Find your ancestors across the country with these 75 superb state-focused genealogy websites.
State historical societies and archives are taking the lead in preserving and providing access to records kept on the state and county levels. Instead of traveling around the country, borrowing microfilms or ordering photocopies of birth, marriage and death records, newspapers, county records and more, you now can access a lot of these materials online—many for free.
In selecting this year’s list of 75 best websites for researching records of your ancestor’s state, we again looked for sites where you can search for your ancestors’ names. In some cases, you can search online indexes and then order copies of the original records for a fee. Sites increasingly are providing searchers with digital images of original records for free. We commend these state organizations—and a few very ambitious individuals—for making valuable genealogical information easily accessible online.
Alabama Department of Archives and History
Click on Search Our Collections to search for a name in Civil War service cards, 1867 voter registrations and WWI soldiers. Online catalogs cover microfilmed newspapers you can borrow through interlibrary loan, as well as local and county records, church records and maps available at the archives.
Alaska State Archives
Resources for genealogists include indexes to naturalization records (1888-1972) and probate records (1883-1956), plus guidelines for requesting information from the archives.
Arizona Genealogy Birth and Death Certificates
Search for births (1855-1937) and deaths (1861-1962), and view the original records online.
Search for a name on more than 887,000 gravestone photos across the Natural State. Sam Walton’s modest gravestone is there, along with a biography.
Search the entire site at once to find your ancestor mentioned in this motley assortment of Arkansas resources, including obituaries, gravestone photos and the Arkansas Gazette (1819-1850).
California Digital Newspaper Collection
This site puts more than 6.3 million articles in California newspapers dating from 1846 to the present at your fingertips. Place quotation marks around a name to search on an exact phrase in the newspapers.
California Genealogical Society and Library
Click the Databases tab to search 350,000 records in the California Names Index for free. A lookup in the original source costs $10. Members also get online access to San Francisco church records and newspapers.
Online Archive of California
This site describes collections of diaries, letters, photographs and other items at more than 200 libraries, museums, archives and historical societies across the Golden State. View more than 220,000 digital images and documents.
In addition to extensive resources for the San Francisco Bay area, this site has statewide indexes to births (1905-1995) and deaths (1940-1997). Also check out the links to online resources for California genealogy on other sites.
Colorado State Archives
A single search here scours more than 2.4 million entries in original sources, including county birth and death registers and a statewide divorce index from 1880 to 1939.
Denver Public Library Digital Collections
A search of the genealogy collections covers many resources, including indexes to marriages, military records, biographies, obituaries, the 1885 Colorado state census, cemetery records and naturalization records.
Genealogist Jane Devlin’s website gives you free access to many transcribed genealogy records from the New England and Mid-Atlantic states. Resources include extensive church and cemetery records from Connecticut, organized by county. Use the search box to find a name anywhere on the site.
Connecticut State Library Digital Collections
Search and view 26 collections of digitized books, diaries, photographs, court records, witchcraft trial records, newspapers, vital records indexes and more. Materials come from the Connecticut State Library, the State Archives and the Museum of Connecticut History.
Delaware Public Archives
Click on the Digital Archives link to access Civil War records, naturalization records, historical maps and more. Click on Collection Gateway to search indexes to bastardy bonds, death registers and probate records. Order copies of the records for a fee.
Florida Memory Project
Free databases from the State Library and Archives of Florida include Confederate pension applications, WWI service cards, Spanish land grants and more than 180,000 photographs. Download documents and images for free or order high-resolution prints and photo scans for a fee.
Digital Library of Georgia
If your ancestors hailed from the Peach State, you can cover a lot of ground with one search on this site. It covers digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, newspapers and more from more than 60 libraries, archives, museums and government agencies. Use the Advanced Search to limit your search by place, date and media type, such as newspaper obituaries or photographs.
Click on Virtual Vault 2012 at the right to search colonial wills, Confederate pension applications, death certificates (1914-1930) and the General Name File. Use the search box to search across multiple collections or click on the Advanced Search tab. View digitized images of the original records for free.
