Research Your Scottish Ancestry

More Internet Genealogy

Robert Wilbanksby Robert M. Wilbanks IV, B.A.
Chief Genealogist & Historian, C.S.A.

With the advent of the Internet, very techie genealogists were quick to utilize this medium for the creation of sites for the exchange of information, education, resources and even forums for discussion. The number of resources accessible to genealogists significantly grew and today it is one of the most popular topics on the Internet.

In today’s high-tech age, the internet is now a rich extensive research tool for genealogists any time, access day or night, from anywhere. Libraries, records centers, and archives are making historic records more freely accessible on the internet. Additionally, many free websites have been created by genealogists, genealogical organizations, local history societies, heritage groups, and more.

The last two articles discussed a few significant subscriptions based websites, and a major free website, with extensive resources and ability to build your family genealogy and history on the same site. Here, in advance of this months “Genealogy Workshop” for our monthly meeting, I will introduce you to, with a preliminary overview, a few of the different and most notable genealogy websites on the Internet. These are mostly all free genealogy websites built by volunteer genealogists.

USGenWeb – is a site of links to information and networking, organized by the states and counties in the United States. You can find information as to what records are available by state or county, who to contact, what organizations exist, history and sometimes project transcriptions of specific records for states, counties and some cities.

Rootsweb – is a great website for beginners. A free web-based genealogy community that offers general genealogy information, research tips, etc., and also has some databases to search and links to many other specific subject web sites. Several databases include uploaded genealogy databases, links to mailing lists, message boards and how to connect or access archives of previous postings. Also you will find links to many genealogy websites that are hosted for free by Rootsweb; and you can create your own genealogy site for free. – is a website that mostly offers instructional information, general genealogy information, research tips, message boards and forums and other networking portals. It also allows you to personalize this site for your own genealogy needs and activities, including downloading and creating your genealogy pedigree.

GenForum – a component of, it is a conglomeration of Message Boards on various surnames, locations and topics. A great place to learn and ask questions.

U.S. Ports of Arrival - lists many United States sea ports and land border ports, identifying known extant and/or published immigration records (passenger arrival lists) 1820-1957, organized by state. Includes Canadian and Mexican border crossing records. Find info on ship passenger arrival records (and a select few for airplane passenger lists). Crew lists, a few passenger departure records, and some passenger arrivals after 1957, are also included. U.S. Territories are listed at the end. Other links are included.

Castle Garden – is an educational project of The Battery Conservancy. This free site offers access to an extraordinary database on 11 million immigrants from 1820 through 1892. More than 100 million Americans can trace their ancestors to this early immigration port and period.

Ellis Island – – The Ellis Island Archive contains passenger lists of over 51 million immigrants, passengers, and crew members who came through Ellis Island and the Port of New York from 1892 to 1957. The period 1892 to 1924 at Ellis Island was the largest human migration in modern history! The expansion of this database of Port of New York arrivals is continuing. All records from 1925 through 1957 should now be searchable.

WorldGenWeb – is the world-wide equivalent of the USGenWeb site. Here is the link for the page specific for Ireland and the United Kingdom GenWeb and here is the specific link for ScotlandGenWeb – is a UK site dedicated to Open Data and Open Source access to information and records for genealogy. Teams of volunteers create high quality transcriptions of public records from government and various sources. Here you will find over 333 million births, marriages and deaths, 38 million parish register entries, and 32 million individuals from the 1841 to 1891 census. Completely free to search and view.

RootsUK – is a semi-free site: free searches are available but there is a fee to access records. You must register as a user. Roots UK offers you the ability to search through multiple databases with one click, so you can find and access likely entries quickly. They have birthmarriage and death index for England & Wales from 1837-2005, census transcripts for selected counties 1841-1891.

GENUKI– provides a virtual reference library of genealogical information of particular relevance to the UK and Ireland.

Cyndi’s List – is the most notable resource guide for most all known genealogy related websites on the Internet. This website organizes and categorizes genealogy websites by subject, etc. Example: from “Categories” scroll to “United Kingdom & Ireland” then click on "Scotland" for a list of links on genealogy web sites related to research in Scotland. On Cyndi’s List you can also find extensive links to specific surnames, or learn about Military records, Church records, Passenger lists, etc.

The above are only a few of the vast number of genealogy sites on the internet. Please be advised that as with anything else on the internet, genealogy information found on the internet must always be verified for accuracy through original research and resources, detailed evaluation and analysis, etc.

For the August 10 meeting, be sure to bring your online device, and your own hotspot, so that you may explore these and many other genealogy sites.

This is another of a series of articles in which I show you the basics of searching for your family history, discussing the use of family records, public records, and online resources nationally and internationally, etc. The previous articles are now available on the Genealogy Section of this website.   See “Genealogy” in the menu options at the top of the web page.