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Useful Websites

Sue Honore

These are some of the top sites which OFHS members have found useful in their family history research, across several different categories. The lists are reviewed on an annual basis – do tell us if you think anything should be added!

Tips for Users

  • Note that most of the free websites now require you to register.
    Some of the subscription websites offer a free trial.
  • For the sites you find useful, sign up to their updates by email or blog, so that you are informed of new additions.
  • Many of these sites are created or supported by volunteers. If you have time to offer, please think about volunteering as a transcriber or page owner.
  • Lists of favourites are inevitably personal and you will no doubt have your own. If you have discovered a great site that would be useful for others, please let us know.

For Beginners

Website and Link

Why You Need It

Cost

AncestryFor census records plus parish records and an enormous global card catalogue.£ or use in library
DustyDocsTo find parish records. This site will take you to a whole range of other free and subscription sites, depending on the parish you’re interested in (covers British Isles, Australia and New Zealand). A great way of learning what’s available.Free
FamilySearchParticularly good for baptisms, but use it for their enormous collection of other records too. They add new records almost every day.Free
FindmypastSearch for your ancestors in newspapers, electoral rolls, military and naval records, school records, burials. Best for England but some world records too, including India and the USA.

Note that library access does not include the newspaper collection (you can search but can’t download the actual page).

£ or use in library
FreeBMDThis is the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales. Check information you think you know already and then work backwards to 1837.Free
General Register OfficeTo order birth, marriage and death certificates. To check mother’s maiden name on births back to 1837.Free
GenukiTo find out about any parish in the UK and Ireland. Plenty of links included.Free
Irish GenealogyTo find parish and civil records for people in Ireland.Free
ScotlandsPeopleTo find censuses, parish and civil records for people in Scotland. You’ll need to buy credits to download records.Free
UK National ArchivesUse the research guides on all kinds of topics, e.g. occupations, to find out what records are available. Use their catalogue (Discovery) to search their archive and others across the UK.Free
Oxfordshire History CentreThe archive and local studies for the county, including Health Archives and photographic collectionsFree
Oxfordshire Heritage Search
The Heritage Search is a catalogue of Oxfordshire’s cultural and heritage resources. Use it to find a wide range of materials relating to Oxfordshire’s past. The reference and contact information associated with each item allows you to find out more about items of interest.Free / £
Picture Oxon
Historic images of Oxfordshire and the Thames Valley from the 1850s to the present, including 300,000 catalogue records of images and 100,000 digital imagesFree / £

 

Blogs

Website and Link

Description

Cost

Cruwys newsDebbie Kennett’s personal blog, with useful posts on DNA and personal genomics.Free
DNAeXplained – Genetic GenealogyRoberta Estes’ blog about genetic genealogy.Free
Eastman’s Online Genealogy NewsletterA daily email that keeps you up to date with the world of genealogy.Free

 

Burials

Website and Link

Description

Cost

BillionGravesWorld’s largest resource for searchable GPS cemetery data.Free / £
DeceasedOnlineThe central database for UK burials and cremations.Free / £
FindagraveWorld’s largest gravesite collection. Part of Ancestry.comFree
Gravestone Photographic ResourceAn international directory of grave, tomb and other death memorials.Free

Note: Other sources include parish burial records, funeral announcements, wills, cemetery websites, family history society transcriptions, information from relatives, and funeral cards. In some countries death certificates also provide intended place of burial.

DNA and Genetic Genealogy

Website and Link

Description

Cost

DNA PainterWebsite for genealogists and family history enthusiasts who have taken an autosomal DNA test.Free
GEDmatchGEDmatch provides applications for comparing your DNA test results with other people. There are also applications for estimating your ancestry. Some applications are free. More advanced applications require membership in the GEDmatch Tier1 program at $10 per month.Free / £
ISOGG wikiWiki of the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.Free
Oxfordshire DNA ProjectOxfordshire DNA ProjectFree

 

Mailing Lists

Website and Link

Description

Cost

Oxfordshire Genealogy
Genealogy Mailing list for for the discussion of genealogy and family history relating to the Oxfordshire, England, area.

Replacement for the old RootsWeb list.

Free

 

Maps

Website and Link

Description

Cost

British History OnlineHistoric maps.Free
MAPCOFree access to high quality scans of rare and beautiful antique maps and views.Free
Ordnance SurveyDetailed location information for Great Britain.Free / £
The Underground MapA project which is creating street histories for the areas of London and surrounding counties lying inside the M25.Free
ZeeMapsCreate online maps for your family story.Free
National Library of Scotland – Maps
Probably the largest collection of old maps of the UK, includes old OS maps.

Site also includes maps of the British trenches during WWI.

Free
Google Maps
Googles maps. Option to display the standard road map, satellite/aerial view and street view.

The street view is useful for looking at the modern street scene.

Free
Bing Maps
Modern street map, similar to Google Maps. Option to display the standard road, map, aerial view, street view or the OS maps.

