Available only in English, the NGS website offers a number of guides, as well as home study and online courses, to help you get started with your research. Check out their Suggestions for Beginners for some useful guidelines as you begin your project. Some areas of the site require free registration while others are only accessible to paid members of NGS. Members also receive discounts on publications, learning materials, and research services, as well as access to NGS online databases.
Providing one of the largest collections of documents for genealogy research in the world, FamilySearch (available only in English) offers a searchable catalog of documents microfilmed the world over by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The six-step How to Start Your Family History section provides comprehensive guidelines to help you begin your research. Registration, while not mandatory, is free and offers access to all available records, access to free downloadable software to help you document your research, as well as an online family tree that can be shared with family members for collaboration.
This English-only website's Spanish and Latin American resources include everything from getting-started guides to government and church archives in Spanish-speaking nations. Cyndi's List also has links to websites with advice on dating old photographs.
Similar to Cyndi's List, this Spanish-language website offers links to both Spanish and English resources, including surname databases and archive, library, and census information. Checkout Primeros pasos en Genealogía y Testimonios for a list of getting-started guides.
Operated by the U.S.-based Cuban Genealogy Center, this bilingual site offers information for locating records from various sources, including churches, cemeteries, and passenger lists. The section for researching surnames has links to a dozen sources of information, including a Quick Finder to help you identify the volume ofHistoria de Familias Cubanas(known as Jaruco) that lists your family name.
Predominantly in English, this site's specialty is Puerto Rico, although it does offer one link each for Venezuela and Colombia. The resources section provides links for Puerto Rican vital records and telephone directories.
Paid membership is required to access anything more than basic information on this English-only site. Information available includes U.S. and UK census records and the Social Security Death Index, plus resources to help users publish family trees online. The Learning Center offers online courses and an extensive library of guides on conducting family research.
Sponsored by Ancestry.com, this English-only site is designed as a community to help people researching their family history to connnect to others who may have relevant information. You can post to message boards or join a mailing list for specific Spanish-speaking nations. The Family Trees section includes more than 3 million surnames, with contact information for each person who submitted one. You can search the database and add your own research.
This website is available only in English and offers three levels of annual membership. Access to U.S. Census, international, and passenger records is available only with the top level of membership. Access to the Social Security Death Index is available with all levels of membership. An interesting feature on this site is the ability to search the Virtual Cemetery, where members can upload photos of their ancestors' tombstones. The Learning Center offers free online courses and many useful articles, including a How-To Guide, Dating Your Photographs, step-by-step guides for locating immigration information and military service records, and Making Sense of the Census.
Located within The Battery, and now known as Castle Clinton National Monument, Castle Garden was the first official immigration center in America. By entering the first and last name of your ancestor and a range of dates for arrival, the English-only website will return the ship name and date of arrival. You can conduct an advanced search for a fee.
Ellis Island Records
Available only in English, the Ellis Island Records can provide detailed information on immigrants, including their age and port of origin. Registered users (registration is free) can view immigration records, ships' manifests, and photos of the ships.
Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild (ISTG)
There are currently passenger manifests available for 5,000 ships from as early as the 1600s. You can search by date, port of departure, port of arrival, ship's name, or captain's name. This English-only site also offers an area called the Compass, which provides links to additional resources for genealogical research.
Discussion Forum for Hispanic Genealogical Researchers
Join this bilingual discussion board to post requests for information on your ancestors. Perhaps you can shed light on someone else's research, too.