88 Must Have Resources for the Online Genealogist

Family Tree Plate by Libertygrace0

Family Tree Plate by Libertygrace0

This collection of resources can help you uncover nearly all of the missing leaves on your family tree. Included are searchable databases of vital records, helpful guides, genealogical communities, unique tools, regionally targeted articles with a global reach. The first portion is entirely free. Those that require payment are listed at the end. While not every record is available online through every service, it is possible to use database searches to uncover local records you require, then community based organizations to share labor and access what you normally would be unable to all from the comfort of your own home.

Free Resources

Database Searches

  • Access Genealogy is a resource with a clean interface that allows you to search millions of records, including an excellent catalog of Native American records. Links are cross-referenced and organized by type and location.
  • The Olive Tree Genealogy is not quite as well organized as Access Genealogy but contains links to passenger lists and lots of resources for the American and Canadian genealogical researcher. They also feature several guides to help people get started.
  • Family Tree Searcher helps users do a quick search to organize a basic family tree with just a little information. The innovative part of this site, however, is their use of simple quizzes to help genealogists refine their search methods based on family information they have.
  • The National Archives is a beacon of information for the online genealogist. Their database searches cover both online and in-person resources and cover census records, immigration, land records, military service, and even bankruptcy records. They have a calendar of US genealogy workshops and also provide useful guides.
  • The UK National Archives is useful for those of European descent. It contains a number of useful searchable databases including birth, death, and marriage certificates, wills, service records, and more. They even offer a paid research service.
  • The USGenWeb Project is a site created by a group of volunteers that organizes genealogical information organized by state and county. There is tons of information for local history and databases that cull from yearbooks, local newspapers, cemetery and vital records, military records and more.
  • The WorldGen Web Project is another volunteer organization that catalogs genealogical information and historical records from all over the world. It is organized by region and country and includes information pulled locally to help folks research their international ancestry.
  • Cyndi’s List is an incredibly powerful search tool containing an immense library of over sixteen thousand links related to genealogy online. Each is categorized and cross-referenced. Cyndi’s List is often one of the first stops for any online genealogist and certainly one to keep handy.
  • Family Search is a free online database hosted by the LDS Church granting access to thousands of records compiled by the organization over a century of their own genealogical research.
  •  Search Systems is a free online database that includes birth records from the US, Australia, Canada, Mexico, and Europe.
  • MyHeritage offers a free genealogy search that covers thousands of databases at once and can intelligently sort through spelling and phonetic variations and more.
  • Marriage Records Search is a comprehensive list of marriage records organized by state.
  • General Land Office Records provides a searchable database including image access to millions of federal land titles from 1820 to the present. They also have images related to survey plats and field notes going back to 1810.
  • Interment.net includes a searchable database of thousands of burial records around the world.
  • Commonwealth War Graves Commission includes a searchable database of cemeteries and war dead from the World War era. It also provides historic resources and publications that may be of use to genealogists.
  • Library & Archives Canada includes a database search that looks through Canadian vital records, census and enumeration data, immigration and citizenship records, land use records, military records, and more.
  • Genealogy from the US Census Bureau offers a handful of surname and historical data searches, but does not provide more modern information to protect confidentiality.
  • The National Archives of Norway is a government database containing searchable digital archives with access to parish registers, census results, and church books from Norway.
  • Vital Event Indexes is the resource for the British Columbia Archives and contains indexes for historical births, deaths, and marriages as well as WWII overseas casualty listings and baptisms.
  • 1901 Census Online contains the records for the over 400 million people living in England and Wales during between 1841 and 1901. You can find individuals in orphanages, hospitals, barracks, and specific addresses as well as research naval and merchant vessels.
  • Ancestor Search provides a searchable database of surnames and their meaning and history.
  • The Canadian County Atlas Digital Project is an online database compiling information drawn from Ontario Counties.
  • Family History is a well-designed interface that organizes US census and vital record databases organized by year, surname, and state. It also offers message boards organized by surname and helpful guides.
  • Australian War Memorial is a database that houses collections of art, photographs, film, sound recordings, private records, military heraldry, and military technology along with rolls for those lost during active duty. They provide a searchable database to help with locating specific individuals.
  • Missouri Digital Heritage contains a searchable index of the Missouri Death Certificates. It also has links to  further historical information from the area.

