General Searches – Get started here

Ancestry.com, of course.  There are more features available if you subscribe.  I did myself, at 20.00 a month and i’m pleased so far.

Ellis Island.org Passenger search You can do basic searches right there, or create a free login to save searches and play with more bells and whistles!

Specialized Searching

Googling surnames and wispy bits of data will net you all sorts of “vanity” sites with tired rehashed facts copied over and over.  So my recommendation is to look for sites that are attached to a government or well-known academic body: your .edu, .gov, .uk, .ie and so forth.

When you alight on a website that promises to have genealogical information, don’t get carried away with the material you see on the top.  Before you search, scroll right to the bottom or scour the sides to see if you can find an “about” page, or any info on this site’s affiliation.  If it has a lot of stuff to sell, it may be just in the business of slapping a coat of arms on a mug and giving you something you can just find in wikipedia.  Usually in a dreadful font.  Yes, I’m tired of seeing these, can’t you tell?

A note on Wikipedia:  same deal as any website.  When you land on a page, go right to the bottom and look at references and external links.  Use the article itself for general info and edification, but look at what it cites.  Remember any damn fool can edit a wiki – you want the damn fools that bother to do the work of finding credible sources.

Ok, so here’s some of those!

RootsIreland.ie is something I’ve only recently come across.  It looks like it’s going to be fairly helpful for the trickier mid-1800s and back crowd of Reillys.

The Scottish Register of Tartans because Tartans are kind of a big deal.  A bit light on info so far as I can tell, but you can find nice images of your family’s tartan.

Scotlandspeople.gov.uk – I haven’t explored this yet, but it looks promising.

US Congressional Cemetery – this is a lovely historic site I have yet to visit!  Its internment records are searchable – I’d look here for veterans, especially of older wars.

Library of Congress Digitized Newspapers