One of the very best ways to get started is to contact all your known relatives, either by phone or mail (or email if they have it). If you contact by mail, one way to almost ensure response is to include a self-addressed stamped envelope. You should have a list of questions prepared that you will ask or mail each one. Be sure to get information on everyone in each person's family, such as: full name, date and place of birth (and death, when applicable); full name (including maiden names) of each person's parents; approximate dates of military service; if anyone was adopted, etc. You may want to create a 'form' of questions to send after you look at a few sites and download some software. This way you can be sure the same questions are asked of everyone. Leave enough blank space for answers to be written.
The next thing you should do, if you have the storage capacity, is download all the free software you can. Some you will like and keep, and some you will delete. But give yourself the option to make the choice. I've listed several here that will give you a very good start.
http://members.aol.com/sftrail/inter-gen2.html - is an excellent "full-service" site that you may never want to leave! There are a couple of places listed for free software to download, but you have to look closely. It also has good 'beginning' sites, surname databases to search and links to almost everything you need. There is just no way to look at everything it offers the first time you visit!
http://www.grl.com/grl/index.shtml - is the Genealogical Research Library. It offers great starting points, as well an excellent relationship chart (what is a second cousin, twice removed?), maps, indexes, albums, software, etc. Also allows you to search databases in almost any country.
http://www.toltbbs.com/~kbasile/software.html - is the Genealogy Software Springboard site. It offers software plus gives descriptions and ratings of each.
http://www.sonic.net/~commsoft - good Roots Software.
http://www.ancquest.com - software to download, plus excellent resources, tips & tricks.
http://www.filemine.com - is a killer site to download a ton of genealogy software programs. Also offers organizing software for recording your family history and for printing charts and reports.
After downloading software, you'll want to review some pages on how to begin. I've found so many sites with great tips and excellent instructions on where and how to begin. Take a look at these and really bite into every thing they have to offer.
http://possum.com/hl - is the Genealogy Help List.
http://users.jerseycape.com/schubert/index.htm - is Dave's Root Cellar. Click on Dave's Newbie Guide. You might want to bookmark this site.
http://www.who-me.com/wm-genealogy.htf - genealogy research/relative finder.
http://www.familytreemaker.com/links - is a very comprehensive site offering everything from beginner tips to advanced searches of thousands of sites. Be sure to check out Family Tree Maker's Online University for a great tutorial. Read it all and click away! A good one to bookmark.
http://www.cyndislist.com - is Cyndi's List. Cyndi Howell has done a marvelous job with this site, as you will soon see. You can link to almost any category or location you can imagine. Good beginner links plus great reference for research. Bookmark this one too!
http://www.usaafter.com/treemain.htm - lets you "build" your own family tree house from wood-look planks, and guides you step by step. While you are here, click on the "Links" page for even greater options and research sites.
http://www.firstct.com/fv/tmaps.html - a very good how-to site.
http://www.canisius.edu/~shea4/gene.html - is the Genealogical Sources page with a few links to beginner sites and "how to" info.
http://www.genealogy.org/~ngs - is the National Genealogical Society site and offers tips for beginners and a wealth of links.
http://www.lds.org/Family_History/How_Do_I_Begin.html - is the Church of Latter Day Saints, or Mormon, national genealogical library, and contains records on millions of surnames worldwide.
http://www.genealogysitefinder.com - a great basic site listing links to hundreds of others under every topic.
http://www.gensource.com/Ifoundit - genealogy search engine and directory of related sites.
http://www.family-tree.com - Family Treemaker Online site.
http://www.polaris.net/user-www/legend/bookmark.htm - Steve Lacy's Genealogy Gateway to the Web.
http://ellisisland.org - this is
the American Family Immigration History Center and Museum, located at the
Statue of Liberty.
After you have reviewed the basic instructions, you'll be looking for specific surnames. There are hundreds of databases listing millions of surnames on each. I've tried not to be too repetitious with these, since many offer the same listings. As you research, you will find numerous sites that others will miss. New home pages and sites are added daily. One of them may be yours soon.
Links for specific origin surnames are given in alphabetic order as much as possible, rather than being ranked according to quantity and quality of content. I tried to list the most comprehensive sites, but often smaller, targeted sites yield up as much or more information, depending upon the search.
http://www.ancestry.com - bookmark it!
http://www.gentree.com - is a collection of searchable databases, as are most links in this section.
http://www.surnameweb.org/registry - millions of surnames.
http://www.folksonline.com - a good basic site.
http://www.linkmonster.com - valuable site with links to everything from arts to windows (including genealogy!) This will be helpful to you in many areas, so bookmark it too.
http://www.links2go.com/channel/genealogy - dozens of domestic and international links - great one to bookmark.
http://kin.net/gen.html - this is the Nest of Kin with domestic and international links to thousands of names and databases.
http://www.genserv.com - genealogical GEDCOM system with over 12 million names in over 9500 databases.
