As many of you probably know, my hometown of St. Joseph, Mo., was a jumping-off place for thousands of pioneers heading west to Oregon, Utah and California. Travelers from the east stopped in St. Joe in early spring, stayed long enough to load up on provisions, then shoved off west.
Like those pioneers, new adventurers on the genealogy highway need a jumping-off place, too—a site to help even the most novice of novices get started in finding their ancestors online. Fortunately, the Internet is populated with lots of “St. Joe” shops, all free and fully stocked with the genealogical “supplies” you’ll most need.
The newest of the beginner sites is called GenealogyBuff, over at www.genealogybuff.com. Built by Bill Cribbs, Webmaster of Obituary Central, the site offers searchers quick links to the most popular genealogy destinations like census, obituaries, surnames, societies, immigration and cemetery sites. Each category links to lists of both free and paid resources.
The Research Tools section of GenealogyBuff links to more than 20 helpful (and free) resources. Among them are information on naming patterns (great if you’re just getting started), a birthdate calculator, a cousin calculator, a census birthyear chart and guides to the meanings of symbols and insignia found on tombstones. If you’re in a hurry, or don’t know how to get your feet wet, surf on over to this new site—I think you’ll find it both helpful and easy to use.
Other excellent (but perhaps lesser-known) jumping-off places:
• Access Genealogy
Get links to free genealogy resources including topics like Native American genealogy, world genealogy and biographies. Don’t miss the clickable “new to genealogy?” icon in the top right corner of the home page.
• Genealogy Today
Packed with free articles and links to just about any genealogy topic you can imagine. Novices are advised to click the “Getting Started” link on the home page.
• What’s Really New in WWW Genealogy Pages
You never know what you’ll find on the What’s Really New pages at the Genealogy Home Page—but it’s definitely worth a look every month or so. For example, you can find passenger lists, cemetery mailing lists, surname Websites, city directories and marriage indexes.