The U.S. GenWeb Project: Everything from Photographs to Census Records

Genealogy plays an important role in modern society, and has become an integral part in learning more about an individual’s family history. The U.S. GenWeb Project, started in 1996 by a group of genealogists, has provided individuals and families with many opportunities to learn more about their family tree. Listed in such well-known places as Family Tree Magazine, Educational World, and Global Information Network, The U.S. GenWeb Project has become a key component in researching one’s ancestors all over the world. This site operates through a group of volunteers that work together to provide free online genealogy help to those searching for more information.

There are many different ways to find out more information about a family history. Listings in genealogy books, census records, and old photographs that have been saved and filed may provide names of grandparents, great-grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins, and may give a more detailed account of earlier ancestors than any documents that have been passed down through the direct family. Along with these documents, local sources for records, county and state histories, and even maps can all be accessed online through the various sites listed via The U.S. GenWeb Project, providing a way to delve more extensively into any small amount of information one may already have. There are also special projects that have been filed and listed, such as the Tombstone Project, that may give more information about long-ago ancestors.

As this site is composed of volunteers, anyone interested in genealogy has the opportunity to pitch in and help. An individual can coordinate a state or county, or they can provide information and documents they may already have about particular families so that they can be added to the files for others to benefit from. Records from churches, marriages, and public domain documents are all helpful information to be included in tracking down the history of a long-deceased relative, especially if one knows where they grew up or were married.

An important part of learning who we are as a people, genealogy has become more popular throughout the generations as a way of defining where we came from and who we belong to. A rapidly advancing area of genealogy is genetic genealogy, which provides a way for people to go beyond the normal record searches to obtain clues about where their ancestors might have originated from, or what relationships might have existed between families. It can tell certain patterns of genetic variations that will give insight into what backgrounds might be included in one’s history, and what ethnicity may be included in their ancestry (

Though family history was at times considered more of a hobby, scientists have since learned how important of a part it can play in determining risk factors for disease as well. Part of how they can learn this is through genetic genealogy and the use of DNA test kits. A variety of tests can be chosen, including Y chromosome testing that provides more information on the direct male line, Mitochondrial DNA testing that gives insight into the direct female ancestral line, or single nucleotide polymorphism testing, which can show more insight into a person’s ethnic background. Depending on how comprehensive they are, these tests can give information about genetic mutations in a family history that can cause disease, showing what illnesses or difficulties an individual may be prone to inheriting based on their ancestors, ethnicity, and countries originated from. Sometimes, just knowing the potential risk factor for certain diseases, like diabetes and cardiovascular disease, can be enough to influence a lifestyle change that will prevent that very development, making the need for such tests even more important in the role of a family’s health (

The best DNA test kits can vary depending on what factors one is most interested in learning about, whether there is a simple desire for finding out what ethnicity they belong to out of interest in visiting the country, or whether there is a genuine need for learning risk factors for health related issues. There are many kits available on the market now, and many can be done via mail and in the comfort of one’s home, making it easy and even fun to learn more about ancestry and the family tree. Also, once more is learned about one’s DNA, such as countries of origin, it makes it easier to research the ancestral names in each country, thereby learning even more about direct lineage in long-ago times and worlds.

Whether you are looking for a hobby to pass the time with, long-lost relatives to add to the family tree, or information about the potential for illnesses in your future children, genealogy can be a fascinating subject to delve into, becoming more and more interesting the longer you spend on it. The U.S. GenWeb Project is a great place to get started, but it’s only the beginning!