Online ancestor hunting can leave you feeling like you’re lost in a vast Internet maze. You’ve found countless dead ends among the millions of genealogy sites out there, but the proverbial pieces of cheese those digital clues to your family history keep eluding you. Your path may produce the prize, but it’s often fraught with frustration.
That’s why the editors and experts at Family Tree Magazine are endlessly navigating that labyrinth of online roots resources. We weed out the junk and point you to the best sites for your search in each issue of the magazine and the Sites of the Day featured on our home page.
And once a year, we whittle down all those worthy Web sites to the ones that really rise above the rest. We honor those elites here: 2002’s 101 best family history Web sites.
We’ve narrowed our choices to the 101 destinations that will make your online searches easier, faster and more productive. Some of these sites are “classics” you’ll recognize from past years’ picks (see the archives at <www. familytreemagazine.com/101sites> and <www.familytreemagazine.com/101newsites>); others have arrived on the genealogy scene only recently. All appeal to a wide audience, are easy to use and have a clean design. You’ll find free databases, tools and references, maps, original documents and millions upon millions of searchable records. If your ancestors aren’t on one of these sites, we’re not sure they really existed!
So fire up your modem and use this list to evade Internet dead ends. You can even avoid the tedium of typing these URLs into your browser simply surf over to <www.familytreemagazine.com/101sites/2002> and click the complete list of links.
Beginners Guide to Family History Research <www.dhc.net/~jw/guide.html>
The online version of Desmond Walls Allen’s booklet walks readers through the how-tos of gathering home sources and using military, census and courthouse records. Learn how to write right with the chapters on queries and the different types of genealogical correspondence.
Family Tree Magazine
At our site, you’ll find everything you need to start your search, including free e-mail (email@example.com), a free weekly e-mail newsletter, free downloadable forms and a resource guide. Don’t miss the Ethnic Toolkit, which highlights hand-picked Web sites, organizations and other resources for tracing your ethnic ancestors. Try the powerful SuperSearch to find living relatives, locate past Family Tree Magazine articles and search with a single click multiple major online databases.
The Five-Step Genealogical Research Process
Follow this simple five-step process for more effective research. The steps explain how to evaluate what you already know, determine which sources you’ll need and analyze the material you collect.
This site offers links to free articles, state genealogy sites, how-to guides, adoption research advice and family reunion info. Join Team Roots and you’ll also benefit from surname queries, local bookmarks and a custom start page.
Hewlett-Packard’s Genealogy Series
Technology manufacturer HP presents a series of three detailed articles on getting started in genealogy. Each article has complete how-to instructions and downloadable artwork for a genealogy project, including a genealogy journal and a beautifully illustrated information folder.
This great portal site, part of the About.com network of “guided” Web directories, offers a wide range of family history topics with a how-to focus. Each major category contains links to articles or databases. Besides a host of “genealogy 101” lessons, you’ll find links to genealogy clip art, heritage scrapbooking and preservation techniques.
The Genealogy Home Page
The Genealogy Home Page may be short on Web design, but it’s long on great links. In addition to the standard portal categories, you’ll find daily updates on new genealogy pages. The list of Religious Genealogy Resources is particularly good. Don’t miss the link to the Genealogy Anonymous FTP Site, where you’ll find free software and a treasure trove of miscellaneous goodies.
True to its name, this site is the place for 10,000 geographically arranged genealogy links, primarily to ships’ passenger lists, church records and cemetery transcriptions. It also provides some links to military and census data, including Civil War rosters and the Revolutionary War Index to Loyalist Muster Rolls.
Although Genealogy Pages has only 14 categories, they’ll lead you to useful resources. You’ll easily find your way through this well-designed, easy-to-navigate portal. Check the Top 5% page to see Genealogy Pages’ most popular listings.
Genealogy Resources on the Internet
Here you’ll find links to mailing lists, Usenet newsgroups, gopher sites, telnet sites, e-mail sites and World Wide Web sites. The e-mail category provides great links to family newsletters and organizations. Among its Web resources are state, federal and international genealogy sites, as well as surname and special-interest sites.
