Question of the Week: What's in your genealogy toolbox?

+21 votes

What's in your genealogy toolbox?  Meaning, aside from WikiTree laugh what tools do you use to be successful in your research? What websites or software or apps or blogs/podcasts or... ?

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in The Tree House by Eowyn Walker G2G Astronaut (1.7m points)

I use Kitty's Library. It is a list of on-line free resources, but it is on WikiTree, so maybe it doesn't count.

I use,, FindAGrave, regularly, and occasionally, Google.

>>"I use Kitty's Library. It is a list of on-line free resources, but it is on WikiTree, so maybe it doesn't count."<<

It counts.  Thank you so much.  I'm e-mailing your Index to cousins.  What a lot of work!  Kudos, hats-off, take a bow, and a big virtual hug to you, Kitty Smith!!

I would like to see a link in the Help dropdown called Resources or something similar, that leads to a page with all these great resources and anything new we find can be added by the wikitree community.

23 Answers

+17 votes
Best answer

For England. 

The two main subscription sites (Ancestry and Find my past) I 'm lucky to have a sub to ancestry and institutional access to find my past. My second sub is to British Newspaper Archives ( very useful for members of my family who appeared in the local magistrates courts. There's a very partial index on Family search but I think it's mostly notices of births, marriages and deaths) 

I like to use the Family Search wiki for a parish. This gives some indication of where parish register images may be found e.g.,_Dorset_Genealogy

If it's from a county that has one I might visit an online parish clerk site

For birth and death registrations (post 1837)

when I have a good idea of the date and name I'll use (has mother's maiden name and age at death)

If I need to search for a post 1837  marriage registration or more generally for a birth or death.

I like for parish register entries. If they have them. I use it in preference to Family Search indexes since they include any extra text from the entry.

For earlier profiles, particularly of English gentry.I use the National Archives catalogue a lot.  Catalogue entries  for court cases can help establish relationships, dates of marriage etc They also hold wills proved in the major perogative court (Canterbury). These are on ancestry but the Nat Archive index is much better.(helps to get an exact date before searching on ancestry which often totally garbles names and places.)

I also often use local archive catalogues. (Search ___shire archives)

For church of England clergy, I often use  (for 19thc and later I use Crockford's on Ancestry)

Cambridge Graduates

Oxford Graduates

The inns of court also have online records going back to the 1500s. 

British history online is extremely valuable for all sorts from the Victoria county histories to  data bases of Cromwellian officers to transcripts of medieval close rolls (some are normally only available with a subscription or academic library access but at the moment all are free)

For all sorts  links to useful sources for  Medieval genealogy, wikitree member Joe Cochoit's site.

Regnal years calculator

For convicts transported to Australia

(Leads to other good data bases. The search result is for one of my gx? Uncles).


Londoners 1690 -1800

London Guilds

Stopping now but suspect I've missed lots, especially books that I own and use a lot.

by Helen Ford G2G6 Pilot (317k points)
selected by Greville Seddon
+27 votes


Website Calculator Tools:

Website Charts:

Website DNA Tools:

Website Maps:

Website Miscellaneous:

Mac Desktop/Laptop Apps:

  • Reunion 12
  • Notes (mac desktop app)
  • Stickies (mac desktop app)

Mac iPad Apps:

  • Ancestry - Family History
  • AncestryDNA
  • BillionGraves
  • FamilySearch Tree
  • FindAGrave
  • MyHeritage - Family tree
  • Notes (mac iPad app)
  • ReunionTouch (iPad app to Reunion 12)

YouTube Channels:

  • Ancestry
  • DNA Family Trees
  • Family History Fanatics
  • Findmypast
  • Genealogy TV (This is how I heard about
  • MyHeritage
  • The DIY Genealogist
by Tommy Buch G2G6 Pilot (185k points)
edited by Tommy Buch
Great job, Tommy! What a lot of work you've done! I'm tired out just reading! (You forgot  "ask Grandma")
+12 votes
Tommy put forth a great list. It is hard to add to that.  The only thing I could add is using the on line tools of your local library. It is amazing the stuff that is available there.

