With tens of thousands of sites dedicated to family history it is hard to know where to start! Here are some suggestions which we find particularly useful. We concentrate on free sites rather than the ones you have to pay to use. If you know a good site, why not tell us about it? Click here to contact us. Tell us the web address and write a sentence or two about the site. We’ll do our best to add it to our list.
Here’s our most favourite site at the moment. - maps.familysearch.org
A fantastically useful site, still being developed. Search for any place in England (sorry, Wales and Scotland not yet included) and discover its Registration District, where its wills were proved, which Hundred it was in, the names of all the adjoining parishes, etc, etc, etc. You can even find quickly all the documents for that place available from Family History Centres, these include not just parish registers but numerous other documents such as churchwardens’ accounts as well.
An introduction to census returns for those unfamiliar with them.
This well-known site includes the 1881 census for England and Wales free of charge. It is included automatically when you search ‘All Resources’.
A volunteer project which aims to provide a free index to all censuses from 1841 to 1891. A long way to go but over 14 million records already.
Has census extracts for many workhouses.
Loads of links to free local census transcripts.
Probably don’t need to mention this one as it’s so well known. It remains the best site for finding birth, marriage and death records after 1837. A real tribute to all the volunteers who have worked on it.
Links to all the local projects indexing births, marriages and deaths after 1837. These are brilliant when available as they are based on local registration records and not the sometimes inaccurate copies held centrally.
A site which allows people to exchange information from birth, marriage and death certificates.
The site where you order certificates on line.
Lists all the prisons in the UK with a large selection of historical snippets about them, even some staff lists. A really good starting point.
Lots of useful guides about researching criminal ancestors.
A free site with details of almost 200,000 trials between 1674 and 1913. Defendants, victims and jurors can all be searched for. Fascinating!
Some counties have online gaol records. Gloucester Gaol records, for example, can be searched online at ww3.gloucestershire.gov.uk/genealogy/Search.aspx Try Google or the Genuki page for the county you are researching.
Emigration and Immigration
The guide to help you get started.
The most important site for family historians with immigrant ancestors.
Thousands of passenger lists transcribed by volunteers.
Searchable database of American immigrants 1830 to 1892.
Searchable database of passengers entering America 1892 to 1924.
Lots of details about convicts transported to Australia.
Links to passenger lists of Irish ships going to Australasia.
A good introduction to researching Caribbean family history.
Despite the unbelievably long web address, this British Library site has very useful information about Asians in Britain.
A searchable database of 300,000 birth, baptism, marriage, death and burial records in India (mainly Europeans).
The Families in British India site with a searchable database of records.
The Society of Genealogists web site.
Useful dates in British history for the genealogist.
How much was £10 worth in 1740? Find out how yesterday's prices compare to today’s.
You probably know this site very well already. The aim of GENUKI is to serve as a "virtual reference library" of genealogical information. An enormous amount of information and data provided by volunteers.
The fount of all wisdom on English coats of arms.
Coats of arms in Scotland.
Heraldry in Ireland.
Online edition of Parker’s A Glossary of Terms used in Heraldry (1894).
Well known site for old Ordnance Survey maps. Not my favourite site as it is difficult to navigate.
Maps from British History Online. Less choice but much easier to use.
A wonderful selection of old London maps.
Very clear, large scale, old maps of London. Free to view but you need to buy them on CD to use most of the indices. Hint: select 'Map and Page Grid' or 'Overview' from the menu to access each large scale map.
Maps and historical descriptions of places.
The National Archives site dedicated to military history. The NA holds most records of military ancestors.
General site on military records.
The Imperial War Museum site has various guides to tracing military ancestors.
The Intute website has an extensive section has 800 links to sites about Naval history.
Biographical information of individuals who served in the Royal Navy since 1660. The amount of information is steadily growing.
The ‘Regiments’ site had an enormous amount of information about British, Empire and Commonwealth regiments and their history. It is no longer available but the 16 January 2008 version can be accessed through archive.org – type in ‘www.regiments.org’. Slow to load.
British Library site with links to newspaper sites all over the world.
An internet archive of eighteenth and nineteenth century journals. One of the very few free sites dealing with newspapers or journals.
Another free site. Online editions of six nineteenth century periodicals.
The Oxford English Dictionary is the best source for explanations of old trades and trade terms. Not free, but public library subscribers can often use their library card to access the dictionary on their home computer.
Links to many useful sites about occupations.
A list of links about individual occupations. Not exhaustive but very useful.
An extremely valuable guide to old documents and how to read and understand them.
Parish and Manor
Not all information is reliable but still the main online source for parish records. Much more information than most people realise.
A site still under development. Already contains a relatively small number of records, with digital images, from the International Genealogical Index. Also includes other records, such as images of some American census returns. Complete birth, marriage and death records already available for Cheshire.
About seven million records, mainly marriages.
An essential list of all [or virtually all] the parishes covered by the International Genealogical Index and the ability to search them.
A guide to manorial documents with an online index to some of them.
Modern photos of English listed buildings.
Older photos of buildings.
Modern photos of Scottish buildings.
Photos from the British Empire and Commonwealth.
Help with dating photographs.
All about photo restoration.
All you wanted to know about the Poor Laws and workhouses.
Wills and Probate
Prerogative Court of Canterbury wills 1384-1858. Free to search online although fee charged to download images.