Genealogy and Family History Research Tools: How to Find Your Family Roots


Genealogy is the study and tracing of family history, or family pedigrees, and is often referred to as building a family tree. Genealogy is also referred to as family history research.

Genealogy involves the research and collection of the names of relatives, both living and deceased, and establishing the relationships between them based on primary, secondary and/or circumstantial evidence or documentation. This information is then used to create a cohesive family tree.

Genealogy Resources and Websites

Following are genealogy resources and resources for researching your family history:

  • Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites – A categorized & cross-referenced index to genealogical resources on the Internet.
  • Ellis Island Records – The Statue of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation website. It is estimated that nearly half of all Americans can trace their family history to at least one person who passed through the Port of New York at Ellis Island. The Ellis Island website provides information on the history of Ellis Island, the Ellis Island Immigrant Experience and information on visiting Ellis Island. The website also provides the ability to search Ellis Island records, passenger records, and archives.
  • FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service – FamilySearch is the largest resource of it’s kind. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. For over 100 years, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide. Patrons may freely access our resources and service online at, or through over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
  • Genealogy Books and Publications – Books and Publications available through
  •  Resources By State ( – This research website provides a list of helpful research tools and resources for each state.
  • Software – Software research tools to help you build your family tree and reconstruct your family history.

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  • – Offers a wide range of family and local histories, vital records, death records, military records and more.
  • Genealogy Today – This company has has been publishing unique information and offering innovative services since 1999 as providers of family history resources.  The search engine includes surname and resource components, allowing visitors to search a variety of databases and catalogs. In addition, you can preview results from numerous online information sites.
  • GeneaNet – Helpful research website that helps you build Your Online Family Tree, Share Your Family History and Improve Your Research.
  • National Archives – How to research records in the U.S. National Archives.
  • How to Search Obituaries – Learn how to find information about deceased individuals by searching obituaries, cemetery records and vital records.
  • Olive Tree – Find ancestors and family origins in free Ships Passenger lists, images of ships passenger list manifests, Orphan records, Almshouse records, Ancestor photos, Census substitutes, Newspaper records, family surnames, church records, military muster rolls, census records, land records, American, Canadian, Orphan records, Naturalization records, death records and more.
  • Researching Your Roots – Reference website that teaches you wow to research your family history and family roots.
  • USGenWeb Project – The USGenWeb Project consists of a group of volunteers working together to provide Internet websites for genealogical research in every county and every state of the United States. The Project is non-commercial and fully committed to free access for everyone.  Organization is by county and state, and this website provides you with links to all the state websites which, in turn, provide gateways to the counties. The USGenWeb Project also sponsors important Special Projects at the national level and this website provides an entry point to all of those pages, as well.
  • Vital Records Information State Index – Vital Records Information State Index


  1. I’m an author and in my current book my PI has a person’s social security number and wants to look up her genealogy using her SS#. In my research of the genealogy web sites, non of them search by SS#. Do PI’s use these search engines and follow the same procedure as a non-PI or do they have a special software program that allows them to search using a SS#?

    Thank you,
    CH Taxdal

    • To search by social security number, private investigators would need access to a background check information provider such as Accurint, LexisNexis, KnowX, etc. See our Background checks page at for more providers.

      Also, some private detectives are approved to access credit reporting information for business purposes (e.g. background checks, employment checks, debt collections, etc.), which may be searched by SSN.


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