Web Wise: Fun with Your Family Tree

Are your roots in Ireland? Did the Great Potato Famine bring your ancestors to America? Did your great-grandparents come through Ellis Island? Branch out and discover your familyís roots in time for those summer family reunions by surfing the waves of Web sites devoted to genealogy.

The Internet has created a revolution in family-tree tracing with an around-the-clock network of records and researchers. Sites are loosely divided into three types: commercial, volunteer and personal.

Commercial sites sell genealogy products, such as software, and/or require a subscription to access most of the records. Despite the commercial tie-ins, there are good reasons to visit them. One is the availability of free records, such as the Social Security Death Records index at Another is the abundance of how-to articles that guide you through the complexities of researching. At, the site for the best-selling Family Tree Maker software, there is a virtual learning center that even includes free online genealogy classes.

Once youíve learned the basics, dip into the wealth of resources established by independent researcher Cyndi Howells at The list is a categorized and cross-referenced index with more than 179,000 links.

Search the Ellis Island immigration records for your ancestorís name at and discover other researchers tracing your family names at Access the only free online index of the 1880 U.S. federal census and the 1881 British and Canadian censuses at and find additional research tools at

When youíre ready, use Cyndiís Genealogy Home Page Construction Kit to publish your own family tree on the Web or use the services offered at both and