Need help finding family overseas? Let a local be your guide. This year’s Family Tree 40 list highlights the top blogs for tracing roots around the globe.
If you’ve traveled abroad, you know it’s not easy to adjust to a new land. Unfamiliar languages, customs, laws, food, currency and maps can trip you up. Smart travelers often consult trusted locals on where to visit, eat and sleep.
Starting family history research in another country is like traveling there for the first time. You don’t know the nuances of record-keeping, the ins and outs of repositories, or even how to read the country’s records. It can help to have a friendly local as your guide.
Where can you find such a guide? Try the international geneablogging scene. Amateurs and experts from Argentina to Australia, British Columbia to the British Isles note their successes, tips and techniques in genealogy weblogs, or “geneablogs.” In this whirlwind world tour, we’ll introduce you to 40 fantastic international blogs, and help you find, read and use them in your research.
We chose these blogs based on their overall quality of content and design, potential interest to other researchers, and relatively current status. There are dozens more with advice on finding your international ancestors—see our blog readers' Q&A
for advice on how to find and get the most out of international blogs relevant to your genealogy search.
Because genealogy research often strays beyond national boundaries—both modern and historical ones—we’ve categorized these blogs according to their geographic regions: the Americas, Europe, Asia, Oceana and Africa, and even a multilingual one covering regions worldwide. If you have Hispanic heritage, you might want to check blogs covering Spain and the places in the Americas your clan landed. Wherever your roots might take you, a genealogy blog just might hold the keys to finding your ancestors.
Los Abuelos de mi Historia
captures stories of the diverse peoples of Argentina. The largest number of posts are about Buenos Aires, the nation’s capital and by far its largest city. A Google Translate button on the left side of the site lets you read posts in English.
My Portuguese Gen
is a fairly young blog, written by Isabella Baltar in both English and Portuguese. Most entries are about her family research, but some include advice for others researching similar topics. Her writing style is straightforward and easy to follow.
Alberta Family Histories Society Blog
is polished and professional, a provincial society’s channel for sharing news, events, library holdings and other resources for researching in and about Alberta, Canada.
Olive Tree Genealogy Blog
is maintained by veteran blogger and genealogist Lorine McGinnis Schulze, who freely shares the wisdom and creativity gained by 30 years as a researcher in records-poor early Ontario. Click on videotaped cemetery walks and fun personal history posts.
Prairie History Blog
is a genealogy and heritage newsletter for the Regina Public Library in Saskatchewan province. A nice feature for any family historian is a regular roundup of genealogy magazines’ contents (including Family Tree Magazine
Sagua de tá namo
gathers the memories of “sagüeros,” those who have lived in the Cuban town for which the blog is named. The postings reflect the feelings of a community in exile: keeping connections to home and family while rebuilding elsewhere; honoring heritage while documenting the sadder aspects of family history.
Guyana Genealogical and Biographical Society
reads like a scrapbook of the history of this former British colony. News clippings, biographies, obituaries, passenger lists and more—even commentary on cricket—appear in cited, searchable posts.
A Parcel of Ribbons
captures the history of 18th century Jamaica through the lens of her own family history. Blogger Anne Powers hopes the articles, family records, book reviews, wills and everyday history she posts will help others with their Jamaican research.
comes from the company that runs the software behind Familias Argentinas
, a site with genealogy data for Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Uruguay and more. You’ll need to run the blog through your web translator to read genealogy news and information for Argentina and other South American countries.
US Virgin Islands
200 Years in Paradise
introduces readers to historical and genealogical sources for Virgin Islands research, particularly those that have informed the blogger’s family research on St. Croix. (Did you know the 1920 US census data for the Virgin Islands was actually taken in 1917?)
UK and Ireland
British and Irish Genealogy
is a newsreel that reports on new online sources for genealogical research and education. Most posts feature several—or more—links to resources.
Grow Your Own Family Tree
is the work of Alan Stewart, also the author of Gathering the Clans: Tracing Scottish Ancestry on the Internet
(Phillimore & Co). His newsy posts update you on online records; click on categories such as Railway Records or Immigration for English, Irish, Scottish and Welsh research.
Tracing Ancestors in the UK
delivers help starting your UK family research. Part of the website of professional researcher Ros Bott, this blog includes topics ranging from parish registers to surname spellings to wills and probate in England.
‘On a flesh and bone foundation:’ An Irish History
is beautifully and expertly written by Jennifer Geraghty-Gorman, a Canadian of Irish descent. She weaves personal insights with detailed research tips, images and plenty of history. Bonus: Click on Interviewing Family for questions to ask Irish immigrants.
The Professional Descendant
shares the voice and expertise of Edinburgh genealogist Kirsty F. Wilkinson. Her posts are packed with details on valuable (and often underused) Scottish resources.
My Channel Island Ancestry
boasts an enthusiastic writer dedicated to exploring the history of everyday folks in the Channel Islands (her series on occupations is especially nice). This blog is well-organized and full of meaty information about her family in Jersey.
The French Genealogy Blog
is penned in the funny, educated voice of certified genealogist Anne Morddel. Her posts contain meaty finding aids and updates along with bits of historical and genealogical trivia. Well organized with lots of tags, this blog makes it easy to find entries on French Jews, Huguenots or your favorite French archive.
