This is the site established by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. It is free, and a very useful starting-point. It takes a little practice to navigate around, and you need to be cautious about some of the genealogical “findings” of individuals, but it can provide you with a great deal of information.
With over 2 billion genealogy records found in 320 years of newspapers from across the U.S., GenealogyBank is the largest and fastest-growing newspaper archive for family history research available online.
You can do some searching for free on this site before you need to pay. The newspaper resources are especially helpful. There is some overlap with Ancestry.com, so if you are considering getting a subscription to genealogybank make sure that the items you are interested in are not on Ancestry.com. There’s no point paying twice for the same thing. That said, there is a lot of great material on this site.
Over 6,690 transcriptions -- including Masonic lodge rosters, funeral notices, school catalogues, telephone directories, insurance claims, directories, church member lists, prison records, etc. -- from original documents.
This is the website of the National Archives. There are no on-line databases. (You will need to use the for-pay site, Footnote, if you want to download images.) However, NARA does offer a lot of very useful “how to” information.
This is worth looking at if you are interested in California. Just search on Vitalsearch and then follow directions. This is a “for pay” site. “Premium” users get to access a lot of the databases. However, you can register for free as a “Guest” and get limited (but still useful) access. You will get as your username vitalguest and as your password enjoy
Chicago’s famed Newberry Library has an excellent Genealogy page which will link you to all sorts of sources. Obviously the majority of the links relate to Illinois, but there are others for Missouri, Texas, Michigan, and even Massachusetts.
This is essential for anyone looking for folks who lived in Massachusetts before 1850. Thanks to the people who put this site together, the “tan books” are now searchable on-line. What are the “tan books”? They are the birth/baptism, marriage and burial records for all the Massachusetts towns from the time of the first English settlements until 1850.
If you are looking for anyone from Missouri you should look at the website the Missouri State Archives has set up. The staff has been busily digitizing a wide array of materials, including death records for the entire state (up to 1959) and probate records from St. Louis. Just search on Missouri State Archives. We will be using material from this site later in the semester.
The South Carolina State Archives has put a lot of its indexes on-line. You can search to be sure that there are records available before you actually send for (and pay for) a copy of the document you want.
Your immigrant ancestors could well have come to the U.S. via Canada. Check out this website if you think that’s a possibility. Unfortunately, relatively few of the records are searchable via name of immigrant. You have to have a rough idea of the year and/or name of vessel. One exception is the LI-RA-MA collection, which contains records of Jews, Ukrainians and Finns who sought help from the offices of the Tsarist Russian Empire in Canada.
You can do some basic searching for free, and then you will need to purchase “credits.” There is a lot on this site, though, and you can return without charge to anything you have searched and downloaded.
A for-pay site, but the cost is reasonable (about $20 for a year’s subscription), and certainly worthwhile if you are looking for anyone from England, Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand…in fact, anywhere with strong British ties. You are almost guaranteed to find a cousin or two.
This is another of those sites that will allow you to do some basic searching for free before requiring you to purchase credits. It contains departure records from British ports to ports all over the world from 1890 to 1960. Remember that your ancestor might not have been British, but he or she might have visited Britain or come from somewhere else in Europe and shipped out to the U.S. via a British port.
As you know, not many of the records of the Massachusetts State Archives are searchable on-line. One that is – although admittedly it is a “work in progress – is the Passenger Manifest Index for the port of Boston from 1848 to 1891.
This site will not allow you to search names, but it will give you a sense of how many ports of entry there were in the 19th and early 20th centuries and which ones have records available. It will explain how to access those records, which ones are free, and which ones require payment.
Don’t use this site if you are prone to hypochondria. It is a guide to archaic medical terms you might well come across on death certificates or in family histories. Bear in mind that folk names or commonly used terms from the 18th and 19th centuries are not so common today. What was “mania in potu” for example? Useful for English and Latin terms.
If you are trying to figure out what your ancestor’s name actually translated to, this is the site to consult. It looks a little off-putting, but spend a minute or two figuring it out and the effort will be worth it. Try looking, for instance, at Jiri. Your great-great-grandfather from Bohemia would have been George in the U.S.
This is a site you need to play with. It was put together by the Economic History Association, and it will help you figure out what something was worth in U.S. dollars and British pounds over the centuries.
A free site, and one that can guide you to a lot of social history (esp. 18th century). The Old Bailey is Britain’s central criminal court. You can find out if someone you are looking for was charged with a crime, was a crime victim, a witness, or a juror.