100 Places to Start

By Nancy Hendrickson Premium

Finding your ancestors is inextricably bound up with questions of place: Where did they live and where did they go? Where are those records? Understanding a region’s settlement patterns and the records created as its history unfolded is vital to answering those questions. Next, you need to know where to look, especially as the Internet has brought resources out of dusty archives and put them at your fingertips (if only you knew where to click online!).

Wherever across North America your ancestors called home, the editors of Family Tree Magazine have an exciting new resource that will orient you, put your past in context and tell you where to go — in person or online — to explore your family tree. It’s the Family Tree Guide Book, more than 300 information-packed pages covering the essentials of research in the United States and Canada. This book includes expert advice on getting started, state-by-state and province-by-province resource directories, plus in-depth guides to genealogy and history in 38 major cities from coast to coast. It also features spotlights on African-American and Native American research. Authors include many of the biggest names in genealogy, among them Emily Anne Croom, Sharon DeBartolo Carmack, Maureen A. Taylor and Paula and James Warren.

What sets the new Guide Book apart from any other genealogy reference is its focus on Internet research. Here at Family Tree Magazine, we embrace the Internet as a key tool for today’s family historians, and we scour the Web to bring you the best resources. Of course, you still do have to go out of the house eventually to find your family tree, but the Internet can jump-start your genealogy and help you plan your research trips.

As a sample of the Web-savvy information the Family Tree Guide Book puts at your fingertips, we’ve picked 100 of the thousands of sites in the book. This “Top 100” list represents some of our favorite sites targeted to finding your ancestors in the United States and Canada. Wherever possible, we’ve concentrated on sites that connect you with real records. Our list includes at least one site for every state and province, plus key national and regional Web destinations.

We suggest using this “Top 100” as a jumping-off point for your online genealogical research. For more Web sites — and information about libraries, archives, Family History Centers, organizations, living history destinations, books, CD-ROMs, Internet mailing lists, even places to stay and dine near favorite genealogy destinations — look to the Family Tree Guide Book. Published by Betterway Books, the Guide Book is on sale now at your favorite bookstore, or you can order it directly from <> or by calling toll-free (800) 258-0929. We modestly think it’s the best investment you’ll ever make in tracing your roots (after a subscription to Family Tree Magazine, of course).

State Sites


Alabama Civil War Roots


Links to all Alabama units and tips on tracing your Civil War ancestor.

Historic Alabama Maps


Follow the evolution of Alabama counties with these historical maps from the University of Alabama.


Alaska GenWeb Project


Begin your Northern exposure at this resource-rich site.


Arizona State Genealogical Society


Links to statewide genealogical resources, a surname registry for members and a handy guide to getting started in Arizona research.


Arkansas History Commission


This handsome site includes searchable photo, newspaper, county records and Confederate home-records databases.


California Federal Land Records


A guide to California land records by county.

California Pioneer Project


Find your early California ancestor on this list of settlers who were born in or migrated to California before 1880.

Foreign-Born Voters of California, 1872


Search records extracted from each county’s Great Register of Voters — 61,691 in all.


Genealogy Data Files, Denver Public Library


Search Denver obituaries (1939 to 2000), Colorado mining fatalities (pre-1963) and Civil War veteran lists.



A great resource for your Colorado research, this site includes timelines, maps, research tips and vital-records indexes.


New England Genealogy


Start your Connecticut research off right with these links to transcribed records.


Delaware GenWeb Project


Excellent source of statewide genealogical resources.

Delaware Public Archives <> Online naturalization records and searchable probate records database.


Florida Genealogy Resources


Link to online databases of land and obituary records, and read up on early Florida history.

Florida GenWeb Project


Locate county-level resources, and link to surname registries, tombstone transcriptions and marriage records.


The Civil War in Georgia


Learn more about your Civil War soldier with online diaries, photos, regimental histories and rosters.

Documenting Family History in Georgia: How to Begin


Tips for beginning your Georgia research, with information about types and locations of Georgia records.

Georgia History


Excellent starting point for historical research.


Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, Hawaii


Ask these volunteers to assist with your Hawaiian research.


Idaho Gen Web Project


Look here for county-level resources, including archives, message boards and queries.


Illinois State Archives


Excellent collection of more than a dozen searchable databases of land, military, marriage and emancipation records.


Indiana Genealogy


Look for your family in the database of Indiana marriages through 1850.


Iowa Documents: History & Genealogy


This great guide to county histories also links to online census transcriptions.


