Genealogy Resources

The following are links to some of the most popular genealogy and family history resources. For a more comprehensive directory of all things family history and genealogy, please visit Cyndi’s List.

Table of Contents

Lorelle’s Family History Research Forms

There are hundreds of free family history research forms on the web. An excellent resource are the Genealogy Research Forms from FamilySearch. I’ve also created a few specialty forms to help you with the genealogy research tips and techniques featured on this site.

Online Family Trees and Record Sources

These sites are the most popular sites for setting up your own family tree and researching it. Some sites like FamilySearch, permit only one tree per member. Others, like, allows you to create multiple trees. Some sites, like FamilySearch, are free, and others have various paid membership options.

These services go beyond offering users the ability to create or upload their family tree data. They also invest a great deal of resources into adding records to their collection, everything from common Census records to specialize records such as FindMyPast’s Roman Catholic Heritage Archive collection of church records from the United States, Britain, and Ireland, never made public online before. Each site offers access to different records, and many offer search results with records from partnering services, sometimes with free, limited, or paid only access to the actual records.

I recommend you start with the free FamilySearch service, starting your tree and using their extensive records and research wiki. By the time you’ve fleshed out a few generations of your tree, you should have a sense of what records you need to keep going. Check the FamilySearch Research Wiki for the location of those records, and then check the various paid services to see if they have the records and resources you need.

When you are ready to invest more time and energy into this process, then I recommend you become a member of the “big” genealogy services and networks listed below. This will not only expand your research opportunities, but open up opportunities for sharing and exchange of information with other members of those groups.

Family History Research Software

For many years I was a one-software family history researcher. When that software quit updating, I was forced to make some hard decisions. Like many serious researchers in the same situation, I choose the powerful RootsMagic, a program I highly recommend. Then I experimented with others, learning that each had their pros and cons, each offering me a new perspective on my family tree. I cover some of these experiences and experiments on this site. I recommend you experiment on your own and find one that works for your needs.

Geographical, Cultural and Ethnic Research

Family means different things to different people. For some, it is about the individuals. For others, it is about where they came from, a sense of belonging to the land, a nation, a culture, an ethnic group, a religion, or even a community.

These genealogy resources may help you with researching cultural and ethnic origins, records, history, and stories.

Archives and Libraries

Archives and libraries offer extensive records and research material for genealogy and family history. Once repositories of books and records, some of these archives and libraries are only available on the web, and most physical archives and libraries offer extensive digital records as well, making it easy to do most of your research from the comfort of your own computer.

This is a list of the most popular and general archives and libraries in North America and around the world with English support. I feature more specialty archives and libraries in my posts and videos, and check in the section on Geographical, Cultural, and Ethnic Research for more archives and databases.

Maps, Land, and Property

Maps were critical to many for not only finding their way to and from, but for border disputes, government control of boundaries, and allowing us to visualize areas not visible for thousands of years from above. When we begin our research, we focus on the “where,” the places of our ancestors. Unfortunately, the place they were at the time of their existence might not have the same address today. The town or county name may have changed. The county boundary may have shifted and they are not living in a different county today, it’s a different state, maybe even country.

There are many types of land and property records to explore when researching your family. I adore plat maps identifying who lived on what lots where and when.

This is not a complete list, but a good starting point for records associated with maps, land, and property.


For several decades, one of my best friends receives a subscription to the weekly newspaper for her home town a couple hundred miles away across the mountains. I’ve flipped through many issues sitting on her kitchen table with mild curiosity, and finally asked her why. “Oh, I do it to keep up with family.” How wonderful, I tell her. You check for births, deaths, graduations, marriage, etc., keeping track of your relatives. “No. I check the Police Blotter. That’s where most of them show up.” It was funny at the time, but when her daughter moved with her children across the mountains, she called me up a few months later and I asked how they were doing. “They are without a doubt part of my family. I found my daughter listed in the Police Blotter this week, caught shoplifting.” There you go. Her family history story tracked through the Police Blotter.

Your family may, or may not, be found in the local Police Blotter column. Newspapers are great for finding articles and stories about your family members’ criminal activity as well as birth, marriage, and death announcements. If they were business owners, it is likely they put an ad in the newspaper. Even if you don’t find your family in the newspaper, read about the times they lived there to get a sense of what their life was like.

These are just a few of the main sources for newspapers online. Some are free with open access, others may require registration and fees.


The military are excellent record keepers, tracing individuals from drafts to pensions. Not all military records are online, but more and more join the digital ranks daily. The following are some popular resources for military records.

Family History Vital and Death Records

Everything is a record when it comes to researching your family history. Information could come from databases or a stitched sampler. The resources I’ve included here are for general or specific information related to vital records and general family history records. Consider these starting points for your research for birth, death, marriage, and other vital records.

Note: Some of these services are free, some require a fee, subscription, or membership. If there are records you need at a paid site, know that they often offer discounts or free access on some holidays and special events.

DNA Research, Testing, and Information

DNA testing is now an essential part of family history research. The prices have come down to within most people’s budgets, and the resulting information is improving daily, helping us understand not only how we are related within kissing-cousin distance, but deeper into the leaves and branches of our family tree going back hundreds if not thousands of years.

Each DNA testing service offers various features, so consider taking multiple tests. Once you have the results, explore them, then export the results and upload them to other DNA testing and research services. There are excellent free and paid services, and most major web-based family history membership sites offer DNA testing, helping you match results to your family trees. The more cross-indexing you do, the more likely you are to find family connections, and help others find theirs.

I recommend you check out DNAeXplained, an award-winning site by an expert in genealogy and DNA, for more information and help. Family History Daily has a detailed comparison chart to help you select the right DNA test for your needs. Professionally, I recommend two or more tests, and include as many elder family members as possible. There are frequent sales and deals.

Here are some other DNA testing services and helpful sites to consider.

Oral Histories, Storytelling, and Exploring History

Researching family history is about discovering and preserving the history as it relates to your family, as well as the world around you and your family. I’ve put together some resources to help you learn more about oral history, storytelling, and encourage you to explore the history of the world your family lived in. I’ve also included oral history archives as examples of some of the amazing stories you may find helpful for your family history research.

Immigration, Migration, Passenger Lists, and Travelers

We are all migrants and immigrants, all throughout history. Today, we spend a tremendous amount of time and money persecuting those crossing borders for safety and hope, yet, we all came from a past filled with such daring folk. Researching your family tree often leads to data that gives you a peak inside the lives your ancestors experienced crossing land, mountains, and seas to get to their new home. These are a few of the records to help you trace their steps.

Genealogy Blogs, Magazines, and Informational Sites

Before the Internet, the best you could do for learning about family history was the local library, local and national organizations and societies, books, and the few family history magazines. Today, we have almost an informational overload on all things family history and genealogy.

Genealogy and Family History Events, Conferences, Societies

There are so many events, workshops, classes, webinars, conferences, and society meetings around the world, especially in the United States, it’s hard to keep up. So a few creative people got together to create the Genealogy Conference Keeper Calendar to help. In addition to that resource, I also recommend a few major family history conferences to put on your calendar when you are ready to mix, mingle, and learn from some of the top experts in the industry.