This extensive collection of genealogical information includes the U.S. and U.K. censuses, passenger lists, and much more. It can only be accessed through the computers at the Library.
As a FamilySearch Affiliate Library, library users have access to over 2 billion digitized records, including 400 million images that are currently not available to the public outside of an affiliate library or a FamilySearch family history center. Access is limited to library computers and mobile devices connected to the library’s WiFi network.
Fold3 is a genealogy database of original military records, including the stories, photos, and personal documents of the men and women who served. Many of the records come from the U.S. National archives, The National Archives of the U.K., and other international records.
HeritageQuest Online is a comprehensive treasury of American genealogical sources—rich in unique primary sources, local and family histories, convenient research guides, interactive census maps, and more.
The Internet’s wealth of genealogical information makes it a great starting point for research. You must keep two things in mind, though:
- It doesn’t provide access to all genealogical information.
- You should always verify the accuracy of information that others have provided by going to the original source, when possible.
Following are a few of the many Web sites that offer free genealogical information.
New Jersey State Library
*Recent Addition* Notice from the New Jersey Collections Librarian at the New Jersey State Library:
Caitlyn Cook and Heather Husted of the New Jersey State Library have compiled a list of historical New Jersey digitized newspapers that are available either for free or via commercial databases. You can see the guide here: https://libguides.njstatelib.
The newspapers are arranged by county and there’s also a “Titles Coming Soon” page where they will list digitization projects that are in process so that libraries, historical societies and vendors can avoid unintentional duplication of effort. They also offer a copy of the more detailed spreadsheet that the guide is based upon and a map of newspaper locations for those not well versed in New Jersey geography.
They are hoping members of the greater library and history community will reach out to share other digitization projects that they may have missed, so if you know of a digitized newspaper that’s not on this list, or if you’re about to embark upon a newspaper digitization project and would like it to be listed in the “Titles Coming Soon” page please email Caitlyn Cook at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The New Jersey State Library has a research guide (http://libguides.njstatelib.org/genealogynjsl/home) chock full of information on the genealogical resources they have available to researchers at the State Library.
The USGenWeb Project: http://www.usgenweb.org/
This project, which is an entirely volunteer effort, is noncommercial and fully committed to free access to genealogical information for everyone. Its goal is to provide a Web site for every U.S. state and county. The amount of help it will be to you personally depends on which state or county site you need. Some counties are “orphans” (have not been adopted by a volunteer), and the quality and amount of information you find on any site depends on the volunteers contributing to it. Information you are likely to find includes an area’s history, births, marriages, deaths, and census and cemetery records. USGenWeb also sponsors special projects, such as the Census Projects, for the transcription of U.S. censuses, and the Tombstone Project, for surveys of U.S. cemeteries. You can search the archives for your ancestors, but take time to browse through the information on the site by following the links. You never know what you will find, possibly even people willing to do free look-ups from reference materials at their disposal.
The WorldGenWeb Project: http://worldgenweb.org/
This is a nonprofit, volunteer-based effort to provide genealogical and historical records and resources from countries around the world. As with USGenWeb, after which this project is modeled, the available resources vary from one country to another.
Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild: http://www.immigrantships.net/
This volunteer project provides transcriptions of the passenger lists of ships that carried immigrants from one country to another. Many are for ships that came to the United States, but it is not limited to these. Almost 8,000 transcribed manifests are in ISTG’s archives, and more are added regularly. In order to search this site, click on Search at the very top of the home page, and then click on the word Search in the drop-down menu. Or you can browse through the transcripts in each volume by pointing at Passenger Lists and making a choice from the drop-down menu there.
Castle Garden: http://www.castlegarden.org
Castle Garden, New York, was the first U.S. immigration center. From 1830 through 1892, the year Ellis Island opened, 10 million immigrants passed through its doors. At CastleGarden.org, a free site, you can search for your ancestors who came to the U.S. during those years.
Ellis Island On-Line: http://www.ellisisland.org/
If your ancestors entered the United States through the Port of New York and Ellis Island between 1892 and 1924, you will find that this Web site provides relatively easy access to their ships’ passenger manifest records. Search by entering your ancestors’ first (optional) and last names in the appropriate boxes. The results will provide any exact matches to your search, along with residence, year of arrival, and age on arrival. Click on a person’s name for the complete record. You also have the option of expanding your search by looking for Close Matches or Alternate Spellings. Note that you must register to view the complete record, but the information is still free. If you want a copy of the original manifest, you must buy it, but you can print out a transcribed version at no charge.
New Jersey State Archive: https://wwwnet-dos.state.nj.us/DOS_ArchivesDBPortal/index.aspx#military
The State Archive now provides online searchable databases of New Jersey vital and military records, as well as New Jersey National Guard photographs.
Webpages by Stephen P. Morse: http://www.stevemorse.org
Steve Morse provides a user-friendly way to search for your ancestors on many different sites, including Ancestry.com and EllisIsland.org.
Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites: http://www.cyndislist.com/
This Web site, the effort of one person, is a collection of links (currently about 251,000) to genealogical resources on the Internet. New links are added regularly, and existing links are updated, corrected, or deleted as needed. The links are organized into over 120 categories, and there are individual pages for every U.S. state and Canadian province. This site will not give you the information you’re looking for, but it will tell you where you can go to look for it.
This site lets you search for your ancestors in free online databases that include the 1880 U.S. census, the 1881 British and Canadian censuses, Pedigree Resource Files (files from submitted family trees), the International Genealogical Index (a partial index to vital records from around the world), and the Social Security Death Index. You can also search for information that is held in the vast genealogical collection of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. You can request much of this information through a local Latter Day Saints Family History Center for a fee. The material must be used at the center. This site also provides step-by-step research guidance for your genealogical search, and offers a variety of research aids, including maps, forms, and guides.
GeneaNet Genealogical Database Network: http://www.geneanet.org/
This site’s goal is to provide a universal register of the world’s genealogical resources, whether or not they are available on the Internet, and whether they are free or fee-based. You can search the site’s 78 million entries for free, but you can subscribe to the site and receive additional benefits if you pay the “fee” of contributing your own research to the database. The international scope of the database makes it interesting.
FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales for the period 1837-1983, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records. The transcribing of the records is carried out by teams of dedicated volunteers. Note: You cannot get complete record information from this site. A copy of a record can be ordered for £7 (about $13.50) by following the link in the message, Click here to learn what to do now, below your search results.
RootsWeb: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ *Note: not all of the resources of RootsWeb are presently available
RootsWeb is a free site supported by the commercial site, Ancestry.com. There is a large amount of material available on this site to help you with your research.
WorldConnect on RootsWeb is a collection of family trees researched by individuals. Search the collection, and you may find that someone else is researching the same family as you. As usual, though, don’t assume that all the information is correct.
Note that proper etiquette is to obtain permission from other researchers before you reference their information.
The RootsWeb Message Boards cover almost every surname and geographical area, and if you are interested in one that isn’t covered, you can request that it be added. Search the message board archives for any previous discussion of your ancestors, or place your own query on an appropriate board(s). Have patience, and you may be surprised by someone who has information to help you. Or you can join a mailing list, which will allow you to participate in a more interactive discussion with others with similar research interests.
Some other features to check out are the Social Security Death Index, which provides information on anyone who died after Social Security was initiated; information on how to research your family tree; and free newsletters to which you can subscribe.