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Genealogical databases, websites, and bibliographies to aid users in the pursuit of their family history and origins. Last Updated: Jun 20, 2024 10:31 AM

Beginner's Guides

Each of these sites provides useful tips for family history research.

Comprehensive Sites

Specialized Sites

  • Blacksheep Ancestors
    Selected prison, court and asylum records for the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.

  • Ethnic Groups and People
    Cyndi's List provides links to genealogical information on ethnic groups, nationalities, countries, immigration and migration.

  • Find A Grave
    Owned by Ancestry, this site provides information supplied by more than 400,000 contributors on the final resting place for people from around the world.

  • Gallaudet University Archives
    Deaf students from across the nation and around the world attended Gallaudet University in Washington, DC. This site strives to preserve the memory of the nationwide Deaf Community. This searchable collection includes lists of alumni, vital records information from insurance policies, images of The Silent Worker newspaper, and personal and organizational manuscripts.

Surname Forums and Message Boards

    A free search of message boards by surname, locality or topic.

  • GenForum
    Search message boards by surname, place or topic.

Genealogy Libraries and Archives

Primary/Secondary Resources

  • Chronicling America — Historic American Newspapers
    Search digitized copies of American newspapers from 1836-1922, or use the US Newspaper Directory to find information about American newspapers published from 1690 to the present. Chronicling America is sponsored jointly by the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress.

  • National Archives Digitized Records
    A list of records at the National Archives that have been digitized by their commercial partners. Records from's Library Edition database are available on site at all Fairfax County Public Library branches. (These may be different from those available on

  • The Official Land Patents Record Site
    The Bureau of Land Management provides access to millions of Federal land title records for public lands both east and west of the Mississippi River. Includes images of original documents.

  • Online Searchable Death Indexes & Records
    Online death indexes by state and county. Included are death indexes, obituaries, probate indexes as well as cemetery and burial indexes.

  • PERSI, the PERiodical Source Index
    Fill in the Who, Where or What Else? fields at the top of the page to search thousands of genealogy and history magazines. Narrow your results with the filters on the left. This is not a full-text search; instead it searches broad subjects or keywords assigned to each article. With the title and year of the magazine, you can ask for a copy of the article through the Interlibrary Loan service. If you don't live in Fairfax County or the City of Fairfax, ask for the service at your local public library.

  • Social Security Death Index
    Send for a copy of the deceased's social security application, which provides the names of parents and birthplace. Click on "Advanced Search," then choose Database "Social Security Death Index." Enter the person's name in the first name and last name fields (put a check mark in exact search if you are sure of the spelling); do not enter birth or death year in any field. Results list can then be sorted by year.

  • Tombstone Transcription Project
    Prepared by USGenWeb volunteers. Includes a link to their Tombstone Photo Project.

  • US Railroad Retirement Board
    The US Railroad Retirement Board administers a federal retirement benefit program for the nation's railroad workers. The Board will provide information from its records on deceased persons for the purpose of genealogical research. The records begin in 1937, but the site includes links to other information sources about railroad employees.

African American Resources

A discovery hub that helps users to search and find information from a large and growing number of datasets and digital projects.  Researchers can learn from linking data, visualizing larger relations and movements, and connecting the traces of people from one dataset to the next. More importantly, users can discover and explore the original sources of the information.

The Journal of Slavery and Data Preservation works in conjunction with Enslaved: Peoples of the Historical Slave Trade to make the data contributed discoverable and interactive and to establish a sustainable scholarly repository for digital projects concerned with the history of African slavery. The Journal of Slavery and Data Preservation focuses mainly on publishing and preserving data articles, whereas acts as an interactive, searchable repository for digital data.

  • Free African Americans of Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Maryland and Delaware
    This online version of Paul Heinegg's book includes family histories, colonial period tax list and census data, as well as photographs.

  • Freedmen's Bureau Online
    The Freedmen's Bureau, established in 1865, supervised all relief and educational activities relating to refugees and freedmen. Among the records selected for this site, are lists of residents at refugee camps, marriages, orphans, employment and crimes against residents. Records for Fairfax County and Northern Virginia are listed under "Washington, DC" rather than Virginia.

Jewish Resources

  • American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee Archives
    Collection of documents and photographs from the World War II era. Photo gallery, names index.

  • Arolsen Archives – International Center on Nazi Persecution
    This site contains the world’s most comprehensive archive on the victims and survivors of National Socialism with information on about 17.5 million people. Contains documents on the various victim groups targeted by the Nazis. Comprehensive collection of concentration camp documents, former prisoner/D.P. camp records, death notices, etc.

  • Avotaynu
    Books, Journal, articles, “Five-Minute Guide to Jewish Genealogy Research.” .

  • The Canadian Jewish Heritage Network
    Site “brings together the databases and digitized archival material of a wide range of archives. New material is being added on a regular basis.” 

  • Consolidated Jewish Surname Index
    Avotaynu, a publisher of books and magazines on Jewish genealogy, presents an index to information on nearly 700,000 surnames that appear in forty-two different databases. Names are indexed by sound rather than spelling.

  • Hebrew
    Focus on Argentina. Includes basic information on how to do Jewish Genealogy. Cemeteries, immigration records, Yiddish given names, marriage and burial records.

  • History of Jewish Communities in the Ukraine
    Focus on small disappeared Jewish communities of central Ukraine. Astounding site.

  • Holocaust Memorial Museum
    Washington, DC's Holocaust Museum includes links to archives and tracing services for Holocaust victims.

  • International Tracing Service
    The archives of the International Tracing Service documents the fate of Holocaust victims.

