Ancestor Links - Useful Sources for Genealogy Research

(Updated - Q3 2017)

This section includes a list of many of the main sources that I have found useful for Genealogy Research.

The sources are presented using the following categories:

    1.    Books and other Published Sources
    2.    World, U.K., North America, & Australia
    3.1  Manuscript and Archive Collections
    3.2  Vital Records BMD (Births, Marriages & Deaths), Censuses ...
    4.    DNA Testing for Genealogical Research
    5.1  Genealogy Software
    5.2  Creating a Genealogy Website
    6.1  General Comments regarding Sources
    6.2  Spelling Variations of Family Names
    7.    Genealogy News
    8.    Other Useful Sources Recommended by Site Visitors

External website links have been provided below. Please let me know if you discover that one of the links no longer works – as specific website addresses tend to change over time. If you come across such a “broken link” – an immediate alternative to identify the relevant Internet site address is to enter the subsection heading (such as “National Library of Scotland”) into the search section of an Internet search engine such as “www.google.com”.

1. Books and other Published Sources

Genealogy and History sources

The above web page link includes a list of some of these published sources that I have found useful. Also see my lists of "Sources (Bibliography)" used on the web pages included in the subsections of Ancestor Links - Genealogy Data on this website.

Updated Published Genealogical Research

An on-going and significant genealogy research challenge - is to identify whether published information has been subsequently updated with more recent published research that enhances, amends or corrects earlier published information.

The Genealogist's Internet Guide [about GBP17.-]

Book "The Genealogist's Internet" by Peter Christian and the National Archives (U.K.) (5th Edition, May 2012) - a comprehensive source for up to date internet sources available for genealogists.

National Library of Scotland (NLS) [Free]

"The National Library of Scotland is an information treasure trove of Scotland's knowledge, history and culture, with millions of books, manuscripts and maps covering every subject." Their website contains an online catalogue for a large collection of books (including genealogy & history) - plus an online digital collection of early maps of Scotland. Their buildings are located in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The British Library [Free]

"The British Library website contains comprehensive information about the Library, the scope of its collections, and how to use its services. There is also a range of catalogues and digital content." Their main building is located in London, England.

Library and Archives Canada [Free]

"Canada's national collection of books, historical documents, government records, photos, films, maps, music...and more". In addition, their website contains a "Canadian Genealogy Centre" section.

Library and Archives Quebec / Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Quebec (BAnQ) [Free]

The BAnQ is "devoted to the acquisition, preservation and dissemination of Québec’s published, archival and film heritage". Their website contains an online catalogue of books (including genealogy & history) and archive holdings. Their main buildings are located in Montreal, Quebec, Canada - with local offices spread across the Province of Quebec.

Library of Congress (U.S.A.) [Free]

"The largest library in the world, with millions of books, recordings, photographs, maps and manuscripts in its collections". Their website contains an online catalogue and digital collections. Their three main buildings are located in Washington, D.C., U.S.A.

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS)

See below under the section "2.2  North America".

Public, University and National Libraries [Free]

Many Public, University and National Libraries have genealogy and history books as part of their collections. Many of these libraries also have online catalogues and databases.

Scottish Family Histories

Book "Scottish Family Histories" (1986) by J. Ferguson and the National Library of Scotland (currently out of print). Reference book with a list, by Scottish family, of published family histories - including the name(s) of the library that have copies as part of their collection.

Internet Archive - Texts [Free]

Website with a searchable database with free viewable and downloadable versions of out of copyright books (includes genealogy & history) that are in the public domain - for example (i) in general in the U.S. books published before 1923 and (ii) in general in the U.K. books where more than 70 years have passed since the death of the author.
In addition - it is possible to view - on a "loan" basis - certain books that are currently under copyright protection.

Google Books (Internet search engine) [Free]

Website with a searchable database with free downloadable versions of books (including genealogy & history) that are out of copyright and thus in the public domain (in general in the U.S. - books published before 1923). For in copyright books - in many cases a "snippet" view of a sentence or two is available. Unfortunately the population of free downloadable books is dramatically reduced when the Google Book search engine website is accessed via an internet service provider outside of the U.S.

HathiTrust - Digital Library [Free]

Website with a searchable database with free viewable and downloadable versions of out of copyright books (includes genealogy & history) that are in the public domain - for example (i) in general in the U.S. books published before 1923 and (ii) in general in the U.K. books where more than 70 years have passed since the death of the author.
In addition - the HathiTrust database includes a large number of books published in the U.S. between 1923 and 1963 - where the copyrights were not renewed - and therefore the books are in the public domain.

FamilySearch - Books [Free]

FamilySearch - free viewable and downloadable Family History Books - "is a collection of more than 150,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications from the archives of some of the most important family history libraries in the world. The collection includes family histories, county and local histories, genealogy magazines and how-to books, gazetteers, and medieval histories and pedigrees."
For an expanded summary of other features of the website - see the “2. World - FamilySearch" section below.
The website is maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Burke's Peerage & Gentry

Printed copies of Burke's publications from the mid 1800's are usually available to see in large Public, University and National Libraries. Note this source is useful for (i) titled family lines - including family lines that are currently considered dormant or extinct and (ii) some earlier editions include more detail than more recent editions. Unfortunately Burke's generally do not cite their specific sources.

Burke's Peerage & Gentry [Website – Subscription based]

Online version of the latest published genealogies of the main family lines for titled families in the U.K. (no electronic cross-links between families). Unfortunately Burke's generally do not cite their specific sources. See also the comments made for the (i) “Foundation for Medieval Genealogy (FMG)” and (ii) “2.1  U.K. - Stirnet” sections below.

Foundation for Medieval Genealogy (FMG) [Subscription based for access to a users’ area – and Free for access to a large collection of Medieval family genealogy charts]

Website with a growing online version of descendant chart genealogies for titled Medieval families across Europe (pre-1500) (with electronic cross-links between families). FMG cites the main sources that they have used for each genealogy chart - plus adds comments when different sources provide conflicting information.
FMG promotes “the study of medieval genealogy and prosopography”.

Cemetery Listings

Transcribed information included in Cemetery Listings can be a valuable source of genealogical information and clues for individuals and families.
There are several sources for Cemetery Listings - such as (i) Libraries & Archives, (ii) Genealogy and History Societies, (iii) Specialized Internet sites, and (iv) Cemetery Offices & Visits to Cemeteries.

2. World

World Gen Web [Free]

Main website with links to regional and country specific "GenWeb" sites - that are all part of "a non-profit, volunteer based organization dedicated to providing genealogical and historical records and resources for world-wide access".

Cyndi's List [Free]

Website with lists of genealogy sites on the internet - "A large categorized and cross-referenced directory of sites useful for genealogical research, with hundreds of thousands of links".
See also below under the section "7. Genealogy News".

FamilySearch [Free]

Website with a growing online database with sections that include: (i) Search - "Make Discoveries - Search for your ancestors in millions of historical records. You can also search in the catalog, books, genealogies, and the Wiki"; (ii) Indexing - "Make a Difference - Volunteer to make historical records searchable online" ... and more ...
The website is maintained by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
For general Family Name search comments - see the “6.2 Spelling Variations of Family Names” section below.

Genealogy and History Societies [Usually fee based]

Numerous Genealogy, Family History and History Societies with Local to National to International scope can be found. "World Gen Web", "Cyndi's List" and Internet search engines can be used to identify Societies that may be of interest. The above web page link includes a list of some of these sources that I have found useful.

Ancestry Library Edition [Usually Free to access at many large Libraries & Archives]

Many large Libraries and Archives have a limited number of on-site computer terminals with Free online access to Ancestry Library Edition - which includes access to a certain portion of the Ancestry Worldwide collection of databases (that otherwise requires an annual subscription fee) - such as Worldwide Birth, Marriage, Death and Census information.
For general Family Name search comments - see the “6.2 Spelling Variations of Family Names” section below.

Wikipedia [Free]

An online "encyclopedia that anyone can edit". "Substandard or disputed information is subject to removal". Most articles include a list of sources and/or links to other web pages with further information. Articles include local and national history, biographies and much more.

Cemetery Listings

See above under the "1. Books and other Published Sources" section.

2.1  U.K.

U.K. & Ireland Genealogy (GENUKI) [Free]

The aim of the GENUKI website is "to serve as a ‘virtual reference library’ of genealogical information that is of particular relevance to the UK & Ireland".

BBC - Family History - Who Do You Think You Are? [Free]

Website with information and links for genealogy research. Plus information on the BBC television series "Who Do You Think You Are?".
Certain previous season(s) episodes can be viewed online - unfortunately only when the BBC website is accessed via an internet service provider within the U.K. Otherwise - certain episodes can be viewed on the YouTube website (split into 10 to 15 minute parts) and/or on DVD.
For more information regarding certain episode themes such as Early New England Ancestry, Early Canadian Ancestry (pre 1867 Confederation) and Royal Ancestry Click Here.

