What is a database? It is a collection of related information (data) recorded in a structured format, stored on a computer, allowing rapid search and retrieval and if necessary, modification of deleting of data. Access to the collection of information is via computer software that allows users to access and interact with the data.
An example would be a collection of every building in a community with its dimensions, value, and location. Any citizen or realtor might be able to view this information, but the city auditor could have ability to make changes in the value, add a new building, or remove a building that has been destroyed.
In a genealogy data base, perhaps anyone could view it, but only a subscriber could download, print, or submit changes.
Can anyone create a database? Yes, with the proper software. Many companies provide specific database applications using Microsoft Excel, Microsoft Office has Access. Avanquest has Mydatabase, and for high-end needs, there is Oracle, NetApp, or SAP as examples. I discuss this topic also in Instructions Menu – “Computer Genealogy Programs – How do they Work”
There are many databases useful for genealogy. The most basic are those that list individuals, following GEDCOM standards. Examples of these are Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, Geneanet, and MyHeritage.
Other genealogy databases cover specific topics. The National Archives contains ship passenger lists and military records, much of which has been scanned and shared with Ancestry.com, FamilySearch, and Fold3.
Ancestry Records.org is not a database but is a search engine for Ancestry.com. http://ancestorrecords.org
Cyndi’s list is every genealogists best friend. It is constantly updating its links to almost everything dealing with genealogy. https://www.cyndislist.com/
Archives.com is a subscription company out of Lehi, Utah that offers access to 11.6 billion records and has partnered with FamilySearch, National Archives, Newspapers.com, E-Yearbooks.com, and Vitalsearch Company Worldwide (background checks). https://www.archives.com
Chronicling America – Archived Newspapers from Library of Congress. https://chroniclingamerica.loc.gov/
DAR (Daughters of American Revolution – Military Service Records and more. https://www.dar.org/
Ellis Island – 65 million records database of Immigrants. Available via Ancestry.com, and free from FamilySearch.org.
Castle Garden was America’s first immigration center, processing about 8 million immigrants. New York Battery Conservancy allows you to search online. The manifests of ships passing through can be accessed with a subscription to Ancestry.com.
Fold 3 is a collection of military records. It is owned by Ancestry.com. https://www.fold3.com/
(POWVETS (WWII POW’s in Germany), part of the FamilySearch.org Community. https://community.familysearch.org/en/discussion/12537/powvets-com
Find a Grave containing over 152 million cemetery records, owned by Ancestry.com. https://www.findagrave.com
Findmypast is mostly British records, although it does have a large collection of U.S. newspapers. https://www.findmypast.com
FreeBMD – Births, Marriages and Death index for England and Wales 1837 to 1983. FreeBMD Home Page
GenesReunited – British ancestry. https://www.genesreunited.co.uk/
Geni.com – users download GEDCOM files. Members can then use Tree View. https://www.geni.com/
Genealogybank.com contains: Native American genealogy, Newspaper Archives, Obituaries, U.S. Census Records, Social Security Death Index, many government publications. https://www.genealogybank.com/
New England Historic Genealogy Society (aka American Ancestors) – Education, Research and over 1.4 billion records. https://library.nehgs.org/ – https://www.americanancestors.org/
USGenWeb – County and State resources about places and birth, death, obituaries (a volunteer project). https://www.usgenweb.org/
Weekly Genealogist – Sends e-Mail messages to users. Part of American Ancestors.Org . Every Wednesday e-mails info a NEHGS – subscription.
WikiTree – One is social-networking site out of New York City. It has over 980,000 collaborative members. The second is the Heritage.com search engine.
There are other sites for specific geographic, or ethnic locations.
Familytree Magazine is not a database but is well worth the subscription price.
Let’s examine the primary databases in more detail: