Ultimate Guide to Genealogy Websites for Beginners

In the existing plethora of genealogy research websites, it may be hard for a researcher, especially a newbie, to pick several for their search. We’ve compiled a list of the largest databases to help you track your ancestors and lost relatives from around the world.

Genealogy Archives and Databases

U.S. National Archives

Without doubt, the U.S. National Archives is the most credible source for documents and records, yet many people forget about it. This is truly one of the largest databases and many family genealogy websites link to it for information.

There you can find old military and census records, bankruptcy reports, and a lot more. The only downside is that there might be a restriction on access to certain records because of the law. So you may need to augment your family history search with other sources.

Access Genealogy

Access Genealogy provides cemetery records, native American historical records, old letters, and military documents. There you can search for dates of birth and death, and other pertinent information.

RootsWeb

RootsWeb is a huge community-created database of US genealogy that was created by genealogists. There you can not only find historical records but also learn more about genealogy, improve your searching skills, and question genealogy experts.

US GenWeb Project

US GenWeb Project was developed by genealogy and history enthusiasts to share records and educate people about genealogy research. The website provides free links to each state, there you will find information about its history and residents. If you’re looking for states other than the U.S. check WorldGenWeb Project.

FamilySearch

FamilySearch contains more than 2,000 birth, deaths, marriage and residency records, and collections. The only drawback is that the website lacks specialized features for ethnic minorities.

genealogy research websites

AfriGeneas

Besides genealogy records, this website provides educational resources for people who are searching for their African-American roots. In addition to that, you can communicate with other researchers on the forum and share material related to African-American history.

Archives.com

This website provides access to censuses, records and newspapers mainly in the United States. Besides, there you can find how-to articles and video tutorials. The website will be of much help to researchers who are at the beginning of the journey.

Atlas of Historical County Boundaries

This website has documented boundary changes in all 50 states. You can view an interactive map and see which country that town was part of for the chosen period of time. The platform allows adding layers to see where the town is today.

FamilyTreeMagazine

This website will be useful for beginners. It provides free forms and cheat sheets along with how-tos and tutorials. If you want to involve your child in research, you will be provided with a section special for kids.

Findmypast

This website provides easy search by categories, such as birth, marriage & death or military service & conflict. The user-friendly guide and many how-to articles will educate users on how to conduct successful family history research.

Fold3

The platform provides digitized US military records as well as basic tips and strategies on searching and organizing search results. Plus, the website offers users to combine records provided by Fold3 with their own materials to create an online memorial for those who served.

GenealogyBank

GenealogyBank provides numerous newspapers and obituaries archives, federal censuses, governmental publications and historical books. Besides that, users are offered some tutorials on how to search the site through the Learning Center section.

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General Land Office Records

There you can find land conveyance records, including access to more than 5 million land title documents issued between 1788 and the present. You may use the Reference Center section to access more information about public land sales, patents, and other documents.

HeritageQuestOnline

This database can be accessed only if your local library has an admission. The platform provides access to US censuses, Freedman’s Bank records, the American Revolutionary WarWar materials as well as local history books, articles and other materials.

Mocavo

This is a search engine created specifically for family history search. It’s like Google but for ancestry researchers. It lets you search for records on the internet and upload your own documents.

One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse

The platform may look a bit complicated in the beginning however you will find useful passenger and immigration information. The website states that it offers alternative ways of accessing some of the best genealogy websites and has even developed its own databases to facilitate searching.

World Vital Records

This is a good option for beginners since it provides digitized data, including censuses, military records, newspapers, yearbooks, and more from all over the world – there is an interactive map on the homepage for your convenience. Besides that, there you can find user-contributed materials from other resources.

Allen County Public Library

Though it is located in Indiana, Allen County Public Library is considered to be the second richest genealogy library in the US. There you can find a wide variety of records, including African American, Native American, Bible and family records and more.

Library of Congress

Even though this library is not focused on genealogy in particular, you can still find many useful documents there, including the American Memory collection, the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, and its own comprehensive catalog.

Arizona Genealogy Birth and Death Certificates

The website provides online birth and death records spanning 1855 to 1941 and from 1870 to 1966 respectively. All records can be downloaded or printed as PDFs.

Bremen Passenger Lists

This is a project created by the Bremen Chamber of Commerce and the Bremen Staatsarchiv. The website provides over 700 000 German passenger records mostly from 1920 to 1939.

free genealogy websites

Castle Garden

The database was founded by The Battery Conservancy. It contains 11 million New York immigrant records from 1820 to 1892.

Immigration to the United States, 1789-1930

The Harvard library provides around 400,000 pages from more than 2,200 printed sources and over 7,800 historic photographs. The search is not that easy yet worth that.

Statue of Liberty & Ellis Island

If you’re looking for passenger records, chances are you will find useful data there since the website contains around 51 million passenger records covering through 1957.

ArchiveGrid

The website provides over 4 million detailed archival records from thousands of museums, libraries, preservation societies, and archives. There you will find personal papers, family histories, and other materials related to genealogy.