Stirnet [Subscription based for access to genealogical database – and Free for access to other parts of their website]

Website with a growing online version of descendant chart genealogies for titled families in the U.K. (pre-1800) (with electronic cross-links between families). Stirnet cites the main sources that they have used for each genealogy chart - plus adds comments when different sources provide conflicting information.
Stirnet shares an “interest in improving the facilities which are available on the Internet for Research into Family & Social History, including Genealogy and various aspects of Sociology”.
Free - their website also contains some helpful information and tips for genealogy research.

Scotlands People [Fee Based]

Website with points based pay-as-you go searchable databases - with downloadable images - for (i) registry entries in Scotland for births/baptisms, marriages and deaths/burials; (ii) Scottish Census records; (iii) Scottish Wills/Testaments; and (iv) Scottish Coats of Arms. The Scottish Wills/Testaments and Coats of Arms databases can be searched for free - and charges apply to download images. Note of warning – based on personal experience - the Coats of Arms downloads can include anything from (a) a few sentences to (b) a full Coat of Arms image plus related text - i.e. insufficient information is given regarding what you will receive for the download fee for Coats of Arms downloads.

Genealogy and History Societies [Usually fee based]

See above under the "2. World" section.

Cemetery Listings

See above under the "1. Books and other Published Sources" section.

2.2  North America

New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) [Subscription based – with Free access to certain sections of their website]

The NEHGS is the oldest and largest genealogical society in the United States. "Some of the databases available on-line include: Massachusetts Vital Records through 1910, New York Probate Records (1787-1835), Social Security Death Index (SSDI), church records, newspapers and periodicals, city and town directories, court records, census, tax, and voter lists, diaries and journals, land records, military records, and published genealogies and biographies, just to name a few." Their main building is located in Boston, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Free - their website contains helpful information and tips for genealogy research - and free access to certain databases and articles. In addition - free subscription for “The Weekly Genealogist” newsletter. See the “7. Genealogy News” section below.

Genealogy and History Societies [Usually fee based]

See above under the "2. World" section.

TLC - Who do You Think You Are? [Free]

Website with information on the TLC television series "Who Do You Think You Are?" (2013 onwards).
Certain episodes can be viewed online - unfortunately only when the TLC website is accessed via an internet service provider within the U.S. Otherwise - certain portions of episodes can be viewed online when the TLC website is accessed via an internet service provider in certain countries.
In addition, certain NBC "Who Do You Think You Are?" episodes (2010-2012) can be viewed on the YouTube website (split into 10 to 15 minute parts) and/or on DVD.
For more information regarding certain episode themes such as Early New England Ancestry, Early Canadian Ancestry (pre 1867 Confederation) and Royal Ancestry Click Here.

Cemetery Listings

See above under the "1. Books and other Published Sources" section.

2.3  Australia

Genealogy and History Societies [Usually fee based]

See above under the "2. World" section.

SBS - Who do You Think You Are? [Free]

Website with information on the SBS television series "Who Do You Think You Are?".
Certain previous season(s) episodes can be viewed online - apparently only when the SBS website is accessed via an internet service provider within Australia. Otherwise - certain episodes can be viewed on the YouTube website (split into 10 to 15 minute parts) and/or on DVD.
For more information regarding certain episode themes such as Early New England Ancestry, Early Canadian Ancestry (pre 1867 Confederation) and Royal Ancestry Click Here.

Cemetery Listings

See above under the "1. Books and other Published Sources" section.

3.1  Manuscript and Archive Collections

National Archives of Scotland (NAS) [Free]

The NAS collection includes "records created by Scottish government, as well as private records created by businesses, landed estates, families, courts, churches and other corporate bodies". Their website includes a descriptive online catalogue of their document collections (manuscripts). Their main buildings are located in Edinburgh, Scotland.
Note - copies of certain documents can be ordered for a fee.

The National Archives (U.K.) [Free]

"The National Archives is the UK government's official archive, containing almost 1,000 years of history, with records ranging from parchment and paper scrolls through to digital files and archived websites." Their website includes online catalogues and a "researching family history" section. Their main building is located in Kew, near London, England.
Note - copies of certain documents can be ordered for a fee.

Library and Archives Canada [Free]

See above under the "1. Books and other Published Sources" section.

Library and Archives Quebec / Bibliotheque et Archives nationales du Quebec (BAnQ) [Free]

See above under the "1. Books and other Published Sources" section.

