101 Best Websites 2010: Western US Resources

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Arizona Genealogy Birth and Death Certificates

Hard to beat if you have Arizona ancestors, this site serves up birth records (1855 to 1933) and death records (1844 to 1958) linked to PDFs of the originals.

Colorado Historic Newspaper Collection

This ambitious collaboration between the Colorado State Library and the Colorado Historical Society is like a paperboy from the past, delivering more than 500,000 pages from 163 newspapers published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923.

Colorado Plateau Digital Archives

This Northern Arizona University site covers the whole Southwest with digitized photographs, oral history interviews, films, diaries, letters and maps.

Denver Public Library: Western History and Genealogy

Showcasing the library’s extensive Western Americana collection, this site features 120,000 digitized images. Most date from the 19th century, depicting American Indians, pioneer life, mining, Buffalo Bill’s Wild West Show, Colorado cities and towns, railroads and more.

Mountain Men and the Fur Trade

Got an ancestor who worked in the Rockies in the first part of the 19th century? Explore this virtual museum, digital library and gallery of digitized books, letters, diaries and other historical material about “mountain men.”

Nevada Census Database

Click on the Nevada Census Database icon on the right for this pioneering project that put Nevada federal census records, 1860 to 1880 and 1900 to 1920—310,000 entries total—online for our favorite price.


This site for researching ancestors in the San Francisco Bay area has launched an ambitious project that has volunteers indexing 45,000-plus digitized mortuary records  (search this index directly at <>). The site is worth a look, too, if your ancestor attended school in the Bay Area, for its growing collection of alumni records. 

University of Washington Libraries Digital Collections

This searchable archive includes photos, maps, newspapers and other artifacts from the entire Pacific Northwest, including Alaska and Western Canada. Subjects range from the Alaska gold rush to Industrial Workers of the World (“Wobblies”) to Civil War letters.

Washington State Digital Archives

Leading the way in digitizing its past, Washington State now has more than 85 million records online, with more than 26 million of them searchable. You’ll find vital records, censuses, land records, military records, naturalization documents and more.

Western States Historical Marriage Records Index

The goal for this index is to put historical marriage data from 12 Western states at the fingertips of genealogy researchers. While not there yet, the site now has nearly 700,000 nuptials, including most pre-1900 marriages for Arizona, Idaho and Nevada, and many counties of those states extend into the 1930s or later. A significant number of marriages from California, western Colorado, Montana, Oregon, Utah, eastern Washington and Wyoming also are included, with 18th-century New Mexico marriages in the works.
For additional tips and resources, research guide digital downloads of every US state (including Washington, DC and Puerto Rico) are available at Family Tree Shop
From the September 2010 Family Tree Magazine