Digital Library on American Slavery

The database comprises various independent online slavery-related collections of the United States and includes extracts from legislative petitions, insurance registries, slave deeds and ads for escaped slaves and other records about slaves, slaveholders, and free people of color.

Digital Public Library of America

In just one click you get access to over 16 million digitized images, texts, sound and video materials from across the United States archives and libraries. Due to a new agreement with FamilySearch, you can now get access to its digital book collection.

Genealogy Gophers

You won’t find any genealogy records there however don’t be so quick to move on to another title – Genealogy Gopher provides access to around 80,000 digitized genealogy books that may be of much help with your research.

Harvard Open Collections Program

There you will find over 2.3 million digitized materials not available elsewhere. These include manuscripts, US immigration and disease records as well as the history of working women.

genealogy websites

HathiTrust

The library contains over 14 million total volumes and 5 billion pages however you will need credentials from one of the participating institutions to get access to the collection. Nevertheless, some materials are accessible to the public.

Mid-Continent Public Library

This library is a part of Midwest Genealogy Center and is considered to have one of the largest genealogy collections. For example, you can find there an index to 1.5 million US Railroad Retirement Board pension records.

New York Public Library Digital Collections

The library is home to more than 700,000 digitized photographs, manuscripts, prints, maps, videos and other items. In total there are almost 850,000 digitized items available.

JewishGen

JewishGen will be of much help for researchers seeking to discover about Jewish history. It provides a vast Holocaust database with over 2.75 million names along with book and manuscript catalogs. The database covers other countries than the U.S., such as

  • Austria;
  • Belarus;
  • Germany;
  • Hungary;
  • Israel;
  • Latvia;
  • Lithuania;
  • Poland;
  • the UK.

Besides that, the website offers various guides and discussion groups to help beginners piece together their family history.

Records of the Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society

The American Jewish Historical Society and the Center for Jewish History created a database of documents, photographs, and visual materials. However, because of the database’s big size, the records are stored off-site, so you will have to contact the Center for Jewish History for research materials from the collection.

best genealogy websites 2019

Olive Tree Genealogy

Olive Tree Genealogy will be helpful for researchers who want to trace their heritage all the way back to their ancestors’ arrival in America. The database provides a vast variety of documents: from immigrant and voter registration records to naturalization records. Besides that, there you can find more general records like military databases, asylum registers, and orphan lists. It does have a guide section so that newbie researchers could learn how to find their feet.

American Ancestors

American Ancestors was founded by New England Historic Genealogical Society. The website gives access to more over 1.4 billion genealogy records covering 22 states. Besides that, there you can find specialized journals and magazines.

Gravestone Records

BillionGraves

At this website, you can find a huge database of tombstone photos and, moreover, upload your own pictures. You can add personal information to your photos and link them to other images.

Find A Grave

Find A Grave provides one of the world’s largest gravestone collections. At first glance, such an idea might sound a bit morbid however just imagine that you don’t have to waste time traveling just to check information. The database provides over 100 million graves in half a million cemeteries.

Arkansas Gravestones

This archive has more than 1.1 million gravestone photographic records from across Arkansas. You can search either by name or by cemetery.

Western States Marriage Index

Though it got a new website address and a new look, Western State Marriage Index offers over 912 thousands of records from the United States. There you will also find Idaho death records and other resources.

Canadian Headstones

The platform contains around 1.7 million tombstone transcriptions with photos so you don’t have to visit a cemetery in person.

Newspaper Archives

California Digital Newspaper Collection

The project was founded by the Center for Bibliographical Studies and Research at the University of California. The collection contains over 2.1 million pages and 17.5 million articles. The website is pretty easy to use as you can search by categories like by tag, county, date or title.

NewspaperArchive

This is an online newspaper archive that contains over 12 000 titles from every the USA and 28 other countries around the world. You can browse by state or city or enter keywords like names or locations. The platform provides tutorials for those who find it hard to navigate.

family tree website

Chronicling America

Chronicling America is a large database of US newspapers published between 1690-present. It now includes almost 12 million pages from 1789 to 1924 and provides a directory to help you find newspapers in libraries.

Elephind

The database comprises over 3,700 newspaper titles and provides both large collections and small archives. Also, you can find many Australian newspapers there. You can search across many newspaper sites simultaneously and you’ll be directed to the website which hosts that newspaper.

GenDisasters

This specialized website provides newspaper articles about fires, floods, train wrecks, shipwrecks, plane crashes and other disasters and accidents. You can search for your ancestors by keywords or browse the articles by type of disaster, state or year.

Online Historical Newspapers

Though the website is on the stage of development, it provides links to newspaper directories from several countries, including Canada, Ireland, Thailand, the United Kingdom and the United States. Besides that, there are you can find lists of resources, articles, and ideas of where to find offline historical directories.

Genealogy research is a never-ending journey with no borders. Every single day new databases are appearing, providing you with more opportunities to get in touch with your past. Stay curious and never give up!

Remember that a family tree is a great way to keep your data organized. Make use of our family tree builder and rest assured all important information is at a safe place. Plus there’s no better way to share your family history with your loved ones than a family tree. You can not only visualize your family heritage but also involve family members in the creation, making the process even more exciting.