Cyndi's List of Genealogical Sites on the Internet is an essential tool for family history buffs conducting online research. This catalog of genealogy websites has links to over 270,000 sites.
In 1995, Cyndi Howells compiled a one-page list of Internet family research sites for the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogy Society in Washington. The list was so popular that she expanded it for the society's newsletter. The list went online in March of 1996, and by the end of that year, it contained over 10,000 sites. As the Internet phenomenon grew, so did Cyndi's List. In 2001, it referenced over 100,000 links and had been visited by over 20 million visitors. It is currently receiving 15,000 visitors a day, who view websites in over 180 categories. Over 1,500 sites are added each month.
Over the years, Cyndi's List has received multiple awards and recognitions. It is often included in numerous publications and societies as one of the top genealogy websites. The site has always been free for visitors to use.
Cyndi's List is organized into categories. There is a category for every state in the United States and every Canadian province. Some of the main categories are as follows:
- Databases - Searchable Online
- Death Records
- Ellis Island
- Free Stuff
- How To - Tutorial and Guides
- LDS & Family History Centers
- Native American
- Organizing Your Research
- Prisons, Prisoners & Outlaws
- Societies & Groups
- Voters, Poll Lists, Electoral Records
- Wills & Probate
Some of the more unusual categories include the following:
- Clothing & Costume
- Hit a Brick Wall?
- Myths, Hoaxes & Scams
- Outer Space
- Serendipity in Genealogy
The geographic categories cover every continent, including Antarctica. These categories are then broken down into sub-categories, such as the following:
- General Resource Sites
- Government and Cities
- Libraries, Archives and Museums
- Records: Census, Cemeteries, Land, Obituaries, Personal, Taxes and Vital
- Religion & Churches
There is also a topical index that lists categories by topic:
- Computers and the Internet
- Vital Records
Each category states the number of sites listed. It also states the date of the latest update.
Using Cyndi's List
Each category has its own page, on which the relevant websites are listed. The listings have a brief description of the link. The description tells the visitor if the site charges a subscription fee, the source of the site, such as the National Archives, and if pertinent, the surnames included. Visitors can then click on the site name to jump to the web page.
For example, if you were searching for research sites for an Quaker ancestor in Illinois, you could go to the Quaker category. There you would find a listing for Illinois Quaker Records, a database at Ancestry.com, a listing of Quakers (Society of Friends) in Illinois, a smaller site, and another link for the Society of Friends in Fulton County, Illinois. Each of these websites may have information that might further your research.
It's important to remember that Cyndi's List does not contain the genealogy information itself. It is instead a collection of sources, much like the card catalog in a library, pointing a visitor to the location of relevant information.
Cyndi's List is valuable for both the beginner and the experienced genealogist. It enables a researcher to quickly find sources to continue online investigations.