2011 Best State Websites
10/19/2011
Trace your ancestors from sea to shining sea with these 75 great state websites.

Some of the most useful records for genealogists are kept at the state level. State departments of health oversee birth, marriage and death records, and state archives and historical societies have taken the lead in preserving newspapers, county records, state censuses and more. Many of these repositories have digitized all or part of their holdings, so you don’t have to send a request to a distant office or travel across the country to access Great-grandma’s birth certificate.
 
In selecting this year's best state websites for genealogy, we were on the lookout for databases where you can look for a relative's name. Many of the 75 sites (at least one per state) have indexes, and in many cases, you can even view images of original records. We salute the efforts of these state archives, historical societies and genealogical societies--and even a few ambitions individuals--for making genealogical and historical information available online.
 
Jump to a letter within the listings: A-G - H-N - O-S - T-Z


ALABAMA
Click on Search Our Collections to look for a name in Civil War service cards and 1867 voter registrations. Online catalogs cover microfilmed newspapers available via interlibrary loan, as well as local and county records, church records and maps.

ALASKA
Click on the For Researchers tab to access several databases, including the Fairbanks/Juneau Newspaper Index, and indexes to naturalization and probate records.

ARIZONA
Genealogists can thank Arizona for making vital records so accessible. You can search for births from 1855 to 1935 and deaths from 1844 to 1960, as well as view the original records online.

Coordinated by the Arizona State Library, this site provides access to government documents, photographs and maps at libraries, archives and museums. To find a person in city and phone directories, search on an exact phrase with the surname first.

ARKANSAS
This attractive site has special sections for records on the Civil War, black history and folk life. Search the CARAT catalog to find biographies, land records, Confederate pensions and WWI discharge records.
 
CALIFORNIA
More than 5 million California newspapers articles from 1846 to 2009 are at your fingertips here.
 
Click the Databases tab to search 350,000 records in the California Names Index for free. It costs $10 for a lookup in the original source. Members have online access to San Francisco church records and newspapers
 
In addition to extensive resources for the San Francisco Bay Area, this site has statewide indexes to births from 1905 to 1995 and deaths from 1940 to 1997.

COLORADO
Finding marriage notices, obituaries and local news items is easy in this collection of 500,000 pages from 163 newspaper titles published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923.

A single search here scours more than a million entries in original sources, including county birth and death registers, and a statewide divorce index from 1880 to 1939.
 
CONNECTICUT
Extensive finding aids will help you request an index search and find microfilmed newspapers to order on interlibrary loan. A “C” icon indicates databases available to nonmembers.
 
Jane Devlin’s site gives you free access to many genealogy resources from the New England and Mid-Atlantic states, including extensive Connecticut court and cemetery records. Use the search box to find a name in any of the collections. 
 
DELAWARE
Delaware Public Archives
Click on the Digital Archives link to access Civil War records, naturalization records, historical maps and more. Don’t miss the index to probate records from 1680 to 1925 
 
FLORIDA
Free databases from the Florida State Library and Archives include Confederate pension applications, WWI service cards, Spanish land grants and more than 167,000 photographs.
 
GEORGIA
Click on Virtual Vault to search Colonial wills, Confederate pension applications, death certificates from 1919 to 1927, and the General Name File. Use the search box to search across multiple collections or click on the Advanced Search tab for more options.

[return to top]

HAWAII
Under Quick Links, click on Genealogy Indexes to search marriage, divorce, citizenship and death records. Click on Digital Collections to search vital records, land records, passenger lists and WWI service records.

IDAHO
This site has two indexes to Idaho deaths: The Idaho State Death Index (1911-1956) is drawn from official state records, while Eastern Idaho Death Records has information from obituaries, funeral home records, cemetery records and gravestones. The Western States Marriage Index contains nearly 700,000 records from Idaho and seven other states.

ILLINOIS
In addition to various county indexes to births, wills and other records, you can search statewide indexes to marriages (1763 to 1900) and deaths (pre-1916 and 1916 to 1950). Another 11 databases cover Illinois war veterans.

INDIANA
Thanks to the work of volunteers, this site now boasts more than 2.8 million searchable records, including military, naturalization and prison records.
 
Click Databases to search indexes to marriages, deaths, biographies and newspapers. The VINE database has Indiana local history and vital records from libraries, historical societies and genealogical societies.
 
IOWA
Iowa GenWeb Project
One of the most useful state sites in the USGenWeb Project, the Hawkeye State site has 668,000 gravestone photos, more than 2,900 family group sheets, and state census transcriptions from 1836 to 1925 (some transcriptions are in progress).

KANSAS
This site’s Kansas Names Index covers the 1895 state census, biographies, marriages, death notices and more. The Kansas Military Index has records from the Civil War to the Iraq War.

KENTUCKY
Click the Search our Collections tab to access several catalogs and databases on this beautiful site. The cemetery records database has hundreds of thousands of names transcribed from gravestones across Kentucky.

