If you have a recommended addition, please contact me. – Greg
Some Free Research Services
Owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS), this free resource is one of my favorite online haunts. Exceptionally well organized with standardized documentation and tight integration with major desktop software, FamilySearch has the largest collection of free family history, family tree and genealogy records in the world. And you don’t have to be LDS or sign up for an account to search and benefit from this amazing resource.
RootsWeb.com is a free Internet service owned and operated by Ancestry.com. It contains millions of records and access to thousands of family trees including mine. It also has a very useful gedcom download feature that could save you time and effort – not to mention transcription typos. Note – family trees often include erroneous data – look for trees with lots of documentation.
Excellent resource for locating grave markers, for sharing data, and for contacting someone who may have actually viewed a grave marker you’re interested in. You’ll also find a wealth of photos of markers – submitted by those who took the photos and can vouch for their accuracy. By joining FindaGrave.com, you can also participate yourself – submitting information and correcting those you find in error (it’s rare, but it happens). This is one of my favorite “hangouts”. Keep in mind – this is a user-contribution web site, so errors are part of the deal. Look for headstone photos that include relevant data (like birth and death dates).
Family Trees on Ancestry.com
Start your family tree for free. Connect with your family story and discover the what, where, and who of how it all leads to you. This is where I got started years ago. Great resource for discovery and documentation. Limited to a few generations before you must pay for this resource. Note – family trees often include erroneous data – look for trees with lots of documentation.
Over the past eight years, Census Online has grown from 25 links to nearly 40,000 and serves as the internet’s primary starting point for locating online census transcriptions.
Some Fee-based Research Services
Billions of names and thousands of searchable databases, including the web’s largest collection of historical records, make Ancestry.com my #1 online source for family history information. They also offer a free trial period so you can check to see if it suits your needs. I especially appreciate their DNA section.
- Start your family tree for free – connect with your family story and discover the what, where, and who of how it all leads to you. This is where I started years ago. Trees.Ancestry.com
Few other family history sites are as trusted or as visited as Genealogy.com, which offers a wide range of family and local histories, vital records, military records and much more.
Huge international records database, email alerts with Smart Matches and Record Matches, family tree connections, records and newspaper articles. Collaborate with members and join the thousands who reunite with long-lost relatives. Tight integration with RootsMagic software.
Some Free Specific Resources I’ve Used
Greg Bennette’s Ancestry on Rootsweb
I do my best to keep this database up to date.
Dearnley / Dearnaley plus
“…an attempt at listing all the known Dearnley+ family lines & ‘currently orphaned’ individuals.” Includes surname and places indexes, family trees, maps, pics, and much more. If you are or have Dearnaleys (and derivative spelling surnames) in your ancestry, this site is well worth your time investigating.
Helm Family Research
Search for the Parents of the North Carolina Helms Brothers (1690-1750) by Ira L. Helms, Jr.
Illinois State Archives
A searchable repository of all vital records from 1763 to the present.
North West Derbyshire Sources
Marjorie Ward’s extensive database of vital statistics, census records, and much more concerning the Glossop, Derbyshire, England area. Included are rare digital archives of parish registers, wills, and so much more. Searchable and indexed.
Oregon Historical Records Index
A searchable and growing database compiled by examining actual records held by the Oregon State Archives. Although I’m grateful for the work they’ve done, I’ve found many errors in the data, some of which seems to be derived from other (out of State) sources.
Stephenie Flora’s excellent collection of names, dates, and much more pertaining to the early days of Oregon and the Oregon Territory. Extensive.
Tennessee Genealogy and History
Part of the USGENWEB project. Great resource if your family lines go through Tennessee as mine do.
Washington State Digital Archives
Over 50 million records in a free growing searchable database. A great resource for finding records in Washington State.
Software I’ve Used
Note: I’ve used MANY different software solutions over the years. I started with PAF. Soon, though, other more robust software was developed and I moved on to them. Currently, PC-based software is giving way to online solutions like Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, Genealogy.com, and others that are “platform agnostic” meaning you can use them on whatever device you wish. Their solid integration with their databases – including search, suggestions, and built-in sharing – make them a compelling choice over desktop software. My current desktop PC software of choice is:
What I like: The user interface (UI), responsive tech support and useful forums, ease of use, user scripting, access to online databases and research providers like Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com, and FamilySearch from within the program, extensive features set, free and mobile versions available, inexpensive.
What I don’t like: Does not integrate hints from some major online databases (Ancestry.com notably). Records documentation requires lots of copy/paste or outright typing operations – no automatic data transfer with any online repository. Reports not specifically offered by RootsMagic can be tedious (at best) to build.
I’ve used RootsMagic for many years and am used to and like the interface and features. I find it easy to do just about anything I want to do – and the free forums are responsive and tutorials useful. However, I’m not everyone – as they say, “…your mileage may vary!”
Click here to learn more.
If you are JUST beginning your genealogical research journey, you may find RootsMagic a bit overwhelming – so, I recommend beginners use one of the better online services (see fee-based services above) to quickly build a family tree. Once you’ve traced back a few generations and exhausted that online resource, you may wish to transfer your tree into RootsMagic where you can better organize your data and more easily incorporate data from other resources (and maybe better stay within a tighter budget).
Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet
Comprehensive links to EVERYWHERE genealogical on the internet. You could spend weeks on this site alone. Great resource.
Tips – My list of favorite tips for beginning researchers. This list will grow over time as I add more resources.