Selected Family History Databases on the Internet

by Gerhard Ruf,

© copyright 2002-2005
updated 10 April 2005



    With the explosion of genealogical information available on the Internet, it has become increasingly difficult to determine the best sites to search for your ancestral information. During this class we will look at different types of sites, spending most of our time on those with the most extensive information.

  1. Commercial and free sites
    1. Extracted information
      1. books (histories, resource information, etc.)
      2. obituaries
      3. directories (phone, Polk, etc)
      4. indexes
    2. Contributed Information (via GEDCOM or others formats)
      1. GEDCOM files
      2. direct contribution of databases
      3. on-line data entry
    3. Primary Source Information in images
      1. microfilm (like census pages)
  , and other sites.
      2. original documents (like marriage licenses)

  2. Personal Sites
    1. Published Databases
          Tens of thousands are on line.
    2. Family Histories
    3. Genealogical Data Collections
          Family or Surname or Record Type oriented
    4. These sites are best found with the Major Internet Search Engines:
          Google, AltaVista, FastSearch, etc.

  3. Web sites with info also available on CDs has made some Vital Records, Census and other published CDs searchable online. The index to the Pedigree Resource File CD is online.
        Other sites only allow limited searching to induce you to purchase.
  4. Sites with individuals that do free lookups of specific information
    Ancestral Findings Free Genealogy Lookups
    FHC Angel Lookup Requests
    Many USGenWeb County pages have free lookups (such as Elkhart County, Indiana)
    Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness

  5. The better Internet sites have most types of information available
    1. On your first visit get to know the site.
    2. Spend 15 to 20 minutes just looking around.
    3. Read or skim the FAQ and/or news area and/or site map.
    4. Learn different ways of searching at the site.
    5. Look for information on the scope of information made available.
    6. Some sites have newsletters to keep you updated.

  6. Genealogy Sites Ranked by Nielson Ratings "largest unique audience" (Oct 2000)
    9. (discontinued in 2004)

  7. GEDCOM supported databases are the largest.
    Ancestral Archive Index at Kindred Konnections
    AncestralFile at LDS Church
    Ancestry World Tree at Ancestry/My Family
    GenServ by Cliff Manis
    Global Tree at
    One Great Family
    Pedigree Resource File by LDS Church
    World Connect Project at RootsWeb
    World Family Tree by Family Tree Maker/Broderbund
Searchable Databases of Contributed GEDCOMs
Title Sponsor size of database as of (date) fees to search sale of your information Notes
Ancestral Archive Index Kindred Konnections 201 million Apr 2005 none Subscription req'd to view pedigree & submitter info
AncestralFile LDS 35,000,000 Jan 1998 none never since Jan 1970
Ancestry World Tree Ancestry 376 million Apr 2005 none never  
GenServ Cliff Manis 27 million Apr 2005 $12/yr never since 1991
Global Tree 90 million 2005 none never  
Pedigree Resource File LDS 100 million (100 CDs) Apr 2005 none CDs for sale $22.50/5 CDs since 1999
World Connect Project Rootsweb 376 million Apr 2005 none never since 1999
World Family Tree (Family Tree Maker) Broderbund 183 million Apr 2005 none CDs for sale $20 each  
updated 9 Jan 2005     Copyright: Gerhard Ruf, 2002-2005

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This page was last updated 10 Apr 05. It has been accessed times since 6 Feb 01.