This new site was created so genealogists could access “pure genealogy queries” without being bothered with spam, junk messages and off-topic postings. Users can even delete or edit their own queries. You can search queries by surname or the Soundex equivalent.
Plug in your surname, pick a topic such as marriage or cemetery records, then let the system go to work. It searches through genealogical databases, city directories, cemetery records, military rosters and tombstone inscriptions for hits on your surname. The site, which began in 1996 as an outgrowth of Webmaster David Podmajersky’s personal research, now gets close to 5,000 visitors daily.
Search tens of thousands of queries left by other surname researchers. This site features bulletin boards where visitors can leave queries or post research notes. Each surname board is searchable. Old queries stay in the system, so you don’t have to worry about the one you’re looking for being hidden in an archive. (See page 9 for a GenForum update.)
This searchable site has links to more than 88,000 surname records from personal Web pages, query forums and mailing lists. In addition to surname searches, you can explore 12 other “gateways,” such as Ethnic, Database, Beginners and Vital Records.
Use the on-site search engine to access surname mailing-list archives. While searching, don’t miss the “build your own genealogy Web page” tutorial and links to excellent free databases.
American Civil War Database
For an annual fee of $25, you can search 2.5 million-plus Civil War records. This comprehensive database encompasses several smaller databases, such as service records, pension indexes and rosters. If you find your Civil War ancestor, the data on this site will give you a detailed view of his service the dynamic links you’ll find here give it an edge over the Ancestry database that contains the same records. (See the October 2001 Family Tree Magazine for more on this site.)
The Net’s best-known genealogy portal is a virtual card catalog to the top family hi story-related Web pages. Cyndi Howells’ site boasts more than 126,750 links in 150 categories; it’s been visited by 27 million-plus genealogists.
To date, 32 million ancestors have been submitted to GenCircles’ Global Tree. The site uses a “matching technology” to pair the people in your pedigree with those already on file. Search the surname database or post messages about individuals in the Global Tree. GenCircles offers state and county bulletin boards (called clubs), plus a Genealogy Message Searcher that simultaneously scans GenCircles’ clubs and the Ancestry-RootsWeb message boards.
Ancestry offers fee-based access to 705 million names in more than 3,000 databases, as well as 10 million census images. Subscribers can select from several different plans, which start at $24.95 a quarter and go up to $149.80 for yearly access to everything on the site. Databases include the Civil War Research Database (see above), Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books and the Periodical Source Index (PERSI).
This longtime publisher of Everton’s Genealogical Helper (now Everton’s Family History Magazine) has revamped its Web site and added a Family History Network. A $49.95 annual membership entitles you to access the all-new Bureau of Missing Ancestors databases and the Genealogy Learning Center, which contains thousands of articles.
You have four subscriptions to choose from here: World Family Tree lets you search more than 130 million names in 180,000 family trees for $9.99 a month or $49.99 a year. Genealogy Library contains wills, biographies and land, church and military records from 3,200 digitized genealogy books, plus scanned pages from the 1850 census; new data comes from Genealogy.com’s Family-Archive CD-ROMs. You can search the library for free before deciding if the results are worth the $49.99 annual or $9.99 monthly fee. The International and Passenger Records subscription also gives you access to data from dozens of FamilyArchive CDs for the price of just a few discs $79.99 annually or $14.99 monthly. And the 1900 Census collection has an index and images of that year’s full US federal census; it’s also $79.99 a year or $14.99 a month. The site’s free-to-use Learning Center features the Genealogy SiteFinder, with 72,000 links, and a helpful Genealogy How-To Guide.
Search 1 billion-plus names in “the world’s largest pedigree-linked database” for $15 a month or $100 a year. Or get a month’s free access once you’ve uploaded GEDCOMs with at least 15 families and 60 individuals. You can also use MyTrees PLUS to search for every name in your database at the same time. There’s a nifty option to try the service for 10 days for $5.
