While tracing any family's history can be a daunting task, there are a lot of resources available to help you out along the way. Of course, the best way to find out information is to ask other family members. However, in many instances the family members that you want to ask are deceased so you have to resort to other methods.
This site is run by the pay genealogy site, Ancestry.com. The nice thing about this site is that it's free. You can create a website on their site, you can upload your family tree into various databases and you can search for all sorts of data. You can also connect with other genealogy researchers.
Social Security Death Index
If the relative you are looking for is dead, then this is the place to look. You'l be able to find dates and places of birth and death as well as the person's social security number. Even though this databse is maintained by the Social Security Administration (www.ssa.gov), it can only accessed through third party sites. Luckily RootsWeb is one of those sites. Some sites will want you to pay to see the databse. Don't do it, you can see it for free.
You already know that you can visit Ellis Island in New York Harbor and learn about immigration, etc, but did you know that you can search all of their records right from teh comfort of your computer? Just go to their website and you can find copies of passenger manifests, pictures of ships and more. They also have a genealogy section that includes some great tips and links.
I don't have a link for this one because there are many links. One of my favorite sources of genealogical data is death notices from newspapers. Most major newspapers (and even a lot of smaller ones) have many thousand of past obituaries online. Some papers will make you pay for older ones, but it's worth it. Besides getting some data about the deceased person, you also often get a list of all of their relatives and descendants. Don't forget to check some of the smaller hometown newspapers.
When it comes to genealogy, the Mormons are an authority. This website which run by the LDS church gives you acces to the genealogy of thousands of family's. Mine isn't listed in there yet, but I'll eventually get around to submitting it.
US Census Bureau
While census records are a great source of genealogical data, the US Census Bureau does not release these directly. However, one interesting thing you can find on their site is a ranking of the frequently occurring first and last names from recent census data.
National Archives and Records Administration
All census data plus a ton of other data like land records, military records, federal employment records and more are available from the National Archives. Most of it is not in electronic form so you'll need to visit them either in Washington, DC or at one of many branches throughout the country to find what you're looking for.
A commercial genealogy site with access to a lot of various databases, census records, etc. It's from the same people that created RootsWeb, but if you want to view anything on this site, you'll probably have to fork over some cash.
This is another commercial site. It's very similar to Ancestry.com in that if you want any info, you'll have to pay for it.
CIA World Factbook
This one really isn't a genealogy site at all, but I've found it useful. The Central Intelligence Agency maintains their World Factbook online. It contains data on every nation of the world. It's a great resource for learning about the countries from which you ancestors came. What's even better is that it is in the public domain so you can use any of their data or graphics on your own website.
History at Home: A Guide to Genealogy
An article with links ot many other useful genealogy resources. (Suggested by Riley from Clay County Homeschooling)
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