved in their new homeland, and it is now presented on Lowcountry Africana.
  27. Layers of the Onion – A Family History Exploration – Susan Weinberg is the blogger who created Layers of the Onion, and it details her search for her family’s roots, undertaken with the consciousness of her personal identity as a Jewish writer and artist and seen in the context of what it has meant, historically, to belong to that faith. Weinberg’s journey has taken her back many centuries, and across many miles to far-flung locales (Lithuania, Poland, Ukraine, Belarus) that also require covering a great distance in terms of cultural and linguistic shifts. Her travels have helped Weinberg define herself as a person and as an artist.
  28. Kansas Heritage Group – The Kansas Heritage Group was a pioneer in the field of digital access to historical and genealogical records. The group takes great pride in the facts that as the Kansas History Gateway, it was the second WWW public web site, and in 2004 its creator received a public shout-out from internet patriarch Tim Berners-Lee. The odd family facts found in the Kansas family history links should not be missed: imagine a journey from California that takes so long your own children don’t recognize you when you return (Amsbury), or buying 160 acres of land for only $200 (Beedles), or living in such an unsettled era that voting for President Lincoln would make it impossible to buy land in the state of Missouri (Clogston) to get a sense of 19th century American life.

    Kansas Heritage Group

    1880 advertisement for land in Kansas. Courtesy of “Where to go to become rich: Farmers’, miners’ and tourists’ guide to Kansas, New Mexico, Arizona and Colorado,” Chicago: Belford, Clarke & Co., 1880.

  29. Elrod Family History – The Elrod family comes from Germany, and they have meticulously assembled family documents drawn from many different sources to piece together a lengthy history, with a family tree containing over 55,000 names. You’ll see many posts containing material from Germany like a history of a city named Gefrees, which uses many quotes from a 19th century ancestor, one Anton Christian David Ellrodt (one of the older spellings of the name), and a note on the home page of a town called Kulmbach that credits Jacob Ellrod with drawing Kulmbach’s first plan in 1666. There’s even a French 10th cousin who sings opera.
  30. Goodwin Family History – The Goodwin Family History site is an online document repository, and it has been very neatly arranged using a site builder known as TNG, which uses a MySQL database foundation to hold whatever the family decides to upload (for example, photographs, written histories, cemeteries and headstones). There’s a quick-access menu to go directly to dates and anniversaries, places, and family statistics (1,236 people in the database along with 5,449 photos, earliest known birth is that of Josselyn Goodwin in 1414). As you can see, the site interface itself adds a great deal of helpful information about the family that updates automatically every time new data is added.
  31. Mallett Family History – The subtitle of the site is “Malet/Mallet/Mallett — from 1066 to the Present Day,” which is a very economical means of conveying the fact that the family originated in France and came over to England with William the Conqueror. The site itself has an interesting history, beginning in 1997 as a simple essay in family history research and then moving on to a detailed and thorough exploration of the surname itself, including placing several Mallett variants on record in the Guild of One-Name Studies registry. There’s a motivating intelligence behind the site design and its writing that is very engaging, and the explanation of its Mallett survey in terms of the one-name study is brilliantly clear.
  32. Wilson-Maynard Genealogy Pages – This site is also infused with a lively personality, as the URL of the home page informs the reader (here it is, in relevant part: “thispagedoesnotexist.html”). That is one of the old standbys from the precommercial internet, and it’s still a welcome universal signal denoting a light-hearted attitude. You can investigate the Maynard/Vail side of the family or head for the Wilson/Boggess family tree, if you prefer, and in either location you’ll see the web master has achieved a remarkable moving-backward-through-history effect by arranging the text and photo boxes for each family member from newest to oldest. It’s almost unnecessary to check dates, as you can see the photography techniques becoming more and more dated until the photographic record ends.
  33. Celtic-Casimir: Genealogical Links Page – That is an approximate title for the site, as it is evidently meant to be used as a collection of personal pages rather than a resource intended for public use. There are a number of skillfully executed designs in the Celtic style, some in color and some that remain in grayscale in order to highlight the fine line work, all credited to Australian artist Bernard Casimir. Casimir’s designs are the type of mesmerizing serendipitous discovery you’re liable to make at any moment on a family history site, and they make a visit to Celtic-Casimir highly recommended. There is also an extensive page of links to abstruse data sources (Collectanea topographica et genealogica, Dictionary of Victorian London, Fragmenta Genealogica).
  34. The Ancestor; a quarterly review of county and family history, heraldry and antiquities – This digital reproduction of the original 1904 volume demonstrates one of the highest and best uses of technology, and the book itself contains issues of an English periodical that drew its genealogical material from contributors who wished to share it with fellow enthusiasts. Without doubt, some of its contents will be found nowhere else, as can be inferred from a sample of the subjects (a putative Samborne family tree, letters from members of the Fane and Incledon families, genealogists’ histories of litigation in Chancery), and special poignance is derived from the dating of the volume itself to the decade before the first great war of the 20th century.
  35. Caudle Family History – The history of the Caudle family is the perfect counterpoint to a review of The Ancestor, providing a contrast of raw American vigor to set against the demure portrait of English country gentlemen anxious to record their heraldic devices. Created by J.R. Caudle as an homage to a genealogically inclined father (Preston Milford Caudle, Sr.), the site begins with a mysterious family crest (explication from knowledgeable members of the public is invited) and moves on to the origin of the Caudle name. Apparently it is derived from a location name, the parishes of Caldwell in Ripon and Peterborough (England).
  36. Our Family History – This simply titled site covers descendants of the following families: Pirtle, Pearson, Remington, Kimbrough, Harper, and their relatives. Like the Goodwin Family History, the site is built on top of a TNG database, and its organization is characteristically sound. Web master Patricia Ann Pirtle Durda has been elaborating this family history for decades, beginning in 1969, and has enlisted a number of contributors from among her family members. Do not miss the romantic tale of Douglas and JoAn Pirtle Dillard: Douglas first proposed at the age of 5, and finally won his heart’s desire 72 years later, and everyone who’s read that saga wishes them all the happiness in the world.
  37. Roger Williams – This site belongs to Roger Williams, who is not a descendant of the original person of that name who founded Rhode Island after being expelled from the Massachusetts Bay Colony but is related to Williams’ contemporary and fellow exile Anne Hutchinson. The 21st century Williams works in commercial web technologies, but the site reveals him as an outdoorsman and an artist, and his disquisition on his Huguenot forebears is nothing short of superb. After escaping religious persecution in France, his Marmoy, Malandain, and Le Doux ancestors settled in Spitalfields to weave silks, since the French industry had effectively set up shop in that location after the Edict of Nantes was revoked (1685).