OS Map part is useful for finding farms etc. that are mentioned in census records.

Free

 

Marriage

Website and Link

Description

Cost

Index of Oxford Diocese Marriage Bonds and Affidavits, 1661-1850
These Volumes are an index of all the surviving bonds and affidavits given by persons who obtained marriage licenses from the court of the Bishop of Oxford up to 1850.Free
Oxfordshire Archdeacon’s Marriage BondsExtracts from the Oxfordshire Archdeacon’s Marriage Bonds. Free

 

Military Ancestors

Website and Link

Description

Cost

Commonwealth War Graves CommissionThe Commonwealth War Graves Commission (CWGC) honours the 1.7 million men and women who died in the armed forces of the British Empire during the First and Second World Wars. Headstones, register entries, and headstone schedules.Free
Families in British IndiaThe leading family history organisation focusing on assisting genealogists to research ancestors who lived in India.Free
Fold3Original military records from the US National Archives, UK National Archives and other international records.£
Soldiers of Oxfordshire MuseumHistories of the Oxfordshire and Buckinghamshire Light Infantry and the Queens Own Oxfordshire Hussars.£
The GazetteThe Gazette is the combination of three publications: The London Gazette, The Belfast Gazette and The Edinburgh Gazette. The Gazettes are official journals of record.Free
UK Military Service Records post 1920
Application process for applying for service records of anybody that served in UK forces post 1920.

Need to be next of kin or have next of kin permission. To apply you need to know:

what branch of the forces (i.e. Royal Navy/Royal Marines; British Army or Royal Airforce);
Full name;
Date and Place of birth
and/or Service Number

If person died after they left the service you will need a copy of their death certificate.

Information returned varies from individual to individual.

£ – Non-refundable Fee for search
Imperial War Museum War Memorial Register
The IWM is compiling the War Memorials Register – the comprehensive national register of UK war memorials and the names of the individuals they commemorate. We currently hold records for over 80,000 memorials in the UK, Channel Islands and Isle of Man.

Searchable by place or surname

Free
Library & Archives Canada – Military RecordsLibrary and Archives Canada holds an extensive collection of records of the Canadian men and women who have served their country in the military and in the early years of the North West Mounted Police. There are records relating to Loyalists, the War of 1812, the Rebellions, the South African War, the First World War and the Second World War, many of which are featured in databases, research guides and virtual exhibitions. The records include muster rolls, military service files, unit war diaries, medal registers, photographic collections, documentary art and posters, as well as published sources.Free
The British Red Cross during WWI
First World War volunteers  – Over 90,000 people volunteered for the British Red Cross at home and overseas during the WWI   Search for your family’s personnel records, and discover what Red Cross volunteers were doing in your local area during WWI.Free

Note: The National Archives research guides are a good place to start and will help you find out what records are available and where they can be found. Local archives and regimental museums hold a wealth of information on specific army regiments. The main genealogy subscription sites also have military records, and there are also sites relating to particular wars, which can be found using Google.

Miscellaneous Websites

Website and Link

Description

Cost

Cyndi’s ListA comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online.Free
FamilySearch research wikiA free, online genealogy and family history guide that lists websites, provides research strategies, and suggests records and resources to help you find ancestors from all over the world.Free
GenealogyGophersMiscellaneous records from scanned genealogy books.Free
Google AlertsCreate alerts for all the names and places you’re researching. Let Google do the work for you!Free
RootsTech videosRecorded sessions from RootsTech conferences.Free
Steve MorseTools for finding immigration records, census records, vital records, and for dealing with calendars, maps, foreign alphabets, and numerous other applications.Free
Index of Old Occupations
 
A site that tries to explain what some of the old occupations where.Free
Oxoniensia

 

Oxoniensia is the annual journal of Oxfordshire Architectural and Historical Society (OAHS). It is one of the foremost archaeological, architectural, and local history journals in the country. It includes excavation reports, surveys of buildings and standing structures, and articles on the history and topography of Oxford and Oxfordshire. The year’s volume is generally published towards the end of the year.

Oxoniensia is a refereed journal.

Free (except latest volume)
The Old Bailey Online
The Proceedings of the Old Bailey, 1674-1913

A fully searchable edition of the largest body of texts detailing the lives of non-elite people ever published, containing 197,745 criminal trials held at London’s central criminal court.

Free
Oxfordshire Churches in 360 degrees
A look inside the churches of Oxfordshire using 360 panorama viewing. (as of May 2020 157 churches have been photographed).

Best viewed on a device with a large screen.

Warning each panorama file is 15 MB.

