There are literally thousands of websites devoted in one way or another to the work of family history. Our goal with this page is not to list them all — just the essentials:
Family Search — This is the Google of the family search world. This completely free resource is powered by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and has the audacious goal of building one world family tree. It is open-edit which means that anyone can make entries, additions, or changes to anyone they are connected to on the tree. While that has been a source of some frustration for early users the strategy is turning as more and more verifiable resources become available online.
Rootstech — Rootstech is not a resource for finding names it is a resource for finding genealogy and family history related resources. It holds an annual convention in Salt Lake City where vendors and experts combine to share expertise and resources. The convention represents a considerable expense for those who participate but the information is current and first-rate.
Google — Google is absolutely vital to good family research. You will use Google side-by-side with just about any other resource listed here. Family history work requires asking questions and seeking answers. If you are on a records repository site such as Ancestry.com and you come across a record that matches someone in your line it will usually contain information that leads to further questions. Where is a location? Look it up on Google Maps. What is the history of this place? Look it up on Google. What happened in that place in 1860? Google it.
FindaGrave.com — a totally free resource, Find A Grave is building a large searchable database of gravesites across the world. As each grave is indexed users can add information such as obituaries and life sketches and photos. It does not always yield results but when it does it can surprise.
Cyndislist.com — a comprehensive, free directory of links to critical genealogical resources
Relative Finder — Just who are you related to? This is a fun site put out by BYU that connects to your FamilySearch.org account to see historical figures and other famous people you might be related to.
Ancestry.com — Ancestry is a records repository that can be searched for finding individual records tied to people. Census records, birth and death vital records, and immigration records are just part of the vast amount of data on the site. This is a paid venue which requires a subscription to access but LDS Church members with a valid login to Family Search are allowed free access. Ancestry sells a lot of products that can aid in the search for ancestors such as DNA test kits.
FindMyPast.com — Another records repository, this one specializes in European records in the UK and Ireland. LDS Church members with a Family Search account have free access.
MyHeritage.com — This site attempts to match the uploaded family trees of different users. For example, if people on your tree “match” people on the tree of a user in another part of the world they get linked together. The hope is that by so doing greater collaboration will leading to filling in holes in family lines and overcoming roadblocks to progress. I haven’t made a lot of use of this site yet but their strong connection to Family Search makes it a worthy resource. Like FindMyPast.com this site is free for LDS Church members with a Family Search login.