Born in the USA

By David A. Fryxell Premium

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American Ancestors $
This site from the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) got an extreme makeover, some slick web tools and a new name. It still focuses on New England, but not exclusively. NEHGS members ($75 per year) can search nearly 3,000 online databases. Guest users can try a free sample of popular databases, including Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850, New York Wills 1626-1836 and back issues of the society’s New England Ancestors magazine (now also eponymous with the website).

Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System
Look for this database of 6.3 million names from both sides, representing 44 states and territories, to get a lot of traffic during the war’s sesquicentennial. Each soldier’s listing links to a regimental history and capsule histories of battles. Added in time for the 150th anniversary are backgrounders on the social, economic, political and military aspects of the Civil War.

Daughters of the American Revolution
Don’t think this site is just about military history: It’s now home to the DAR Genealogical Research System—several interlinked databases of DAR members, their patriot ancestors, and those Revolutionary War figures’ more than 7 million descendants. Plus you can search more than 20 million names listed in volumes in the DAR’s library catalog.

Library of Congress
The Chronicling America newspaper collection makes this an even more important bookmark for delving into the nation’s past—now exceeding 3.3 million digitized pages from nearly 450 titles. And the site’s National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC, pronounded “nuck-muck”) and the American Memory digital collection contain mountains of historical maps, photos, documents, audio and video.

National Archives and Records Administration
Recently redesigned, NARA’s online archive now puts online ordering of veterans’ records a click away from the home page. Under Research our Records, you’ll still find the Archival Research Catalog (ARC) index to 6.3 million records (which links to 153,000 digital copies) and the Access to Archival Databases (AAD) collection of more than 85 million historical electronic records. The new Online Public Access system searches both the ARC and AAD and more all at once .

Another volunteer site, USGenWeb remains a must-bookmark for its state and county pages. Don’t overlook the innovative efforts listed at .

Western States Historical Marriage Records Index
Covering 12 states, this website hosted by Brigham Young University Idaho indexes nearly 700,000 early marriages, extending into the 1930s or later for Arizona, Idaho and Nevada. An alternative Enhanced Index Search (click directly to it at ) returns results ready to copy right into Personal Ancestral File software.

Browse Family Tree Magazine‘s 2011 Best Websites for genealogy research:


 From the September 2011 Family Tree Magazine