The following is an essential list of some of the free use web sites that should become familiar to every researcher.
1. Family Search
The ‘gold-standard’ resources for anyone at anytime in doing family tree work is the use of the Family Search web site. Many of your basic questions can be answered just by using this vast database online. To top that, there are thousands of Family History Centers across the United States and in other countries which have computers with this database. The centers have countless microfilm reels of data, books, journals along with experienced volunteers. They don’t do the research for you but they will show you a path to take.
2. U. S. National Archives
The United States National Archives contains all federal government documents going back before the creation of our country. There is information about passports, military records, federal court records, federal prisoners, immigration, citizenship, land, census records, plus sections on ethnic heritage records (Chinese, Eastern European, African-American, etc). This massive collect continues to grow each year..
This holds true for the United Kingdom National Archives. With over a thousand years of data, this site has much to offer for those needing help with England, Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
3. Social Security Administration
Just like you, many of your ancestors had to fill out a Social Security application starting in the late 1930s. It can be a wonderful resource of information on an individual. The application includes the full name of the applicant and their residence when they filled out the application. Their occupation is also included on the application. A Social Security number is issued which remains with the person their whole life. The Social Security Administration will provide a copy of this Form SS-5, Application for Social Security Number to anyone who makes a request under the Freedom of Information Act.
The Social Security Death Index is also an asset after a relative’s death. There it shows the last known address, birth and death dates, and which state they lived in when issued their original Social Security card.
There is a fee to have a copy of the S. S. application mailed to you. You can view online, at the Social Security Death Index website, information on their data cards for free.
4. U. S. GenWeb
This US GenWeb is always expanding and has every U. S. state is listed, including the Indian Territory and the District of Columbia. You will find an array of links on different topics relating to the state you are researching. There are cemeteries, census listings, photos, postcards, and state held archives, plus names and locations of family history centers, genealogical and historical societies to name a few. Use the search box to place a surname or a town related to your ancestors in that state to see what is available.
5. Cyndi’s List
The “go to” web site for just about any topic, region, area you might be interested in is Cyndi’s List. The list of categories is tremendous with many sub-links to give the family researcher as many possibilities to examine as needed. With over 900 categories connecting over 332,000 individual links to a varied listing of web sites, all aimed to assist the family history researcher, this is a must go to site
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