Trace Your Family Tree Online

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Why would anyone want to search for facts about long dead ancestors?
Well... this writer has had hobbies and/or areas of interest over the years ranging from Amateur Radio to Zulu Dancing. Genealogy just has to be the most interesting hobby of all.
It's almost a sure thing that if you search long and hard enough, you're going to discover you are related to some very famous people... and a scoundrel or two who really make things interesting.
My mother has always accused me of being an argumentative soul. In searching my family history, I found out a possibility of why. There are several nationally prominent attorneys and jurists on not one, but both sides of my family tree.
After more years of interest in genealogy then I'll admit, a recent discovery was one of the most interesting. The discovery was that I'm related to Sam Houston of Tennessee and Texas fame! Always wondered what my trouble was... now I know. :-)
Tracing your family tree is somewhat like putting together a jig saw puzzle. One big difference however, is that you are never going to get all the pieces of your family tree fitted into your big picture.
It sure is fun to search for those elusive pieces, though!
In years gone by, searching one's family tree usually involved traveling great distances to dig into musty records of far away libraries and court houses.
No more! Now, thanks to this wondrous internet, finding the facts of your family history can be as close as the next mouse click away!
Below are links to the best sites we've found on the Web for tracing your family tree and learning about your family history. The USGenWeb Project is listed first for a reason. It is tops of all the sites out there. Best of all... it's all absolutely free! They never (as far as I know) try to sell you anything.
Go to USGenWeb, scroll down to the U.S. map and click on the state where your earliest known ancestors lived. You will see that each of the 50 states are represented by knowledgeable and hard working volunteers.
In most of those 50 states, you'll find even harder working souls volunteering their time and effort as "County Coordinators." They're quickly building the databases and help you need to learn about your ancestors in each individual county of the states.
The USGenWeb Project

The next five links are to commercial sites. These five are the ones we consider tops in the USA... in terms of being useful. And, like most commercial sites on the Web, including our own, they give away some super useful goodies in hopes you'll also purchase some of their wares while you're visiting.
Ancestry, Inc. has been around awhile as a company who will search your family tree for a price. About five years ago, they completed a research project for me which provided the break I needed to make several giant leaps on my own in discovering my ancestry. I personally recommend them highly.
Now, Ancestry is on the Web with (and this is a personal opinion) the most useful site available. They have scads of freebie databases you can search... and for a very small price... dozens more useful research tools.
Ancestry HomeTown

Family Tree Maker is the publisher of one of the best selling genealogical software programs available... appropriately named, "Family Tree Maker."
We use it. It's a good program. Their online database which you can search free changes so quickly... we can't keep up with its size. At last look, however, it was considerably over 100 million searchable individuals.
Family Tree Maker Online

Everton Genealogy is probably the oldest commercial company of its type. It has been around since the early 1940s and offers some real goodies... free as well as for a price.
Everton's Guide to Genealogy

Lineages, Inc. is another old line research company who is now online with some very interesting material.
Lineages, Inc.

The following company was among the first to put genealogical material on CD-ROMS. They are probably now overshadowed in that field by Family Tree Maker, but Automated is still in there fighting for marketshare... and in the process giving away free goodies.
Automated Research, Inc.

Here's another commercial site which gives away lots of good information.
Kindred Konnections

Most of the sites we give you on this page are absolutely packed with facts... data resources to help you trace your family tree. The following site is a little different. Its main purpose is to show you how to trace your family tree. If you're a beginner in this fascinating pursuit... this is one of the first places on the World Wide Web you should visit.
Treasure Maps

When you start serious research into your family tree, you're going to need to know things like in what county a certain town or village is located. You'll also need to know where to write and how much money to send for copies of birth certificates, death certificates, marriage licenses, wills, court records, etc. The following site will give you those valuable facts, plus hundreds more... all free and at the click of your mouse.
United States Vital Records Information

The following commercial site has a very extensive listing of U.S. census records and offers to do lookups for $10 per search. We've never used them, but if anyone does, will you please share your experience with us. Thanks!
Record Retrieval Service

There is lots of good research material and links at the following site.
The Genealogy Home Page

The following site is the home page of Richard Eastman. Richard publishes a weekly newletter on genealogy which you will find very informative and helpful. This guy "covers the waterfront" in everything to do with searching family trees and family history.
Roots Computing

If you even "suspect" you have any Native American heritage in your background, you will do well to visit the following comprehensive site.
Native American Genealogy

Here is another reliable, old line publisher of genealogy materials who now has a great Web Site.
Genealogical Publishing Company

At the Roots Search Engines below is where you will find the "RSL" or "Roots Surname Lists." You can search for the surnames of interest to you among the scads already submitted by others... then email the submitter for more information.
Also while at the site, be sure to submit the names in which you're interested to be entered into the database so others will see them and email you to compare notes on common ancestors.
We were recently able to give a lady who contacted us through RSL, her complete line back to 1600 England. It goes without saying, she was elated!
Roots Search Engines

Matthew Helm is an individual who has maintained a very helpful site about genealogy for several years now. It just keeps getting better and better. You'll do well to visit here often.
Helm's Genealogy Toolbox

You'll find several excellent links at the following site. Also, a sample of the 1880 U.S. census.
Genealogy Online

If you have ancestors who lived anywhere in the "Old South", this library probably has something to help you.
The Library of Virginia

The following folks are the guardians of our national historical treasures. We haven't found their site among the most helpful yet. The National Archives recently, however, gained funding to digitize and make available online zillions of the abundance of records they hold. Watch this site for help in the near future.
The National Archives

Here is one of the most comprehensive listing we've seen for Genealogy Books, CD-ROMS, etc.
Heritage Books: History, Genealogy, Americana

Here is a super Web Site by the "Mother" of all U.S. genealogical societies.
National Genealogical Society

And then... the "Grandmother" of all genealogical societies.
New England Historical and Genealogical Society

Following is one of the most amazing databases available on the Internet. It is courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey and will give you information on any feature... city, county, state... in the U.S.
We have found this site invaluable in locating cemeteries. When you arrive at the site complete the State Name, County Name, and type "cemetery" into the Feature Name field. Send your query and in seconds you will have a list of all the cemeteries in the county you asked for.
Click on the name of a cemetery in which you're interested and then click "Show Location" and you will shortly be presented with two maps. The first locates the cemetery of interest in the USA... then just below will be a very detailed map with which you should be able to easily drive to the cemetery of your choice with no problems.
USGS Mapping Information: GNIS Data Base

Here is a map generator site which will "blast" you a map for any address in the USA. It's excellent when you know a street address, but not how to find something.
Vicinity Corporation's MapBlast!

Ancestral Findings has some very extensive and useful databases you may search. You are limited, however, to researching only two individuals per day on their site.
Ancestral Findings

Family Tree House


Reading Recommendations


"Ancestors : A Beginner's Guide to Family History and Genealogy"
By Jim Willard, Terry Willard and Jane Wilson

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