Kansas Heritage Server


Jump into your Sunflower State research with this guide to early Kansas books, documents, settlers and places.


Kentucky History and Genealogy Information


Great jumping-off point for finding your Bluegrass ancestors.


Acadian-Cajun Genealogy & History


This site provides histories of the Cajuns and Acadians, as well as links and highlights from the how-to book Acadian-Cajun Genealogy: Step by Step.

A Guide to African-American Genealogical Research in New Orleans and Louisiana


Great first-step Web site for finding African-American ancestors.

Louisiana Confederate Pension Applications Index Database


Search this database of more than 49,000 pension applications.


Marriage History Search Form


Search by a bride’s or groom’s surname for Maine marriage records dating from 1892 to 1996.


Immigrant Communities in Maryland


A first-class source for learning about your immigrant Maryland ancestors of Asian, Hispanic, Irish, German, Italian, Jewish or African descent.

Maryland Genealogy Resources


Your first stop for Maryland research, this site includes articles on history and genealogy, plus online resources.


Massachusetts Cemetery Directory


Locate Massachusetts cemeteries by county and location on US Geological Survey maps.

Massachusetts Civil War Research Center


Search the database of more than 150,000 soldiers, sailors and Marines who served in Massachusetts regiments during the Civil War, and read 64 regimental histories.

Massachusetts Genealogy Links


Click here for links to marriage records, pioneer and slave-owner indexes, and vital records.

The Mayflower Web Pages


If you think you’re descended from a Mayflower passenger, this is the site for you.


Genealogical Death Indexing System


This ongoing project, with data entry by volunteers across the state, currently covers 1867 to 1897.

Michigan Genealogy Sites on the Internet


A good place to start your Michigan search, this site links to archives and military and census records.


Minnesota Historical Society Death Certificate Index


Searchable online index of the first, middle and last name of each individual, including date of death, county of death and certificate number, from 1908 to 1996.


Mississippi GenWeb Project


Look for archived data, African-American and Native American resources and county links.


Local Records Inventory Database


County by county, here’s where you’ll find the Missouri records you’re after. Search one at a time or all at once.

World War I Military Service Cards Database


Find Missouri servicemen in this searchable database of 145,000 Army and Marine service-card abstracts and 18,500 Navy card images. The abstracts give residence, place of birth and age or date of birth.


Montana GenWeb Project


Begin your Montana research at the county level by searching photo archives, online newspapers and queries.


Nebraska School Records


If your ancestor attended school in Nebraska, check here for records dating from 1871.


Nevada Historical Society


Virtual exhibits of your Nevada ancestors’ past, links to sites about Nevada history and information on collections.

New Hampshire

The New Hampshire Civil War History and Genealogy Project


Locate regimental histories and rosters for your New Hampshire kin.

New Hampshire Genealogy Project


Dozens of genealogical and historical records can be accessed directly from this site.

New Jersey

Civil War Rosters


Begin your Civil War research with this site’s links to New Jersey regimental rosters.

Genealogical Resources on the Web


Follow the links to the state of New Jersey’s online resources.

New Mexico

New Mexico Genealogy


Jump into New Mexico research with this site’s surname and query pages and cemetery and Latino research links.

New York

American Family Immigration History Center


The site for locating ancestors who arrived at Ellis Island, no matter where in the United States they wound up.

New York Biography Project


If you have New York ancestors, check for their biographies on this site.

New York Family History


Link to New York City churches and cemeteries, and download free research forms and software.

North Carolina

Genealogical Research in North Carolina


A family history beginner’s guide from the State Library of North Carolina.

North Dakota

State Historical Society of North Dakota


Timeline of state history and guide to getting started in genealogy research.


Cleveland Necrology File


Database of Cleveland obituaries dating from the mid-1800s to 1975.

Ohio Death Certificate Index


Searchable index covering 1913 to 1937.

Revolutionary War Pensioners Living in the State of Ohio in 1818-1819 <>

Search this 1818 list for mention of your Revolutionary War ancestor.


Your Oklahoma: Facts & History


Learn the history of your Sooner ancestors’ state.


Oregon State Archives


Search Portland birth and death indexes, and scan the Oregon Historical County Records Guide for maps, county histories and scenic images.


Brenda’s Guide to PA Genealogy


Kick off your Keystone research with these guides to biographies, court records, maps, photos and more.

Pennsylvania State Archives


Search more than 200,000 records, including those for soldiers who fought in the Revolutionary War, Mexican War, Spanish-American War and World War I.