Library of Congress (U.S.A.) [Free]

See above under the "1. Books and other Published Sources" section.

3.2  Vital Records BMD (Births, Marriages & Deaths), Censuses ...

Vital Records and Censuses are important sources for genealogical information.

4. DNA Testing for Genealogical Research

DNA Testing for Genealogical Research

DNA test results can provide valuable Genealogical information - as a complement to traditional Genealogical Research.

Male DNA (Y chromosome or Y-DNA) test results can provide valuable information for the direct male ancestors of a male individual (when the DNA testing is done through a reputable organization). This DNA is passed down generation to generation from father to son.

Female DNA (Mitochondrial DNA or mtDNA) test results can provide information for the direct female ancestors of an individual (again when the DNA testing is done through a reputable organization). This DNA is passed down generation to generation through the Maternal line - from the mother to all her children. All mtDNA test results apparently fall into one of seven main haplogroups - known as the seven daughters of Eve.

The number of available DNA Testing Organizations and DNA Databases keeps increasing - with the growing interest in using DNA for Genealogical Research.

I recommend doing research before choosing a DNA testing organization and DNA database. Check for - the reputation of the organization - the level of confidentiality offered - the costs involved for testing and follow-up database comparisons - number of DNA markers to be tested - the level and quality of customer support - and so on ...

Notes:
  1. Different organizations may use slightly different code definitions and/or counting methodology for the DNA markers that they test. The problem with this is that DNA test results are not necessarily 100% comparable between all DNA testing organizations.
    Some organizations try to take these definition differences into account when comparing DNA test results from different sources. Other organizations apparently do not accept DNA test results from different sources but may offer DNA test kit discounts to individuals that already have DNA test results from another source.

  2. The coding/naming of Male DNA or Y-DNA Haplogroups is apparently subject to change over time.
    For example the Y-DNA Haplogroup R1b1a2 (R-M269) - was apparently R1b3 (from 2003 to 2005) and R1b1c (from 2005 to 2008) and R1b1b2 (from 2008 to 2011).
    Members of Haplogroup R1b1a2 (R-M269) apparently share a common ancestor with:

    • Tutankhamun (died c. 1323 BC), Egyptian Pharaoh of the 18th Dynasty
    • John Adams (1735-1826), 2nd President of the United States
    • Franklin Pierce (1804-1869), 14th President of the United States

  3. Female DNA (Mitochondrial or mtDNA) was used to confirm the identity of the skeletal remains of Richard III, King of England (1452-1485).

5.1  Genealogy Software

General "GEDCOM" information

GEDCOM is an acronym for GEnealogical Data COMmunication - which is the industry standard file format specification that allows different genealogical software programs to share data with each other. Most leading genealogy software programs include an option to export and import GEDCOM files.

Top Genealogy Software Programs

Windows compatible [about U.S. $25.- to $90.- for each program]
Mac compatible [about U.S. $20.- to $90.- for each program]

Each year the Top Genealogy Software Programs are reviewed and a cross-comparison of features can be found on the Internet. Each software has its own list of pros and cons.
Unfortunately the reviews do not yet include (i) a category for comparing the level of quality and the timeliness of technical support for program bugs/problems/issues or (ii) a list of Mobile Apps for iPhone, Android and Windows Mobile.

Legacy for Windows [about U.S. $30.- to $60.-]

Up until now - the web pages for the four subsections of Ancestor Links - Genealogy Data on this website - have been produced using Legacy software (with manual HTML code modifications to the header, body and footer sections). So far this software - which has consistently been on the Top Genealogy Software list (for Windows) for several years - has served its purpose and comes - like the others with its own list of pros and cons. I recommend checking the above mentioned cross-comparison of features of the Top Genealogy Software Programs for Windows or for Mac – before choosing a software program.

5.2  Creating a Genealogy Website

The Genealogist's Internet Guide [about GBP17.-]

Book "The Genealogist's Internet" by Peter Christian and the National Archives (U.K.) (5th Edition, May 2012) - includes a chapter on "Publishing Your Family History Online". Also see above under the "1. Books and other Published Sources" section for a brief description of the book.

Genealogy Web Creations - website design for the genealogist (website) [Free]

The website includes information, tips, tutorials and links - for creating a Genealogy website.

w3schools.com [Free]

w3schools.com is the "World's Largest Web Developer Site". Learn HTML "the language for building web pages", CSS and more ...

