101 Best genealogy websites

Family Tree Magazine, an American genealogy magazine, has published their latest list of 101 Best Genealogy Websites for 2008.

What has this got to do with an Australian, you might ask. I admit that the majority of American websites have little relevance to us here in Australia unless we have ancestors from the US but if you think about it, Americans have similar problems to us. Most Americans’ ancestors came from somewhere else, as ours did.

Once they get far enough back up their family tree they need to know about English and Irish and Scottish and European research just as we do. The US and Canada had large waves of immigration in the same periods as Australia; theirs just started earlier than ours.

So what is in the list of 101 best websites? This year they’ve broken them down into categories so their readers, and browsers like us, can pick and choose according to relevance.

Best for Beginning Researchers This is a category to pick and choose from. Cyndi’s List, WorldCat and FamilySearch have universal relevance, but the US Library of Congress may not.

Best for Web Researchers I was a bit confused by this category – surely they are all good for web researchers. They appear to be sites that you can spend a lot of time in, “in your pajamas”. Many of them, such as Ancestry and WorldVitalRecords, have Australian content as well as British and European. Others are places to link with other researchers and share information, such as WeRelate and Shared Tree.

Best for Military Researchers is purely for American military history, so if you are interested in that I will leave you to check it out on your own.

Best for US Researchers is similarly restricted to American research, as is Best for African-American Research.

Best for Canadian Research may be useful if your ancestors siblings went to Canada instead of coming here, as one of mine did. Others changed their minds about Canada and came here. It’s daunting to realise that you suddenly have to learn about a whole new country and its records and knowing that a good place to start is the Canadian Genealogy Centre, part of Library and Archives Canada.

Best for Immigration Research is best for immigration into America, although The Ships List has Australian and New Zealand lists as well.

Best for British Isles Research has a good list of essential sites, although I’m not so sure about Burke’s Peerage Online. GENUKI is an essential first stop and FreeBMD should be on everyone’s list of favourite sites with English or Welsh ancestry. Scotland and Ireland are not left out, with ScotlandsPeople and Ireland’s History in Maps.

Personally I think this list could have been longer, or broken into smaller categories. What are your suggestions?

Best for Continental Researchers is similarly brief with just seven sites for the whole continent.

Best for Jewish Research is possibly a neglected area in Australia. Less so in the States where Avotaynu is probably the best known Jewish research site.

Best for Genetic Researchers is another universal category. GeneTree is a social networking site that uses mitochondrial DNA test results (from the female line).

I haven’t listed all 101 sites for obvious reasons – you can go there and look around to your heart’s content. An Australian-made list would obviously be different, and every compiler would have their own version.

What are your favourite sites?


  1. I think my family tree is a few branches short of full bloom.

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