Hawaii State Archives
Under Research Our Records, click on Genealogical Indexes to search marriage, divorce, citizenship and death records. Order copies for a fee. Click on Digital Collections to search vital records, land records, passenger lists and WWI service records. View these records online for free.
Idaho State Historical Society: Searchable Indexes
Search for your ancestor in the Potato State with these indexes to naturalization records, Civil War veterans, pension records, the inmate catalog and the Idaho Biographical Index. When you find a promising reference, contact the archives for more details.
Illinois State Archives
Click on Databases to search various county indexes to births, wills and other records, as well as statewide indexes to marriages (1763-1900) and deaths (pre-1916 and 1916-1950). Another 11 databases cover Illinois war veterans. Use the Global Database Search to cover all the databases at once. The database descriptions tell how to order copies of the original records.
A collaborative effort of Indiana libraries, museums and archives, this project offers many digitized resources including county histories, oral histories, plat books, city directories, photographs, newspapers, yearbooks and more.
Indiana State Library: Genealogy Collection
Click on Databases in the site index at the left and scroll down to Indiana State Library Databases to search indexes to marriages, deaths, biographies and newspapers. The VINE database has information from Hoosier State local history and vital records in libraries, historical societies and genealogical societies.
Iowa GenWeb Project
One of the most useful state websites in the USGenWeb Project <usgenweb.org>, the Hawkeye State site has 927,000 gravestone photos, more than 2,900 family group sheets, state census transcriptions (1836-1925) and more. Under Quick Links, select either a county or a special project.
Kansas Historical Society
Two large indexes on this site will help you find your ancestors in the Sunflower State. The 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 present. Select Research Toolkit from the Research tab for instructions on ordering copies.
Kentucky Digital Library
Search digital images of more than 500,000 items from the Bluegrass State, including books, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, oral histories and pictures.
Louisiana Biography and Obituary Index
A digitized version of a card file with more than 650,000 names at the New Orleans Public Library, this database indexes obituaries and death notices published in New Orleans newspapers from 1804 to 1972 and individuals’ information published in Louisiana biographical collections. Get copies of items you find in the index for just $2.
Louisiana State Archives
Click on Locate Historical Records to search a vital records index covering death records (mostly 1911-1962) and Orleans Parish births (mostly 1819-1912) and marriages (1870-1962). Other online databases cover passenger lists from 1851 and Confederate pension applications.
Chris Dunham’s site has extensive resources for researching your ancestry in the Pine Tree State, including indexes to vital records, obituaries, passenger lists, military records and court records. Use the First and Last Name boxes at the top of any page to search all the files at once.
Maine State Archives
Search indexes to marriage records (1892-1922) and death records (1960-2009) here. Order copies for $10.
Archives of Maryland Online
This online collection from the Maryland State Archives has more than 471,000 historical documents. Click on Probate Records for an index to colonial-era probate records (1634-1777), and on Military Records for Revolutionary War and Civil War resources.
Maryland State Archives
Under the Quick Links menu, click on Reference & Research for links to genealogical resources across this site, including guides to research and various indexes. The Quick Link to Mdvitalrec.net leads to Maryland death indexes.
Search indexes to birth, marriage and death records (1841-1910), plus an in-progress index to passengers arriving in Boston between 1848 and 1891. The Archives Collection Database includes church, town, Indian and maritime records from 1629 to 1799.
This growing site has more than 1 million digitized records, including death records (1897-1920), state census records (1884-1894), Civil War service records, letters, diaries, photographs and plat maps. Click on Advanced Search to select one or more collections to search.
Western Michigan Genealogical Society
Search indexes to more than 2.25 million marriages, deaths, obituaries and other records for free. Order copies of most records for just $5.
Minnesota Discovery Center
The Genealogy Database covers birth, marriage and cemetery records from the Iron Range, and alien registrations, naturalization records and obituaries from across Minnesota. Order a record copy for a fee.
