Back in March 2013 I posted my top favorite free websites. Now it is time for an update six years later! About seven months ago I returned to being a local history librarian while continuing my online teaching. It has been a good experience to reacquaint myself with new resources. My research tactics have changed over the past six years. DNA testing was not an option, and I used many web sources to find information.
Here is my list of great websites to help you along with your research.
I highly recommend adding this website to your favorites bar right now! It contains over 240,000 links to free resources. The top menu bar is easily arranged by category and there is also a state search as well. Its star attraction is the massive Native America census database linked with the Free US Indian Census roll from 1885-1940. It also has an impressive selection of African American resources as well uploaded by individuals.
It is easy to get lost moving through the categories and searches. Anyone can subscribe by e-mail to be notified of when new resources are posted.
Mississippi and Louisiana Digital Library
Both of these sites operate under the principal of offering open source pictures and documents to the public. They have partnered with several librarians, universities, and museum collections in order to digitize their images for public use. All items have citations and searchable descriptions.
Some of my favorite items found on Mississippi Digital Library are the papers of the Dantzler Lumber Company that had a log book of the Cedar Lake grocery story. I found three different great grandfather’s names posted in their accounts! Take time to check out the Mardi Gras illustrations available to Louisiana Digital Library. They are worthy to hang as wall art!
I have used this website for over eight years. It is different from the popular WordCat. It has taken and uploaded digital books that are open source. Some are easily accessible by clicking their pdf link. No log in or password required. Open Library has a free log in for anyone very interested in the resources available here.
Here is a small list of things you can use this website to find in your genealogy and historical research:
- Obscure and out-of-print genealogy books.
- History books of counties, passenger ships, and people.
- Books of maps.
- Antique reports of industry and commerce.
- Bibliographical and citation information for your librarian to search for hard to find books.
- Vintage cookbooks! (You know I am a fan of these.)
Here is my favorite book I have found for my research…
The significance of Ellis Island is no secret in the word of genealogy. Over 12 million immigrants passed through Ellis Island on their way to a new life in the United States. It was active from the years 1892 through 1954! The only requirement to complete the passenger search is to create a free account.
Before Ellis Island, the main immigrant port was Castle Garden at Battery Park also in New York City. Castle Garden was active from 1820 until 1892. The website states, “Today more than 100 million Americans can trace their ancestry to this early period of immigration.” The database is open and does not require a log in. It contains useful information such as age, date of birth, country of origin, and ship name.
Both of these are great sources if you are unsure where you family entered the country.
This is a very specific, but useful database. The portal was released in October of 2018 by the City of Biloxi. It is a searchable database for the Old Biloxi also known as The Old French Cemetery on Highway 90 in Biloxi, Mississippi. Follow this link or check out the homepage of The City of Biloxi “Cemetery” link to access it. Search the records using last name first. Once you choose a name on the right, you can see who else is interred in the plot.
I would use this with another free website called Find a Grave. Some of the sections (like addition 6 across Irish Hill Drive) have not been completed. Some of the records are incomplete as well and only give name. Still, it is a great map if you are looking to visit the cemetery on a clear day and visit ancestors under the moss covered oaks.
If you want further help without paying a dime you can checkout this fantastic 50 website list by Family History Daily.