Providing education and resources for those researching African-American roots, this site hosts regular opportunities for users to communicate with one another. Start with the Beginner’s Guide under the Records tab, then search marriage, death, surname and slave data databases under the same tab. If you have questions or want to take your learning to the next level, browse the various topics under the Forums tab.
This isn’t the place to start tracing your family tree; rather it’s a tool you’ll find yourself consulting once you’ve begun. Many genealogical records are created by counties. But most county boundaries have changed over time. So you’ll want to make sure you know what county your ancestors lived in at a particular time period when looking for records about them.
Now available for at home use until June 30, 2020! The most popular genealogy website in the U.S. is packed with everything you need to start your family history: how-tos, historical records, online tree-building with built-in collaboration tools and DNA tests that link you genetically with others. Some of these resources are available for free and some require purchase. Click here for a How-To Guide!
Search an enormous GPS-tagged database of tombstone images. You also can upload tombstone photos you’ve snapped with a free iPhone/Android camera app. Users can add personal history information to individual photos and link them to other tombstone images. This is a fantastic tool to use on the virtual highway and fun to use when you’re on the “real” road, snapping pictures of tombstones in your family cemetery.
This is the Library of Congress’ portal to historical newspapers, both online and offline. You’ll find over 11 million pages of digitized, searchable newspaper pages from across the country, mostly for 1836-1922, but now some reaching before and past that timeframe. Chronicling America also hosts a master index of all known newspapers published in the United States, sortable by time and place. The index entries link to library holdings of each newspaper. To learn more about using the site, including what’s on it and what’s not, click on the Help section.
For more than 20 years, Cyndi Howells has compiled (and kept current!) a master “table of contents” of all genealogy-related websites. The U.S. alone has more than 165,000 links! Start with the Beginner’s category, then browse over 180 cross-referenced categories such as places, record types, ethnic and religious groups and various technologies. Cyndi works hard to keep the list current, adding on average 1500 links each month and correcting or deleting nearly 1000.
This is in the online portal to the world’s largest genealogical library—and arguably the world’s most comprehensive free genealogy website. Newbies should head straight to the FamilySearch wiki and enter “beginner” in the search box, then click on the Family History for Beginners article that comes up.
Our own website offers abundant beginner help. Under the Get Started tab, find frequently asked questions, free forms and cheat sheets, a genealogy glossary, and tips on two popular beginner subjects: researching your surname and conducting oral history interviews. Our online archive of how-to articles is keyword-searchable and packed with content from past issues of the magazine and web-only extras. See the Tool Kit for a few suggested beginner articles; some are free and some require a Plus subscription to our site. Or dive into intense learning at our sister site, Family Tree University; click on Fundamentals of Genealogy Research Collection for courses especially for beginners.
Dig up ancestral burial information from millions of tombstone images here. Search by an individual or cemetery name. Users are encouraged to upload tombstone photos and submit biographical information for memorial pages. The image submission tool has improved recently; it now allows you to upload multiple photos, edit them, transcribe headstone text and attach new images to existing memorials. You can also create virtual cemeteries to connect loved ones buried in different places.
CFind many records generated when our ancestors bought land from the federal goverment, especially in the Midwest and West. Access images of more than 5 million land title records dating back to 1820. Click on the Reference Center for more information about public land sales, patents, and survey plats. No state land sales are located here.
Make this your first stop for tracing Jewish roots. Under the Get Started tab, choose First Timer for an intro to Jewish research and the site. Read the free tutorials, watch the 5-minute instructional videos and browse the online class offerings (some are free with a site membership and others are fee-based). From the home page, search databases of Jewish surnames, family trees, towns, Holocaust victims and burials. Contribute your data to the centralized “family tree of the Jewish people.”
Discover several innovative features tech-savvy genealogists like, and many are free. Click on Genealogy for an overview of those features: build a family tree, run simultaneous searches across major genealogy databases, create a family website, find help on message boards and more. MyHeritage charges for some search results and once your family tree reaches a certain size.
If you know whose military or naturalization records you want to order, head to this genealogy portal for The National Archives. Start by watching a PowerPoint tutorial on this page. Read descriptions of census, military, immigration, naturalization and land records housed at the National Archives. Before shelling out money to order copies, learn what records are already available online elsewhere. Censuses are at all major genealogy websites; many federal land records are at the General Land Office site, described above. Click Access to Archival Databases to search National Archives databases or click Online Research Tools > Records Digitized by Partners for collections now on Ancestry.com, FamilySearch and Fold3.
This volunteer-led network of websites contain free genealogical resources for every US state and most counties. Quality, content and design varies from site to site. You’ll commonly find what local resources exist and how to access them, along with indexes to cemetery, marriage and other local records. Share your own records on these sites, too.
Don't let the complicated appearance fool you: Beginners looking for passenger and immigration information won't want to pass up this site. Morse has created better search tools for data found on other websites. Click on About This Website and How to Use It for a prime, or just scroll down to the various search forms and the accompanying explanations. Where search results lead to paid subscription sites (including Ancestry.com), that site will charge you.