This is a short list of genealogy resources that I recommend everyone should use.
I’ve grouped a few tried and true favorites into 5 categories. First, there are online and offline sources. Also, your relatives are potentially the greatest resource you have. Lastly, social media sites and selling sites may surprise you! Don’t overlook their amazing potential for lost family history items. Let’s get to it!
Resources on the Internet
Ancestry.com What more can I say about Ancestry.com that you don’t already know? One thing I can say is that in the last twelve months or so, I’ve had two new updates to my DNA results. The Ancestry.com database of people is growing larger all the time. My western European results have gone up a little and my Scandinavian has gone down a little. This is nothing shocking, but it is fun to keep track! If you’re thinking about getting your DNA tested, click this link for Ancestry DNA.
Familysearch.org What I love most about Family Search is that it’s FREE and it’s full of census, birth, death, and marriage records (and lots more). You can even get a family tree started there for free.
Newspapers.com is one of several great archival, digital newspaper sites that you can access from home. You can get a free trial to Newspapers.com. Once your free trial is done, you will have to purchase a subscription but the cost is very reasonable.
You can also try a free site called Chronicling America. These two sites may have similar titles but they also carry titles not held by the other.
*It may be common knowledge to some, but there’s so much more information NOT ONLINE. If you hit a brick wall, you’ll probably need to search offline. Take a look at the rest of the list:
Offline and local facilities
Historical societies in your state or county. The people that work there are usually very helpful. They can help you find what you’re looking for if you tell them exactly what you need. They sometimes can also help over the telephone. If they are out of the country, send them an email with your research question. I highly recommend sending emails!
Libraries. Ask the librarian what special collections they may have. Prepare to spend a lot of time, because libraries almost always have a lot of things that could help you find what you’re looking for.
People you know
Relatives. Your cousins, aunts and uncles, parents, and siblings. In my opinion, grandparents are #1!
Friends of the family. This could take a little time to track down old neighbors and friends, but if you’re looking for particular information, it’s worth the effort. These old friends often know more than you expect them to know (or think they should know).
Search engines as resources
Google itself is great for searching. There are other search engines but I personally only use Google. Try various search terms in combination with names, towns, events or dates.
Social media as resources
Facebook. Do a surname search for Facebook groups that are dedicated to your last name. You may find relatives or family information from distant relatives. If it’s a private page, you can begin by asking to join the group. You may want to start your own family page. Read my post on how you can make your own family Facebook group here. Who knows? You might find someone who is looking for the same things as you!
Instagram is also a good place to check for a particular surname. If you find an account that is private, ask to join and see if it’s helpful to your family history search. Also, check for the hashtag + your surname.
Pinterest is another great place to look for your surname on boards. You can also check boards for ancestral cities around the world, heritage celebrations and more. Make sure to create your own board to pin your family history finds. Here is an idea on how to use Pinterest for your family history research from GenealogyGirlTalks.com
Ebay is a really great place to search for items from a historical era or to potentially find photos of relatives. Historical books are valuable additions to have in your home library for research.
A couple years ago on eBay, I found a one hundred year old photo of my great grandfather that no one in my family knew existed. I bid on it and lost! However, I was able to get in contact with the person who won it and they were so kind to share the photo with me after the auction was over.
Make sure to save various searches in your eBay account and have ebay automatically notify you by email when an item you are looking for comes up for sale.
Etsy is another selling site where you may find books, photos or documents for your family history research.
Addall is a site I found a long time ago. You can search for new or out of print titles of books.
There are so many more sites that could be mentioned here, but then it wouldn’t be a very short list of genealogy resources. I have certainly listed some of my favorites.
Leave a comment if you have any other great resources to recommend!
You may have a few ideas of your own after seeing this short list of genealogy resources!