With that being said, the greatest tool I use is logic. Now I can't guarantee that it is right but it helps me ask the right questions so I can search better. Triangulation on dna is also a very useful tool for some relationships that aren't making sense otherwise. This is especially useful where ancestors were in an economic/societal class or an area where relationship documentation was not a priority.
by Gurney Thompson G2G6 Pilot (184k points)
+14 votes

I use a lot of what Tommy has in his list but have a few additional items:

Research Websites:

  • MacFamilyTree
  • Centurial
  • Spreadsheet (Excel/Numbers/any)
  • GenomeMate Pro
  • DNA Painter

by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (415k points)
+10 votes
I use most of what Tommy listed here but can add: and FamilyTree DNA and HistoryGEO

My software program is FamilyTreeMaker

Visiting in person: Dallas Public Library which has a large genealogy collection. Attending seminars and conferences especially the Texas State Genealogical Conference. Every couple of years I spend a week at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
by Virginia Fields G2G6 Pilot (612k points)
+11 votes

That was a great list to start with. I'll try to add a few more: - often not great for sources, but sometimes you can find connections here that you can use to research further. - and especially: - similar to Geni, lots of unsourced family trees that can be used as clues for additional research - interesting niche site for some Jewish family trees. - good for UK research

This article mentioned many sites I've heard mentioned before, and some I've never heard of. They might be good to add to the list as well.

by Scott Fulkerson G2G Astronaut (1.1m points)

sledge hammer, meat cleaver, bleach, cement mixer, Sherman tank, bullet-proof vest, cheeky

You forgot the mech suit, Eddie. =)
+13 votes

Don't forget about the newspapers!

genealogy bank

Library of Congress

by Shanna Leeland G2G6 Mach 5 (55.7k points)

Some other good newspaper sites, at least if you have ancestors from Indiana and New York:

Hoosier State Chronicles

Old Fulton New York Post Cards

Many states, including Wyoming, Indiana, California, and Colorado have free historic newspaper sites. And then there's the Library of Congress Chronicling America.
+15 votes

Maybe this is too easy, but I very often piggyback off of WikiTree members who already have all the tools mentioned above. What’s better, for me anyway, than just asking on G2G, knowing that our community is going to come though, especially if they have tools that I’d rather not pay for. To them I say, “THANK YOU!

by Pip Sheppard G2G Astronaut (2.1m points)
+9 votes

In addition to many of the sources already mentioned (in particular for Kent, England):

[ Mid-Kent Marriages Index 1754-1911]

[ Romney Marsh Baptisms Index 1750 - 1911]

by Janet Gunn G2G6 Mach 9 (93.7k points)
+11 votes

Also, for Ireland records:

by Joseph Murray G2G6 Mach 1 (11.3k points)
+10 votes

In addition to Wikitree :) 

I use
For Ireland
*National Archives of Ireland (which includes Will Calendars, Will Archives, MBL Marriage records, Prerogative Court and Probate, Irish census records etc. 
*Civil & Church records - not many parish records for non-Catholics but Civil are good for 19th & 20th century
*The Irish Deeds project   which has been invaluable
*Irish Newspapers online which I access through local State Library - but Nick Reedon's Newspaper abstracts are also helpful
*Piggot, Slaters & Shearman's directories, the Gentleman's Alamanac etc 
*Heraldic books like Burke's, Foster's etc. can be helpful 
*local areas can have useful pages as well 

In Australia 
*Trove's newspaper archive is invaluable
*Also most states have search features for Birth Deaths and Marriage that give some information eg

In general:
Family Search
Find a Grave
Google (including Google maps)
Wikipedia, etc. 

by Jeanette O'Hagan G2G6 (8.4k points)
+11 votes

For the Netherlands:

Websites with primary sources


With enough time

by Michel Vorenhout G2G6 Pilot (200k points)
edited by Michel Vorenhout
+8 votes

For Germany: collection of Online Family Books, growing slowly but steadily. Have a look frequently if maybe your town is included. 

Official lists of the German soldiers in WWI, who were unable to fight anymore or were killed. (Printed old German script) website to find the burial place of German soldiers who died in WWI and WWII. There are also a few included of the Franco-Prussian war, but the bigger parts is of the World Wars. is a pay-site for digitized church books of lutheran churches. But you can have a look if the church book of your town is digitized. 

