YouTube gets a bad rep for of its nonsensical, clickbaity content. But the web’s largest video-hosting service has a lot more to offer than just cat videos and local news bloopers. (Though, of course, you can find plenty of both there.) In fact, if you know what to look for, you can unearth some great free videos for your research. But, given users add more than 400 hours of video to YouTube each minute, how can you find the right resources? We’re here to help with this list of the best genealogy and history resources on YouTube.
- Ancestry: The genealogy tech giant has found its way to YouTube, posting Ancestry.com site updates as well as tips for making the most of the site’s features. You’ll also find inspirational user stories to help motivate you to make your own research breakthroughs.
- FamilySearch: Not to be outdone by its for-profit rival, FamilySearch.org created its own channel with site-usage tips, genealogy how-tos and highlights from the annual RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. The related BYU Family History Library channel may also be worth a subscription, posting genealogy “training” videos such as “Six Easy [Ways] to Use Family History Phone Apps” and “Back Up Your Data Now or Cry.”
- Family Tree Magazine: Yes, we’re also on YouTube! Subscribe to our channel for quick genealogy tips, from using Evernote to track your books to overcoming brick walls.
- Lisa Louise Cooke’s Genealogy Gems: This brainchild of genealogy guru Lisa Louise Cooke features helpful tips on using records, using genealogy tech and more. The channel also doubles as an archive for Lisa’s Genealogy Gems podcast, a must-listen for family researchers.
- Family History Fanatics: This relatively new channel, produced and hosted by the three members of the Lee family, creates useful how-to content for beginner genealogists. Among its quick guides are pros and cons for AncestryDNA and tips for scrapbooking.
- Nicka Swell-Smith: Researcher Nicka Smith hosts BlackProGen Live, a Google Hangout series about “genealogy with seasoning”—genealogy strategies and reflections, specifically for those researching people of color. Each week, Smith and her panel of professional genealogists discuss topics ranging from privacy in genetic genealogy to planning family reunions.
- DearMYRTLE: “DearMYRTLE,” a longtime contributor to the genealogy blog community, archives her numerous Google Hangouts via her YouTube channel. In addition to her long-running “Mondays with Myrt” series, DearMYRTLE also hosts study groups (which tackle a particular topic in depth) and “Genealogy Game Night,” where participants play a game created by “Cousin Russ.”
- The Great War: Commemorating the 100th anniversary of World War I, this channel examines the “war to end all wars” week by week in “real time.” Each episode covers events that happened exactly 100 years ago at the time of its upload. If your ancestors fought in or lived during World War I, this detailed history is for you.
- Crash Course: US History: Author and vlogger John Green hosts this fun and informative educational series that traces US history from the continent’s earliest inhabitants to the Obama presidency. This series is perfect for those who need a brief refresher on American history and politics. Crash Course has also produced series on World History, World Mythology and more.
- Suibhne: This channel produces slick animated videos that summarize the history of individual countries. These can serve as great introductions to the history of your ancestral homeland.
Looking for more great family history finds on social media? Check out our guide to using Reddit for genealogy.