Best Free Reference Sites, Part One

I have become, over the years, somewhat of a go to guy among friends and family for finding people and information. I had a pretty intense genealogy phase a few years ago, which I hope to return to someday. I love research, and if in a conversation a question can’t get answered I automatically have to search for it.

One of my most recent searches was for a good friend looking to find his mother. They had not seen each other for years and he wanted to make contact again. After several days of looking the mothers trail went cold, but I did find his only sibling, his sister. He had lost track of her as well and he thought it would be better for me to call her, as they did not part on good terms. She answered and we spoke for about half an hour. She did not want any contact with her brother and she confirmed my suspicion about their mother; she had died several years ago. I would have preferred to give my friend this heartbreaking news in person rather than on the phone but he lives in Florida and I’m in Iowa. That was one of the hardest phone calls I have ever made, as was it for him to receive.

While sad, that example illustrates the power of the internet today. There is such an amazing amount of information out there, and so many ways to find it, I thought I would dig into my browser favorites and share some of the sites I like to use. I got to looking at all of the reference sites I have saved over the years and it looks like I have around 350. I will narrow those down and list ten at a time, alphabetically, for this series. Here are the first ten.

50 States – What would you like to know about any of the fifty states, as well as commonwealths and territories? Visit this site to find it.

About – I don’t so much go to this site to search as come upon About pages while searching. I like their tagline: “Guidance. Not Guesswork.”

AIM Manufacturing Videos – Stanford University offers videos on how over 40 different things are made. If you ever hear “I wonder how they make that” again make sure to check this site.

All Experts – The “oldest and largest free Q&A service on the Internet.” Go ahead, ask them.

Ask – If this is a site you like make sure to sign up and use their custom settings.

Ask Oxford – There is WAY more to this site than dictionaries.

Birthday Database – Not always accurate but it’s a starting place when trying to locate someone.

BJ Pinchbeck – Not just a homework helper! There are plenty of reference links here to keep a researcher busy for a long time.

Bureau of Prisons – Having a hard time finding someone? Maybe they are doing hard time. Try the Inmate Locator on this site. 

BRB Publications – If you are looking for public records go to their Free Resources section.

The following ten are coming up next week.

1 comment:

  1. Fantastic list, thanks.

    I am particularly interested in the how stuff is made link as I can't get enough of these kinds of vids :).




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