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An Overlooked Source for Finding U.S. Records Online

Chances are when you started your family history journey you were helped by someone who was a volunteer. A genealogy society or Family History Center volunteer may have taught you how to start your research. There’s no doubt that we all  benefit from websites that offer free content transcribed, uploaded, or indexed by volunteers. Lucky for all of us, there are volunteers in the genealogy world that help others in our common quest to know our ancestors.

There are special people in the genealogy online world who have been helping researchers for decades to find the information they need. They create online link portals or genealogical finding aid websites. Cyndi Ingle of Cyndi’s List, Karen Isaacson and Brian (Wolf) Leverich of Linkpendium are the names behind two such popular websites. One other unsung hero of genealogy is Joe Beine. Joe’s websites help researchers find passenger lists, U.S. vital, immigration, military, and census records.

U.S. Vital Records

Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records is one of my favorite websites for links to U.S. death record resources. Search by state and then county for links to both free and fee based websites for “death records, death certificate indexes, death notices and registers, obituaries, wills and probate records, and cemetery burials.” Big cities such as, Los Angeles, Detroit, Chicago, New York and St Louis have their own Death Records web pages to peruse. Don’t forget to click on the link to the Obituaries Guide for obituary indexes and websites for religious groups, physicians, firefighters and police officers. The link for Genealogy Records & Resources found at the bottom of the website, next to the Obituaries Guide link, includes other website links and research guides that that can assist you in your research such as U.S. Census Records Mortality Schedules 1850-1880, Records of Deaths of U.S. Citizens in Foreign Countries and the Panama Canal Zone, and the Online Death Indexes and Records for Canada.

Online Birth & Marriage Records Indexes for the USA is a sister site to Online Searchable Death Indexes and Records except it largely focuses on statewide records and doesn't include the individual big city pages. This website  also includes links to divorce records.

Naturalizations and Passenger Lists

Ship Passenger Lists and Records Online features two web pages, Online USA Ship Passenger Lists and Online International Passenger Lists. This collection is part of the Emigration and Immigration Records and Resources web page by Beine. There you will find U.S. Passenger Arrival Records, Passenger Departure Records, and Naturalization Records and  records  for Germany, The Netherlands, Sweden, the UK, and Canada.

U.S. Naturalization records are tricky. Anyone who has heard a presentation on the topic knows that the year 1906 is important, it signifies when naturalization began to be under Federal control. Prior to that, your ancestor could have been naturalized in any number of places, so finding those records can be difficult at best. Places to Find U.S. Naturalization Records and Indexes Online includes links to online indexes and and state records for naturalizations making it a bit easier to find  online records.

Military and Census Records

Online WWII

It's no surprise that Online Searchable Military Records & Databases and U.S. Census Records: Tips, Resources & Online Records have links to those records. However, don't just click on links you find, but instead really explore the websites. The link, Online World War Two Records, Indexes and Draft Records,  under the World War Two heading may seem to be a singular link to a website with records but instead it’s a portal to  everything from military records, draft registrations, cemeteries, causalities, and records by state. What I love about the Census page is that there is information about researching the census and what the census can tell us. It’s easy to assume that you know everything there is to know about the census, but these links to guides such as State Census Records Genealogy Research Guide can help you make sure you truly exhaust everything census-wise for your ancestor. While the Census page is focused on U.S. research, there are links to census records for Ireland and Canada.

German roots screen

If you have taken some time to explore the websites I’ve mentioned above you might notice that the root URL for all except Online Death Indexes is “germanroots.” Do you have German ancestors? Beine's German Roots is a an online German genealogy resource guide with links and help for searching your German ancestors.

Need to find genealogy on the Internet? Make sure to check out genealogy finding aids like Cyndi’s List, Linkpendium, and Joe Beine’s websites to find the links for the resources, indexes, and records you need.


Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.


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This is awesome. I haven't thought of Cindi's List for a long time. And links to state records are a real bonus. Is there a similar list for Canada?

Another helpful directory I have used is the U.S. Genealogy Records directory on

I would add that the naturalization process isn't something that started after the Revolution. Something I should have realized. I just found a 1732 New Jersey naturalization record for one ancestor. He and his brothers arrived in colonial New York around 1700 as orphans from the Palatinate area of Germany via Holland..

Is it possible o find queens NY divorce records for 1920-1924.

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