Use these 75 state-focused genealogy websites to find your ancestors and bust down brick walls.
Tracking down state-level genealogy records—births, marriages, deaths and more—can be exhausting work, but each year it gets easier and easier as more state historical societies and archives digitize collections and post them online for you to browse or search. They’re also offering more indexes, guides and other tools to help you get your hands on state repositories’ offline records. We commend these ambitious organizations and individuals for providing all of us with these genealogical gifts that keep on giving throughout the year.
In selecting this year’s best state websites, we looked especially for databases (at least one per state) where you can search for your ancestors’ names. Some sites also have digital images of original records, and several of the sites regularly add new searchable documents. So have at it: Open up your laptop, unwrap your web browser and start enjoying your new favorite genealogy websites
Click on Search Our Collections to hunt for ancestors in Civil War service cards and 1867 voter registrations. Online catalogs cover microfilmed newspapers available on interlibrary loan, as well as the archives’ local and county records, church records and maps.
Alaska Division of Libraries, Archives and Museums
Click on the For Researchers tab and select Genealogy Resources from State Archives to access indexes to naturalization (1885-1972) and probate records (1883-1960). You also can search the Alaska Newspapers Index at <education.alaska.gov/lam/newspapers.cfm>.
Arizona Genealogy Birth and Death Certificates
Genealogists can thank Arizona for setting an example of vital records accessibility. Search for births (1855-1936) and deaths (1844-1961), then view the original records online.
Arizona Memory Project
Coordinated by the Arizona State Library, this site provides access to government documents, photos and maps at repositories throughout the state. To find a person in city and phone directories and other sources, search on an exact phrase with the surname first, like this: Smith, John.
Search for a name from more than 725,000 gravestone photos.
California Digital Newspaper Collection
This site puts more than 5 million articles in California newspapers (1846-2011) at your fingertips. Place quotation marks around a name to search on an exact phrase.
California Genealogical Society and Library
Click the Databases tab to search 350,000 records in the California Names Index for free. It costs just $10 for a lookup in the original source. Members also get online access to San Francisco church records and newspapers.
San Francisco Genealogy
In addition to extensive resources for the Bay area, this site has statewide indexes to births (1905-1995) and deaths (1940-1997).
Colorado Historic Newspapers Collection
Finding marriage notices, obituaries and local news items is easy in this collection of 500,000 pages from 163 newspapers published in Colorado from 1859 to 1923. Use quotation marks to search on an exact phrase.
Colorado State Archives
A single search here scours more than 2 million entries in original sources (more than twice as many as in 2010), including county birth and death registers, and a statewide divorce index (1880-1939).
Connecticut State Library Digital Collections
Search 24 collections of digitized books, diaries, photos, court records, witchcraft trial records, newspapers, vital records indexes and more.
Jane Devlin’s site gives you free access to genealogy resources from the New England and Mid-Atlantic states, including extensive church and cemetery records from Connecticut. Use the search box to find a name anywhere on the site.
Delaware Public Archives
Click on the Digital Archives link to access Civil War records, naturalization records, historical maps and more. From the homepage, click on Collection Gateway to search indexes to bastardy bonds, death registers and probate records.
Florida Memory Project
Free databases from the State Library and Archives of Florida include Confederate pension applications, WWI service cards, Spanish land grant records and more than 174,000 historical photographs.
Click on the Virtual Vault icon to search Colonial wills, Confederate pension applications, death certificates (1919-1927) and the General Name File. Use the search box to search across multiple collections or click on the Advanced Search tab to choose a database.
Hawaii State Archives
Under Quick Links on the right, click on Genealogical Indexes to search or browse indexes to marriage, divorce, citizenship and death records. Click on Digital Collections to search vital records, land records, passenger lists and WWI service records.
Idaho’s Digital Archives
Search indexes to biographies, Civil War veterans, naturalization records, pension files, inmates and special censuses.
Illinois State Archives
Click on Databases to search various county indexes to births, wills and other records, as well as statewide indexes to marriages (1763-1900) and deaths (pre-1916 and 1916-1950). Another 11 databases cover Illinois war veterans. Or use the Global Database Search to search all the databases at one time.