The Next Generation of Genealogy Sitebuilding (TNG) (software) [about U.S.$33.-]

TNG "is a powerful way to manage and display your genealogy data on the Internet, all without generating a single page of static HTML. Instead, your information is stored in MySQL database tables and dynamically displayed in attractive fashion with PHP (a scripting language)."
Click on the above link to learn more about TNG.

6.1  General Comments regarding Sources

Primary Sources” (such as Birth, Marriage and Death records, Wills, Land records ... and for Medieval genealogy - Patent Rolls, Fine Rolls, Close Rolls ...) are considered to be the most reliable sources for genealogical information.

Secondary and Other Sources” (such as Published Family Genealogies; Town Histories/Genealogies; Regional Histories/Genealogies) include valuable information for different generations of a family and/or families. However, these “Secondary and Other Sources” are also somewhat like a database - and as we all know - most databases tend to include a certain percentage of errors. The drawback of any errors that these “Secondary and Other Sources” may contain - is usually more than offset by the wealth of background information and clues included in these sources.
When available - it is important to check the addendum and corrections section(s) for any important corrections and/or additions that may relate to your research.

An on-going and significant genealogy research challenge - is to identify whether published information has been subsequently updated with more recent published research that enhances, amends or corrects earlier published information.
For a short list of reference books with lists of published information by family name (U.K.) or by individual name (Early Eastern North American Settlers - New England, New York …) - plus regional compendiums - click here.

6.2  General Comments regarding Spelling Variations of Family Names

When searching information (both electronic and non-electronic) for Family Names (Surnames, Last Names) - it is important to search for several variations of spelling for any given name.

As an example - some spelling variations for the name Hayes - Hay, Haye, Haya, Heye, Haies, Hais, Haise, Haig, Haize, Hays, Hayse, Hayz, Hayze, Haz, Haze ...

It is not uncommon to come across an ancestor - where his/her family name is spelled differently on his/her Birth, Marriage and Death records and other documents.
One of the main reasons for this is that the further back in time we go - there was no “correct” spelling for a name.
In addition, some cultures use different spelling of family names in order to identify whether the individual is male or female.

The issue/problem has become even more complex with the rapid growth of electronic search possibilities and searchable electronic databases.

In addition to the above mentioned historical spelling variations - electronically searchable information has unfortunately introduced additional spelling variations due to the following:
  1. Optical Character Recognition (OCR) issues where OCR software may not correctly interpret/transcribe written information.
    This can be due to software issues and/or poor quality of the original text and/or a poor quality electronic scan.
  2. Manual errors made by individuals transcribing original documents/texts.
    This can be due to a high volume of information being transcribed and/or misinterpretation of difficult to read text and/or handwriting.
  3. Errors made by non-native speaking individuals transcribing original documents/texts that are in a different language.
Any of the above can be the source of significant issues/problems with large electronic databases.

As an example the conversion of old genealogy books into electronic databases may be done using OCR software - see point (i) above - or by the re-typing of the entire book - see points (ii) and (iii) above.

7. Genealogy News

Cyndi's List - Mailing Lists [Usually Free]

Index of "thousands" of mailing lists and newsletters for genealogy.
The Cyndi's List Mailing List provides daily updates for new genealogy websites that have been submitted to Cyndi's List.
For more information regarding Cyndi's List - see the “2. World” section above.

Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter [Free for Standard Edition and subscription based for Plus Edition]

Daily genealogy news updates.

The Weekly Genealogist - Newsletter [Free section of the NEHGS website]

Weekly genealogy news updates.
For more information regarding the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) - see the “2.2 North America” section above.

About.com Genealogy Newsletter edited by Kimberly Powell [Free]

A "What You Need To Know About Genealogy" weekly newsletter.

The Slovak Yankee - blog by Marin Hollick [Free]

Genealogy information - with sources cited - by the author of:
(i) "New Englanders in the 1600s: A Guide to Genealogical Research Published Between 1980 and 2010" (2012)
(ii) Article: Abigail Horne, wife of Moses Hayes of Dover and Rochester, NH, "The New Hampshire Genealogical Record" Volume 16 (1999)

8. Other Useful Sources Recommended by Site Visitors

Scottish History - from the Elwood Union Free School District
Scottish Culture and Traditions - from the Elwood Union Free School District
Scottish Language - from the Elwood Union Free School District

U.S. Military Genealogy and Other Sources - from L. Murphy

Genealogy Resources by VeritasPrep - from the VeritasPrep Genealogy Club

Searching for your Genealogical Records - from R. and D. Cason

History at Home: A Guide to Genealogy - from Isabella - Ms. J. Loomis after school group



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