  • The Jewish Cemetery Project (Barbados, WI)
    The Jewish cemetery in Bridgetown, Barbados is believed to be the oldest Jewish graveyard in the Western Hemisphere with citations dating back to the 1660's.

    Databases, mailing lists, discussion groups and more. Be sure to try the Gazetteer, which will help you locate towns in Europe, North Africa and the Middle East, even if you don't know the correct spelling.The Yizkor Book Project facilitates access to yizkor books which memorialize people and communities destroyed in the holocaust.

  • Jewish Heritage Europe
    Web portal to news, information and resources concerning Jewish monuments, cemeteries and heritage sites all over Europe. 

  • The Jewish Sentinel (Chicago)
    Access over 2,000 issues of The Sentinel which was the premier Jewish weekly in Chicago published from 1911 to 1996. The Sentinel reflected the changing Chicago Jewish community, covering not only local issues, but also national and international Jewish news. 

  • New York Public Library Yizkor Book Collection
    The New York Public Library has digitized 650 Yizkor books. 

  • Steve
    This site contains tools for finding immigration records, census records, vital records, and for dealing with calendars, maps, foreign alphabets, and numerous other applications.

  • Tracing the Tribe Facebook Group
    Facebook group devoted to Jewish Genealogy.

  • United States Holocaust Museum
    Collection includes oral history, books, photos, film, video and audio recordings, objects and ephemera.

  • Yad Vashem – The World Holocaust Remembrance Center
    The Holocaust Resource Center serves as a repository for the collection of the testimonies of Holocaust survivors and memoirs written by survivors after the war. It includes a photo archive and databases of victims’ names, the Righteous (rescuers), deportations and films.

  • YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
    The YIVO Archives and Library represent the single largest and most comprehensive collection of materials on East European Jewish civilization in the world

Local History and Genealogy Resources

Military Resources (National)

  • American Battle Monuments Commission
    The commission maintains lists of those interred in American military cemeteries overseas and those Missing in Action from World War I, World War II, Korea and Vietnam. In addition, information describing commission-administered cemeteries and war memorials worldwide is available.

  • Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System
    This National Park Service database contains information from 6.3 million soldier records from 44 US states and territories. The data was taken from the General Index Cards in the National Archives and Records Administration's Compiled Military Service Records. Navy records will be included in the future, although about 18,000 African American sailors are already cataloged. The site also has information such as regimental histories and links to descriptions of nearly 400 significant battles.

  • Dictionary of American Naval Fighting Ships
    More than 10,000 ship histories, from the earliest days to Vietnam and beyond. Includes some Coast Guard vessels, revenue cutters and the Confederate Navy.

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

  • National Registry of Service
    The Library of Congress Veterans' History Project was created to honor our nation's war veterans for their service and to collect their stories and experiences. The project focuses on World War I (1914-1920), World War II (1939-1946) and the Korean (1950-1955), Vietnam (1961-1975) and Persian Gulf (1990-1995) wars, and includes all participants in those wars — men and women, civilian and military.

  • Nationwide Gravesite Locator
    "Search for burial locations of veterans and their family members in national cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, various other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and for veterans buried in private cemeteries when the grave is marked with a government grave marker." Burials in private cemeteries include only those from 1997 to the present. From the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Arlington National Cemetery records can be found at the ANC Explorer.

  • Official Records of the War of the Rebellion
    Formal reports, both Union and Confederate, of military operations in the field, with the correspondence, orders and returns relating to the action. The full text is completely searchable.

  • Old Naval Hospital, Washington DC
    The Friends of the Old Naval Hospital plan to transcribe the estimated 20,500 pages of records of patients admitted and treated in the Naval Hospital from 1866 to 1906. The site currently includes almost 500 images of these handwritten records, for patients admitted in 1866 and 1867, as well as photographs and historical information.

  • Prisoners of War and Missing Personnel
    The list of unrecovered service personnel from WWII, Korea, the Cold War, Vietnam and the 1991 Gulf War. It includes those from all military services, including the Merchant Marine.

  • Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War
    The National Graves Registration Project of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War is a searchable database of both Union and Confederate burials.

  • Vietnam Veterans Memorial
    This interactive memorial to veterans allows users to view names and summary records for any of the 58,256 veterans killed or missing in the Vietnam War.

  • WWII Registry
    The World War II Registry is part of the National World War II Memorial. It includes veterans, those killed or missing in action and some civilians on the home front. It is not a complete listing of WWII soldiers.

United Kingdom Resources

Passenger Ship Lists

  • American Family Immigration History Center
    Database of Ellis Island arrival records that have been transcribed by Latter Day Saints volunteers. Be sure to try various spellings and permutations of both the first and last names (including just using a first initial), and bear in mind that errors have been found in the transcriptions. Note: Free registration is required.

  • Directory of Passenger Ship Arrivals
    This database pulls together the data from various passenger ship lists published on the Internet. Search alphabetically, by vessel name or by US port of arrival.

  • Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild
    Though still a work in progress, this database of passenger lists transcribed by the guild is a truly invaluable resource. Search passenger lists by date, ship's name, port of departure or arrival, or even passenger's or captain's surname.

  • One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse
    Steve Morse offers indexing and search strategies for accessing data in the passenger lists of Castle Garden, Ellis Island, Baltimore, Boston, Galveston, Philadelphia and San Francisco.

  • The Ships List
    A growing list of resources for those seeking the details of their ancestors' ships: passenger records, contemporary immigration reports, newspaper records, ship wreck information, ship pictures, etc. Seeks to present information not included in other immigration sources. Includes an excellent Frequently Asked Questions section that explains the basics of immigration searching.

Reference Works/Tools

Family Archives Preservation

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