The Salt Lake Scene

101 Free Genealogy Websites You Can't Live Without

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In 2009 my Genealogy Gems website had the honor of being named one of the 101 Best Website for Tracing Your Roots by Family Tree Magazine.  I was honored to be in some very good online genealogical company, and this year’s list once again delivers a terrific group of family history resources.  But unlike last year’s list, this list is solely focused on websites that are entirely free of charge.  Here’s more from the press released issued by Diane Haddad, managing editor at Family Tree Magazine:

“People hoping to learn more about their roots – without busting their budgets – need look no further than the newly released 2010 edition of Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Websites.  This year’s list honors the top free sites for genealogical resources, records and historical data.  These stellar sites are spotlighted in the September 2010 issue, which hits newsstands Tuesday, July 20.  Genealogy buffs also can view the full list – for free, of course – on the Family Tree Magazine website, and get a PDF of the complete magazine article when they sign up for the magazine’s free e-mail newsletter.

All 101 winning sites can give genealogists the power to bust through their research brick walls and find real answers about their ancestors.  “With literally millions of genealogy sites on the Internet, it’s hard for family researchers to know which ones are worth visiting,” says Family tree Magazine publisher/editorial director Allison Stacy. “The goal of our ‘101 Best’ list is to point readers to websites that will make their research faster, easier, and more productive – and to recognize those outstanding sites for the valuable resources they provide.”

And this is a goal that the editorial staff skillfully attains year after year.  It’s a monumental undertaking to comb through the ever growing number of genealogy sites on the Web, and contributing editor and the lists’ author David Fryxell is certainly up to the task.  As founder of the magazine, Fryxell has seen the online family history world grow dramatically over the last decade. 

I recently had the opportunity to interview Fryxell for the Family Tree Magazine Podcast about his article “Fancy Free” which features this year’s list, and he shared some of his personal favorites.  Interestingly, they included non-genealogy sites that have tremendous potential for helping researchers.

“If it’s a tool, it’s got to be something you’re going to use every day,” says Fryxell.  “A newcomer this year is a site called Evernote which again is not a genealogy site per se, but is a fabulous tool which you can download for free.   When you find a website with genealogy information you want to save you just click this little Elephant icon and it clips it into a notebook on Evernote, which then is instantaneously synced with your other computer, your iPhone, your iPad, across different platforms. It’s a very cool tool for saving genealogy information online.  Even information if you go to a library you can snap a picture and pop that into Evernote.”  So what does the final decision come down to when it comes to selecting the 101 Best?  Fryxell explains it this way, “We really expect that either (the website) has to deliver us a lot of real data, or (be) an awfully useful tool that we’re going to decide, ‘you know I can’t live without that.’” (Subscribe to the Family Tree Magazine Podcastfor free in iTunes and listen to the entire interview with David Fryxell in the July 2010 episode.)

It’s out-of-the-box thinking like this that keeps Family Tree Magazine a trusted advisor to genealogists across America. 

Fryxell makes it even easier to find the best site to suit your needs by dividing the large list into categories:

The Big Picture

Records Resources

Uncle Sam’s Best Sites

East of the Rockies

Western Research Roundup

O, Canada!

African-American Roots

History Lessons

A Nation of Immigrants

Great Britain Expectations

European Ops

High-Tech Tools

Share and Share alike

When it comes to navigating the genealogical Web, time is a precious commodity.  Thankfully, the folks at Family Tree Magazine helps us make the best possible use of our time!

For free genealogy podcast episodes, instructional videos, and toolbar visit the Genealogy Gems Podcast website at