Genealogists everywhere have pitched in to put census data online, but you don’t have to wander all over the Web to reap the fruits of their labor. Start here for more than 7,000 geographically organized links to census transcriptions from around the world, including American slave schedules. The site presents a variety of online census tools, such as electronic federal and state census forms. Don’t miss the Census Tracker, a resource that allows researchers to document all available census data for an individual on a single form.
With nearly 1 billion names in its searchable databases, this is the premier starting site for online genealogy. Search Ancestral File’s 35 million names, the 285 million names in the International Genealogical Index or the plethora of materials in the Family History Library catalog. And don’t miss the compiled pedigrees submitted by users to the Pedigree Resource File nearly 1.2 million names are added each month. You can download GEDCOM files into your own system. (Learn little-known strategies for mining Family-Search in the December 2001 Family Tree Magazine.)
BUREAU OF LAND MANAGEMENT GENERAL LAND OFFICE RECORDS
The GLO Web site is the premier site for genealogists searching for land records. Its database contains records of land transfers from the US government to individuals, and even holds some Revolutionary War bounty warrants. Search results give the legal land description and an image of the original document. To use the Basic Search, enter at least the state and a surname. Use the Standard Search to identify who owned the land surrounding your ancestor’s plot. Read the FAQ for help troubleshooting, particularly if you can’t find any records some Indiana records are indexed as Ohio, for example. (Find strategies for getting the most from this site in the October 2000 Family Tree Magazine.)
If your ancestors originated in the United Kingdom or Ireland, surf right on over to GENUKI. It’s packed with tips on getting started and links to databases for Wales, Scotland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, as well as Ireland and England. Be sure to read the great FAQ on researching British and Irish ancestry from abroad.
The goal of this site is to provide free access to the civil-registration index information for England and Wales. Volunteers use the system to record births, marriages and deaths from those areas back to 1837. The project covers data through 1901, with 25 million total records.
GENDEX Genealogical Index
The GENDEX server hosts thousands of genealogical files containing 20 million people. You can locate and view data of interest on any of these databases without having to visit each of them separately. Some information is free; however, some requires a purchase of “credits” that allow you access to more in-depth data ($10 buys 1,000 information credits). The pay-per-view option lets you create search filters, too.
GeneaNet’s goal is to register all of the world’s genealogy resources. It’s a tall order, but great news for the online genealogy community. To date, the site boasts 47 million entries of 140 million individuals in 130,000 databases. All the on-site data is searchable by surname or locale.
The Olive Tree Genealogy
You’ll find hundreds of free online databases within Lorine McGinnis Schulze’s site. Links include ship lists, military indexes and Canadian links, plus information on Huguenots, Palatines and Mohawk ancestors. Don’t miss the free articles on research tips, ethnic ancestors and Native American heritage.
Online Genealogical Database Index
This site links to hundreds of free databases, but unfortunately, it’s indexed by author’s name not by contents. If you have the time to scroll through all the links, though, you may just luck into a database detailing your family’s history.
RootsWeb is grassroots genealogy at its best. This volunteer network offers unlimited access to a plethora of free resources: the RootsWeb Surname List of more than a million names, 24,000-plus mailing lists, the Social Security Death Index, state resource pages and even Web space for your family history site. Since the merger of Roots Web and Ancestry.com, the sites have teamed up on a few popular tools: You can search more than 190 million names in user-submitted GEDCOMs now that WorldConnect and Ancestry Family Tree records have been combined. And a revamped message-board system (which merged and replaced GenConnect and the FamilyHistory.com boards) lets you tap thousands of surname forums to connect with Internet cousins. (For secrets to getting the most from Roots Web, see the October 2001 Family Tree Magazine.)
This site should be your first stop for researching your American heritage. Organized by US state and county, USGenWeb has tons of free data, including biographies, county histories and military records. Follow the links to special projects, where volunteers have digitized census and tombstone transcriptions, wills, marriages and pensions.
Association of Professional Genealogists
The APG is a support organization for professional genealogists and interested amateurs. If you think you’d like to become a professional, read the excellent guide to going pro. The site also provides helpful information for anyone who is considering hiring a professional researcher including a member directory.
