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Using the Internet to trace your roots
See also: Bill Klutz' list of additional helps
and the Webmaster's comment

Links on the Internet illustrate a fundamental truth about the society we live in: here today, gone tomorrow. Many links are practically obsolete the day they are posted. That is the way life is, just when you think you have a handle on something, it vaporizes and is gone. So be forewarned, if these links are not there when you look for them, they may just be temporarily down or they may just be gone.

But an issue dedicated to genealogy would not be complete without an article on genealogy links, so even though they may not be dependable, here we go!

Rather than bombard you with the literally thousands of links available for genealogists, let us take a look at the premier ones. Learning to use these links and becoming familiar with their content will provide you with many hours of fruitful genealogy research. 

These links are sites that might be of interest not only to genealogists but also history buffs and authors. First is the link followed by the name of the site or the title? On some I have commented.

  • Cyndi's List 

  • When it comes to Genealogy, the link of links is Cyndi’s list maintained by Cyndi Howells. When last I looked, the list contained 100,980 links! Her site is very well presented and organized. This should keep us off the streets and out of trouble for a while! Cyndi’s List should be #1 in your Genealogy Book Marks section.
  • Family Search 

  • The family search site by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is a tremendous site. One aspect of this site is their collection of microfilmed records from sources such as churches and courthouses from all over the world. There are many other sources of data, which they film. Also at this site you can do a surname search thru their pedigree/family group sheet database called the “Ancestral File”. If you are thinking of a research trip to Salt Lake, visit their comprehensive and easy to use library catalogue on line before you go. Surf thru the catalogue, locate materials you wish to look at, and make notes of the call numbers.  Arriving with a list in hand of the materials you wish to see first and their call numbers can give your research a jumpstart.
  • Ellis Island 

  • Ellis Island’s newly released site of databases of immigrants, ship lists, etc. Covers the time frame of the early 1900’s. We have anticipated this site for a long time. Most of us are still looking to see what is there. Several new and exciting things are planned for this site. Check it often. As with other sites, new things are posted daily.
  • Government Land Office 

  • Government land office records at the Bureau of Land Management. I love this site! A search here might reveal an ancestor who purchased land from the federal government. If so, the case file related to the purchase could be the mother lode of information you have been looking for. Where possible, you can print out a great image of  the actual deed your ancestor received from the federal government. A fun addition to your collection. 
  • US Genweb Project 

  • This is the organizational site for the wonderful genweb project. Their goal was to encourage the very local units, counties or parishes or townships for example, to put up databases pertaining to their locale. Some of the earlier databases were cemetery surveys, marriage bonds and tax rolls. They also provide space for queries and names and addresses of local researchers. From the home page, you can navigate to almost any site in the US. A truly outstanding project housing incredible amounts if information. A must see!
  • GenForums 

  • I use the genforums almost daily. These sites are devoted to the sharing of information and the communications between researchers. There are genforums for surnames and locations such as counties and states. I look at the postings on my main lines such as Carberry, Candler and Hudnall on a regular basis. Some people who post there regularly are friends and some are relatives. I have learned much and been fortunate to participate in wonderful conversations about the beginnings of our families that still continue to this day. On the Oregon state genforum I met a lady who sent me a newspaper clipping of the marriage of my great Aunt. The clipping was incredible and was a breakthrough in my brick wall surrounding the Grover family. Thanks so much Mija H. 

Do remember that the Internet provides us with clues and tools to facilitate our true research of original documents on site. And remember — always verify information with original or primary sources. 

Additional Genealogy Helps

The Internet can also be of help as you gather information. Try the "News Group" area to post a request and interact with others who are seeking information. Also, visit some of the popular web sites that offer free information and searches, like:

  • Ancestry 
    Probably the #1 source for family history online. Over 600 million names available for search. Includes: Census Indexes, Marriage Records and American Genealogical Biographical Index.
  • Family History 
    Family history message boards, surnames, commentaries, and more.
  • Family Finder  
    The family finder searches the Internet everyday, looking for ancestors across a wide variety of data (including some sites listed here). Also find introductions, tips, links and other things about genealogy.
  • Genialogy Gateway  
    Name and family search, plus more.
  • Library of Congress  
    The Library of Congress has one of the world’s premier collections of US and International genealogical and local historical publications. The library’s collection of genealogical materials began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s library.
  • My Trees 
    My-Trees online allows input of genealogy research into the web site without the use of genealogy software; online Library of 100 million plus names consisting of Ancestral Archive Index and Pedigree Display, the Social Security Death Index, the 1871 Cornwall Census, marriage, birth, death, and shipping records from various states and countries. Ancestral Archive also links to millions of other names on other web sites, becoming the world's first and only genealogy search engine for the Internet.
  • RootsWeb  
    The oldest and probably the largest genealogy community of information. Searches, utilities, and information.
  • National Archive  
    National archives and records genealogy area.
  • GEDCOM (GEnealogical Data COMmunications) Format Utilities
    You will probably encounter data in this format at sometime during your search for information. Some sites which offer utilities that may be helpful when using this format are:
Special Interest Group
Also, don't forget about the Genealogy Special Interest Group. It is for the beginner ? no experience necessary and no prerequisites ? ("hardcore" are encouraged) and focuses primarily on Internet genealogy and related information. The SIG leaders, and others interested in family information can probably help you or give some pointers/answers to most questions on areas of interest to you.
Webmaster's Comment

My own research has taken me into the Oval Office as well as the Throne Rooms of Europe. If you find yourself connected to any US President or to European Nobility, an excellent reference can be found at Hull University

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