This week’s Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver is a follow up to last week’s challenge to share our top 5 or 10 fee-based genealogy websites.
Here is the new challenge:
1) Last week we defined our top 5 or 10 fee-based genealogy websites. This week, let’s define our Top 10 Free Genealogy Websites!
2) List your Top 10 (or 20 if you want!) FREE based genealogy sites, and a short reason for listing them.
1. FamilySearch – I don’t know how this couldn’t be everyone’s favorite free website, given the massive record collections they have. I use FamilySearch all the time!
2. Danish National Archives – All the censuses and church records available on other paid sites can be freely accessed through the Danish National Archives. I have filled in a ton of people, places, events and dates, thanks to the archived.
3. Provincial Archives of New Brunswick – I have a half dozen Loyalists plus several pre-Loyalists who settled there. PANB offers free access to military records, vital records and newspaper abstracts and their collections are constantly growing. I particularly love Daniel Johnson’s abstractions of news articles, but I access multiple databases on this site.
4. Missouri Digital Heritage – My husband has lots of family and extended collateral lines who lived or passed through Missouri. Their vital record collection is not only free to access, but digital images of the records can be downloaded and saved. I have documented many deaths and even broken through a few brick walls for people who disappeared from the censuses.
5. USGenWeb – This is an oldie but goodie website, as it was one of the first genealogy sites online – founded 24 years ago! Information is set up on the county level. The quality varies because (1) it is hosted by volunteers and (2) if it’s a burned county and not much is available, it’s difficult to share much! However, I still find nuggets now and then – death indexes transcribed, newspaper article transcribed, family Bible records and even old photos of small towns where ancestors lived.
6. Library and Archives Canada – Because some of my Loyalist lines had ties to both Nova Scotia and Ontario, LAC is another favorite site. PANB still outshines them by a mile, but more is always being added to the digital collections.
7. FamilySearch Research Wiki – The wiki is an entirely different animal than the FamilySearch regular collections. Whenever I need a quick overview of the types of records available somewhere, I check the wiki because it has links not only to FS collections, but to outside collections, too. It includes worldwide resources.
8. GoogleEarth – I actually use this fairly often to look at streets or actual homes where family members once lived or just to take a virtual stroll through town.
9. Google Books/WorldCat/HathiTrust/Internet Archive– I am always looking for digitized books online and I search all of these, in addition to FamilySearch books.
10. Find-a-Grave – I have to be careful with this website, as it has evolved into something like online family trees and accuracy can be questionable. I often find two or more people conflated into one person and no photo of the gravestone is a big red flag. In spite of those cautions, I find tons of accurate clues about ancestral lines.
11. Legacy Family Tree Webinars – Yes, this is a subscription site and the membership gives access to all the handouts and some members-only content. However, I usually listen to webinars when they are live and that access is free. I’ve learned so much about so many varied topics related to genealogy.
12. Chronicling America – It doesn’t have newspapers from my top 2 “wanted” places – Passaic, NJ and Calais, ME, but it does have robust collections from many places. I often use it to hunt for my husband’s family lines.
13. NARA Record Group Explorer – When looking for Revolutionary or Civil War military records, this is my first stop. These are the exact same images on the paid sites with military records. I think part of the contract with NARA requires the paid site to allow NARA to post the images, too. I think most of the Revolutionary war records are finished. Civil War records are still a work in progress. Other records are online, too, but my main use is for records pertaining to those two wars. RG 15 Department of Veterans Affairs in the second row of the record groups is the one I access and search.
14. Facebook Genealogy Groups – I have participated in quite a few FB genealogy groups. Katherine Willson’s humungous list of genealogy-related groups on Facebook is a must-read when looking for help or information. She updates it several times per year and it is currently a 428-page downloadable PDF. There is a table of contents, so you don’t have to read 428 pages looking for one group!
There are a number of other websites I visit now and then, depending on what I am looking for. However, the ones I’ve listed are my most used favorites.
Thanks, Randy, for another fun challenge. 🙂