Board for Certification of Genealogists
Want to turn pro? This is the organization that tests anyone who wants to receive official certification, and BCG clearly details the steps to certification here. Skillbuilding, a section of columns from BCG’s newsletter, offers useful tips to analyze wills, deeds, city directories and published sources.
Federation of Genealogical Societies
FGS serves as an umbrella organization to more than 500 member societies in the United States and Canada. Members include genealogical societies, family associations and historical societies. FGS publishes excellent resource materials for societies to aid in management and membership strategies.
National Genealogical Society
NGS is one of the leading organizations in providing education to the genealogy community. It offers a home-study course and an online course. And don’t miss the link to the NGS Virtual Lecture Series.
New England Historic Genealogical Society
NEHGS members ($60 a year) can take advantage of three databases containing 1.9 million names: New England Historical and Genealogical Register 1847-1994, The Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to New England 1620-1633 and Massachusetts Soldiers in the Colonial Wars. All visitors can search the NEHGS library catalog and read articles about New England genealogy. Beginners, click New to Genealogy for tips from Ralph Crandall’s Shaking Your Family Tree, a popular guidebook published by the NEHGS.
Daughters of the American Revolution
Membership is limited to those who can trace their family tree back to a Revolutionary War patriot. If you aren’t sure whether DAR recognizes your ancestor, fill out the on-site lookup form. A DAR volunteer will check the records at no charge to you.
General Society of the War of 1812
Men who are descended from a War of 1812 participant can join this society. The site is a good source for links to other War of 1812 resources; it also lists the group’s publications and affiliated state societies.
The Mayflower Society
If you can prove your descent from one of the Pilgrims on board the 1620 voyage of the Mayflower, you may want to join this well-known society. Fill out the on-site preliminary review form; after your form is reviewed, you’ll receive instructions about the membership process.
AfriGeneas Slave Data Collection
This site helps locate slave ancestors through wills, Bible records, slave manifests and other collections. One of the collection’s gems is a partial transcription of slave manifests into New Orleans from 1818 to 1860. Search the entire site or browse by surname or state. AfriGeneas encourages volunteers to submit transcriptions.
Ancestors from Norway
Don’t let terms such as ndskyld, matrikkel and jorddrotte throw you for a loop learn how to trace your Norwegian roots at this great site. You’ll find articles on how to use census, probate and church records, as well as information on the patronymic naming system. Be sure to read the article on how to use online databases to locate your ancestor’s Norwegian farm.
Canadian Genealogy and History
An ideal starting point for Canadian researchers, this site indexes links for each province and territory. Visit the Searchable page for a directory of some excellent databases, covering Canadians who died in World Wars I and II, Dominion land grants, immigration records and the National Archives of Canada.
The Carpathian Connection
Search this site for genealogical and historical information if you have Carpatho-Rusyn heritage it provides information on Rusyn villages in Slovakia and Poland, as well as settlements in the northeastern United States. Check out the links to photos, discussion forums and mailing lists, too.
From the home page, jump to resources for tracing Chinese heritage or connecting present-day family. The roots site offers a surname dictionary, a searchable surname database, a how-to guide and links to databases. Follow the link to Chinesekin.com to set up your own free family Web site.
Christine’s Genealogy Web Site
This solid jumping-off place for African-American research includes links to resources, African-American Web sites, free articles, post-Civil War Freedman’s Bureau records and other databases.
Federation of East European Family History Societies
This no-frills site contains a searchable index of close to 1 million Eastern European names and locations. Search results vary from North Dakota history books to a Latvian research archive to a list of foreign-born voters in California. FEEFHS is made up of individuals and organizations, with a goal of helping all ethnic groups, religious groups and genealogists with Eastern European ancestors. Don’t miss the Ethnic, Religious and National Index, which serves up links to the best genealogy sites, categorized by country.
Start with the Basic Research Outline, and then follow the links to the Best German Resources. The site has great resource material on Germans from Poland and Russia. For an interesting addition to your family history, the Webmaster explains how to get aerial photos of German villages taken in 1945.
