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Genealogy Section







The Top Ten Genealogy Web Sites    

list was prepared some years back but you might find some sites here that you did not know about

The following article by Cole Goodwin is printed with the express, written permission of the author.  It is not to be reprinted or re-transmitted in any form without the express, written permission of the author.   The author may be contacted at "Cole Goodwin" <cole_goodwin@hotmail.com> The author has given his written permission for me to reproduce this guide on my website. Cole worked in Ayrshire in the early 1980s and grew to love this area, he hopes to return some day.

The Top Ten Genealogical Web Sites   (c) 1999 by R. Cole Goodwin 

If you were looking for an ancestor, on which ten Internet sites would you most likely find him or her? Which sites can help an individual, a family, or a group research family history? With over 1,500,000,000 names on over 60,000 genealogical web sites on the Internet, finding the best sites is no easy task. 

Eighteen months ago, I started evaluating over 60,000 web sites which provide information of genealogical interest in order to determine the Top Ten. Using Encyclopaedia Britannica's Alexa service, independent reviews, and personal [observations], I evaluated each site's freshness, speed, links in, links out, subjective ratings by reviewers, site size, and other criteria. I have tested my findings along the way, having found over 16,000 ancestors during the past twenty-two months, mostly with the help of the computer. Below are my top ten sites:

The list may be OLD but has stood the test of time and sites are much better now than when Cole produced it.

FamilySearch ( http://www.familysearch.org

Owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City, Utah, FamilySearch.org has a little (or more) of genealogical interest for everyone and it is growing quickly. In its third full month, it has become one of the most popular sites on the Internet. Using FamilySearch,  you can do the following:

* Search for your ancestors using the International Genealogical Index (I.G.I.) with over 360,000,000 names, at present, online; Ancestral File (A.F.) with about 36 million names in linked pedigree charts; and with hyperlinks to other genealogical web sites. Over the next month, the site will grow to 600 million online names, then to 1,000,000 by next spring; 

 * Collaborate with others who are searching for the same ancestor, surname, or place as you. At present, there are over 60,000 collaboration lists and the number is growing by over 1000 per day; 

 * Access the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, which has over two million rolls of microfilm with the names of over two     billion people. Once you have identified a microfilm which interests you, you can order it online and it will be delivered to an Latter-day Saint Family History        Center of your choosing near you; 

 * Learn from online Research Guides. For almost any place or ethnic group for which you wish to do genealogical investigation, there are online guides that will allow you to learn how to do the research you seek; 

 * Access over 60,000 genealogical web sites by categories, such as those which specialize in census, land, migration, military, royalty, surnames, and more;  

 * Preserve your family history by downloading one of the most popular genealogical software programs in the world today, Personal Ancestral File (P.A.F.) 4.0 for Windows, as well as upload your own genealogical           information to FamilySearch to be preserved and to be shared with others in Pedigree Resource files. 

 * Coming Up: Australian, British and North American Vital Records Indexes will be incorporated into FamilySearch as will the complete 1851 and 1881 British Censuses, the complete 1880 U.S. Census, the Ellis Island Index of 17,000,000 immigrants, and more source guides. Also coming up: Pedigree Resource Files, containing the online submissions of FamilySearch users (12,000,000 names already received); 

Ancestry.com (  http://www.ancestry.com  

 With over 274,000,000 U.S. names in over 1700 databases,  Ancestry.com can help you  find and put flesh onto the bones of your ancestors. It offers the following  features: 

* Census Indexes, 1790-1870, for the entire U.S., as well as the complete 1790 U.S. Census and assorted later censuses for sundry states and counties; 

* Social Security Death Index (S.S.D.I.): updated through June 1999, it is the most current index on the Internet and can help you locate the disposition of a relative or friend as well as their parentage; 

 * World Family Tree: like FamilySearch's Ancestral File, this contains millions of names linked in pedigrees; 

 * Periodical Source Index, which references over 5,000 genealogical periodicals for the past 200 years. For the most part, once you have the index entry, you can   view the articles at the Library of Congress; 

 * American Genealogical and Biographical Index (Ryder's Index): the contents of 200 volumes of genealogical references to individuals in the U.S. throughout the   seventeenth through nineteenth centuries; 

 * The Daughters of the American Revolution Lineage Books (125 Volumes) 

 * Ancestry News-Daily and weekly newsletter providing news and features of genealogical interest. Although Ancestry.com is a paid, subscription service,       major portions of its holdings are made available freely to the general public. In addition, right now they are offering a free, 14-day subscription to those who          sign-up through the following link (sponsored by ThirdAge):    


Cyndislist ( http://www.cyndislist.com

Cyndislist catalogues and indexes over 43,000 genealogy web sites [Oct 2002 now 165,000] and is in the process of adding 10,000 more. If  you are looking for genealogical web sites from

different countries to different surnames, you will find them listed and indexed here. Online since 1996, it is operated by Cyndi Howells of Puyallup, Washington. 

