The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) is the custodian of a range of popular US genealogy records. Rather than digitize and post these records on its own Web site, NARA has approached the records access part of its mission by partnering with sites such as FamilySearch, Footnote and Ancestry.com to digitize documents and put them online . Under these nonexclusive agreements, NARA receives copies of digitized records and makes them free at NARA facilities. (Read more about these partnerships on NARA’s Web site.)
We’ve put together the following ist of popular NARA records you can find on genealogy database sites, linked to the referenced databse. Footnote, Ancestry.com and World Vital Records are fee-based (your local Family History Center may offer Footnote access; your library may offer Ancestry Library Edition); FamilySearch’s Record Search Pilot site is free. HeritageQuest Online is accessible through subscribing libraries—check your library’s Web site or ask at the reference desk.
Also remember to check volunteer-run sites such as USGenWeb and run Web searches on the record type and county name to find indexes for your ancestors’ time and place that individual researchers or organizations may have posted online.
Civil War Widows’ Pension Files
Federal Census Records
Ancestry.com $: all available federal censuses
FamilySearch Record Search: 1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, 1900, 1920 (no images for 1880 and 1920; databases are at varying levels of completion)
Footnote $: 1860 and 1930
HeritageQuest Online: some years have incomplete indexes.
Footnote $: Nebraska
Passenger Manifest Lists for US arrivals
Ancestry.com $: all US ports
Castle Garden.org: Port of New York, 1820 to 1892
Ellis Island.org: Port of New York, 1892 to 1924
World Vital Records $: Port of New York, 1892 to 1924
FamilySearch Record Search: Ellis Island
Revolutionary War Pension Files
HeritageQuest Online (accessible through subscribing libraries)
World War I Draft Registration Cards