Rhode Island

Rhode Island GenWeb Project


This is an excellent source for Rhode Island research; search the database for the Historical Cemeteries Transcription Project.

South Carolina

South Carolina Marriage Records


Searchable indexes of marriages from 1641 to 1929.

South Dakota

South Dakota Birth Records


Search more than 99,000 birth records for people born at least 100 years ago.


Index to Tennessee Death Records


Searchable index to 98,000 death records from 1908 to 1912.

Tennessee Marriages


Transcriptions of Tennessee marriages arranged by county.


The Handbook of Texas Online


Search 23,000 articles on Texas people, places and history.

Lone Star Junction


Searchable online database of more than 10,000 early Texans; records begin in 1835.

Republic Claims Search


Find your Texas ancestors in this index of more than 48,500 names of citizens who submitted payment, restitution or reimbursement claims between 1835 and 1846.


Tracing Mormon Pioneers


Step-by-step guide to tracing Mormons traveling to Utah from 1847 to 1868.


Vermont in the Civil War


If you have Civil War ancestors, this site provides information about everything from artillery units to women in the war.


Library of Virginia Digital Library Program


A Virginia treasure! Search 2.2 million original documents, photos and maps in more than 80 databases.

1835 Federal Pension List for Virginia


Find your ancestor in this list of 4,000-plus pensioners. The entries include age, rank, county of residence, type of service, date, pension amount and amount paid.


Tacoma Area Obituaries


Search more than 367,000 individual index records of obituaries published in the Tacoma News Tribune/Morning News Tribune from 1930 on.

West Virginia

Genealogy Helplist West Virginia


Get help finding your West Virginia ancestors — use the county-by-county list of volunteers and the sources they can search.


Delayed and Affidavit Birth Registrations


The Wisconsin State Genealogical Society serves up an online index to Wisconsin delayed and affidavit birth registrations for births before Oct. 1, 1907. These were largely filed between 1940 and 1942 by people seeking to establish Social Security eligibility.

Wisconsin Historical Society


Searchable local history and biography articles from 1860 to 1940.


Wyoming GenWeb Project


Begin your county-level Wyoming research here with queries, archives, biographies and histories.

Canadian Sites


Our Future, Our Past


Digitized historical documents, including newspapers.

British Columbia

British Columbia Vital Statistics Agency


Search online indexes for summaries of birth, marriage and death registrations.


Western Manitoba Genealogy Project


Search marriage records and cemetery and pioneer listings.

New Brunswick

Canadian Archival Resources on the Internet — New Brunswick


Search several databases of vital statistics, directories, military records, land grants, cemeteries and more.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Historical Directory of Newfoundland and Labrador Newspapers, 1806-1996

< pers/papers.htm>

Indexes to newspapers, with information on ordering print copies.

Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Genealogy Resources Page


Excellent resources arranged by county.


Ontario GenWeb Project


A step-by-step guide to tracing your Ontario ancestry, this site covers every facet of genealogical research.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island: Genealogy


Links to ship lists, cemeteries and census data.


Genealogy in Quebec


A valuable resource that includes a history of French immigration.


Saskatchewan GenWeb Project


Search the 1901 online census, and follow links to databases, mailing lists and online lookups.

Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Yukon

Canadian Archival Resources on the Internet — Northwest Territories

Search online databases, including one of 20,000 images.

Canadian Genealogy and History Links — Nunavut


A gateway to the history and culture of Nunavut.

Canadian Genealogy and History Links — Yukon


Links to Yukon histories, publications and organizations.

National & Regional Sites

Christine’s Genealogy Website


Research your African-American ancestry on this link-filled site, which includes related articles and databases.

Index of Native American Resources on the Internet


Research your Native American ancestors through links to cultural and historical resources.

The Freedmen’s Bureau Online


An excellent resource for researching slave ancestors, this site includes records on marriages, crimes and labor, as well as land abandoned by Confederate owners after the war.

Native American Genealogy Resources


This getting-started guide to Native American research links to personal home pages and tribal and cultural sites.


The New England Historic Genealogical Society’s site provides searchable databases, helpful articles and research guides.

New England Archivists: Archives in New England


Locate record repositories online.

New England Genealogy by Ray Brown


A comprehensive site of vital records, town histories and links.



This is one of the most valuable sites for United States researchers. There’s a site for each US county, with links to archives, queries and county histories.

Vital Records


State-by-state guide that outlines how to order vital records.

From the February 2003 issue of Family Tree Magazine.