Best US Genealogy Websites of 2013

By David A. Fryxell Premium

American Battle Monuments Commission
If you have a military ancestor buried in an overseas cemetery, this is the place to look: The site has details on nearly 125,000 American war dead in 24 overseas cemeteries, plus an additional 94,000 soldiers commemorated on Tablets of the Missing.

Bureau of Land Management General Land Office Records
This site now lets you find ancestors’ land records using a map interface instead of filling out search criteria. Another map interface lets you plot where each description from a land patent or survey is located so it’s even easier to tease out ancestral answers from the more than 5 million land title records, plus survey plats and field notes, found here.
Still relatively new, this site lets you search more than 665 million US census records for free, then pay to view the actual records, starting at $7.95 for 1,000 credits. Alternatively, an annual subscription costs just $34.95.

Civil War Soldiers & Sailors System
With 6.3 million soldiers’ names from both sides, plus info on 18,000 African-American sailors, this remains the essential starting place for finding Civil War ancestors. You can click from individual entries to concise regimental and battle histories, and even view all the soldiers in your ancestor’s unit.

Daughters of the American Revolution
No longer do you have to write away (or travel to Washington, DC) for the research of DAR members into their Revolutionary War ancestors and those patriots’ millions of descendants. It’s all here in three interlinked DAR Genealogical Research System databases. Once you find records worth delving deeper, you can order online.

Digital Public Library of America
This new site, years in the making, aggregates metadata from other libraries’ websites so you can search for digitized books, photos audio, video and more in one place. Content comes from hundreds of libraries, archives, museums, and schools across the United States and abroad. Search results link you to the digitized item on the partner site.

Besides 1 to 3 million new records every month—most in the military vein that’s now Fold3’s niche—there’s a new Training Center with tutorials and videos. These new features plus the site’s store of nearly 400 million records help you get the most bang for the buck from your $79.95 annual subscription.

Most notable for its more than 6,500 newspapers representing all 50 states, this subscription site ($69.95 annually) boasts that 95 percent of its 1.4 billion records are nowhere else online. Other highlights include 215 million obituaries—the largest such online archive—and US military records.

HeritageQuest Online
Your local library will need to subscribe to this collection aimed at institutions. When it does, you can search all US federal censuses, the US Serial Set, Freedmen’s Bank records, Revolutionary War pension and bounty land applications, and 28,000 family and local histories. Then you can see what else your library might have to offer by searching the PERSI index to 2.3 million genealogy articles.

Library of Congress
The Chronicling America newspaper collection recently posted its six millionth page. When not reading all the news that was fit to print, you can explore the digital American Memory collection, search the online catalog and consult the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections (NUCMC).

Making of America
This pair of sites chronicles the 19th century via books and journal articles (3.8 million pages from nearly 13,000 volumes at the University of Michigan site) and periodicals (more than 900,000 pages from more than 1,200 volumes at the Cornell University site). The latter also includes a digital version of the “OR,” the multi-volume Official Record of the Civil War you can search each volume individually.

National Archives and Records Administration
Despite some hiccups from sequestration cuts, the “nation’s attic” still offers access to more than 85 million online records (including WWII enlistment files), the Archival Research Catalog index to 6.3 million records and online ordering of military records. And some of the archives’ most popular genealogy workshops are now on its YouTube channel.

Nationwide Gravesite Locator
This domestic counterpart of the American Battle Monuments Commission lets you search for burials of veterans and their family in VA National Cemeteries, state veterans cemeteries, other military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and if the grave has a government marker, private cemeteries.
This new subscription site from serves up 41.5 million pages and counting from more than 900 US newspapers. Most don’t duplicate the newspapers already online at, whose members (as well as subscribers to Fold3) get a break at $39.95 a year. Others pay $79.95.

The USGenWeb Project

Sites for every state and most counties await beneath the unassuming exterior of this long-running volunteer project, along with digital maps and special projects on censuses, tombstones, military pensions and more.