These top website picks for US genealogy research offer everything from immigration records to local histories.
Websites new to our list for 2021 are indicated by an asterisk (*). Sites marked with a dollar sign ($) require a subscription or other payment to fully take advantage of their content; otherwise free sites that have some sort of premium tier or paid add-on have this noted in the write-ups.
Boasting “the largest collection of free genealogy for your United States research,” this site is strongest on Native American history. Its collections also include family and local histories, yearbooks and directories, and land records.
This site from the Allen County (Ind.) Public Library serves up the digital resources of the country’s second-largest genealogy library (after Salt Lake City’s Family History Library). Notable offerings—besides Indiana genealogy—include a surname file, military records, and African American and Native American collections.
This subscription site ($94.95/year for an Individual Membership) from the New England Historic Genealogical Society is easily worth the price of admission for anyone with Yankee ancestors. But its 450-plus collections, totaling over 1.4 billion names, stretch beyond New England and may be worth a look for other researchers, too.
Alas, not all ancestors are praiseworthy. Find your infamous relatives in this collection of UK and Canadian (and US) records of prisons, courts, insane asylums, executions, outlaws and even pirates (arrrr!).
You can search marriage records from nearly a dozen Western states—more than 913,000 entries—on this site, hosted by Brigham Young University–Idaho. Coverage is greatest for Arizona, Idaho and Nevada, and 1700s New Mexico marriages are being added.
America’s first immigration center, Castle Garden in New York City was the nation’s gateway from 1855 to 1890, with 8 million passengers arriving there. Searching the site’s records is made simpler thanks to wildcards.
New in 2020, the LOC Collections mobile app brings the library’s digital collections to your phone and tablet. Whether on browser or app, you can discover Sanborn fire insurance maps, view historical photos, listen to your ancestors’ music and explore American folklife.
The “nation’s attic” may have your ancestral answers, including veterans’ service records (online ordering), WWII enlistment records, and immigrant arrival lists. You’ll also find guides to records on microfilm and those online elsewhere, with helpful how-to documentation.