Genealogy Online Steps
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Genealogy Online Steps


Genealogy: Online Research

Presented by
Jennifer Ewing, History Section
San Diego Public Library

Editorial Note: When originally presented, the Library subscribed to AncestryPlus; the product is now Ancestry Library (similar), provided by another vendor. This presentation has been updated to reflect the current name of the product; the PowerPoint and PDF files still reflect the previous product.

This Subject Internet & Technology session will give you an introduction to using and exploring the vast array of online (Web and electronic format) genealogy resources and research materials. A major part of the workshop was an exploration of the Ancestry Library premium subscription database (see details below). Below are links to the PowerPoint presentation used in the workshop, and a PDF flyer handout that contains many of the below and additional linked resources.

Ancestry Library Database

Genealogy: Online Research - Select List of Resources

Genealogy: Online Research (PowerPoint Presentation)

Genealogy: Online Research (PDF: 198K)

Ancestry Library Database

Access: You can access Ancestry Library from any San Diego Public Library location. You can find Ancestry Library on our Catalog & Databases page.

What can Ancestry Library do for you? It offers links to literally millions of genealogy records, indexes, and research for over 1 billion names. It's an enhanced and richer version of the "public" or commercial version that is seen on the Web at It provides information through Census Records, Birth, Marriage, & Death (Social Security Death Index), Military Records, Court, Land & Probate Records, and Immigration Records.

Also, the SDPL has subscriptions to newspaper and magazine databases (ProQuest, EBSCOhost, and New York Times Archive, for example) which contain obituaries and death notices.

Genealogy: Online Research - Select List of Resources

Library's Collections - Books & CD-ROMS

All of the below are reference or circulating books, available for use in the History Section, 1st Floor, Central Library, or in the California or Genealogy Rooms, 2nd Floor, Central Library. The links below link to the Library Catalog record for each item.

The complete beginner's guide to genealogy, the Internet, and you genealogy computer program by Karen Clifford. 2001. 929.10285/CLIFFORD
Provides detailed information on the mechanics of genealogical research including: locating sources, evaluating information and processing the results. An emphasis is placed on resources available through the Family History Centers.

The complete idiot's guide to online genealogy by Rhonda R. McClure. 2000. RGY 025.06/MCCLURE
Basic introductory guide that assumes you know nothing about genealogical research. It takes you step-by-step from beginning computer use to using your computer for genealogical research.

Cyndi's list: a comprehensive list of 40,000 genealogy sites on the Internet by Cyndi Howells. 1999. R 929.10285/HOWELLS
Print version of Cyndi's List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet with 40,000 sites and over 100 categories that correspond to the Web version.

The genealogist's virtual library: full-text books on the World Wide Web by Thomas Jay Kemp. 2000. 025.06/KEMP
A guide to entire books and materials available free on the Internet: family histories, local histories organized by state and other "general subjects" that include country & ethnic sites, religion, government, military & public records.

Genealogy basics online: a step-by-step introduction to finding your ancestors through the Internet by Cherri Melton Flinn. 2000. RGY 025.06/FLINN
A beautiful work that provides addresses, descriptions and screen prints for genealogy Web sites.

Genealogy online for dummies by Matthew Helm. 2001. RGY 929.1028/HELM
Explains genealogical research on the Web, descriptions of various sites, tips for finding information and instruction on how to search certain sites.

The sourcebook to public record information. 1999. RCC 352.387/SOURCEBOOK
Good sources for locating public information with descriptions of the types of information that are available, the agency that holds it, and how to request it. It includes Web addresses for those agencies that have them.

Virtual roots: a guide to genealogy and local history on the World Wide Web by Thomas Jay Kemp. 1997. 929.1028/KEMP
A detailed, though dated, directory listing over 1,000 of the Web's best genealogy and local history sites.

African Americans in the 1870 census by Family Tree Maker. 1996. RGY CDROM 929.373/AFRICAN
Contains alphabetical index of approximately 660,000 African American individuals who were enumerated in the 1870 federal census returns. Areas represented include GA, NC, PA, SC, VA, and WV, as well as the counties containing the cities of Baltimore, Chicago, New York City, and St. Louis.

Immigrants to the new world, 1600s-1800s from Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc. 1997. RGY CDROM 929.374/IMMIGRANTS
Contains the names of approximately 58,000 individuals who arrived in New England or the Mid-Atlantic states between 1572 and 1878. Information about each individual varies, depending on the source.

Comprehensive Web Sites

Cyndi's List

Cyndi's List
One of the most comprehensive collections of categorized & cross-reference links to genealogy sites on the Internet with over 150 categories and 168,500 links.
The free version of AncestryPlus.

RootsWeb is the oldest and largest free online community for genealogists. It contains extensive interactive guides and numerous research tools for tracing family histories.

The USGenWeb Project
Created by volunteers, this site is working to provide Internet Web sites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States.

Olive Tree Genealogy
Free Ships' Passenger lists, family surnames, church records, military muster rolls, census records, land records, etc.