Genealogy Blogs

  • Learn About Genealogy is a blog with biographical stories about a number of individuals compiled through personal stories, old newspapers, parish records, and more.
  • Mad About Genealogy  includes a number of articles and a few resources, with a unique focus on New Zealand records.
  • The Genetic Genealogist  is a personal blog that provides very well researched articles about how genetic research impacts genealogical research.
  • Family Tree Maker User is a private blog created by a user of the software Family Tree Maker created by ancestry.com. They have no connection to the company and discuss what they have learned in using the program.
  • Genea-Musings is a popular genealogy blog featuring research tips and techniques, news, humor, and some family history research from the author.
  •  The Genealogue is another popular blog focused on all sorts of topics related to family history research.
  • The Ancestry Insider is a blog written from the unaffiliated perspective of a frequent user of Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org. It reviews features and provides fair critique of both sites.
  • Creative Genealogy focuses on the author’s experience as a genealogist and reviews products and sites she uses as well as discusses ways to present family trees.
  • GenealogyBlog is a blog by long time genealogist and accomplished writer and editor, Leland Meitzler. Running since 2008, it has covers a great deal of genealogy related topics.
  • Your Genetic Genealogist is a blog by Cece Moore, a genealogist who has worked with ISOGG, 23AndMe, and Family Tree DNA.  Moore provides great insight on the major genealogical testing companies and makes a concerted effort to help educate those new to the search for their roots.
  • GeneaBloggers is a guide to blogging for genealogy bloggers. It provides writing prompts, generates community, and showcases blogs and related ideas.
  • Boston 1775 is a resource that compiles historical information, analysis, and gossip emerging from the origin of the American Revolution in Massachusetts.
  • Dear Myrtle is a highly popular genealogy blog written by an award-winning author and frequent speaker at related conferences. The blog covers a range of topics related to family history research.
  • Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter is a blog that specializes in reviews of various online genealogy tools. The amount of content is staggering, with a decade of daily content that includes book reviews, genealogy related news, tips and resources for those delving into their family history, and more.
  • AnceStories: The Stories of My Ancestors is a general family history blog written by avid genealogy enthusiast Miriam J. Robbins. In the blog, she details the journey she has taken while investigating her origins and provides links and reviews of various genealogy resources.
  • ThinkGenealogy is a blog focused on genealogy and how it intersects with new technology, software, and innovative ideas.
  • Family Oral History Using Digital Tools is a blog that looks at how digital tools and media can help preserve family memories.
  • Genealogy Reviews Online is not quite what it sounds like. Primarily, it focuses on the author’s own family history, though it does include some genealogy news and reviews.
  • GeneaBlogie is a personal genealogical blog focused primarily on a handful of family lineages, but also has some great suggestions for other genealogists.
  • 24-7 Family History Circle is a blog focused on family history covering a wide range of related topics and interests that is written by an ancestry.com newsletter editor, Juliana Smith, along with other accomplished genealogical writers.
  • Rootdig is a personal blog that discusses general research suggestions and other items of interest to the genealogist.
  • Walking the Berkshires is a personal blog which tells the history of the Berkshire and Litchfield Hills region.
  • Hill Country of Monroe County Mississippi is the blog of the now deceased Dr. Terry Thornton that covers an exhaustive collection of well researched information from the region.