    Roger Williams

    Engraved print depicting Roger Williams, founder of Rhode Island, meeting with the Narragansett Indians. Courtesy of New York Public Library (original engraving by James Charles Armytage).

  38. Holden-Cudworth, Wilson-Wason Ancestry – This new Canadian site lists four families that were united in 1970s Montreal by the marriage of a Holden and a Wilson. The Irish Holdens settled near Markham, Ontario around 1822, and the Scottish Wilsons arrived in Montreal in 1952. The Wasons, like the Wilsons, originated in Glasgow, and the Cudworths of Yorkshire came to Ontario at the beginning of the 20th century. Some of the collateral surnames like Ianson, Juriannse, and Thistlethwaite are very unusual, even unknown to the average reader. There is an 1898 study of the Cudworths of Sandal Magna and Darlington, including information on their engineering careers.
  39. The Ottolenghi Web Site – Ottolenghi is another name not commonly found in the U.S., and indeed these Ottolenghi or Ottolangui families are scattered abroad in Australia, Israel, and New Zealand. The family members who created the Ottolenghi site trace their ancestry back to David Ottolenghi of Livorno (Italy), born in 1730, who emigrated to London. David’s parents were Menahem Ottolenghi and Judica de Immanuel de Valletro, and the site contains a list of family members showing the name was sometimes anglicized to Langley (for example, Jacob Nathan Ottolangui became Jack Langley in Melbourne, Australia, and Marcus Lewis Ottolangui took the name Mark Louis Langley in Dunedin, New Zealand).
  40. My Family History – This site is recognized less often by its formal title and frequently by a memorable part of its URL, Gone2Texas (so named because both sides of web master D. A. McGee Core’s family did in fact end up in that state). The tale of Ms. McGee Core’s genealogical data illustrates the perils inherent in digital archiving, due to several severe losses of stored information, but her persistence paid off in a beautiful new website which includes a complete series of technical notes on how the reconstruction was accomplished. Don’t miss the collection of headstone photos from Greenlawn Memorial Park and Oak Bluff Memorial Park (Jefferson, Texas).
  41. My Tapley Tree…and its Branches – Web master Liz entertains with a vivid history of her years of research into the Tapley, Drake, Ranney, and Schwalls families of Georgia. After inheriting a steno pad on which her grandfather had kept his work on the Tapley family tree, the effort grew into the digital age and eventually became My Tapley Tree. There’s a fresh sense of the intertwining of everyday life with family history in the site’s schedule, where snippets of family history are specially selected for presentation on certain days (such as Tombstone Tuesday, Surname Saturday, even Military Monday with items like a recap of an uncle’s service during World War Two).
  42. Our Southern Heritage – Blog owner Ivan Lewis wrote the treatise of the same name detailing his family’s genealogy, including the Southern offshoots of the Lewis, McCartney, Chapman, and Sones families. He finally moved the book online in 2003, and has separate links for the book text and for each of the four families with which it’s concerned. Lewis has much to be proud of, because the genealogy pages are consistent, thorough, and obviously produced through a patient ongoing effort, a true labor of love. Lewis’ description of his residence in Arkansas is very funny: the property retains a large number of trees, and the house retains a wild raccoon, also large, in the ceilings.
  43. Terry Mason’s Family History Site – The Mason genealogy has amassed 62,529 names and the alphabetical index containing them spans many pages and includes a few rarities (Daffron, Faubion, Wodell, Yeiser). Each individual name has a link that takes you to that part of the site where the history of that person’s immediate family resides, and the organization is intuitive (which is fortunate, as the site is clearly designed for initiates rather than the public, and accordingly does not provide a site map). Anyone who has family from the South will find the place names to be resonant echoes of old towns found in pilgrimages along the blue-line highways (older roads whose traffic was diverted onto the newer interstate highway system in the 1960s).
  44. Branson / Cook Genealogy – The history of the Branson and Cook families can be accessed through systematically grouped and titled links, and much of the site’s content seems to be available from the home page. This provides a perfect example of the effectiveness with which an active mind can produce superior organization and ease of use when compared to a packaged website-solution type of design, because the Branson/Cook page is able to dispense with the design frills (menus, category links, cascading styles) endemic to many genealogy blogs without losing any capability. The Genealogy Links page is similarly well-crafted and clear, and anyone interested in beginning a research project could very well start here.
  45. Mariposa Footprints – This site was created by web master Tom as a gift for the future, addressed to his beloved granddaughter. It intends to relate the doings of those Margraves who lived in Mariposa County, California, between 1850 and 1918. Tom discovered an important truth known to everyone who tries to reconstruct the past through research: what any one person has experienced and been told about family history may have little to do with what you will find on paper when you delve into official records, and the Mariposa Footprints site attempts to communicate both versions of history. Don’t miss the Stories section, particularly the legal anecdote titled “Thomas Margrave Vs William G. Grable.”
  46. A Family History – This genealogy page lives on a Tolkien fan site, but the history collected here is very real, as the portrait photo of distinguished ancestress Edia Legnon Marceaux makes clear. There are 26 pages of family photographs and other images at 50 per page, meaning 1,300 images altogether, which makes a very impressive digital museum. These were assembled with a sense of humor, too: there’s a movie poster advertising El Cid (Charlton Heston, Sophia Loren) to represent ancestor Rodrigo Diaz of Vivar, who was the Cid of the film. That Rodrigo is sometimes confused with a later Cid of the same name, and A Family History is one of the few sites that sorts out the muddle properly.