Indiana State Digital Archives
Thanks to the work of volunteers, this site now boasts more than 2.8 million searchable records, including military, naturalization and prison records. Naturalization records from other counties are on the way.
Indiana State Library: Genealogy Collection
Click on Databases to search indexes to marriages, deaths, biographies and newspapers. The VINE database has Indiana local history and vital records from libraries, historical societies and genealogical societies.
Iowa GenWeb Project
A standout state site in the USGenWeb Project
, this one has 820,000 gravestone photos, more than 3,000 family group sheets, state census transcriptions from 1836 to 1925 and more. Use the Special Projects drop-down menu on the left to find these records.
Kansas Historical Society
Search for your ancestors in several databases on this site. The Kansas Names Index covers the 1895 state census, biographies, marriages, death notices and more. The Kansas Military Index has names in records from the Civil War to the present.
Kentuckiana Digital Library
Search digital images of more than half a million items from the Bluegrass State, including books, manuscripts, newspapers, maps, oral histories and pictures.
Louisiana Biography and Obituary Index
A digitized version of a card file with more than 650,000 names at the New Orleans Public Library, this database indexes obituaries and death notices published in New Orleans newspapers from 1804 to 1972. It also includes information published in Louisiana biographical collections. Order copies of whatever you find in the index for just $2.
Louisiana State Archives Research Library
Click Confederate Database to search Confederate pension applications. Under Vital Records Index, you’ll find death records (mostly 1911-1960) and Orleans Parish births (mostly 1819-1907) and marriages (1870-1960).
Chris Dunham’s site has extensive resources for researching your ancestry in the Pine Tree State, including indexes to vital records, obituaries, passenger lists, military records and court records. Use the First Name and Last Name boxes at the top of any page to search all the files at once.
Maine State Archives
This site’s databases cover marriages from 1892 to 2009 and deaths from 1960 to 2009. Click on Databases for Downloading to access an index of divorces (1800-1891) and records pertaining to soldiers of the Revolutionary War, War of 1812, Mexican War and Civil War.
Archives of Maryland Online
This online series from the Maryland State Archives has more than 471,000 historical documents. Click on Probate Records for an index to Colonial probate records (1634-1777) and on Military Records for Revolutionary War and Civil War resources.
Maryland State Archives
In the Quick Links list, click Reference & Research for links to genealogical resources across this site, including research guides and various indexes. The Quick Link to Mdvitalrec.net leads to Maryland death indexes (1875-1972). The archives’ MDslavery.net database lets you search names from slavery-related court, census and other records.
Among the benefits of membership in the New England Historic Genealogical Society ($79.95 per year) is access to nearly 3,000 online databases. These include a large collection of Massachusetts vital records, plus church, town and probate records.
Search indexes to birth, marriage and death records from 1841 to 1910, plus an index to passengers arriving in Boston between 1848 and 1891. Indexes and images of vital records from 1916 to 1920 are coming soon.
Michigan Family History Network
Volunteers are transcribing records from every county in Michigan. Click on an arrow beside a category, such as Births, Marriages or Deaths, to access record collections, or click on Site Search to search all the databases at once.
Western Michigan Genealogical Society
Search indexes to more than 2.1 million marriages, deaths, obituaries and other records for free. You can order copies of most records for just $5.
Minnesota Discovery Center
The Genealogy Database covers birth, marriage and cemetery records from the Iron Range, plus alien registrations, naturalizations and obituaries from across Minnesota.
Minnesota Historical Society
Trace your ancestors in the Land of 10,000 Lakes with indexes to state censuses from 1849 to 1905, birth records from 1900 to 1934 (plus a few earlier ones) and death records from 1904 to 2001. Click the People tab to search all of these databases and others in one fell swoop.
Mississippi Department of Archives and History
Click on Digital Archives to view Confederate pension applications and WWI statement of service cards and indexes. Check the Genealogy section for finding aids to key record collections at the archives and use the online catalog to identify specific records. The Research Requests section tells how to submit your request to archives staff.