Explore your heritage with a tutorial on Hispanic surnames, a guide for getting started tracing Hispanic roots and links to organizations worldwide, including the Hispanic Genealogy Forum. Webmaster Al Sosa rates other Hispanic genealogy sites on a system of one to five “gems.”
There’s no better starting place on the Web for tracing Jewish ancestry. JewishGen gives you detailed research guides, the Family Finder (more than 250,000 entries) and the Shtetl Seeker for surnames and town names. The online calendar displays all Jewish holidays for any Gregorian or Jewish year. Search 100,000-plus postings on JewishGen discussion lists. New to the site is the searchable Holocaust Database of 140,000 entries.
This index of online Jewish family history resources points you to discussion groups, surname lists, mailing lists and genealogical societies. If you’re just getting started tracing your Jewish roots, follow the link to the JewishGen FAQ.
The National Archives of Ireland
Virtually visit Ireland’s main records repository for a comprehensive guide to beginning Irish research. The archives’ site walks you through the types of records you’ll use to trace your Irish family tree: marriage, birth and death records; census records from 1822 to 1911; tax lists; wills; and administration records. The links page leads to searchable online databases on and off the site.
Native American Links
American Indian roots researchers can point and click their way to a treasure trove of resources here: searchable databases and indexes, a transcription of the 1880 Cherokee census, a listing by state of Native American land patents, mailing lists, lookups, online books about the Cherokee and Choctaw and a guide to searching Native American rolls.
Native American Resources
USGenWeb hosts a portal to general resources, how-to guides, maps and microfilm publications for American Indian genealogy. The page also gives tribe-specific links for Creek, Chickasaw, Choctaw and Cherokee sites.
This site is to worldwide research what the USGenWeb is to US genealogy. Its goal is to provide a Web site and links for every country in the world. Its newly restructured Web site makes navigating to your country of interest a breeze. Special projects include the Shamrock Tombstone Transcription Project and the Scotland BDM (Birth, Death, Marriage) Exchange.
Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
The guild is a group of 500 volunteers who transcribe ship passenger lists, then post them online. To date, it’s recorded the lists of more than 4,000 ships. Use the on-site search engine to mine the five volumes of transcriptions. Each volume is also indexed by surname, date, ship’s name and port of departure and arrival. Don’t miss the link to The Compass a valuable resource for anyone researching immigrant ancestors.
Immigrants to Canada
Get a feel for the 19th-century Canadian immigrant experience through links to vessels and passenger lists, extracts of an 1887 immigration report on Scandinavian “colonization,” passenger accounts of voyages, immigrant handbooks and maps.
NARA’s introduction to immigration records spells out which passenger lists the archives has and where to look for the ones it doesn’t. A port-by-port list provides details on 1800 to 1959 records, including how to order microfilms.
Congregate here for links to online Baptist records, publications and history. The site is home to the Baptist-Roots mailing list and a gateway to the Baptist-Roots message boards. Its research outlines tell how to find Baptist roots in Alabama, Arkansas, Idaho, Florida and Georgia.
Lutheran Roots Genealogy Exchange
Lutherans Online hosts a registry of people researching Lutheran ancestors. Anyone can search the posted contact information, researcher names and places; to add your own info, though, you have to register (it’s free). You can also swap queries and comments on the exchange’s own searchable message boards.
The National Huguenot Society
NHS provides a good starting place to find French Protestant ancestors who fled France in the 16th and 17th centuries. The site is your carte blanche to Huguenot ancestors, surnames, Web sites and NHS publications.
AMERICAN FAMILY IMMIGRATION HISTORY CENTER
If you’re among the 40 percent of Americans with an ancestor who came through Ellis Island, sail directly to this Web site. From 1892 to 1924, more than 22 million immigrants, passengers and crew members came through Ellis Island and the port of New York. Those ship manifests have been transcribed and are searchable here. In addition to seeing a digital copy of your ancestor’s name on a manifest, you can find photos of his or her ship. Copies of the official documents and photos may be purchased here. (See the June 2001 Family Tree Magazine for a complete guide to this site).