    A Family History

    First lines of the Latin epic poem Carmen Campidoctoris, a life of El Cid. Courtesy of Infinauta, Wikimedia Commons.

  47. The Roane County Heritage Commission – The Roane County referred to here is the one located in Tennessee, which location is described by the commissioners in an almost poetic fashion: “in the Tennessee Valley, at the foothills of the Cumberland Plateau.” If you’ve ever wanted to imagine that region before the Tennessee Valley Authority altered the landscape and the culture, you can find a wealth of material here courtesy of Roane County. Incidentally, Roane County’s Heritage Commission was given the historic Roane County courthouse, built not long before the Civil War (1853-1854), which is currently being restored to its original luster.
  48. The Genealogy of Michael Steven COLE & Jeannie (JOHNS) COLE – The Cole family’s interest in genealogy began in the mid-1960s when father Michael was given a Bible with a blank genealogy chart printed inside. He enlisted his grandmother’s help and started to fill in the tree in July of 1974. If you have not yet heard of an ahnentafel, or ancestor table, there is an excellent example provided by the Coles, complete with index and well-written instructions. The ahnentafel‘s most interesting feature is that it lets you assess degrees of relationships with one glance at the numbers assigned to individuals.
  49. Mitchell family tree blog – The Mitchell family tree blog is subtitled “Digging up my ancestors,” which as a prologue is irresistible. Interestingly, the site unites two previously mentioned elements, Margrave relatives and Roane County history since the Roane County Heritage Commission generously contributed some of the documents found here. The initial post, a touching memoir called “Reflection,” contains memories of the author’s father and childhood experiences (hiding in a hay barn, feeding ducks, picking blackberries amid the brambles), ending with a last conversation in the hospital and a moment of recognition. The Mitchell family tree uses a number of census record images from the 19th century, and they are both well preserved and clearly digitized.
  50. Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites – Nobility and Analogous Traditional Elites is a repository of facts, some historical and some current, about royalty, titled persons, and other figures and traditions of a bygone age. It is delightfully eccentric– where else can you find news items about the trust rating of new King Filip of Belgium, or a historical biography of Fr. Pierre-Jean De Smet, Chevalier of the Order of Leopold, or the recent wedding of Prince Muhammad Ali of Egypt and Princess Noal Zaher of Afghanistan? More importantly for the student of European genealogy, the sources linked in the site serve as a list of collectors of the type of ancestry-oriented minutiae in which scholars delight.

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