Take the time to explore every one of these websites that covers a state (or territory) where your ancestors lived.
All summaries written by Rick Crume
Each year, we scan the ﬁeld to ﬁnd the best genealogy websites for your US-based research. State libraries, archives and historical societies are digitizing their holdings and turning those digital images and indexes into searchable databases. (Meanwhile, our picks for the best sites for New Hampshire and US territories include fruits of the labors of some ambitious individuals.)
Truly a bonanza for genealogists, these collections include everything from diaries, Civil War letters and handwritten family histories to oral histories, prison records and records of the enslaved.
All of these sites are free. Sites new to this year’s list are marked with a star (★). Many of them are updated often (even daily), so it’s worth checking them regularly for new material.
Look for advanced and customized search forms for individual record collections. Search on just an uncommon last name, or combine a common last name with another term (such as a town name). Put quotation marks around a name to search on it as a phrase, and try different forms of the name (such as both with and without a middle initial).
Expand your searches on these sites beyond personal names to other topics (such as places, schools, churches, wars, occupations and ethnic groups), and you’ll ﬁnd lots of digitized material that may provide insights into your ancestors’ lives.
For more award-winners in other categories, check out our annual list of the 101 Best Genealogy Websites. To learn more about researching genealogy in a specific state, head to the Explore Genealogy by State map to access our online state research guides.