Cemeteries & Death Records
This cemetery transcription “library” has collected nearly 3 million records from more than 5,600 cemeteries worldwide. Its special collections feature California Mission cemeteries, Woodman of the World burials, veterans cemeteries and cemeteries flooded by dams. Check out the free articles and info on how to record cemetery data.
The Quaker Comer
You’re lucky if you have Quaker ancestors they kept some of the most detailed records of any religious group. This site is the home page of the Quaker-Roots mailing list, a discussion group with 1,200 members. It also links to Quaker biographies, maps, message boards, lookup volunteers, research documentation and Quaker surnames.
Cemeteries and Death Records
African-American Cemeteries Online
Dig into the tombstone transcriptions at African-American Cemeteries Online to search for black ancestors’ burials. Each state has a page listing the cemeteries that volunteers have recorded, with links to the data usually names, dates and the cemetery’s location and condition. The site is part of The Millennium Project, an attempt to build an online database of African-American genealogical material.
Cleveland Necrology File
From the Cleveland Public Library home page, click Cleveland Necrology File to access a searchable database of local cemetery records and newspaper death notices for 1833, 1847 to 1848 and 1850 to 1975. (For deaths after 1975, follow links to the Cleveland News Index.) You can search the necrology file by name or keyword, simultaneously tapping articles from the Cleveland Plain Dealer, Cleveland Herald and Cleveland Press, as well as non-newspaper sources.
Find A Grave
At this virtual cemetery, you can search 3.2 million US cemetery records by name or browse through all listings by surname. Once you find a family member, you can upload a photo or leave a virtual flower and note. Find A Grave also lets you add new burial records or build an online memorial.
Would you like a photo of your ancestor’s headstone? Post a request at this all-volunteer site. “Headstone hunters” who live in the area where your ancestor was buried will go to local cemeteries and take pictures for you. The only fee is the cost of film and postage or zero for digital photos. If you’d like to join the effort, check out the link to photography tips.
Follow thousands of links to online obituaries. Obituary Central points you to research sites, obituary-specific search engines, Canadian obit sites and state-by-state searches of surnames located in thousands of online tombstone inscriptions.
MAINE MEMORY NETWORK
If your ancestors settled the Pine Tree State, check out this database of Maine’s Historical Documents. The collection includes historical maps, photos, diaries and letters. You can search the electronic documents by keyword, theme, people, events or collections.
LIBRARY OF CONGRESS MAP COLLECTION
You’ll find historical maps galore on this site. The LOC has divvied up its digital map collection into seven categories: Cities and Towns, Cultural Landscapes, Military Battles and Campaigns, Conservation and the Environment, Discovery and Exploration, Transportation and Communication and General Maps. Almost all the maps can be downloaded. (Read more about these maps in the June 2001 Family Tree Magazine.)
Handbook of Texas Online
If you have Texas kin, this encyclopedia from the Texas State Historical Association and the University of Texas is a good starting point. The Handbook of Texas Online is a searchable collection of more than 23,000 articles on Texas history, people, places and culture. Search the handbook using one or more keywords, or try the more advanced search form.
Illinois State Archives Online Databases
Prairie State roots researchers have a vast expanse of online genealogy data, thanks to the Illinois State Archives. Search for public-domain land sales; servitude and emancipation records; veterans of the Black Hawk War, War of 1812, Winnebago War, Mexican War, Civil War and Spanish American War; and residents of the Soldiers and Sailor’s Rest Home. You can also access the Illinois Statewide Marriage Index, 1793-1900, a joint project of the archives and the state genealogical society.
Kentucky Vital Records Index
The University of Kentucky has created a free, searchable index to the state’s vital statistics. The database covers deaths between 1911 and 1992 and marriages and divorces from 1973 to 1993. Look for your relative by name, or in the case of the death index, by place of death or residence. Once you’ve found a name in the index, you can order the complete record from the Kentucky Department of Health Statistics in Frankfort.