Minnesota Historical Society
Trace your ancestors in the Land of 10,000 Lakes with indexes to veterans graves, state censuses (1849-1905), birth records (1900-1934, plus a few earlier ones) and death records (1904-2001). Use PeopleFinder to search all of these databases and others in one fell swoop.
Mississippi State Archives
Click on Digital Archives to view Confederate Pension applications, and WWI statement of service cards and indexes. Check the Genealogy section for finding aids to key record collections at the archives, and use the online catalog to identify specific records. If you can’t do research in person, the Research Requests section tells how to submit your request to archives staff.
Missouri Digital Heritage
Access more than 6.8 million birth, marriage, death, military, naturalization, church and cemetery records from around the state through a single search. You also can search several digitized newspaper collections, but just one title at a time.
Missouri State Archives
Databases here include births and deaths before 1910, death certificates (1910-1962), military records from the War of 1812 to World War I, and county records.
Montana Historical Society Research Center
The Montana Memory Project has digitized obituaries, newspapers, yearbooks, prison records, photographs and more from archives across the state. Search the online catalogs for oral histories, manuscripts and photographs.
Montana State Genealogical Society
Click On Line Data to view an index to 700,000 Montana deaths through 2002. It’s arranged by decade, then surname. Other free indexes cover marriage and naturalization records of Norwegian immigrants.
Nebraska State Historical Society
Under the Search Collections menu, select Additional Research Databases to access indexes to names in cemetery records, county atlases, plat books and prison records. The 1860-1954 Tract Books Index covers the first owners of land in Nebraska.
Nevada State Library and Archives
The Nevada State Digital Archives has more than 562,000 online records, including territorial census records (1861-1864) and state land patents (1865-2009).
New Hampshire Genealogy & 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 and town in the state.
New Jersey State Archives
These databases include indexes to marriage records (1666-1799 and 1848-1878) and death records (1878-1890). The search engines cover more than 1 million references to documents and photographs.
New Mexico Archives Project
Scroll down the page to access statewide indexes to almost 51,000 deaths from 1899 to 1949.
German Genealogy Group and Italian Genealogical Group
Thanks to the coordinated efforts of volunteers in these two groups, you can search indexes to births, marriages, deaths, naturalizations and church records in New York City and Long Island.
New York Counties Will Testators Indexes
This index covers almost 245,000 New York wills. Browse by county or click on Search This Site Engine to search for a name on the whole site. Enter the last name first and put quotations around the name to search on the phrase, for example, “Robertson, John.”
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
Search for a word or phrase anywhere in more than 23 million newspaper pages. Despite the name, the site has newspapers from all over New York. To download the list, click the FAQ_HELP_INDEX button at the top of the screen, then “… to browse the different papers, click Here” and finally “Download this index as a Microsoft Excel file.” More newspapers are continually being added, so check back regularly.
North Carolina Family Records Online
A project of the State Library and State Archives of North Carolina, this site has nearly 1,500 Bible records, marriage and death notices from five North Carolina newspapers published between 1799 and 1893, and photographs of gravestones in Jewish cemeteries in Raleigh.
State Archives of North Carolina
Click on Online Projects to explore maps, photos and newspapers. The North Carolina Newspapers Digitization Project lets you search newspapers published in the Tar Heel State between 1751 and 1898. The MARS Catalog describes manuscripts in detail; it’s worth searching it for names in your family tree.
North Dakota Department of Health Public Death Index
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 might have to do multiple searches.
North Dakota State University Institute for Regional Studies
Stop by this site to search the statewide North Dakota Biography Index, 212,000 naturalization records, the 1885 Dakota Territory census, and obituaries from the Fargo Forum newspaper, plus indexes to Cass County marriages, divorces and probate records.
Ohio Obituary Index
Search an index to 2.3 million Buckeye State marriage notices, death notices and obituaries back to the early 19th century. You can order copies of the original newspaper items for a fee.