Missouri Digital Heritage
Access more than 6.8 million birth, marriage, death, church, cemetery, military, naturalization and other records from around the state through a single search. You also can search several digitized newspaper collections, but just one title at a time.
Missouri State Archives
The state archives’ main site has several important databases, too. They include births and deaths before 1910, death certificates (1910-1961), military records from the War of 1812 to WWI and county records.
Montana Historical Society Research Center
Explore the multimedia Montana Memory Project and search the Research Center’s online catalog covering oral histories and manuscripts.
Montana State Genealogical Society
Click On Line Data to view an index to 700,000 Montana deaths through 2002. It’s arranged by decade. Other free indexes cover marriage and naturalization records of Norwegian immigrants
Nebraska State Historical Society
Under the Search Collections tab, select Additional Research Databases to access indexes to names in cemetery records, county atlases, plat books and prison records. Were your ancestors early arrivals? The 1860-1954 Tract Books Index
covers the first owners of land in Nebraska.
Nevada State Library and Archives
The new Nevada State Digital Archives has more than half a million online records, including territorial census records (1861-1864) and state land patents (1865-2009).
New Hampshire Genealogy and History
This extensive guide to researching your family history in New Hampshire covers all the major record groups and has numerous links to online resources including historical background, maps, surname lists, message boards and more. It even offers detailed resources for every county and many towns in the state.
New Jersey State Archives
The Garden State archives’ searchable databases include indexes to marriage records (1665-1799 and 1848-1878) and death records (1878-1888). The online archives has more than 1 million entries from documents and photographs.
New Mexico Archives Project
Scroll down the page to access statewide indexes to almost 51,000 deaths from 1899 to 1949.
German Genealogy Group
Italian Genealogical Group
Thanks to the efforts of volunteers in these groups, you can search indexes to births, marriages, deaths, naturalizations and church records in New York City and Long Island.
Old Fulton NY Post Cards
Search for a word or phrase in almost 20 million newspaper pages. Despite the name, the site has newspapers from all over New York. To download the list, click on FAQ_HELP_INDEX at the top of the screen, then “to browse the different papers, click Here” and finally “Download this index as a Microsoft Excel file” (in the upper right of the right frame). More newspapers are being added, so check back regularly.
This index covers more than 235,000 New York wills. Browse by county or click on Search This Site Engine to search for a name on the whole site, including records from other states.
North Carolina Family Records Online
A project of the State Library and State Archives of North Carolina, this site has Bible records, marriage and death notices from North Carolina newspapers (1799-1893) and cemetery photographs.
State Archives of North Carolina
Click on Online Projects to explore Tar Heel State maps, photos and newspapers. The North Carolina Newspaper Digitization Project lets you search for a word or phrase in newspapers published in North Carolina from 1751 to 1898. Click on Record Types, then County Records (or go to www.archives.ncdcr.gov/records_county.htm
) for indexes to county court records including divorces, estates, guardianships, marriage licenses and wills. The MARS Catalog describes manuscripts in detail, so try searching for names in your family tree.
North Dakota Department of
Public Health Public Death Index
Search death certificates from 1881 on this site. Single searches are limited to a 10-year span, so if you don’t know the year of death, you might have to do multiple searches.
North Dakota State University Institute
for Regional Studies and Archives
Search the statewide North Dakota Biography Index, 212,000 naturalization records, the 1885 Dakota Territory census for counties in present-day North Dakota and obituaries from the Fargo Forum newspaper, plus indexes to Cass County marriages, divorces and probate records from the 1870s to the 1940s.
Archives/Library of the Ohio Historical Society
Online resources at this site include an index to death certificates from 1913 to 1944, a roster of Ohio soldiers in the War of 1812 and an index to admission records from the Boys Industrial School (1858-1944) and Girls Industrial School (1869-1943).
Oklahoma Historical Society
Click on Research Center to access several databases, or look under Records to find the 1890 territorial census, the Dawes Final Rolls and Smith’s First Directory of Oklahoma Territory. Under Genealogy, search indexes to marriages, obituaries and probate records.
Genealogical Forum of Oregon
Search multiple databases at once, including land claims, marriage and death records, and obituaries.