http://www.chicagohs.org - Chicago Historical Society Gen. Page.
http://www.innerlight.com/genepool/quakers.htm - Quakerism & Quakers roots guide with details of history, heritage, customs, calendars, research aids and resources.
http://members.aol.com/genhostrj/html/surnames.htm - large surname database index with family tree info for each name.
http://www.pastracks.com - Midwest, South and Eastern genweb sites.
http://www.usgenweb.com - records by state and county.
http://www.genealogy.org - Michael Cooley's Gen. Page.
http://www.genealogy.org/go-sites.shtml - this is a list of all home pages.
http://www.citynet.net/mostwanted - Adoption queries, missing children, captures and most wanted links.
http://www.genpourri.com/links.html - Southern and most wanted links.
http://www.mindspring.com/~Freedom1/sq - Southern queries.
http://www.gfo.org - Genealogical Forum of Oregon.
http://www.nehgo.org - New England Historic Genealogy Society.
http://www.state.nh.us/nhsl - New Hampshire state library.
http://ukcc.uky.edu/~vitalrec - Kentucky vital records.
http://www.tngenweb.usit.com - Tennessee genweb project.
http://www.intersurf.com/~cars - "Cajun Clickers" site
- Library of Virginia genealogy home page and links.
http://imabbs.army.mil/cmh-pg - U.S. Army Center of Military History.
http://www.usgenweb.com - Military records for all states.
http://www.cwc.lsu.edu/other/genealogy - Civil War listings and links.
http://www.voicenet.com/~fieldhdj/ - order NATF Form 80 online for military service or pension records.
http://www.ancestry.com - tells
how to become an accredited genealogist, has over 90 million names in searchable
databases, U.S. Cemetary address book, search calendars of wills, Social
Security Death Indexes, rosters of pensioners, Vietnam casualty index and
Foreign ancestors may be traced through some of the following links . Since we all have foreign ancestors, this category has numerous listings.
http://members.aol.com/calebj/mayflower.html - the Mayflower pages.
http://www.aftc.com.au - Australian and New Zealand genealogy pages.
http://italgen.com/wwwboard/messages - Italian Genealogy Home Page.
http://members.tripod.com/~AlanCheshire/index.html are Alan Cheshire's genealogy and UK page.
http://www.browseireland.com - obviously an Irish site, and very interesting.
http://www.geocities.com/heartland/4051 - excellent Canadian genealogy made easy.
http://www.denmarkemb.org - Royal Danish Embassy site.
http://www.finland.org - Embassy of Finland site.
http://www.archives.ca - National Archives of Canada site.
http://www.freenet.mb.ca/community/heritage/genealogy.html - EXCELLENT link to Canadian, European and Domestic genealogy sites. Locate Coats of Arms here.
http://digiserve.com/heraldry/index.htm - good site for Scottish clans, tartans, coats of arms, Polish heraldry, medieval resources, surnames and resources.
http://www.heraldry2001.com/family3.htm - Hall of Names International, offering free family name searches and documents.
http://www.linnet.co.uk/ancestry.htm - Scottish family research.
http://www.ardaman.com - Saudi Arabian royalty.
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Alfred_Sosa - good Hispanic genealogy website.
http://www.itsnet.com/home/gfa - genealogy for Armenians.
http://www.eye.ch/swissgen - Swiss genealogy site.
http://www.genealogy.com/gene - German genealogy home page.
http://www.msstate.edu/archives/history/afrigen - African ancestors site.
http://www.genealogycanada.com - Canada's GenWeb project..
http://www.midas.ac.uk/genuki - UK and Ireland pages.
http://members.aol.com/bbbenge/front.html - Native American pages, w Cherokee, Choctaw, Lakotaith genealogy.
http://www.uib.no:83/cgi-bin/hhijo/webNyUt.pl?20 - Norwegian genealogy.
http://www.scotlandsource.com - A listing of all of Scotland's sources.
http://www.daddezio.com/index.html - another good Italian site.
http://www.tartans.com - The Gathering of the Clans home page.
http://www.dcs.hull.ac.uk/public/genealogy/GEDCOM.html - lists royalty and nobility surnames and links, and is an excellent source!
http://www.mayo-ireland.ie/General/Galway.htm - an Irish site that will tell you "wrong turning" so you may think you have reached it in error, but look further. There are several links to other Irish gen. sites plus general information on a variety of other topics.
http://www.links2go.com/channel/genealogy - dozens of domestic and international links - great one to bookmark.
http://wwwtc.nhmccd.cc.tx.us:443/people/crf01/rome/caesar.html#.caesar - List of known members of the Roman ruling family.
http://www.ozemail.com.au/~jsnelson/descent.html - Australian site with resources and focus on Welsh ancestry.
http://www.maven.co.il - Jewish/Israel Index.
http://www.jewishgen.org - Jewish genealogy.
http://www1.jewishgen.org - Jewish Gen. Society, Los Angeles, with links to others.
http://www.judaism.com/bookids.html - judaism books for kids and teens.