Oklahoma Historical Society
Click on Research Center to access several databases: Under Records, you’ll find the 1890 territorial census, the Dawes Final Rolls and Smith’s First Directory of Oklahoma Territory. Under Genealogy, search indexes to marriages, obituaries, probate records and more.
Genealogical Forum of Oregon
Click on the Indexes tab to search multiple databases at once, including land claims, marriage and death records, and obituaries. Order copies of records for a fee.
Oregon State Archives
The Oregon Historical Records Index has more than 600,000 names from county records, including birth, marriage, death, divorce, naturalization and probate records.
Pennsylvania State Archives
Seven databases cover military records from the Revolutionary War to the Spanish-American War, plus WWI medal applications. Many of these records even include soldiers’ physical descriptions.
Rhode Island Historical Cemetery Commission
More than just an index to gravestones, this site includes dates of birth and death, names of family members and maps. Search by surname, maiden name or war.
South Carolina Department of Archives and History
Click on the link for Online Research to search more than 300,000 items (many with images), including records of Confederate veterans (1909-1973), criminal court records, state land-grant plats (1784-1868), legislative papers (1782-1866), will transcripts (1782-1855) and even school insurance photos (1935-1952).
South Dakota Birth Records Search
More than 244,000 South Dakota births are searchable here, including many delayed birth certificates issued for folks born before statewide registration began in 1905.
South Dakota State Historical Society
Find your ancestors in the Mount Rushmore State with the help of these indexes to naturalizations, cemetery records and biographies, plus a transcript of the 1885 Civil War veterans census.
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Indexes cover Tennessee death records (1908-1912 and 1914-1933), death notices in Nashville newspapers (1855-1907) and Confederate pension applications.
Texas Heritage Online
A partnership between libraries and museums across the state, this site includes digitized books, newspapers, photographs, yearbooks and other items. Browse or search across the whole collection.
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
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. You can order the pension applications for a fee, but they’re also available on Ancestry.com <ancestry.com>.
Utah Cemeteries and Burials Database
This database contains cemetery records for about 600,000 people—and counting—buried in Utah. Information comes from both sexton’s records and gravestones.
Utah Digital Newspapers
Search for a word anywhere in more than a million pages of Utah newspapers from 1850 to 2010. Digital Utah has links to more online collections.
Utah State Archives Name Indexes
The state archives has created this convenient list of online records searchable by name. In addition to images of death certificates from 1904 to 1961, you also can search birth registers and other records from several counties.
Vermont Historical Society
Under the Research tab, select Genealogy and then Genealogy Indexes & Lists for links to PDF files with indexes and transcriptions of various records, including baptisms, marriages, deaths, naturalizations and town records.
Library of Virginia
Among the many useful indexes and digitized documents on this site, don’t overlook the index to wills and administrations up to 1800. The Library of Virginia has a separate site for digitized materials at Virginia Memory. Under the Digital Collections tab, select Collections by Topic to find Revolutionary War records and Confederate pension rolls (under Military Service), and digitized land office patents and grants back to the 17th century.
Washington State Digital Archives
This terrific site has more than 49 million searchable records online. Among them are birth, marriage, death, census, cemetery and naturalization records.
Washington State Library
Click on Genealogy for an overview of resources at the library. To find your ancestor mentioned in Washington newspapers published between 1853 and 1889, click on Digital Collections and then Historical Newspaper in Washington and use the Personal Name Search. Other collections include WWI documents, early maps, photos and more.
West Virginia Archives and History Genealogy Corner
Search and view digitized birth records (1790-1937), marriage records (1780-1971) and death records (1845-1962). They’re not complete for all counties, but more records are continually being added.
Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Genealogy Index covers a million births, a million marriages and 400,000 deaths registered before September 1907, plus 150,000 obituaries and biographies. The site has much more, including Civil War records, and local history and biography articles.
Wyoming Newspaper Project
Search and view more than 800,000 newspaper pages, including all newspapers published in Wyoming between 1849 and 1922. Click on the About the Project link on the home page for information on how to borrow later newspapers on interlibrary loan.
From the December 2013 Family Tree Magazine