Trace Your Dutch Roots
is organized like a genealogy guidebook. At the top of the page, click on locations within the Netherlands (and some outside it) and topics such as language, names and emigration. Historical postcards appear in many posts, a fun addition.
is the blog of a national genealogical association. It’s in Norwegian, but worth running through a web translator if you’re researching people in Norway. You’ll learn about new online resources and long-established or little-known sources for Norwegian research.
Spain and South America
Red de Antepasados
is written in Spanish. Posts describe datasets, historical sources, repositories and other resources specific to Spain and other Spanish-speaking countries. Spanish-language family group sheets and pedigree charts are posted here, too.
has shared posts on “genealogy, old photos, recipes and other things from Sweden” since 2009. Yvonne Henriksson’s voice is friendly yet matter-of-fact. And whether or not you’re Swedish, check out the recipe for Rhubarb Muffins with Sweet Ginger, posted April 21, 2011.
Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia
Czech Genealogy for Beginners
offers exactly what blogger Blanka Lednicka promises: a great introduction to research for those with ancestors in Bohemia, Moravia and Silesia. There’s a lot of material on archives, parish registries and translation issues.
Croatia and Hungary
100 Years in America
is about Croatian and Hungarian families, records, languages and online resources. You’ll find expert advice and personal insights on this beautiful site by a long-time blogger.
Village Life in Kreis Saarburg, Germany
shares a librarian’s well-researched and illustrated history of her Rhineland ancestry. She draws heavily on local sources but also on her imagination as she wonders what life must have been like “back then.”
Nick Gombash’s Genealogy Blog
is packed with facts on Nick’s European ancestors. He calls working with Hungarian records “a true passion,” which shows in his prolific and detailed posts. Detailed categorization lets you jump to the content most interesting to you.
Discovering Latvian Roots
directs newbie researchers to the 13-step post Getting Started with Latvian Research. In addition to tips, resources and news, she offers inspiring updates on her research process.
Al’s Polish-American Genealogy Research
contains hundreds of posts and tons of links from “Al,” who is Wisconsin writer Brian Allen Wierzba. Especially valuable on this site are the many images and translations of Polish records.
Blog of the Russian Genealogical Project
is a young blog, but can be a valuable resource for English-speakers. It is run by a small team of researchers in the United States and Russia, including Kirill Chashchin, who’s been tracing his family history for 12 years.
records the research and shares the expertise of veteran genealogist Carol Kostakos Petranek. Her attractive site is well-organized and packed with tips and encouragement for those with Greek roots, who often face challenges using records of their homeland.
Finding Our Italian Roots
shares the expertise of certified genealogist Melanie D. Holtz. She intersperses news with how-to help and history, such as her 2012 series on 19th-century life in southern Italy.
isn’t as current as others on our list (as of press time), but the site is beautifully laid out and contains a lot of information on Chinese family history research—specifically on the “four counties” area of Guangdong. It feels like a gift to find this information in English.
Israel Genealogy Research Association
aims to share “new technology, new energy and new excitement” about genealogy in Israel. You’ll also see resources for most of the world because of the worldwide historical migration of Jews. This is a no-nonsense blog: all news, events, research and resources.
Japanese Genealogy Blog
provides valuable insight into Japanese family history research—a field for which resources in English are scarce. American blogger Valerie Elkins has lived in Japan and worked at the Family History Library as a volunteer consultant for Japanese research. She talks about records, language issues, customs, immigration and more.
My Pakistani Ancestry
is written by an anonymous “20-something British Pakistani” in the hopes of inspiring others to trace their Pakistani roots. Posts include the writer’s own research, memorials to Pakistani soldiers and how-tos for Pakistani records.
Africa and Oceana
Family History Across the Seas
author “Cassmob” describes herself as a “dyed-in-the-wool Queenslander” who now lives in Darwin in the Northern Territory. Her detailed, expert entries will help those new to Aussie research, especially a series of posts called “Beyond the Internet” that describe traditional genealogical records from an Australian perspective.
Auckland City Libraries Kintalk Whanau Korero
updates followers on genealogical happenings and records access at the library and beyond. Find links to events, online resources, the library’s genealogy collection, and family history forums.
Samoan Genealogy Group
shares family research, Samoan resources and wider topics of interest to all genealogists in an enthusiastic tone with a fun sprinkle of Samoan sayings and photos.
Mole’s Genealogy Blog
is written by an experienced researcher who specializes in the area of Natal, but also takes interest in historical photographs and the larger history of the British empire in India and South Africa.
You can read the MyHeritage Blog
, written by employees of the eponymous genealogy company, in English, German, Spanish, French, Dutch, Polish, Portuguese and Swedish. Though some content overlaps, each blog posts unique stories of interest to a particular language group (i.e., click on Português for resources related to Brazil or Portugal). Can’t read the language but want the content? Click on the language you need, then run the page through a web translator.
Tip: If you make a genealogy find as a result of something you learn in a blog post, tell the blogger about it in a comment or email—you’ll make the person’s day.
Don’t limit yourself to reading blogs that cover strictly your ancestral land. Some blogs wander through several countries as they follow a family’s journeys. The de Büren Family
, for example, traces an 800-year trail through Switzerland, Argentina, Brazil, England, France and the United States. The Passionate Genealogist
traces ancestral paths through Scotland, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand, Canada and England. One blogger maintains two similar blogs with different storylines: A Latvian Canadian Story
and A Ukrainian Canadian Story
From the July/August 2012 Family Tree Magazine