Free
Open Domesday
An online version of the Domesday book, searchable by place or person. Contains a transcript and a scan of the actual entry.Free
A vision of Britain through time
A vision of Britain from 1801 to now.Free
The Workhouse
A look at the history of the workhouse around the country as well as a wealth of information on the background to workhouses and general information about how they were run etc. there are details of specific workhouses, including those in Oxfordshire.Free
Trade and local directories for England and Wales from the 1760s to the 1910sThe collection contains 689 directories, with at least one directory for every English and Welsh county for the 1850s, 1890s and 1910s. Searchable by name, place and occupation this is an essential tool for local, urban and family history. You can find Kelly’s and Pigot’s directories here, as well as those by regional publishers.Free
The Oxfordshire Heath Archive
Oxfordshire Health Archives (OHA) brings together a medical based archive under the Public Records Act (1958). The archives in our care include those of National Health Service hospitals and associated administrative bodies, Leagues of Friends and Nurses’ Alumni organisations.

The site contains some information but a lot of the collection can only be viewed at OHC.

Free
Victoria County History (VCH)
The VCH aims to complete authoritative, encyclopaedic histories of each county, from the earliest archaeological records to the present day, as well as topics such as topography, landscape and the built environment. Some VCH volumes were published over a century ago, while others are now in progress or planned for the future.Majority Free
Britain from Above
Collection of historic aerial photographsFree
Library & Archives Canada – Main Page
Library and Archives Canada (LAC) acquires, processes, preserves and provides access to Canadian documentary heritage and serves as the continuing memory of the Government of Canada and its institutions.

Website available in English & French.

Free
Library & Archives Canada – Ancestors
Collection of databases and other research tools relating to people living in Canada.Free
Google Books
“Google” search for text books. Some books are available to read online; others are abstracts only.Free

 

Newspapers

Website and Link

Description

Cost

Ancestor HuntLinks to free online newspapers, mainly US.Free
British Newspaper ArchiveThe British Newspaper Archive is a partnership between the British Library and findmypast to digitise up to 40 million newspaper pages from the British Library’s vast collection.£
Chronicling AmericaSearch America’s historic newspaper pages from 1789–1963.Free
ElephindThe goal of Elephind.com is to make it possible to search all the world’s online historic newspapers from one place.Free
EuropeanaEuropeana Collections provides access to over 50 million digitised items – books, music, artworks and more.Free
FindmypastBritish, Irish and some US and world coverage.£
GenealogyBankGenealogyBank is a leading online genealogical resource from NewsBank, inc. Featuring modern obituaries and historical newspapers, books, pamphlets, military records, government documents and more.£
Newspapers.comLargest online newspaper archive, mainly US but also some UK and Canada.£
TroveAustralian newspapers, journals, and other digital resources.Free
The National Library of New Zealand Paper Archive
Includes archives of New Zealand Newspapers; Magazines; Journals; Letters & Diaries and Parliamentary PapersFree
The Gazette
The Gazette is the combination of three publications: The London Gazette, The Belfast Gazette and The Edinburgh Gazette. The Gazettes are official journals of record.Free

Note: You can also use your library card to access some newspapers from home, and check local archives and libraries to see what they hold.

Religions

Website and Link

Description

Cost

CatholicsNational Archives research guide.Free
JewishGenThe global home for Jewish genealogy, including online databases, discussion groups, search tools and unique resources.Free
Methodist HeritageMethodist heritage and records.Free
NonconformistsNational Archives research guide.Free
Quaker Family History Society£
Quakers in BritainArchive collection of Quakers in Britain; over 1000 manuscript collections and personal papers of Quakers and Quaker families, such as the diaries of Elizabeth Fry.Free

 

Surnames

Website and Link

Description

Cost

Great Britain Family NamesProject investigating the distribution of surnames in Great Britain. See how common your surname is and where people with your surname live.Free
Guild of One-Name StudiesSee if anyone is already researching the surnames you’re interested in. Start your own one-name study.Free / £
Oxfordshire Surname Interest ListThe Oxfordshire Surname Interest List, or OXSIL, is an online resource to help genealogists and family historians find others researching the same surnames in the towns and villages of the County of Oxfordshire, England.Free
Surname DNA projectsList of projects from the International Society of Genetic Genealogy.Free

 

Useful Societies

Website and Link

Description

Cost

Federation of Family History SocietiesUseful links and news.Free
Register of Qualified GenealogistsFor when you need professional assistance.
Society of GenealogistsTalks, events, courses and a genealogical library containing Britain’s largest collection of parish register copies and many nonconformist registers. The Society has made more than 11 million records available online to its members.£
Oxfordshire Local History AssociationThe Oxfordshire Local History Association (OLHA) is for everyone interested in the history of our county. Their Site is useful because it contains details of Local History Groups.Free

 

Wills

Website and Link

Description

Cost

UK Government find a will serviceWills from 1858 to present.Free / £

Note: The main genealogy subscription sites also have links to wills for some areas. Check to see if the records are held by local archives or family history societies. See the National Archives guide. For Scotland, see ScotlandsPeople; for Ireland, see the National Archives of Ireland. For Northern Ireland, see PRONI.

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