LOUISIANA
Look in the Research Library section on the left to search Confederate pension applications. Under Vital Records, you’ll find death records (mostly 1911 to 1956), and Orleans Parish births (mostly 1819 to 1907) and marriages (mostly 1870 to 1957).

Louisiana Biography and Obituary Index
A digitized version of a 650,000-name card file at the New Orleans Public Library, this database indexes obituaries and death notices published in New Orleans newspapers from 1804 to 1972 and biographical information published in Louisiana biographical collections. A copy of the original document costs $2.

MAINE
This site’s expanded marriage records database covers 1892 to 1967 and 1977 to 2009. A death records database covers 1960 to 2009. Click on Databases for Downloading to access an index of divorces from 1800 to 1891, as well as records pertaining to soldiers of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812 and Mexican War.

Developed by the Maine Historical Society, this attractive site has over 20,000 items from more than 200 historical societies and libraries across the state. Search letters, manuscripts, photographs and other items for your family name or hometown.

MARYLAND
This online series from the Maryland State Archives has more than 471,000 historical documents. Click Probate Records for an index to colonial probate records from 1634 to 1777, and Military Records for Revolutionary War and Civil War resources.
 
Select the Reference and Research tab for links to genealogical resources across this site, including research guides and various indexes. Under Quick Links, click Mdvitalrec.net to access Maryland death indexes.

MASSACHUSETTS
Search indexes to birth, marriage and death records from 1841 to 1915, plus an in-progress index to passengers arriving in Boston between 1848 and 1891.
 
Among the benefits of membership in the New England Historic Genealogical Society ($79.95 per year) is access to nearly 3,000 online databases. They include a large collection of Massachusetts vital records, plus church, town and probate records.
 
MICHIGAN
Click the Seek tab to search multiple collections at once, including digitized death records from 1897 to 1920, and Civil War service records and photographs.
 
Search indexes to more than 2 million marriages, deaths, obituaries and other records for free. A copy of most records cost $5. 

MINNESOTA
Trace your Minnesota ancestors from the mid-19th century to the present with these records. Indexes cover state censuses from 1849 to 1905, birth records from 1900 to 1934 (plus a few earlier ones) and death records from 1904 to 2001.

The genealogy database covers birth, marriage and cemetery records from the Iron Range and alien registrations, naturalization records and obituaries from across Minnesota.

MISSISSIPPI
Check the Genealogy section for finding aids to key record collections, and use the online catalog to identify specific records.

MISSOURI
Access more than 6.8 million birth, death, military, naturalization and other records from around the state through a single search. You can also search several digitized newspaper collections, but just one title at a time.

The Genealogy and Local History Index covers an extensive genealogy and local history collection focusing on St. Louis. If you find a reference to a person or business name, you can request a photocopy of the item.

MONTANA
Explore the multimedia Montana Memory Project, and search the Research Center’s online catalog covering oral histories and manuscripts.
You can view an index to Montana deaths through 2002. Another free index covers marriage and naturalization records of Norwegian immigrants.
 
NEBRASKA
Select Additional Research Databases from the Search Collections tab to access indexes to names in cemetery transcriptions, prison records, and county atlases and plat books.

NEVADA
Scroll down to the link for Nevada Census Database to search all 310,000 names recorded in Nevada census records from 1860 to 1920.

NEW HAMPSHIRE
New Hampshire Genealogy and History
This extensive guide to researching your family history in New Hampshire covers all the major record groups and has numerous links to online resources. It even has detailed resources for every county.

NEW JERSEY
Click Searchable Databases to access over a million entries in documents and photographs. The databases include indexes to marriage records from 1665 to 1799 and from 1848 to 1878, and to death records from 1878 to 1887.

NEW MEXICO
New Mexico Archives Project
Scroll down the page to access statewide indexes to almost 51,000 deaths from 1899 to 1949.

NEW YORK
Thanks to the coordinated efforts of volunteers in these two groups, you can search indexes to births, marriages, deaths and naturalizations in New York City and Long Island.
 
Despite the name, Old Fulton New York Post Cards has newspapers from all over the state. To download the complete list, click on FAQ_HELP_INDEX at the top of the screen, then To Browse the Different Papers Click Here, and select Download this Index as a Microsoft Excel file.
 
This index covers 219,363 New York wills. Browse by county or use Google to search these and other indexes on the site. Search the entire site with Google, formatting your search terms like this: site:sampubco.com "Smith, John." 
 
NORTH CAROLINA
Click on Online Projects to explore Tar Heel State maps, photos and newspapers. North Carolina Family Records Online includes family Bibles, as well as marriages and death announcements appearing in five North Carolina newspapers from 1799 to 1893.

NORTH DAKOTA
Search the statewide North Dakota Biography Index, 212,000 naturalization records, the 1885 Dakota Territory census for counties in present-day North Dakota and obituaries from the Fargo Forum newspaper. And don’t miss the indexes to Cass County marriages, divorces and probate records.

