101 Best Websites 2010: Best US Government Sites

101 Best Websites 2010: Best US Government Sites

Great research resources from the US government.

American Battle Monuments Commission

Online videos about the Normandy Campaign and other historic battles now augment the commission’s databases of WWI, WWII, Korean War and other burials in 24 overseas cemeteries, Tablets of the Missing, and 25 memorials, monuments and markers. Searches mine the records of more than 219,000 American servicemen and -women.

Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records

Already home to more than 3 million federal land title records spanning 1820 to 1908, this site keeps getting better: Among the latest additions are Colorado, Idaho, Montana, South Dakota and North Dakota Master Title Plats (MTPs), field notes from original surveyors, images of land warrants issued as a reward for military service, and images related to survey plats and field notes as old as 1810.

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System

New features—just in time for the sesquicentennial of the war—include background on the social, economic, political and military aspects of the Civil War. But the core of this site remains the database of 6.3 million names of soldiers from both sides, representing 44 states and territories. Names are linked to regimental histories and, in turn, capsule histories of battles.

Library of Congress

Long a favorite for its American Memory collection, digital images and National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC), this site also is now a must for its Chronicling America newspaper collection <chroniclingamerica.loc.gov>. The digitizing program recently added its millionth page from America’s past, with millions more dating back to 1836 to come.

National Archives and Records Administration

You know to visit virtually before planning an in-person trip to the National Archives or one of its regional branches around the country. But don’t overlook the two troves of records on the archives’ website: Access to Archival Databases (AAD), with more than 85 million records, including passengers on US-bound immigrant ships and WWII enlistment files, and the Archival Research Catalog (ARC), an index of 6.3 million records linked to 153,000 digital files. 

Nationwide Gravesite Locator
If a military ancestor was buried stateside rather than overseas, use this Department of Veterans Affairs site. It searches for burial locations of veterans and their family members in VA national cemeteries, state veterans’ cemeteries and various other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, as well as for veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker.

US Geological Survey

Among the many free geographic tools here, the National Map has a new website <nationalmap.gov>, and the National Atlas <nationalatlas.gov> has 57 new printable maps. Search for ancestral places in the Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), then plot them on the map.
To trace your roots anywhere in America, try Family Tree Magazine’s State Research Guide Book—a comprehensive guide containing state-by-state information on available resources and valuable advice to help you uncover your American ancestors. Available at Family Tree Shop.

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