Geneosity.com is an online resource for the genealogy or family history enthusiast. Here you’ll find a guide of the most useful websites and methods of locating the information that you seek. Each resource will assist in facilitating your family tree projects effectively.
There are literally hundreds if not thousands of potential sources from which you can investigate the genealogy of your family. For every online resource cited herein, there are dozens of offline or “in print” books, photos, newspapers, directories and other items also available though many libraries and local government records. Each have their benefit. In libraries and other historical repositories of family information the benefit is in gaining access to items not indexed elsewhere. Each trip to the library or to family history centers offer to uncover something never seen before except in print. In many cases you can see the first-hand documentation from the actual sources, but you need to be physically located in these places to see these records. No person can conduct their research completely from the internet, in libraries or even at a family history center provided by the Church of Latter Day Saints. A concerted effort using all of these resources are usually necessary.
Researching ancestry data items online is a different methodology. Most online resources cite thousands and millions of records at some point scanned, copied or otherwise transcribed for your reading pleasure in whatever location you choose as long as you have an internet connection. Being capable of browsing information from a broad variety of sources literally across the globe has advantages and disadvantages. The vast amounts of information can make it difficult to find exactly what you’re looking for but you can indeed get much closer to the actual source online.
Below is our list of the most useful online genealogy resources. Some are very well-known and some are less-known or niche sites.
Geneosity Must-Have List
- Ancestry.com – One of the largest and easiest to use family history repositories on the net. There are several organizations that have more information in sheer volume such as the Church of Latter Day Saints or the Mormons, but Ancestry.com is an incredibly valuable genealogy resource. TIPS: After setting up an account use your “Shoebox” to save pages and records. The more difficult to find items can take hours to uncover and verify to your family tree. Add those to your Shoebox so that you’ll never need to search for those items again. Also, check public user trees for your ancestors. Often you will find others that have already completed the research you’re working on.
- Familylink.com – Provider of an interesting mix of online resources featuring 3.6 billion search-able names resource base, and also provides the “We’re Related” application widely utilized on Facebook.
- FamilySearch.org – The online family tree research site built by the Mormon Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. No organization in the world has collected more genealogy data than this one. A much improved website over their previous versions, this site should be one of the starting points in any research of individuals in your family tree.
- USGenweb.org – A very successful volunteer-driven website containing a vast amount of information covering every county and state in the United States. Their tagline is “Keeping Internet Genealogy Free”. A wonderful site with a wealth of free information.
- NewspaperArchive.com – The largest online newspaper archive. Statistics you’ll find in the ancestry and genealogy-based websites are a necessity, but this leg of research is more personal, interesting and just fun. Read the same newspaper pages your subjects used to read, and maybe.. just maybe you’ll end up reading about the people themselves. Normal, typical people made the news more often back in the old days more than you think. Social pages often announced simple things like who was over for dinner last week, and who visited from out of town. You’ll be absolutely surprised at what you can find. Disclaimer – If you’re looking for John Smith in the paper, you may find you’re wasting your time unless you have knowledge of specific things that person took part in. If you’re looking for less common names you’ll enjoy better chances of finding who you’re looking for. Somewhat common names are still somewhat reasonably easy to narrow down.
- Hathi Trust Digital Library – The This digital library has indexed and digitized the contents of millions of books and local publications. This library has included thousands of industry, state and local publications that perhaps may only be found here online. This site is another unintentional great kept secret that everyone should be aware of.
- Rootsweb.com – A free offering from the operators of Ancestry.com. This site is a good starting point for anyone that wants to give genealogy research a try. On Rootsweb you’ll have access to most of the common public information records such as census, birth, death, marriages in as far as finding out what records exist about individuals you may be searching for. The site pulls information from Ancestry.com so you won’t find any individual data on Rootsweb that isn’t accessible on Ancestry.com. Rootsweb is however, a strong community website where you can connect with others that perhaps are or have been working on the same family group you’re researching. For free you can’t pass it up.
- MyTrees.com – Also known as Kindred Konnections, this website boasts the largest pedigree database of its kind. Containing over 1 billion names this source can be used to locate information shared by others and information available as searchable public records. Very large surname database and a nice variety of search options.
- Findagrave.com – With 53 million grave listings this site covers cemeteries all across the United States. Listings may include grave inscription, dates, other names buried with another individual, and photos of grave sites. Volunteers are available in most areas to locate, identify and sometimes photograph a grave if you’re not able to locate your family member in the list of existing records. An excellent site.
- OriginsNetwork.com – A very good resource for locating information on British and Irish ancestors. This site has an impressive list of databases that contain information not found elsewhere. Keep in mind that Ireland in particular suffered many conflicts and destruction of every sort in the 1700s and 1800s so remaining records are more scarce than in other parts of the world. Relatives in Dublin are reasonably well documented and property records from other areas are very good. Overall a very good and fascinating website.
- Fold3.com – Formerly called Footnote.com and now focusing on military records. If you’re looking for information that stretches beyond the common marriage records, census records and the like and enjoyed Newspaper Archive this resource is for you. Footnote.com has records of more interesting types than any online resource we’ve found. They have digital archives of newspapers, historic documents, court records, government reports, letters, photos and more. If you enjoy history this might be your new favorite website. Following the change from Footnote.com, all of the previous records held on the site will continue to be available, but moving forward the website’s area of focus is in military records.
- OneGreatFamily.com – Self-proclaimed to be the world’s largest family tree, this site is very well designed and will match your family tree individuals with other, previously entered individuals matching up with similar critical data. The site provides lots of interesting analysis tools for your family tree and offers several additional genealogy tools with a paid membership. This website is state-of-the-art with all of the applications and their own family tree viewer. The major drawback is that uploading your family tree .ged file to this site in order to take advantage of all the great features is very very slow. We uploaded the file four times assuming this was a fluke. Keep in mind when you use this system, that only the individual ancestors directly above your “anchor” person will be accounted for on your dashboard. Siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, etc are in the family tree but not analyzed on the dashboard applications. Messages to the site operators regarding questions about the system have not been answered.
- EllisIsland.org – From about 1892 to 1954 Ellis Island served as a major immigration processing center for those entering the United States. Approximately 12 million individuals coming to America were processed at Ellis Island. Online ship passenger searches are provided at no charge, but the site does require registration prior to viewing results. You can also view and save records and documents to your profile for later reference and use.
- IFHF Irish Family History Foundation – This website offers access to some unique information that does not appear to be fully accessible elsewhere. There are duplicated records such as certain census records and Griffith’s Valuation that can be found on other sites. This genealogy site is not search friendly, and it is quite expensive. Searching the databases is free, but to view an individual record costs five Euros. Frustrating is the limited search capability. Marriage records for instance, cannot be searched by groom and bride together. You’ll find several results for either, showing the name of the individual searched, location and the year of an event, not not anything further. To identify a marriage on this site it is best to search both bride and groom’s names separately in separate windows, then switch back and forth between screens to identify matching events by location and year. If you know exactly what you’re looking for and have the time, this site can be worthwhile to use.