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. (Learn strategies for getting the most from this site.)
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 FamilySearch in the December 2001 Family Tree Magazine.)
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.
www.geneanet.org 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 RootsWeb 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 RootsWeb, 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.