I really often use google maps to check distances and to look for locations

by Jelena Eckstädt G2G6 Pilot (669k points)

Hope it's ok, if I jump in here? I mainly second everything except archion, since I have only catholics ;)

Additions (partially focused on Baden):

+10 votes
Many great answers here with numerous great resources. However, let's not forget physical sources. As a historian, I enjoy getting my hands on land, court, probate records at local courthouses.  Many times transcribers miss things or make transcription mistakes and viewing original documents can often provided clarification and helpful clues. Also, do not forget the most valuable resources of all, the older generation. The information my grandparents, aunts, uncles, etc. provided me was invaluable.
by Raymond Perkins G2G Crew (500 points)
+9 votes
I use daily, i have my database on it.

And familyTreeDNA, MyHeritage, daily,

so Google looking for obituary/obituaries with a lot of informations.

And Gallica for digital books.
by Claude Thobie G2G1 (1.2k points)
+7 votes
I use a lot of the sites I see listed here, but find these incredibly helpful as well:
by Sarah Kroh G2G6 (9.6k points)
+7 votes

For Italian records, check out Antenati:

For Italian last names check out Cognome:

And I have trees here, Geni, FS, Ancestry and Myheritage. You can find a ton of Italian records on Familysearch as well.

Also be sure to check out the FS wiki:

by Chris Ferraiolo G2G6 Pilot (422k points)
+5 votes

+1 for FindMyPast. They had a free weekend a couple of years ago, and I managed to move almost every single one of my family lines back at least one generation. Granted, my roots are all in the UK, which is kind of their area of expertise, but I found that one free weekend much more useful than the 30 days free I got at and If I was going to pay for a genealogy site, FMP would be at the top of my list.

+1 for Library and Archives Canada. There are all kinds of useful sources there, but the collections I use most are:

+1 for FreeBMD, FreeReg, and FreeCen. The latter two have been reworked recently to let you generate an Evidence Explained citation for a record in a couple of clicks. I hope FreeBMD follows suit soon, because that option saves me a ton of time.

+1 for Trove. Aside from being of immense help in sourcing people in Australia, I think the option of helping to fix the transcriptions of old newspaper articles fits in with the spirit of WikiTree perfectly: I get help, and I give some in return.

Also, because I refuse to give FamilySearch my birthdate (or lie), I can't even see their sources. Therefore, I have to rely on governments in various jurisdictions which make their records available online. The ones I have found so far are:

There are probably lots of other similar sites in other jurisdictions, but those are the ones I've found so far.

I should also give a shout out to RootsChat. It doesn't have an archive of sources, or family trees, or anything like that. It's essentially a forum site (like G2G), except that the users there are incredibly talented at solving genealogical mysteries. If something is baffling you (genealogically, I mean), then chances are good that somebody on RootsChat already knows the answer, or else knows how to find it. 

by Greg Slade G2G6 Pilot (427k points)
edited by Greg Slade
Roots chat is an excellent forum. I joined it back around 2005 - 15 years already? Wow.

Of course I dont spend too much time there these days, but occassionally i will drop in to ask a question or two.

I was just sourcing a profile using The Gazette, which I definitely should have mentioned. It's my go-to site for tracing the careers of officers in the British military, and of course people who have received an honour from the monarch of the time. There are holes in the indexing, so some people who I should see a ton of hits for don't show up at all, but in some cases, I've been able to follow an officer's rise through the ranks from cannon fodder to the top of the heap.

And another gem I forgot to mention: The Internet Archive. When I'm really stumped, it's amazing how a book I've never even heard of can give me essential clues for a hard-to-source profile.

+4 votes
New Zealand

The biggest and best NZ  sites to use for records are the BDM govt index database and the Papers Past website for newspapers.
by Robynne Lozier G2G6 Pilot (890k points)
+3 votes

Tommy's list is awesome - being New Zealand based and with the New Zealand project. I use also some local based sites.  

Internal Affairs - Historic Births, Deaths & Marriages - 

New Zealand Ship Passenger Lists -

NZETC - New Zealand Electronic Text Collection, Victoria University, Wellington Library -

Soldiers of the Empire database -

New Zealand Yesteryears -

Online Cenotaph -

Papers Past - Archive of NZ Newspapers 1840 - 1950 -

For inspiration, I like to occasionally, watch a couple of programs available on youtube and a few other places  

"Who do you think you are?" - UK, USA, Australia

"Finding your Roots" - USA. 

by Sarah Jenkins G2G6 Mach 1 (14.5k points)

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