For our last website of the day, we humbly recommend the how-to articles, free genealogy forms and quick-reference sheets on our own FamilyTreeMagazine.com. Use the search box at the top right to search for a keyword, such as German or census. The site also offers a line of books and a series of online courses and webinars.
Of course you’ve used Wikipedia. But have you used it for genealogy? If not, you’re missing out. Wikipedia is the perfect place to get a quick background on about any topic—including the times and places your ancestors lived or events they were part of. When searching for information on overseas places, you might find more details on the relevant country’s Wikipedia page (so, wikipedia.de for German towns). Use Google Translate if necessary. Because Wikipedia is user-contributed, confirm important facts you learn there in more scholarly sources.
Search 149 million items from 2,779 newspaper titles with a single click, including lesser-known university and archive collections and many Australian publications.
This nifty genealogy-focused search tool spans more than 1 billion records, including the 1940 US census. Keep clicking on your finds to discover a whole trail of relevant records, with no non-genealogical junk.
26: CSI: Dixie
25: Distant Cousin
Serving up more than 10 million genealogy records from over 4,200 sources, this site is strongest on city directories, school and military records.
Free to discover here are 40 million pages from some of Canada’s most popular archival collections, ranging from the 1600s to the mid-1900s. You can also subscribe to access several hundred thousand early Canadian titles, or click to search the Discovery Portal—60 million documents from libraries, museums and archives.
23: Ancestry Insider
Get the inside scoop on the latest developments at not only Ancestry.com but also FamilySearch, along with amusing insights and reports from happenings such as the RootsTech conference.
This subscription site (about $70 per year) says 95 percent of its more than 7,000 online newspapers and 234 million obituaries aren’t available elsewhere.
Go behind the scenes as host Henry Louis Gates, Jr., explores celebrities’ genealogy and genetics, view complete episodes, and click on free webinars and localized content.
This handsome historical map collection boasts more than 67,000 images, ranging from 16th-century maps of the New World to current cartography. Viewing options include Google Maps, Google Earth, and a Georeferencer tool that lets you overlay historical maps on modern maps or other old maps.
19: Name Thesaurus
Reader Eddie Donlin says, “Try typing family surnames and given names into the Name Thesaurus for lists of variant spellings and Soundex matches. The 124 variants it provided for my last name should keep me busy for a while!”
18: Find A Grave
Users from around the world have contributed to this free massive database of online grave memorials that can help you discover and honor deceased loved ones. Search for an ancestor find burial information, or head to the cemetery and upload your own photographs and memorials.
Since 2003, this nonprofit has recorded the stories of ordinary people for posterity. View and listen to many of the stories in this online oral0history home, and become part of the project yourself.
Redesigned and updated, this handsome website now features an image stream for serendipitous finds, plus curated collections of everything from postcards to menus, theater history to the Big Apple’s doors, and city directories.
15: Genealogy Today
Branch out beyond vital and census records to more unconventional ones, such as ration, railroad employee, masonic and criminal records. This site also hosts how-to articles and tips (click Getting Started). Some content here is free; most genealogy databases are available with a subscription.
Have you ever looked at your ancestor’s cause of death and been bewildered by a term you’ve never heard of or a disease that means nothing to you? This site, the new incarnation of Antiquus Morbus, is the perfect tool for anyone whose ancestor’s death record says he died of watery gripes, pyrexia, military fever or another obsolete medical term. Enter your term in the search box on the home page, which runs a Google search of this site.
13: Digital History
Anyone wanting to place US ancestors more squarely in their historical context should spend some time exploring here. Divided by historical era—each with categories covering Events, People, Images and more—Digital History allows you to read original documents, view photos, listen to music and even watch films from these eras. You also can review overviews of each period or look at a timeline of important events.
Hosted by the National Park Service, this database is a treasure trove of information about people who fought in the Civil War. You also can locate histories of your ancestors’ regiments or search for names of prisoners of war or those buried in national cemeteries.
This newly relaunched tool allows you to view interactive maps of American counties over time. Click the state you’re researching, then click the county of interest to view counties as they were on a particular date (and how long modern boundaries have been in place). This will help you determine what county your ancestor’s town resided in during his lifetime (and thus in what county you can find records of him).
10: Ravenstein Atlas
“Exciting” might not be how you’d describe most atlases, but Ludwig Ravenstein’s detailed 1883 atlas of the German Empire earns that designation for anyone with German ancestors. Still, it might require a little patience to use. Start with the gazetteer pages at the beginning to get a map number and quadrant in order to find the town you need.
Judy G. Russell’s blog takes full advantage of the author’s unique expertise, legal background and genetic genealogy knowledge, bringing new perspectives and insights to genealogy research. Posts cover genealogy websites’ terms and conditions, DNA testing, and how various aspects of historical law affected record creation.
Researchers with UK or Irish roots will want to devote some time to poking around the in-depth research help here. This volunteer-run reference library for UK genealogical information has pages for each country, as well as a gazetteer and a database of church parishes that existed around 1837. From the country pages, you can drill down to ecah county and often all the way to a town for a historical overview of places your ancestors lived. You’ll discover links to maps, newspaper indexes, genealogical societies and more.
This site offers you a one-stop shop to search for digitized books and other resources on library websites. You can keyword-search for names, hometowns, neighborhoods, streets, ethnic groups, schools, churches, military units, businesses and other terms; or browse for materials covering dates or places of interest. Results show details about matching items and link you to the holding library for full access.
Among Flickr’s billions of photos are historical images from world-famous repositories such as the Smithsonian, The British Library and the Swedish National Heritage Board, as well as state archives and libraries across the country. Search for places your relatives lived, and you’re sure to find images that bring life to their experiences.
It’s easier than ever to search and contribute to this collaborative project of “pinned” historical photos, plotted on Google Maps and matched to modern street views. Contributors include 65,000 individuals and community groups, plus 2,500 libraries, archives and museums in 2,600 cities around the world.
This university library collection contains a lot of valuable information about available collections pertaining to the relationship between Catholicism and Native American culture, including information on Mission schools, photographs, and more.
Family history bloggers will find inspiration here, and those worried more about brick walls than writer’s block can search almost 3,000 genealogy- and family history-related blogs.
1: Cyndi’s List