Tracking down immigrant ancestors has never been easier.
Though still incomplete, this database of 10 million immigrants is nonetheless a breakthrough tool if your family arrived through the port of New York before Ellis Island opened in 1892. Still to come are 2 million records dating from the 1820s and implementation of advanced search features.
How to choose the best among the oodles of individual country sites? This one from the National Archives of Norway makes the list for its online 1801, 1865, 1875 and 1900 Norwegian censuses and its ongoing project to digitize 1.85 million pages of parish registers along with real-estate registers. And did we mention it's all free?
Ellis Island $
Make the jump "across the pond" with 17 million records of passenger arrivals through the Port of New York (1892 to 1924). A new feature lets you search by ship. Searching is free, but you must register (free) to view results, and the site is studded with opportunities to buy printouts, certificates and such.
This UK-based subscription site boasts more than 600 million records. It's strongest on British records, including fully searchable General Register Office birth, death and marriage records (1866 to 1920, 1984 to 2005, plus indexes for 1837 to 2005) and extensive WWII military databases. But it recently added 22 Irish data sets and offers a smattering of US records, plus you can connect with fellow researchers and upload your own data. Pay-per-view options start at about $8.40, or an annual subscription costs about $43.
The addition of more than 22.4 million pre-1837 baptism, marriage and burial parish records makes this one of the most wide-ranging collections of UK data under one virtual roof—more than 500 million records in all. Databases include censuses (1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901), 38 military datasets, migration and passport records, and government birth, marriage and death indexes (1837 to 2006). Some can be searched for free, but you'll need to pay for full access; plans range from pay-as-you-go to about $129 a year.
Although pricey, this subscription site remains priceless for researchers with Swedish ancestry for its more than 17 million digitized church records. You can start saying goodbye to scrolling microfilm with a 24-hour trial for $9, or seek your -sons and -dotters for a full month for about $31.
Irish Family History Foundation $
If you don't find your Irish family here, keep checking back—county genealogical research centers throughout the Emerald Isle are transcribing church registers, civil registrations (mostly 1864 to 1900 so far) and gravestone inscriptions here. Census returns include 1901 and 1911 plus extant records from 1821, 1834, 1841, 1884 and 1895. Searching is free; each transcribed record will cost you about $6.50.
Affiliated with the Museum of Jewish Heritage, this site includes a discussion group, the Family Finder database of 400,000 surnames and towns, ShtetLinks for 200-plus communities and the Family Tree of the Jewish People, with data on nearly 4 million people. Regional special- interest groups range from Eastern Europe to Southern Africa.
Searching the wills and testaments (1513 to 1901) and coats of arms (1672 to 1907) databases here is free. About $11 will get you record images in this official collection of statutory registers, old parish registers, censuses (1841, 1851, 1861, 1871, 1881, 1891, 1901), births and baptisms (1553 to 1854, 1855 to 2006), marriages and banns (1553 to 1854, 1855 to 1933), and deaths (1855 to 2006).
Start your search beyond our shores with the 400 project pages at this international counterpart to the US GenWeb site. Regional, country and ethnic sites here span the globe.