Be warned that this is just a very, very small selection of sites I use but they are my initial "go to" places I probably couldn't live without. Often I will start with them and then move on to the more obscure or specialized web sites to find additional details. Once again, I'm certain I've omitted your favourite site that you can't live without so tell me about it in the comments.
In no particular order here are my other top 10 research sites not mentioned in My Top 10 Canadian Genealogy Web Sites for 2014 list:
Ancestry ($$$), whether it is .com, .ca, .co.uk, .com.au, etc, is my go to place due to the number of indexed records that they have available and the coverage of the areas I research. I have their world subscription and it is worth every nickel (pennies aren't made in Canada anymore). However, the one complaint I have is that their transcriptions can sometimes be just a little wacky.
- Since I do a lot of Ontario research, the Ontario, Canada Vital Records: Births, Marriages and Deaths collection is of key importance. It covers Ontario births between 1869-1913, marriages 1801-1298 (a little spotty before 1869), and deaths 1869-1938 along with deaths overseas between 1939-1947.
- The 1921 census of Canada is also hosted on Ancestry.ca and is supposed to be freely available to Canadians residing in Canada.
- For tracking those elusive US relatives the U.S. City Directories, 1821-1989 is very useful for those times between the various census enumerations.
FamilySearch.org is free and is the next place I visit when doing my research. Not all of the collections are indexed but that is just fine with me. Going through the images page by page is just a digital way of scrolling through a microfilm. Even then, most of those collections have some sort of finding aid to speed up the process. If I can't find the record or index on Ancestry I'm fairly certain I will find it here. Some of my personal favourites are:
- The various collections that make of the births and marriages collections from Scotland I've mentioned in Saving Money When Searching ScotlandsPeople.
- Those researching their New Brunswick ancestors need to consult their New Brunswick, County Deed Registry Books, 1780-1930 collection. It is not indexed but I brief talk about using that collection in Expecting only Deeds and Mortgages? How About a Will?
- When I'm having a challenge locating records I always head over to the FamilySearch Research Wiki to find the answer. This part of FamilySearch has been created with the help of fellow researchers like yourself and is always being updated with new information.
If you are doing any researching of ancestors in Scotland then ScotlandsPeople.go.uk ($$$) is a must use site. It makes use of a pay as you go model where to see the results of a search you typically need to pay 1 credit and to see a record it costs 5 credits. An overview of the charges can be found here. Only here will you see the images from births, marriages, deaths, and censuses along with valuation rolls and other documents. Yes you can fly to Scotland to do the research (I highly recommend it and if you are thinking of going then talk to Christine Woodcock of Genealogy Tours of Scotland) but for the price of the airfare and hotel you can get a whole lot of records downloaded to your computer.
Findmypast ($$$) (.co.uk, ie, or .com.uk) is another site I find very useful especially for my English ancestors. But it also includes quite a number of newspaper collections that help fill in the gaps in their lives. You can either purchase a subscription or pay as you go to access images of the records. For my research I purchased the world subscription and it has been invaluable.
For finding my Australian cousins the Trove newspaper collection is the site I couldn't live without. Here you may find immigration lists, birth, marriage, and death announcements in newspapers. Even better, the site is free and you can easily make corrections to the OCR transcriptions of the articles to make them easier to find for the next researcher (always nice to give back a little).
Where would we be without Find A Grave to help us locate and then see the markers of where our relatives, distant or not, were supposedly buried? Remember that just because someone is supposedly buried in one place that they didn't die in another. As always, what is written on grave markers need to be taken with a grain of salt (or is that chunk of marble?) when it comes to their accuracy. But they do offer a starting point as to the time frame for when our ancestors were living
Speaking of death ... one of my first stops when trying to locate a death record in the United States is the Online Searchable Death Indexes & Record site. Here you will find links to sites hosting indexes, records and/or obituaries in the United States of America.
Often I will come across a book mentioned as a source in an online family tree. Since I prefer seeing the source myself and if the book is out of copyright I head on over to the Internet Archive to see if it has been digitized and placed in their collection. But I also use the Internet Archive to check out websites that may have disappeared from the Internet. Their Wayback Machine is a great tool to see those lost web sites or pages.
The National Archives ($$$ or free) located at Kew is yet another go to place when I'm doing any UK research. Many times I will come across a reference to a WO, ADM, FO, HO or AO record in an index. Since you really need to see the source record and not just rely on the index for details this means I need to search The National Archives site. Some of the collections have been digitized and placed on line there or through one of their partners. Other times you will need to pay for the digitization and have them send you the documents in question. It is still cheaper than flying over there, staying for a day, and then flying back!
Where would we be without the FreeBMD site holding transcriptions of the civil registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales? Yes, Ancestry and Findmypast both have copies of these civil registration indexes but when I can't find the entries on those sites I immediately head over to FreeBMD.