Library of Michigan 1870 Census Index
You can search this index to the 1870 Michigan federal census by last name, first name (or use wildcards), county and township. The site’s best feature: With the results, you get a link to a scanned image of the actual census page in PDF (Adobe Acrobat Reader) format. (Download the Reader free at <www.adobe.com/support/downloads>.)
Library of Virginia Digital Library Program
Good news for Southern researchers: Thanks to the Library of Virginia’s Digital Library Program, you can search through 2.2 million original documents, photographs and maps. Records include wills, military service, death indexes, family Bibles and land and court records. Each of the 80 databases has a detailed help section, with search tips and information on ordering copies of the documents. Don’t miss the photo collections they hold hundreds of images of individuals, businesses, churches and school groups.
Minnesota Death Index
The Minnesota Historical Society has indexed the state’s death certificates from 1908 through 1955. Perform searches by name and year and county of death; if you’re unsure of the surname spelling, choose the Soundex option. You can opt to be notified of database updates. While you’re here, stop by the society’s Visual Resource Database <www.mnhs.org/library/search/vrdb/bsearch.html> (or select Photo Collection from the home page’s pull-down menu) to view photos, art and posters from Minnesota’s past.
Pennsylvania Digital Archives
The Pennsylvania State Archives has placed a collection of historical records online that focuses on the state’s servicemen. Find your ancestor’s stint through World War I Service Medal Application Cards, Spanish-American War Veterans Cards and Revolutionary War Military Abstract Cards. Each set of cards is organized alphabetically by surname; individual cards may include place of residence, birth date and place, and service details.
Western States Historical Marriage Record Index
Researchers with roots out West are blessed with a union of 270,000-plus marriage records. So far, nearly all Arizona, Idaho and Nevada marriages before 1900 have been indexed; many Idaho and Utah counties’ entries stretch into the 1930s and beyond. You can also search (by bride or groom) marriages from southwestern Wyoming, eastern Washington, eastern Oregon and selected counties in California, with more marriages added daily.
Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System
Currently, 3.5 million soldiers from 30 states are named in this searchable database. CWSS also includes histories of more than 4,000 Union and Confederate units, which are linked to the soldiers and the battles. Although all 5.4 million soldier names have been entered into the system, some are still being checked for accuracy. You can search for your soldier by surname, side (Union/Confederate) or state.
Online Searchable Military Databases
March toward your military heritage with free searchable databases related to the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Civil War and 20th-century conflicts. Some databases contain rosters, others pension indexes or casualties. Most of the databases link to cover one specific state; the page also lists Ancestry’s broader, pay-to-access military databases.
US Army Military History Institute Photograph Database
Wouldn’t you love to find a photo of your Civil War ancestor? The Military History Institute’s keyword-searchable database helps genealogists do just that. Once you’ve found a likely photo, e-mail the MHI and they will mail you a photocopy of the picture, along with instructions to order a print. If you don’t find an ancestor, search for photos of a regiment, place or a battle he may have been in.
Valley Forge Muster Roll Database
Revolutionary War researchers can look here to find soldiers who served at Valley Forge with Gen. Washington. The Muster Roll Datasheet contains name, rank, state, regiment, brigade, company, division and monthly status. You’ll also find detailed information on each brigade, division and regiment, as well as an Army organizational chart.
Hargrett Library Rare Map Collection
This University of Georgia site features maps depicting the New World, Colonial and Revolutionary America, Revolutionary Georgia, Union & Expansion, the American Civil War, Frontier to New South, Savannah & the Coast and Transportation. Maps have been scanned in at a large scale, so you may need to adjust their size in an image-editing program before printing.
Perry-Castañeda Library Map Collection
The collection includes both historical and present-day maps of the Americas and the world. Click on US to go to a page of links for each state. Among the historical map groups are Early Inhabitants, Exploration and Settlement, US Territorial Growth, Military History Maps and Later Historical Maps.
