Originally published on genealogyatheart.blogspot.com on 16 Dec 2015.
I’ve been asked lately by colleagues and students what are some of my favorite genealogy sites so in keeping with the holidays (and having the 12 Days of Christmas stuck in my head!) here are my favorite free go to sites for quick genealogy answers. They are listed in alphabetical order because they are all valuable in their own way. I’ve also included the sites’ own description, when available:
- AncestorCloud – “is a community that connects family researchers with willing helpers and professional genealogists. Connect with helpers to pick up records, take local photographs, translate documents, help with research questions or conduct custom research. It’s free to join and post a request. Connect with researchers in over 52 countries”. I have never been contacted to provide research assistance so I can’t vouch for how that works but I did post a request for help that was picked up by a genealogist in Croatia. AncestorCloud acts as an intermediary so I never communicated directly with the researcher. She did provide valuable assistance in how to locate my maternal great grandmother’s gravesite, The process isn’t anywhere online so the information was extremely valuable to me. I had tried Find-A-Grave and Billion Graves but no one ever responded. I volunteered to pay the researcher $25.00 US dollars for her help – that was my choice. If you are going to hire someone the price is negotiated before hand. Additionally, AncestorCloud emails helpful genealogical articles.
- Crestleaf – “is for people who want to preserve their family’s legacy in a chronological timeline and digital archive for both current and future generations to enjoy.” I don’t use Crestleaf as an archive. Instead, I scroll to the bottom of the page and check the All Surname search. You can also browse by state or decade. The absolute best part of Crestleaf, though, is the weekly emailed Genealogy Tips and News. One of my favorite reads!
- Cyndi’s List -“A comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online.” Cyndi has been a wonderful resource for me for a long time! Amazing that her links always work and are current.
- Family Search – “Search for a deceased ancestor in historical records to uncover vital information from their life.” Besides searching records, check out the genealogies (that may be inaccurate so look for citations), catalog, books and the wiki. I love the wiki and find it’s extremely useful if I need information about a region that I’m don’t typically research. The only cost is if you want to view microfilm that hasn’t been placed online. You can order and have it sent to a local Family History Center to view.
- Find-A-Grave – “Find the graves of ancestors, create virtual memorials, add ‘virtual flowers’ and a note to a loved one’s grave” It’s owned by Ancestry.com but remains free.
- Billion Graves – “Collect photos of the headstones in your local cemetery with our iPhone/Android camera app. Then upload the mapped-out photos here. Transcribe information from uploaded headstone photos – then descendants everywhere can easily search for their ancestors. Search for your ancestors’ graves using our easy search. You can access their headstone records, photos of headstones, and accurate locations of all the graves.” (Both Find-a-Grave and Billion Graves have helped me find children that may have been born and died in between census years)
- Geneabloggers – “The ultimate site for your genealogy blog – an online community created by Thomas MacEntee”. There’s alot of blogs here but the features I like the most are Tom’s genealogy special offers and his webinars (which have a nominal charge). Subscribe for free to Geneabloggers and you’ll receive emails with give aways (such as genealogy e-books), discounts and helpful hints.
- Genealogy in Time (online) Magazine -“We have the tools and resources to help you discover your ancestors for free. Let us help you find your story”. There’s also a search engine, rare book search and the magazine includes new records placed online each week.
- Geneanet News – “More than 1.5 billion indexed individuals The Genealogy Library gives access to hundreds of thousands documents indexed for genealogy research.” They will email you periodically any surname updates you’ve identified to follow.
- Genealogy News – Every Sunday, I receive this awesome newsletter filled with links of recent genealogy news from Genealogy Today LLC. Love to read it with my morning coffee as it often gives me ideas that I use to plan my research for the upcoming week.
- Legacy Family Tree – “Genealogy News, Legacy tricks and technology tips”. Some webinars are not free but many are. The Standard Edition of Legacy is free to download if you want to save your tree to your hard drive, desktop or cloud. If you do use their tree, you can also subscribe free to their techie list and you’ll get emails with updates and hints. They’re also on Facebook.
- Rootsweb – A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away… no, not Star Wars, I’m referring to circa 2000 before Ancestry.com owned everything – Rootsweb was the most awesome site in the genealogy universe. I still use it although it’s not current and it’s now owned by Ancestry. It remains free, however, and if I’m stuck I use the site to see if someone has created a tree in the past that may be helpful.
Next time I’ll write about my favorite NON FREE sites. Happy Hunting!