Eight free family history reference websites

Are you just beginning your family history but not sure where to start? Are you looking for some free websites to get started? Here are some websites to help you begin discovering your family’s history.

Group of people under a tree
Family picnic around a large tree, 1880-1890; John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg. no. 184050, https://hdl.handle.net/10462/deriv/98170

FamilySearch
This website is created by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Currently it has over 2000 collections of records. This includes millions of baptismal and marriage entries from civil and church registers world-wide. Not all records from within a country are covered. Other records include military, census, immigration and much more. The website is free, but you do need to register to view the records. You may also want to check out their wiki for helpful guides on researching family history and using their collections.

Cyndi’s List
Cyndi’s List of Genealogy Sites on the Internet is a wide-ranging list of genealogical websites. This website is a good starting place for family history as it contains links for all over the world. It covers a wide range of genealogy topics. The list has over 207 categories and more than 330 000 links. You can browse by subject, which is organised alphabetically, or you can search by keyword.

Genealogy mailing lists
Looking for someone but hitting a brick wall? Why not try a mailing list. Genealogy mailing lists such as Genealogy Resources on the Internet and RootsWeb Mailing Lists Archives are a good way to get in touch with others searching for the same person or with specific areas of interest.

CoraWeb – Websites for genealogists
If you’re looking for where to start in Australia, then this site is for you. There are over 30 categories with over 1600 links, mainly covering resources available in Australia. Some overseas material is included. There are links for family history apps, blogs, societies and groups; and software. You can also find some useful handouts and quick guides.

Trove logo
National Library of Australia – Trove logo

Trove
Held by the National Library of Australia, Trove acts as a gateway for all State Libraries plus many other libraries and cultural institutions. There are 11 zones of content. This allows you to search through a vast number of Australian and online resources: books, images, historic newspapers, government gazettes, maps, music, archives and more.

For family historians the Historic Australian Newspapers is a world of wonderful finds. It’s a range of digitised out-of-copyright newspapers from all Australian States and territories that is continually added to. You can search across newspapers regardless of State if the date range of newspapers is available.

The Ryerson Index
This is a free index to death notices appearing in Australian newspapers. Originally started by members of the Sydney Dead Persons Society, it is continually growing due to a wonderful team of volunteers. It is a great way to try and find people who have died interstate or outside of the various Australian registries’ death indexes.

Australian cemeteries index
Looking for your ancestor’s burial place but don’t know where to start? This website is a searchable index that provides access to headstone inscriptions and images from more than 650 cemeteries around Australia, predominantly New South Wales. The information provided has come from dedicated volunteers. It can include extra information and an image of the headstone.

Large group of people outside church
Double wedding in East Brisbane, 1949; John Oxley Library, State Library of Queensland, Neg. no. 129002, https://hdl.handle.net/10462/deriv/79120

These are just some of the amazing family history websites available online to help researchers of all levels. Be sure to check out our Useful websites for family historians to find more websites. Why not read our research guides while you’re at it, to find websites and information around specific subjects.

Wanting to learn more from the experts? Why not come visit State Library. August is National Family History Month, and during August
State Library is holding several family history events.

State Library events

Stories from the Records Thursday 8 August 2019 10am-12pm,
This session brings together staff from National Library of Australia, Queensland State Archives and State Library talking through some family history stories, the sources used and the surprising discoveries.

Facebook ASK US Family History hour
Monday 12 August 2019 10-11am
Join us for an online Q&A session all about family history research. Post your question in the ‘discussion section’ of this event and our librarians will be at the ready to answer any questions you send our way.

Discover how to find births, deaths and marriages outside Registry dates on Thursday 22 August 2019 11am-12pm.
Join our staff to learn about the range of resources you can use to find information about your family beyond the information available through online birth, death and marriage indexes.

Facebook ASK US Family History hour
Tuesday 27 August 11am-12pm
Join us for an online Q&A session all about family history research. Post your question in the ‘discussion section’ of this event and our librarians will be at the ready to answer any questions you send our way.

#NFHM2019

Kirsten Perris
Library technician, Visitor and Information Services

More information

Family history – https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/research-collections/family-history

Useful websites for family historians – https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/research-collections/family-history/useful-websites-family-historians

Family history research guides – https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/research-collections/family-history/family-history-research-guides

Ask Us – https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/plan-my-visit/services/ask-us

Events

Stories from the Records, Thursday 8 August 2019, 10am-12pm – https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/stories-records

Births, deaths and marriages outside Registry dates, Thursday 22 August 2019, 11am-12pm – https://www.slq.qld.gov.au/whats-on/births-deaths-and-marriages-outside-registry-dates

Facebook ASK US family history hour
Monday 12 August 2019 10-11am – https://www.facebook.com/events/2357539377668733/

Tuesday 27 August 11am-12pm – https://www.facebook.com/events/680993645697240/