Online Records << Compiled Records <<

Online Compiled Records

Online, compiled records run the gamut from massive databases such as the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), to highly specialized ones such as tombstone transcriptions from selected cemeteries within a given county for a certain time period. Some sites (,,, etc.) are home to large collections of databases and make it convenient to search multiple databases at once. One factor to bear in mind is that some sites charge for access to selected databases, mostly through monthly or annual subscriptions. You will want to consider the value of the information to you, its potential for saving you time and effort, the range of their offerings, how often you might use the resources, and whether the information is available elsewhere.

Here are some of the more widely known and used database searching sites, as well as a few examples of some of the more specialized ones:

Online Compiled Records
What's In Them
Where to Find Them
How to Use Them***

Almost always includes:

  • Names of people from the group that is the subject of the database (e.g., residents, immigrants, employees, with a given surname, etc.)

  • May also include:

    The remaining content will vary widely depending on the focus and detail level of the database, but many aim to provide some indication of at least one of the following:
  • date and/or place of birth
  • date and/or place of death/burial
  • residence
  • date of marriage, military service, immigration, graduation or other major life event
  • connection/ relationship to others in the database
  • citations from the original source
  • For a list of searchable databases by category: Sites Housing Multiple, Searchable Databases:


  • Go to the most likely repositories and search by surname or place name
  • Review your "finds" by checking the citations for indications of accuracy and completeness (e.g., quantity, quality, appropriateness, etc.)
  • If undocumented or seemingly a work of wishful thinking, proceed at your own peril! Consider looking for other secondary sources or starting from scratch
  • If early indications are good, spot check some alleged facts by examining the original sources; also ask others about their experience with the record
  • If it appears to be reliably researched, identify the relevant facts for your search and go to the original sources for verification