Handy Tools

  • Misbach Enterprises offers a number of free PDF charts that can be used to track your family tree.
  • Free Genealogy Forms & Charts includes a list of free charts and forms useful for the hobby genealogist.
  • Family Tree Tools offers a search through Google Books database by uploading your GEDCOM files for your ancestors. You can also use the same files to search Facebook for pictures and details of living relatives.
  • Family Echo is a free tool that allows a family to construct an online family tree that is completely private and shown only to other family members. Users can upload GEDCOM or FamilyScript files as well.
  • TribalPages allows users to build an online family tree and a family website that can privately secure photographs, charts, relationship configurations, events, stories, and more that can be accessed by the whole family.
  • Make a Family Tree using the free online tool from PBS. It simply allows you to create an online family tree that can be shared with your relatives. A good way to get kids involved.
  •  EDraw is a free flowchart creation program. While it is not specifically designed for creating family trees, its ease of use and nonexistent cost make it a quick, useful addition to any researcher’s toolset.

Helpful Guides

  • Genealogy Today is an incredibly useful tool that caters to beginners and old-hands alike. They feature an array of database information, guides designed to teach valuable skills and get your research started right, book reviews, and more.
  • Information about Genealogy is a resource provided by the South Central Library System in Wisconsin that provides some basic information and database search tools.
  • Where to Write for Vital Records is a resource provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that lists state by state (and US territory) who must be contacted to gain access to vital records including birth, death, marriage or divorce.
  • Sorenson Molecular Genealogy Foundation provides some information about genealogy research and how DNA can impact that.
  • Practical Archivist is the personal blog of a professional archivist that provides excellent advice on how to preserve and organize photography and other family treasures.
  • The International Society of Genetic Genealogy is a non-profit organization founded in 2005 to encourage, educate on, and promote the use of DNA testing for genealogical research. Their website has a collection of useful resources, keeps track of genealogical events across the world, and offers recommendations for the best testing services to use.

Unique Resources

  • GeneaBios is a fascinating site dedicated to telling the stories of our ancestors. These biographical sketches are put together by genealogical researches from the information culled from public records. While your particular ancestor may not be included, these are a fascinating read.
  • Genealogical Journeys In Time  is a private website with lots of community based genealogical resources. It includes a chat room, message boards, links, resource pages and more.
  • Rootsweb is a community organization supported by ancestry.com. It includes mailing lists, message boards, website directories, free hosting for genealogical websites, search engines and databases, as well as helpful guides for those starting their search.
  • Pinterest offers a whole array of interesting tidbits, information, and ideas relating to genealogy. This can include photographs of tombstones, old pictures, records, and unique ideas for displaying your own family trees.
  • Mundia is an Ancestry.com related website that focuses on creating a dynamic family tree. Basic membership is free and while it is presently in beta, premium membership is also free. It tracks actively your family connections and suggests additions instantly as it continuously searches new information.
  • Books We Own is a collected list of resources owned by volunteers who will share what they know with others requesting information.
  • Behind the Name is a searchable database that explains the etymology and history of surnames.
  • Obituary Daily Times is a daily index of all the published obituaries. It doesn’t have the actual obituaries, but does have ways to help you locate the original.
  • All Family Crests includes a searchable database full of family crests and coat of arms. It offers claddagh or signet rings with the engraved family crest, prints, and plaques available for sale.
  • Scotland’s People is an index of names and images reviewing life in Scotland in the years between 1901 and 1911. It provides a fascinating glimpse of live in Scotland during that era.

Paid Services

Software

  • Family Tree Maker is software developed by ancestry.com that helps you organize your genealogical data. It is recognized as the best genealogical software available and has the widest range of features available. It’s available for both Windows and Mac, offers excellent help and documentation, and is incredibly easy to use. It costs $39.99.
  • Legacy is another excellent bit of software that can help you create wall charts, organize genealogical information, and assist in your search for your ancestors. It has slightly less features than Family Tree Maker but is fairly close overall in capability. It does not have a Mac specific version and the cost for the basic program (download only) is $29.95. There are a number of additional add-on programs that add features and cost.
  • Wholly Genes includes a number of tools and programs designed to help the genealogist, including The Master Genealogist, a well-reviewed software package that helps with the search and organizes information as well as many other products.

