Top 10 Most Useful Websites
1. Ancestry - Yes, it does cost money but no one can match them on amount of data or users. They have many helpful resources including: Census, Birth, Marriage and Death records, along with other users Family Trees and a Message Board which allows for a great place to exchange helpful information and stories. Most times Ancestry runs a 14 day free trial. I was able to obtain most of the information I need for my immediate family during this time period.
2. Fold3- This one also costs money but their images are top quality and they have many interesting collections. Some collections are free to look at but they also offer a summary, most times, and that itself can be extremely helpful.
3. Family Search - This is a great free website that provides a lot of information. Some collections have the images available for download but some have outside links to Ancestry or Footnote. As far as free sites goes it is the best. It is hosted by the Church of Jesus Christ Ladder-day Saints in Utah.
4. Find-A-Grave - This is also a great free website that provides listings of cemeteries from all over the county and some internationally. Most listings also have pictures posted. You can upload your own pictures (example: headstones, family photos) and attach them to the record of burial. You can also sign up to be a photo volunteer. You can also upload any cemetery listings not already posted.
5. Secretary of State Office (Missouri Only) - This site has many wonderful collections including newspapers, books and photographs. It also includes a searchable birth and death index. The death index also gives you a copy, in PDF format, of the death certificate. Missouri is very lucky to have such wonderful resources.
6. US Gen Web Project - This site has links to every state with free US Gen Web sites. It is maintained by a group of volunteers who make it their mission to keep genealogy free. Each state has its own site and quality varies, but most have nice websites with good information.
7. Bureau of Land Management - This site has a searchable database containing land patents. It has proved invaluable to locating my family. They have PDF format copies of the actual patents as well. This is a free service.
8. Social Security Death Index - This is a free, searchable database. It can help determine date of death as well as location. You can enter first and last name or their social security number. It's actually quite helpful.
9. Ancient Faces - This is a free photo sharing community. It allows you to post old photo to which the identity is unknown. The idea is that someone might be searching for that particular person and you can also search for your ancestors.
10. Cyndi's List - This website is helpful to those just beginning. Cyndi's list provides many external links that prove to be very useful.