RootsWeb ( http://www.rootsweb.com

RootsWeb has over 150,000,000 million U.S. names online and is operated by the non-profit RootsWeb Data Cooperative of Pine Mountain Club, California and is a  project of the Rand Corporation. RootsWeb has the following helpful features: 

* Surname Resources on RootsWeb allow you to search submissions on surnames by other researchers;  

* County Resource tie you into genealogical discussion forums organized by state and by county.  

* USGENWEB ( http://www.usgenweb.com ) covers the United States by state and by county, organizing cemetery, census, obituary, historical, and biographical      resources by locality. Can be very helpful; for an excellent example of USGENWEB, go to the Bradford County, Pennsylvania web site

           ( http://www.rootsweb.com/~pabradfo/bradweb.htm );  

* Mailing Lists for over 16,000 genealogical areas are sponsored by RootsWeb.com  

* The Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, an online project to transcribe the passenger lists of all passenger ships which have entered America. Currently,       400 ships are online;  

* Social Security Death Index (SSDI), similar to Ancestry.com's database; 

    The Library of Congress ( http://lcweb.loc.gov/rr/genealogy/ )  

Through The Library of Congress' Local History and Genealogy Reading Room, you can access the holdings of the largest library in the world, which has a collection of over 250,000 local history and genealogy books available for researchers, as well as a large repository of microfilm holdings from The Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City. Through the site, you can search or browse the catalogs, access special holdings of various ethnic and historic reading rooms, and enjoy the American Memories Collection, an extensive, visual database of American History. Also available through the Library of Congress is the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collection (N.U.C.M.C.) ( http://lcweb.loc.gov/coll/nucmc/nucmc.html )   which indexes millions of unpublished documents and contains valuable genealogical information. 

GenForum ( http://genforum.genealogy.com/

The largest online area for people to share surname and local history information, with over three million messages posted. It allows researchers to collaborate   one with another in researching family and local history.

    ProFusion ( http://www.profusion.com/ )

Rather than a site for genealogical research, ProFusion is a Microsoft-sponsored meta-search engine, which can use up to nine Internet search engines (such as     AltaVista, Google, InfoSeek, etc.) simultaneously to find that ancestor, or relative of yours on that obscure web page. Unlike typical search engines which, at most,  index only 16% of the web pages on the Internet, meta-search engines such as ProFusion, Dogpile ( http://www.dogpile.com/ ), Fast Corporation's AllTheWeb       ( http://www.alltheweb.com ) and MAMMA, The Mother of  All Web Sites ( http://www.mamma.com/ ) use individual search engines to collectively scale the web. 

    The Ultimates ( http://www.theultimates.com/ )

Like ProFusion (above) rather than a single web site with genealogical information, The Ultimates is a search engine for multiple online telephone white pages and e- mail directories. It can help you find people with the same surname you are seeking. This is especially useful when you are seeking an unusual surname. 

    MyFamily.com ( http://www.MyFamily.com )

MyFamily.com is a place where you can post your family tree, family news, family photos, recipes, and chapter- by-chapter history for your family to show and to share with others. It can help a geographically dispersed family collaborate on its history. 

    The U.S. National Archives ( http://www.archives.gov/ )

Using the new U.S. National Archives and Records Administration's Archival          Information Locator, you can locate information about the microfilm, archival holdings, and digital copies available. Also useful is The National Archives Research Room ( http://www.archives.gov/genealogy/ )  

     Bonus Web Sites

In addition to the Top Ten, above, following are some excellent, specialized genealogical web sites. Please bear in mind that much of this specialized information is available through the using the Top Ten genealogical web sites above; indeed, some Top Ten sites have more specialized data than their more limited counterparts, below, but the following are always worth checking:  

        Biographies From the Arts & Entertainment Network's "Biography" series, you can search 22,000 online biographies at the following link: 

( http://www.biography.com/ )  

         Cemeteries and Graveyards  - Find A Grave 

( http://www.findagrave.com/ )

         Censuses on the Internet - Censuslinks 

( http://www.censuslinks.com/directory/ )

         Educational Resources for Online Genealogy -  PBS' Ancestors Series

           ( http://www.pbs.org/kbyu/ancestors/ )

         Ethnic Genealogy Resources  - The Balch Institute for Ethnic Studies Online

           ( http://www.libertynet.org/balch/body_index.html )

                  Family Reunions Family-Reunion.com 

( http://www.family-reunion.com )

Geography The U.S. Geological Service's Geographic Names Information Service (GNIS)

           ( http://mapping.usgs.gov/www/gnis/ )

         Heraldry  - Heraldry on the Internet

           ( http://www.digiserve.com/heraldry/index.htm )

Land Records - The Bureau of Land Management has placed all federal land patent records online, including millions of 19th Century Homestead Act records.