Government Sites

US National Archives & Records Administration
The National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) has many records that are useful for genealogical research, such as the Federal population censuses, 1790-1920; military service and pension records, ca. 1776-1900; immigration records, 1820-1957; and naturalization records.

Bureau of Land Management (BLM) - Official Federal Land Patent Records Site
The General Land Office provides image access to more than two million Federal land title records for Eastern Public Land States, issued between 1820 and 1908. This is the source of information on the initial transfer of land titles from the Federal government to individuals.

Geographic Names Information System
Great for locating places in the US and its territories. GNIS contains information about almost 2 million physical and cultural geographic features in the United States and is our Nation's official repository of domestic geographic names information.

Military Records


National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records
The National Personnel Records Center, Military Personnel Records (NPRC-MPR) is the repository of millions of military personnel, health, and medical records of discharged and deceased veterans of all services during the 20th century.

Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System (National Park Service)
The Civil War Soldiers and Sailors System is a computerized database containing very basic facts about servicemen who served on both sides during the Civil War. The source of the data being entered is the General Index Cards in the Compiled Military Service Records at the National Archives. The CWSS database currently contains over 5 million soldier names from over 30 states and territories.

American Civil War Research Database
This is a commercial fee-based site. It calls itself the largest, most in-depth and fully searchable database of United States Civil War soldiers and events. It has the records for 2,678,000 soldiers and provides statistical analysis of the Civil War on a company and regimental basis and/or the military records for the combatants. The records can be examined on an individual basis, too.

Vital Statistics

Social Security Death Index
From the U.S. Social Security Administrations Death Master File, the index contains 68,969,762 names of deceased persons who possessed Social Security numbers and whose death was reported to the SSA.

Vital Records
Addresses for state and county offices for birth, death, marriage, and divorce records.

Libraries & Archives

Library of Congress: American Memory
American Memory is a gateway to rich primary source materials relating to the history and culture of the United States. The site offers more than 7 million digital items from more than 100 historical collections.

Local History & Genealogy Reading Room
The genealogical section of the Library of Congress includes information about conducting research using the Library, descriptions of the collections, bibliographies and guides and Internet links.

Local History & Geneology Reading Room

List of Genealogy Libraries
(Select "Genealogy Libraries" from list on left, or go here) This site is sponsored by Golden West Marketing Genealogy which sells genealogy books and databases.

California State Archives
In addition to collecting of state and local governments, the archive has Spanish and Mexican land grants and family history resources.

San Diego Public Library
The California Room collects Southern California history especially San Diego and Imperial Counties and Baja California. It houses the San Diego Union-Tribune newspaper index, the Sanborn Fire Maps and other early San Diego maps, San Diego Great Registrar of Voters (1866-1909), and City Directories, etc. Next door, the Genealogy Room has over 3,000 books (an emphasis on the Eastern states), military records, the DAR collection, Filby's Passenger & Immigration Lists Index, many family and county histories, the Dawes records, and over 100 genealogy CD-ROMs. It is open to the public during regular library hours. To use the room, check in at the California Room. For more information, please call (619) 236-5834.

Ethnic Sites

Remember that the comprehensive Web sites will also have lists of ethnic sites.

AfriGeneas: African Ancestored Genealogy
This site is devoted to African American genealogy, especially to researching African Ancestry in the Americas and includes an e-mail list, message boards and genealogy chats.

Christine's Genealogy Web site
A comprehensive collection of African American genealogical resource links, news articles, and forum.

Christine's Genealogy Web site

African American
Part of the Genealogy How-To portion of the Family Tree Maker site, this article contains general information on researching African-American ancestors, a contact list of societies, and links to Web sites of interest to researchers.

Native Americans Genealogy
List featuring Native American genealogy links.

This Web site's purpose is to connect researchers of Jewish genealogy worldwide through the discussion group, databases of surnames, towns, and people and Internet links to over 200 communities.

Ethnic Sites -- Hispanic

A genealogical society - Los Californianos
Los Californianos works to preserve the heritage of the early Hispanic Californians in Alta California by conducting research on genealogy and civil, religious, military, social and cultural activities in order to provide an accurate and authentic oral, written, and pictorial interpretation of the history of Spanish and Mexican Alta California.

A comprehensive site - Cyndi's List -- Hispanic, Central & South America, & the West Indies
See also "Localities" & "Ethnic Groups & People" under the Topical Category Index.

A library - Hispanic Local History and Genealogy in the United States
This bibliography lists titles on two primary topics: histories of American families of Hispanic origin, and histories of places in the United States settled by people of Hispanic origin.

Other Sites

City Directories
Attempts to identify all printed, microfilmed, and online directories, and their repositories for the United States.

Learning Center
Includes how-to articles, online classes and reference works. Check out Beginning Genealogy & Internet Genealogy

GenForum by
An example of a message board (forums) providing both surname boards and geographic boards.

The Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego
A local association of people who perform genealogical research using their computers. Site includes current events, membership and meeting information and genealogy links.


How to cite electronic sources - Common Internet and Electronic Citations

Genealogy charts & forms Ancestors (PBS series)

Forms & Charts




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