Types of Databases on the Internet
by Barbara Renick©20177
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.
Helm's Genealogy Toolbox
LISTS OF LINKS
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.
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
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.
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!
My Reference Desk
Travlang's Translating Dictionaries
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.
RootsWeb Surname List
Surname Springboard Index
GENWEB PROJECTS AND WEBRINGS
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
UK Genealogy Webring
Ukranian Roots Genealogy Webring
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.
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
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?
Public Record Sources
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