           ( http://www.glorecords.blm.gov/ )

                  Military Records - Military records databases at Ancestry.com


                      U.S. Army Military History Institute -


Newsletters-Online Genealogy Ancestry.com's Daily News (free sign-up from home page, with alerts to new, limited-time access to databases, tips of the day, features, and specials)

           ( http://www.ancestry.com/ )

Newspapers The United States Newspaper Program links you to hundreds of online newspapers, some of which have put back issues up to 200 years old online; excellent for births, marriages and deaths.

           ( http://www.neh.gov/html/usnp.html#NEW%20YORK )

Photographs - With over 250,000,000 prints, Corbis Corporation has the largest inventory of historic and newsworthy photographs in the world, and has put many online-for free. 

( http://www.corbis.com )

    Vital Records - Vital Records Information for the United States

           ( http://vitalrec.com/index.html )

WebCasts on Genealogy - Generations is a live, interactive television show            focusing on family history research and is broadcast over the Internet. It is sponsored by Sierra Software and carried by TalkSpot, an Internet broadcasting   company.

           ( http://www.sierra.com/sierrahome/familytree/community/webcast/ )

World and International Genealogy Resources  - WorldGenWeb

 ( http://www.worldgenweb.com

                 will take you to resources for almost any country in the world.                      

Australian Genealogy Informer


Australian Genealogy Informer (AGI) is a newsletter on what is happening across Australia in family history and genealogy. You can subscribe directly from the Web page.  AGI is sent via e-mail.  If you have an announcement relevant to AGI sent an e-mail to       john@southernx.com.au    

Heritage Quest eNews


Heritage Quest eNews is a free subscription genealogy newsletter distributed over the Internet.  The newsletter is sent via e-mail and does not contain full articles, but rather links to the Web page where you can read the full articles.  HQ eNews has a form on the home page where you can enter your e-mail address for a free subscription.  You'll find interesting and helpful articles by Bill Dollarhide, Cyndi Howells, and Donna Potter Phillips.

Generations Family Heritage Newsletter


You can receive this monthly newsletter either via e-mail or by reading it on the Web.  Although the newsletter is geared towards those people who use the Generations software, there are always a few articles of interest to everyone. To receive the newsletter via e-mail, click on the "subscribe" button on the Web page.

Ancestry Daily News


As the name indicates, this e-mail newsletter is sent daily. The newsletter lists all of Ancestry.com's databases which are free for (usually) ten days, a map of the day, as well as genealogy articles.  From Ancestry's home page, just click on the "Free Genealogy News" button.  You'll have a choice of receiving the news daily or weekly.   

Family Tree Magazine Genealogy Newsletter


Family Tree Magazine is the latest genealogy magazine, and an excellent one.  You can sign up on their home page to receive a weekly "tips and updates" newsletter. The most current issue has articles on:

Five tips for starting your family tree

Nine websites for genealogists

Free e-mail service  

Lengthy articles are not printed in full in the newsletter, but there is a link to the Web page where they are stored. You can sign up for the newsletter via a link from the home page.  

Brenda Kellow's Genealogy Columns


Although not a newsletter per se, Brenda's genealogy columns are an invaluable resource for genealogists.  This is a "must" Web site.  

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter


Going into its fifth year, Dick Eastman's newsletter is a weekly rundown of what's new in genealogy, reviews of new products, reports on genealogy conferences, and up-to-date information on just about anything going on in the genealogy world. You can subscribe at the Web page listed above.  Newsletters are sent (usually on Sundays) via e-mail.  Past issues may be read at


Treasure Maps


Treasure Maps is a free monthly newsletter sent via e-mail. Just follow the link from the Web page above.  The newsletters are designed to give hands-on help.  For example, the November issue had an interesting article called "Avoid Frustration, Pain and Misery: Top 10 Things   Every On-line Genealogy Researcher Should Know...".   

Family Tree Finders [not active at last try]


Family Tree Finders is a Monday through Friday newsletter that provides interesting and useful information for tracing your family tree. It's geared to beginners and experienced family tree trackers of any age! Written by well known genealogist, Rhonda R. McClure. Instructions on subscribing are at the bottom of the Web page.  

Missing Links [not active at last try]


Missing Links is a weekly e-mail newsletter, written by Julia Case and Myra Vanderpool Gormley, CG.  Subscribe on the Web page to receive both Missing Links and RootsWeb Review.  Currently there is a fascinating article by Myra Vanderpool Gormley on the dangers of leapfrogging research.  Articles are archived on these pages.   

Journal of Online Genealogy


This newsletter "journal", is a Web-based rather than e-mail newsletter.  Past issues are available online.   






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