Subscription Services

  • Ancestry is a subscription service that grants you an easy to use interface for uncovering your family tree. It includes access to vital records, immigration records including passenger lists, census records, military records, and more. It also features advice columns and pages of useful links.
  • GenServ is an older genealogy website with thousands of accessible files that can be accessed with an annual subscription. They have thousands of searchable databases with genealogical information. The information can also be obtained without a subscription by contacting the site owner.
  • Archives is a subscription based service that provides users with millions of images and billions of digital records that are constantly being added to. It also provides a number of expert-written articles on genealogy.
  • Geni is a subscription service that offers three levels of service. The basic free plan allows you to create a family tree and access some community forums and store up to 1 GB of photographs and documents. A $5.00 monthly subscription offers enhanced search, more storage space, and direct support services. $7.95 allows instant family tree matches and unlimited media storage as well.
  • OneGreatFamily  is a subscription service that is unique in its structure. It is building a massive database of family links from all over the world. It continuously searches through familial connections and intelligently updates family trees as it makes new connections based on information the user provides.
  • AGES-online is an annual subscription service that grants access to a range of utilities and search databases along with charts and reports that can help you uncover your family tree. There are two present subscription models with a third one coming. Economy costs $39.95 annually and grants you all the basic features already listed, $59.95 gets you access to story-writing, personalized genealogy website, and multimedia support. The enhanced model will add streaming media.
  • FamilyTree is an online resource that can help with family history research, including surname research, guides, and information providing a glimpse into cultural practices.

One-Time Fee Services

  • FamilyTree DNA is a service that utilizes your unique DNA signature to trance your genealogical history. They can link your DNA to over 400,000 records for a one-time fee.
  • 23andMe Ancestry is a DNA genealogical database that uses your genetic information to link you to potential ancestors from a massive database. It costs a one-time fee of $99 for basic service.
  • Family Tree DNA is a company that specializes in DNA testing for determining ancestry. In addition to offering a number of highly specialized and targeted tests, they pool the results of their research into larger projects that allow their clients to work together and find out if they have a common link.

Consultant Services

  • DNA Consultants is a testing company that provides a detailed DNA Fingerprinting test and analysis. The report details the most likely ethnic and regional sources for your ancestry. The test is best used for people with a European ancestry, but it is functional for any ethnic background.
  • Genealogy Research Associates is a firm that helps with all aspects of family tree research. They offer their services for performing research into your family history, teaching you the steps to gathering information about your ancestry, and even helping you obtain necessary documents and records.

Unique Services

  • National Geographic’s Genographic Project is an initiative by the prolific organization to catalog the ancestry of indigenous people worldwide while allowing others to both participate and fund the research. If you want to help a number of projects that receive money from the project and investigate your own past, then purchasing one of their advanced Geno 2.0 kits is a great way to do both.
  • Moultrie Creek is an online book store that specializes in family history resources. Their available collection includes guides on researching and organizing your ancestral background, historical documents, samples of other’s family trees, and even a fiction section with a focus on stories involving genealogical research.

 

Comments

  1. the real insider says:

    ‘ancestry insider’ Robert Raymond is EXTREMELY biased, and loves to frequently insults Christians by linking to his mormon cult as ‘the church’.

  2. Claudia says:

    Two of my favorite tools I use with my Genealogy are Dropbox and Evernote. They are both free with the option to purchase premium.

    I use Dropbox for backup storage and can access it from my smartphone. I use Evernote for my research. It is quite similar to MS Onenote.

  3. Kate Eakman says:

    A subscription to FOLD3.COM is a definite must-have in my book. It has proven to be much more useful than any DNA test and is indispensable if you have any ancestors who served in the US military between 1775 and 1914.

    Kate Eakman
    Owner, History & Heritage

  4. Martha Hennagin says:

    Excellent piece. I would like to comment on the choice of ink colors. Many of us are older and find these light colored inks hard to read. So many sites are using light gray and light blues. Perhaps a slightly darker shade for future posts?
    Your great aunts and grandmothers thank you.
    Martha

  5. Jeff Ford says:

    I think you *SHOULD* include “The Legal Genealogist” by Judy G. Russell. Her blog posts are always well written and extremely informative. Even though you may not read something that will help your search, you almost always learn something.

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