We’ve all heard the term “Genealogist’s toolbox” or “Genealogist’s toolkit” in online posts and at workshops. Genealogists and family historians have come to know a “toolbox” as the resources available to them for their research. Examples from a genealogist’s toolkit can range from links to websites and databases, to books and repositories. Some may even include software and apps but usually all the tools are found online.
I’ve seen toolbox collections that cover genealogy topics ranging from a Beginning Genealogists toolbox, to an Irish Genealogy Toolkit to a National Archives toolkit. In this article I thought I’d share with you my Civil War toolbox. It’s my list of go-to sites for Civil War soldier research as well pages for learning about the war itself. My hope is that you find a site or two you’ve never used before or you find one you haven’t checked in awhile and want to stop back again and research.
So let’s open my Civil War toolbox and see what’s inside!
Websites for Research
I thought I’d separate this first section of websites into two categories. The initial category below will help with links to track down your individual ancestor. These sites will assist you in locating your Civil War ancestor through rosters, obits, databases, etc.
Leslie Lawson has one of the most detailed genealogist’s toolboxes I’ve ever seen. Her site, Lawson Research Services http://www.lawsonresearch.net/toolbox lists genealogy links for all 50 states as well as a few other topics like DNA, vital or jails. Here you’ll find link upon link for your search. Each of the individual states are broken down into counties. Some counties are further broken down into probate, obit index, naturalization records and so on. She includes Civil War info for each state. Ohio for example has a link for Names of Union Soldiers with Civil War Service in Ohio Units and Ohio Civil War Rosters. Don’t overlook Leslie’s extensive information. Just click on the toolbox tab in the header menu on her site.
Another great site is Lorine McGinnis Schulze’s Olive Tree Genealogy. http://www.olivetreegenealogy.com/mil/usa/cw.shtml I have a soft spot for Lorine’s site. It was the very first one I checked out when I started my Civil War research. There are a variety of links here from U.S. Civil War POW Records, to Confederate Disability Applications and Receipts to Robert E. Lee Camp Confederate Soldiers Home Applications for Admission. She lists many seldom used and seldom talked about record sets. Stop by and take a peek.
Cyndi’s List http://www.cyndislist.com/us/civil-war/ For more than 18 years Cyndi has been compiling and updating online genealogy links for family research. There are 1,116 in the Civil War category alone. Her site is constantly evolving. So a researcher should check back often. New links are added continually. Cyndi’s List is a must in your toolbox.
National Park System Soldiers and Sailors Database
http://www.nps.gov/civilwar/soldiers-and-sailors-database.htm This is a free database with the names of both Union and Confederate soldiers. I’ve heard a few complaints that the database is not as complete as it could or should be. This may be the case yet it is a good place to start your research and certainly shouldn’t be the only place you research. Nice informative section on regiments as well.
American Civil War Research Database http://www.civilwardata.com/ On their website they claim they are “the largest, most in-depth and fully searchable database of American Civil War soldiers and events.” As of this writing I have not subscribed but plan to. Once I do I’ll write a review in a future blog post. I’m including this little-known site as a place for you to consider. It’s a subscription site but the price seems very reasonable.
Find-A-Grave http://www.findagrave.com/ I’ve found more clues for further research on this site because someone else very generously documented and uploaded the gravesite information from a cemetery. Of course it’s a hit or miss whether the final resting place of the person you’re searching for is on the site but I’ve had good luck finding soldier’s graves here. Which gave me additional clues for my research.
The next few links are of course the standard list of online genealogy resources we use daily but still worth the mention.
Family Search https://familysearch.org/ Free
Ancestry http://home.ancestry.com/ $$
Find My Past http://www.findmypast.com/ $$
Archives http://www.archives.com/ $$
Websites for Learning
This second website category is for general information about the Civil War. It’s so vital in understanding our veteran’s place during this time in history to know something of the era and the events going on at the time.
Civil War Trust http://www.civilwar.org/ Far and away my favorite site to learn about the Civil War. Want to know about a particular battle, prison or stats? You’ll find it all right here in an easy to read format. This is a free site. They do invite you to donate but you can read and research without paying. I especially like their series Civil War In 4. They’re four minute videos on a variety of subjects like medicine, women, armies, black soldiers and Confederate leaders. Good, solid information told in a concise manner.
Now since I have a pretty big “tool box” I’ll continue my list with next week’s Civil War Saturday. Hope to see you then! As always thanks for reading and Good Luck in your research!