Oregon State Archives
The Oregon Historical Records Index now has more than 600,000 names from county records, including birth, marriage, death, divorce, naturalization and probate records.
Historical Society of Pennsylvania
Click on For Genealogists & Community Historians for an overview of this society’s collections as well as links to online catalogs and guides to holdings of books, manuscripts and more. You’ll also find more than 50,000 digitized documents, photos, maps, letters and diaries in the society’s Digital Library
, and more record images are on the way.
Pennsylvania State Archives
Seven databases cover military records from the Revolutionary War to the Spanish-American War, plus WWI service medal application cards. Many of these records even include soldiers’ physical descriptions.
Rhode Island Historical Cemeteries
More than just an index to burials, this site includes dates of birth and death, family members’ names and cemetery maps.
South Carolina Department of Archives and History
Click the Online Research tab, then the Online Research Index link to search more than 300,000 items (many with images), including Confederate veterans records (1909-1973), criminal court records, state land-grant plats (1784-1868), legislative papers (1782-1866), will transcriptions (1782-1855) and school insurance photos (1935-1952).
South Dakota Birth Records
Search more than 228,000 South Dakota births, including many delayed birth certificates issued for folks born before statewide registration began in 1905.
South Dakota State Historical Society
Find your ancestors in the Mount Rushmore State with the help of these indexes to naturalizations, cemetery records and biographies, plus a transcription of the 1885 census of Civil War veterans
Tennessee State Library and Archives
Indexes cover Tennessee death records (1908-1912 and 1914-1933), death notices in Nashville newspapers (1855-1907), Confederate pension applications and more.
Texas Heritage Online
A partnership among libraries and museums across the state, this site includes digitized books, newspapers, photographs, yearbooks and other items. Browse or search across the whole collection.
Texas State Library and Archives Commission
Databases for researching ancestors in the Lone Star State include an index to Confederate pension applications, lists of indigent Confederate families and digitized Republic claims.
Utah Cemeteries and Burials Database
This database contains cemetery records for more than 550,000 people buried in Utah, and more burials are continually being added.
Utah Digital Newspapers
Search for a word anywhere in more than 1 million pages of Utah newspapers dating from 1850 to 1985. The collection is part of Digital Utah
, where you’ll also find links to other digital collections.
Utah State Archives Name Indexes
The state archives has created this convenient list of online records searchable by name. In addition to images of death certificates (1904-1960), you can search birth registers and other records from several counties.
Vermont Historical Society
Under the Library tab, select Genealogy and then Genealogy Indexes and Lists for links to online records, including baptisms, marriages, deaths, naturalizations and town records.
Library of Virginia
Among the many indexes and digitized documents here, don’t overlook the index to wills and administrations up to 1800 at www.lva.virginia.gov/public/guides/opac/willsabout.
. The library has a separate site for digitized materials at Virginia Memory
. Select Collections by Topic from the Digital Collections tab. Under Military Service, find Revolutionary War records and Confederate pension rolls. Look under Land Office Patents and Grants for records back to the 17th century.
Washington State Digital Archives
This terrific site already has more than 36 million searchable records online. Among them are birth, marriage, death, census, cemetery and naturalization records.
Washington State Library
To find your ancestor mentioned in Washington newspapers published between 1852 and 1889, click on Digital Collections and then on Historical Newspaper in Washington and use the Personal Name Search. Click on Genealogy for an overview of resources at the library. Take advantage of the free obituary lookup service, too.
West Virginia Archives and History
Search and view digitized birth records (1790-1936), marriage records (1780-1971) and death records (1753-1970). They’re not complete for all counties, but more records are being added.
Wisconsin Historical Society
The Wisconsin Genealogy Index covers a million births, a million marriages and 400,000 deaths registered before September 1907, plus 150,000 obituaries and biographies. The site has much more, including Civil War records and local history and biography articles.
Wyoming Newspaper Project
Now you can search more than 800,000 newspaper pages, including all newspapers published in Wyoming between 1849 and 1922.
From the December 2012 issue of Family Tree Magazine