Here you can search death certificates from 1881 on. You can’t search more than a 10-year span at once, so if you don’t know the year of death, you may have to do multiple searches.
[return to top]

OHIO
Online resources include an index of death certificates from 1913 to 1944, a roster of Ohio soldiers in the War of 1812, and an index to admission records from the Boys Industrial School (1858 to 1944) and Girls Industrial School (1869 to 1943).

This digital history storehouse lets you explore primary sources from 354 repositories, including grave registration cards, WWII oral histories, deeds and military records.
 
OKLAHOMA
Click on Research Center to search databases and indexes, including the 1890 territorial census, the Dawes Final Rolls, obituaries and Smith’s First Directory of Oklahoma Territory.
 
OREGON
Search multiple databases at once, including land claims, obituaries, and marriage and death records. You can order copies of most records for $5. 
 
The Oregon Historical Records Index now has over 600,000 names from county records, including birth, marriage, death, divorce, naturalization and probate records.

PENNSYLVANIA
Seven databases cover military records from the Revolutionary War to the Spanish-American War, plus WWI medal applications. Many of these records include physical descriptions.

Select the Research and Collections tab to access online catalogs and guides to the society’s books, manuscripts and more. The society has started to post digitized documents, photographs, maps, letters and diaries at digitallibrary.hsp.org.
 
RHODE ISLAND
More than just an index to gravestones, this site includes dates of birth and death, family members and maps.
 
Like most USGenWeb state sites, Rhode Island’s has a lot of useful resources, such as guides to state and county records, archives and societies. But Rhode Island’s site is notable for the Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project and Master Index. It covers about 95 percent of the state’s gravestones from 1647-1900.
 
SOUTH CAROLINA
Click on the link for On-Line Records Index to search more than 300,000 items (many with images), including records of Confederate veterans, criminal court records, state land-grant plats, legislative papers, will transcripts and school insurance photos.

SOUTH DAKOTA
More than 213,000 South Dakota births are searchable here, including many delayed birth certificates issued for people born before statewide registration began in 1905.

Find your ancestors with the help of these indexes to naturalizations, cemetery records and biographies, plus a transcript of the 1885 census of Civil War veterans.

[return to top]

TENNESSEE
Indexes cover Tennessee death records from 1908 to 1912 and from 1914 to 1932, death notices in Nashville Newspapers from 1855 to 1907, and Confederate pension applications.

This highly visual site has several Civil War collections, including soldier photographs, military records and battlefield maps, plus historical maps of Tennessee and many old photos and postcards.

TEXAS
Databases for researching your ancestors in the Lone Star State include an index to Confederate pension applications, lists of indigent Confederate families and digitized republic claims.
 
Click on Surname Index to view alphabetical listings of grantees and patentees who were issued land grants by the Republic and State of Texas. 

UTAH
This database contains cemetery records for about 600,000 people buried in Utah, and more burials are continually added.

Search for a word anywhere in more than a million pages of Utah newspapers dating from 1850 to 1982.
 
The Beehive State archives has created this convenient list of online records searchable by name. In addition to images of death certificates from 1904 to 1959, birth registers and other records from several counties are also searchable. 

VERMONT
Select Genealogy under the Library tab and then Genealogy Indexes & Lists for links to access online records, including baptisms, marriages, deaths, naturalizations and town records.
 
VIRGINIA
The Library of Virginia created this handy roundup to its digital collections. Click on Collections A to Z for links to the Chancery Records Index, Confederate pension roles, Revolutionary War records, Colonial records, and land grants and patents.

Digital collections include Civil War photographs and Civil War-era maps.

WASHINGTON
This terrific site already has more than a million digitized records, with more than 31 million searchable records. Among them are birth, marriage, death, census, cemetery and naturalization records.

View digitized Washington newspapers dating from 1852 to 1892. The full text isn’t searchable, but the newspapers are indexed by personal names and subjects.

WEST VIRGINIA
Search and view digitized birth records from 1790 to 1935, marriage records from 1781 to 1971, and death records from 1753 to 1970. They’re not complete for all counties, but more records are continually being added.

WISCONSIN
The Wisconsin Genealogy Index covers a million births, a million marriages, 400,000 deaths, and 150,000 obituaries and biographies. But this site has much more to offer, including Civil War records and local histories.

WYOMING
Search more than 900,000 newspaper pages on this site—that’s all the newspapers printed in Wyoming between 1849 and 1922.

[return to top]

Tip: Researching ancestors in Washington, DC? One of our favorite new sites is DC Trails to the Past, which has a growing assortment of local records and history.
 
Tip: A great place to do state-based research is the USGenWeb Project, a network of free, volunteer-run state and county genealogy sites with records, indexes, photos, message boards and more.
 
Share |
BOOKMARK PRINT
Did you enjoy this article?
Please share it!
Recent Blog Posts »
Recent Articles »

USA Genealogy Premium Collection

With the USA Genealogy Premium Collection you’ll receive all the information you need on every state in the Union, all in one convenient kit.
 
Only available in July, this collection has a retail value of $128.97, but is yours this month only for $59.98!

©  F+W All rights reserved.