Angel Island Immigration Photographic Collection
Angel Island known as the Ellis Island of the West was the immigration point for many Asians entering the United States. This site contains four pages of Angel Island photos, including boats, people and even slides of blood work taken from immigrants.
Images of Kansas City
The Kansas City Public Library’s special collections department has digitized 14,000 photos and placed them in this searchable collection. You’ll find images of buildings, bridges, streets, parades, charitable organizations, schools and churches. The photographs were taken from the 1870s up to the early 1990s.
The Photography Collection, Western History, Denver Public Library
Did your family follow the great migration West? Search this database of 80,000 images and catalog records of Native Americans, pioneers, early railroads, mining, Denver and Colorado towns. Colorado is the focus, but you’ll find images from other areas, too.
Small Town America
See how your Mid-Atlantic ancestors’ town looked a century ago through 12,000 photographs of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut from the 1850s to the 1910s. These views of buildings, businesses, street scenes, people, events, natural disasters, agriculture and industry are part of the Library of Congress’ American Memory Web site (read more about that site on page 72).
Family Photos and Keepsakes
Dead Fred: The Original Genealogy Photo Archive
Search through more than 15,000 records to find your old family photos. If you find a photo from Dead Fred’s collection and can prove it belongs in your family, you can get it for the cost of postage. You can also download the digital version directly into your computer. The archive currently holds photos for 5,500 surnames.
Digital Cameras and Genealogy
Resources on this site explain how to choose a digital camera, use a camera to digitize old photos and store your electronic images. An article on planning and executing a digital genealogy project discusses file formats, image formats, image-editing software and HTML files.
Digital-imaging novices and veterans can pick up a few pointers from Wayne Fulton’s Scanning 101 the Basics. This primer demystifies dpi, resolution and resampling. It also shows menu settings for several popular image-editing software programs. Scanning 201 offers useful tips on restoring old genealogy photos and color-correcting faded slides.
Technology Tips and Tools
Cyndi’s Genealogy Home Page Construction Kit
Consult this quick-start guide to designing and building your own genealogy Web site before you break ground online. Cyndi’s List Webmaster Cyndi Howells tells how to find a hosting service, which file formats to choose, where to download GEDCOM to HTML conversion software and how to add sound and graphics.
Free-B-Kins: Genealogy Graphics
Spiff up your family Web site with free genealogy graphics in various themes, including Native American, Ships, Homespun, Heritage, Kinship and Family Ties.
The Genealogical Software Report Card
If you’re weighing your family tree software options, check out this fascinating report card on the most popular programs. Reviewer Suddie Bill Mumford rates shareware and commercial software with a 300-item score card. An easy-to-read chart compares major features such as multimedia, portability and convenience.
Genealogy and Technology Articles
Columnist Mark Howells indexes nearly 50 articles he’s written on technology and genealogy issues, from Web-publishing standards to strategies for searching the 1881 British census on CD-ROM.
News of your ancestors may appear in this site’s article abstracts from the United States, Ireland and Canada. The archives include newspaper extracts published in 1923 or earlier. Join the mailing list to receive site-update notifications.
Where to Write for Vital Records
The National Center for Health Statistics has information on how to get marriage, birth, death and divorce data from each US State, with complete details on the dates and cost of available records.
NANCY HENDRICKSON is the Webmaster of Ancestor News <www.ancestornews.com>, a Web site for family historians who are interested in making the most of today’s technology, and the author of the forthcoming book The Family Tree Magazine Guide to Finding Your Roots Online (Betterway Books). She suggests more great genealogy sites each week in our free e-mail newsletter <www.familytreemagazine.com/newsletter.asp>.
ADVANCED BOOK EXCHANGE
Find county histories, biographies and state history books at this umbrella organization for hundreds of used book stores. You can search for tomes by keyword, author and title.
Family Photos & Keepsakes
You can find family Bibles, wills and even household receipts among the 1,600 heirlooms seeking families on this site. The items up for sale represent 4,400 surnames. Search for an ancestral object by surname, state or type of record, then click on the seller’s e-mail address for more information.