Types of Databases on the Internet

by Barbara Renick©20177

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The tendency is for genealogy Web sites to constantly add new features and abilities and to become more like all the other genealogy sites they are competing with for your attention. Categories tend to blur and often Web sites fit into more than one of the categories listed here.


Like newspapers, genealogy portals on the Internet try to include something for everyone. Newspapers typically have a sports page, business section, weather forecast, late-breaking news, travel section, etc. Genealogy portals have just as much variety and include many of the categories covered in this lecture. They can be overwhelming in their offerings.

FamilySearch Internet


Helm's Genealogy Toolbox

Native Web


Links sites range in size from a few dozen links about one topic to mega-sites (called directories) covering hundreds of categories and subcategories which organize tens of thousands of links.

Cyndi's List





Many different robotic programs are indexing the Internet around the clock. (However, it is estimated that the biggest indexes only cover about 17% of the Internet.) Search Engines are computer programs that search one or more of these indexes. This is why each search engine searches differently and comes up with different results. Many Web sites have site-specific search engines which index just their Web site. On the other hand, meta search engines simultaneously search multiple search engines.

All the Web

Alta Vista

Ask Jeeves

I Found It!



Offer a variety of services—some free and some at a price. They are often in the retail business of selling books, software, and other genealogical materials. One of the best things they do for genealogists is to make available databases which otherwise would not be readily affordable or accessible to the general public. These companies invest in the expense of making these databases searchable online, then charge subscribers minimal fees to access the information. Often you can search their collection of databases for free, but you must pay to obtain detailed information from the results of your search.

Ancestral Quest



Everton Publishers



There is a world of help online for genealogists. Beginners and experts, alike, find the Internet helpful at any time of the day. These helps range from tutorials to free translation services to online dictionaries to essays on the metes and bounds land system. The biggest challenge is learning about the types of tools available online. If you don't know that a particular type of tool exists, you won't know to look for it!

FamilySearch Internet


Genealogical Abbreviations




My Reference Desk

OneLook Dictionaries

Travlang's Translating Dictionaries

Treasure Maps


The classic types of databases most people think about when doing genealogical research are listed below. Finding aids to these classic record collections are being made available over the Internet. Sometimes digitized images of the actual records themselves are also available.

Bureau of Land Management

Danish Emigrant Database 1868-1903

Library of Virginia Digital Library

Mayflower & Early Families

Medal of Honor Citations (U.S.)


Surname listings are efficient ways of registering your research interests so that others who share those interests may contact you.

Kindred Konnections

One-Name Studies

RootsWeb Surname List

Surname Springboard Index


Genealogists around the world have organized formally and not so formally into projects and rings of Web sites. Their purpose is to make freely available information of interest to other genealogists. These non-profit groups are often organized geographically or topically.

Genealogy Benelux Web Ring

Genealogy World

UK Genealogy Webring

Ukranian Roots Genealogy Webring

USGenWeb Project

Virginia Genealogy Webring

World GenWeb Project


Queries have long been a tradition among genealogists. Now there are more free places than ever before to place your own queries and automatically search through lists of queries placed by others on the Internet.

Common Threads

Czeching Out Our Ancestors



GEDCOM files are compiled records and no better than the research done and assumptions made by the compiler(s). Yet no genealogist entirely turns their back and ignores such a readymade starting point for further research. Computers and the Internet now make such compiled research readily available and searchable. Unfortunately, computers haven't yet improved the quality of the source citations and notes found (or not found) in such compiled files.


Online Genealogical Database Index

Presidents Database

Royal Genealogies

RootsWeb World Connect


HomePages (personal Web sites) run the gamut from small and simple to large and extensive. The types of information included at such sites varies greatly also.

Christine's Genealogy Web Site (African-American research)

Dad's War (WWII)

Maximilien Bйthune, Duke of Sully


Genealogists no longer need to go out blindly to do research hoping that a library, archives, or repository has something they want to search. Nor do they need to worry about what types of copy machines are available, the form of payment used in such machines, or the closest parking spots and eateries. However, an online catalog does not necessarily include all the collections and holdings available at that repository.

DBI-Link (3,000 German libraries)

Library of Congress

Library of Virginia

Los Angeles Public Library




The Internet gives genealogists more ways to find living people (as well as the dead) than ever before. Yet, like all the other tools found on the Internet, you need to evaluate the resource. Is it the most up-to-date version? Where was this particular database taken from? Will a search of a similar site end up using the same index or will it find more or different records?


People Search

Public Record Sources

Switch Board

Vital Records Information


E-mail is still the most used portion of the Internet. There are literally thousands and thousands of electronic messages posted each day. So many, in fact, that no one genealogist can keep up with even a fraction of them. Here, again, the combination of computers and the Internet make it possible to search where you don't have the time to read.

Cyndi's List: Newsgroups



RootsWeb Mailing Lists

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