The following family history databases share a few things in common:
- They're huge, with no less than 10 million names on record
- They're absolutely free
- They're easy to use, so you can visit, look up a name, and either find it or not, all in the space of a minute or so.
I guess they really did ride these things!
Social Security Death Index (80 million)
Ellis Island (22.5 million plus millions more from related records)
FamilySearch (325 million)
World War II Enlistment Records (9 million, but I included it anyway)
Washington Archives (26 million), one of the best digital state archives
Pilot Project from FamilySearch (many millions, though actual number not published)
Grave and Burial Records (35 million)
Jewish records at Ancestry.com (26 million -- this subset of Ancestry's collection is available at no charge)
WorldConnect (over 575 million)
GenCircles (12 million)
Genealogical Records Committee (GRC) at the DAR (35 million)
UK Census and Vital Records (over 200 million)
Obituaries (over 20 million) -- preliminary search is free
And not free, but so big that I have to mention it anyway:
Ancestry.com (8 billion-with-a-b!)
The above databases, besides being enormous, are also organized for name lookup. That is, you can enter a first-name and last-name in the appropriate search boxes, and pull up records precisely for that name.
Some important family history databases also have name information, but not exclusively. For instance, a search on Black or Francisco or Carpenter will pull up people with that name, but also thousands of other mentions of the word in other contexts. Still, these are huge databases containing millions of names, and should not be overlooked. They include:
Google News Archives
And again, not a free service, but so big that it warrants mention:
If anyone knows of other data sets that should be included here, please mention it in comments, and I'll look it over. Thanks.
Visit the main page of Free Genealogy Tools for more, umm, free genealogical tools.