- Irish sources, indexes and CDs.
http://www-nmd.usgs.gov/www/gnis - Maps and geographic name information.
http://www.heritagebooks.com - Book titles for sale.
http://scriptorium.lib.duke.edu/collections - Rare Book, Manuscript, and Special Collections Library of Duke University
http://www.bibliofind.com - Good book source.
http://www.best.com/~shuntsbe/obituary - Obituary listings.
http://www.berksregofwills.com/genealogy - Larry Medaglia Register of Wills and Clerk of the Orphan Court., Berk's County, PA.
http://www.isleuth.com/gene.html - Internet Sleuth
http://www.aplusdata.com - General genealogy books.
http://www.polaris.net - Gateway to the Web with resource listings.
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/roots - Genealogy forums on Compuserve.
http://www.everton.com - publishers - good research and resource site.
http://www.familychronicle.com - this is Family Chronicle magazine and a good site.
http://www.heritagequest.com - is Heritage Quest magazine, store and resource center.
http://www.census.gov - U.S. Census Bureau. Search for "genealogy" and you will get several good sites.
http://www.compuology.com - customized computers designed for genealogists.
http://www.linkopedia.com/genealogy.htm - internet guide to genealogy resources.
http://www.mapquest.com - maps and travel.
http://www.onlinegenealogy.com - is a subscription journal that you can join.
http://genrecords.com - genealogy records service, resource center, software, shopping, federal census records and more.
http://www.bannerblue.com - an excellent site jammed with features and resources.
http://www.genealogymall.com - one stop shop for resources, supplies, books, map, links, etc.
- THIS IS THE BEST SITE! This goes to the world's top 1000 sites
and gives a lot of genealogy listings in the Hobbies section. You'll
have a good time here.
I found so many sites that offer great resources and networking opportunities. The sites are worthy of your time to check them out.
http://www.tc.umn.edu/~pmg/genealogy.html - volumes of links by ethnicity - bookmark it! This is one of the most comprehensive sites I found. It offers links to all foreign and domestic sites, millions of surname databases and gives beginner to expert information.
http://cpcug.org/user/jlacombe/mark.html - another linkmonster site! This one is a "Barrel of Genealogy Links" and gives hundreds of links to important sites. Be sure to bookmark this one.
http://www.gentree.com - massive database link listings.
http://genweb.net - set up your own web pages here.
http://www.echotech.com/gene.htm - the absolute best links to the best sites!
http://home.earthlink.net/~middleton - Genealogy is My Hobby page with links to other search engines, databases and more. Bookmark it.
http://demo.genweb.org/gene/genedemo.html - an index of genealogical sites.
http://www.doit.com/tdoyle - more links.
http://www.fgs.org/~fgs - Federation of Genealogical Societies.
http://genealogy.org/~ngs - National Genealogical Society.
http://www.cogensoc.org/cgs/cgs-cool.htm - Colorado Gen. Society's cool site.
http://www.livingweb.com - Biographies, genealogy, & insignias.
http://www.usaafter.com - Family Tree House gen. site links.
http://www.mindspring.com - this is an internet service provider with many channels and search aids. Tells how to have an online family reunion and how to locate people via the internet.
http://www.ances-tree.com - link to Ances-Tree and the North Pole Connection sites.
http://www.genealogysearch.com - Genealogy Search database with over 400 million names.
http://genealogy.tbox.com - Genealogy Tool Box
http://www.goodwins.com/resources.htm - "Ask the Genealogy Lady" from PBS and the Ancestors home page.
- Family tree research center. Locate genealogists worldwide to help
you or search for you!
Access these search engines and do a search on any or all of the following words: genealogy, ancestry, roots, family tree, and heritage. Browse through the thousands of matches for new sites.
http://www.rootsweb.com - mailing lists and search engines.
- 1000's of genealogical search engines.
Now, here's your "little extra":
http://netfind.aol.com/aol/guide/Families/Genealogy - genealogy leads
http://cpcug.org/user/jlacombe/mark.html - a barrel of genealogy links
http://pages.prodigy.net/middleton/topten.html - best genealogy links on the web
http://pages.prodigy.com/Strawn/sites.htm - top links with over 40,000 sites
http://home.earthlink.net/%7Emiddleton - genealogy is my hobby site
http://www.refdesk.com/factgene.html - virtual reference desk facts page
http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Strawn/search.htm - tons of search engines
http://user.icx.net/~booboo/research.html - ShadCat's free listing and reference site
http://user.icx.net/~booboo/other.html - ShadCat's other links page
http://members.aol.com/Sftrail/inter-gen2.html - comprehensive interactive genealogy site - excellent starting point also.
- ancestral trails site