Online Genealogy Dictionaries & Other References

The Web is fast replacing reference books. References to almost any information can be found online quickly. In fact, it is often faster to look up information online than to look in a book already on your bookshelf. Of course, an online lookup is also much cheaper than purchasing a reference book.

Here are some reference sites that I have found to be useful to genealogists:

Abbreviations Found in Genealogy: and the Encyclopedia of Genealogy at

A List of Occupations, many of which are archaic:

Archaic Medical Terms: Rudy’s List of Archaic Medical Terms at, Cyndi’s List of Medical Terms at, a list of archaic medical terms and meanings used in various English speaking countries at, and theEncyclopedia of Genealogy at

The Getty Thesaurus of Geographic Names:

The Geographic Names Information System (GNIS), developed by the U.S. Geological Survey in cooperation with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (BGN), contains information about almost 2 million physical and cultural geographic features in the United States:

Glossar: Die Familie: English-German glossary of terms frequently found in genealogy research:

Meanings and origins of first names – an etymology (the origin of words) and list of the most popular names:

Cemetery Junction Directory – A directory of more than 50,000 cemeteries. Search by cemetery and family name. Links to obituaries and genealogical societies in the U.S, Australia, and Canada:

A Glossary Of Terms Used In Heraldry (coats of arms):

Where to Write for Vital Records – Addresses and guidelines for contacting each U.S. state or territory for vital records and documents:

There are many, many more such lists online. You should be able to find them with any search engine. However, the above is a list of the ones I keep handy. If you have others that you like, post them to the end of this article at and I will update the list.

Thank you.


First, note that “Rudy’s List of Archaic Medical Terms” has moved. It’s now at

And here are a few other lists and reference sites I’ve found useful.

– Swedish Genealogical Word List:
– US Census Enumerator Instructions:
– 1755 English Dictionary by Samuel Johnson (haven’t actually used this much, but it’s cool!):
– Nicknames:
– RootsWeb Town Search:
– Street Name Changes:


    Thank you for this information. I am somewhat new to where to find information on my genealogy family lines and would like to explore your suggestions.



Liked by 1 person

One resource that I use quite often is the “U.S. Newspaper Directory, 1690-present” at the Chronicling America website. This is not the digitized newspapers section, but a database of all known US newspapers AND, more importantly, which repositories have copies, for which years.
I find it useful, even if it’s just for eliminating a fruitless search that would waste time (i.e., someone will ask for an obituary, and I can say, “Sorry, no known copies of that year have been saved.” 😦
It allows one to pull up all newspapers by years and/or a city, county, or state.


GENUKI is a fantastic encyclopaedia resource for the UK and Ireland. It is organised top down from country information, through counties down to individual places. Links galore to archives, libraries. churches, Family History Societies etc and information on where census and parish records are held/available. There are also ‘how to’ articles for newbies and other factual articles. In short, everything you need to know about where to research your ancestors in the UK and Ireland


Can I draw your attention to my digitisation of A Dictionary of Occupational Terms Based on the Classification of Occupations used in the Census of Population, 1921. This is by far the most comprehensive dictionary of British occupations, with almost 30,000 terms, and includes (sometimes very detailed) descriptions of the activities that each occupation involves.

Like is an online German geographic site.


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