Finding Ancestors Online

Genealogy is now easier than ever thanks to the World Wide Web. Thousands of websites exist, covering any genealogical subject you can think of, including-but nowhere near exclusive if-compiled family trees, transcribed records, library indexes, virtual cemeteries, and historical information of hometowns.

Not all of the information is free. Some sites charge a per-use or subscription fee to access information. It is also important to note that you wonít find everything you need online. There will be a point where you will have to visit town archives, libraries, and courthouses in person. However, the Internet is a good starting point.

Some free websites worth visiting (and bookmarking for future use) are USGenWeb (www.usgenweb.com), RootsWeb (www.rootsweb.com), FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org), and Find A Grave (www.findagrave.com). USGenWeb is useful for looking up genealogical information in a particular state, county, or town. RootsWeb has a large database of over a million names, as well as mailing lists and message boards covering a variety of topics. FamilySearch is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (LDS), who have spent years microfilming records as part of their quest to seek their ancestors. Find A Grave is a virtual cemetery where users can post gravestone transcriptions and photos. You can also post photo requests for a particular ancestor if you know where they are buried.

As you research your ancestors online, you may come across compiled genealogies that have been created by someone else. While these genealogies can be of great use, they should also be taken with a large grain of salt. Never take anything you find online (or in print, for that matter), that has been posted by another genealogist, as the ultimate truth. Always do your own research and verify any and all information you find.

You should also be cautious of transcribed records found online. These records often are transcribed directly from handwritten records. They may contain typos and misspellings. Again, always verify the informationís accuracy yourself.

Compiled genealogies, message boards, and mailing lists are all great ways to connect with other genealogists researching common ancestors. These connections can help you in your research by gaining new information, answers to questions, and more. You can also relay your knowledge about the family to them.

Online directories, which contain resources and lists, can also be of great use to genealogists. Some directories include Cyndiís List (www.cyndislist.com), A Barrel of Genealogy Links (www.genealogytoday.com/barrel), and Access Genealogy (www.accessgenealogy.com).