My guide to the best genealogical websites
The advertisements on TV makes doing your family research look so easy. Just sign up to our website and put in your ancestors names and up pops their entire history.
But what happens if you can’t find your relation on there? Do they not exist? Well they may not exist on Ancestry.com but they may be on another website. I use at least 10 different websites when I’m researching a family. Here is a list of the ones I think are the best and the ones I most frequently use:
This is always my first port of call as it is the biggest collection of records on the internet. It has European as well as extensive Canadian and US collections. There is also a very helpful forum and an “Ancestry Academy” with online tutorials for guidance.
Find My Past ($)
Find My Past is great for English, Irish and Welsh records. It also has the amazing 1939 register that helps bridge the gap between censuses. This register was taken just prior to WW2 and lists household residents and occupations amongst other things.
Scotland's People ($)
The National Archives of Scotland have not released a lot of their images to the big genealogy sites. They have kept them and you have to pay per view however you do get to view original church and census records. Should be your first stop for Scottish ancestors.
This is a very basic site and can be quite hard to navigate unless you know what you are doing. It is however free to use so it’s a great start if you have the time to learn how it works.
Family Search (free)
Family Search is a website maintained by the Church of the Latter Day Saints and has millions of births, baptisms, marriages and census details. It has just as many records as Ancestry but often not the original records. It’s a great place to start your search.
Australian state birth deaths and marriages records (free to search)
Each state has their own BDM records online. They are free to search but you do have to pay per certificate if you want the original certificate.
This website provides links for each county in the UK for BMD details. These are services provided by volunteers in each English county who will provide data not online or easily accessible eg records from the 16th century. Often a cost is involved but it’s cheaper than flying to England to look for yourself!
Trove (free), Papers Past (free), British Newspapers Archive ($)
Trove is an amazing resource of the vast majority of Australian newspapers, all indexed and searchable from 1788 to around 1950ish depending on the newspaper. It also has Government Gazettes and other publications including dead websites. I use it to look at family notices for births, deaths and marriages. Death notices in particular are great for finding out married names of daughters if you can’t find their marriages.
Papers Past is the NZ version but only has newspapers on it. Again it is a great resource.
British Newspapers Archive is again a great resource for UK papers however you have to pay to look at the articles.
Cyndi’s List (free)
Cyndi’s List is literally a list of all genealogical resources on the web. It lists everything from blogs to official government sites. Really great place to start as a jumping off point in your family research or a place to find where to look for records from a place not covered by the big websites.
Yes that google! Google is an amazing way of finding people. Just try putting in the person’s name in inverted commas and a year reference and see what comes up! I’ll be doing a post soon on using Google in your family research.
Google Maps is also an invaluable tool for finding that small village your ancestor came from and to see if the village listed on the record is close by so you can double check if it’s the right person.
This is by no means an extensive list of all the websites I use. I literally have about 100 websites bookmarked that I use to search for people. I will be doing posts in the future about war records, cemetery records and Australian birth, death and marriage sites.