Monday, May 18, 2009

Searching Online for Genealogy Data

I have compiled lists of online resources for genealogy and family history over the years and the list keeps getting longer. Here is the list I recently presented to the Chula Vista Genealogical Society at the 25 April seminar in my talk "Doing a Reasonably Exhaustive Search." Note that the list is not in numerical order, but is grouped by type of web site.

1. Online Subscription Record Databases

o ($$, free at SD FHC, San Diego PL, San Diego County PL, Carlsbad) – Census, Vitals, Military, Newspapers, Books, etc.
o ($$, free at SD FHC, Carlsbad) – mainly National Archives material, plus Person Pages
o ($$, free at SD FHC, Carlsbad) – Records, Newspapers, Books, Everton’s, etc.
o ($$) – Newspapers, Books.
o ($$) – Census, Military, Passengers, Books, etc.
o ($$, free at SD FHC) – New England, Books, etc.
o ($$) – small record databases
o ($$) – UK resources – census, passengers, military, Vitals, etc.
o ($$, free at Carlsbad) – New England records, NEHGS publications

2. Free Online Databases and Search Engines

o -- Research Guide, Databases, FHLC
o -- Databases, User Web Sites
o -- State/County web sites, many user-contributed databases
o -- user-contributed databases
o (Free) – small record databases
o www.FamilyTreeLegends,.com (Free) – small record databases
o (free search, links to $$) – Search databases
o (free search, links to $$) – small record databases
o (free search, links to $$) – Links
o (free search, links to $$) -- Links
o (free search, links to $$) -- Links
o (free search, links to $$) -- Links
o (free search) -- Patriot Index

3. User submitted family tree data

o ($$) – Member Trees, One World Tree, Ancestry World Trees
o ($$) – World Family Tree
o ($$)
o ($$)
o (Wiki format)

4. Free Online Message Centers

o Ancestry/Rootsweb Message Boards - Surnames, Localities, Groups – Search Archives at
o Message Boards - Surnames, Localities, Groups
o Rootsweb Mailing Lists - Subscribe and Receive Emails – Surnames, Localities, Groups - Search Archives at

5. Online Book Collections

o Family History Library Catalog --
o Google Books –
o Ancestry Books – ($$)
o Family History Archive --
o Library of Congress American Memory --
o Making of America --
o Internet Archive --

I also have lists by record type and will try to post them as time permits.

What other web site in these categories would you add? Help me improve my list!


Anonymous said...

Oh! A Tweetworthy list. So guess what I just did ;-)

James Tanner said...


One of the major online book sites is

It has over 1.3 million books

also sharing site


Michael Hait said...

You forgot the Genealogy Trails sites - similar to (though younger than) the USGenWeb sites. The hosts of these sites are much more active (in most cases) in posting data online.

tami osmer glatz said...

Wouldn't HeritageQuest belong under Digital Books as well?

relatively curious said...

Great concise list - There's a few that I haven't added to the genealogy toolbar I put together yet, but i'm going to add them now, thanks!

Tex said...

Scarcely a day goes by that I don't use Joe Beine's "Online Searchable Death Indexes, Records & Obituaries" t

Anonymous said...

Here are a few more for your list:

* Military Archives (5) * Regional Archives (138) * E-book Collections (27)There's a lot more at Genealogy Research Resources.

Anonymous said...

Really surprised that HeritageQuest Online is not listed. In addition to a unique collection of more than 23,000 family and local history books, HeritageQuest is the only website besides Ancestry with the complete U.S. Federal Census 1790-1930 images and most of the name indexes. It's available free through thousands of public libraries, including home access.

John said...

Ellis Island records

Castle Garden records

National Archives Archival Database

Newspaper Archives (which now has limited free usage)

UK BMD project

UK National Archives ($)

John said...

One of my long time favorites is RootsWeb WorldConnect. It is free to use.
John Carruthers

Alex Coles said...

Essential for those researching UK ancestors is

TorillJ said...

I think some of this could be interesting also for Norwegians looking for relatives in the US. So I put a link to this post in my blog:

Anonymous said...

Great list Randy. Family Pursuit ( also offers a free, searchable user submitted family tree.

Anonymous said...

Excellent list! Most of the sites are ones I've used before, but there are a few new ones there that I'm definitely checking out! Thanks for posting it!

Stephanie at the Irish Genealogical Research blog

Geolover said...

A fine list, but for books try:

--listed by title; many old histories and novels and memoirs

And Thomas Franklin's Digital Book Index:

which is searchable by keyword, author, title, subject, publisher, with links to the actual publications!

Charley "Apple" Grabowski said...

Hi Randy - Great lists with a couple I forget to check so thanks for the nudge.

You only listed half of Making of America. Cornell also has an MOA searchable collection that is not limited to New York. Mr. Tanner listed Internet Archive, a site that I really like.