Genealogy sites

I’m looking for a membership in a genealogy site as a surprise gift for my girlfriend. She’s very interested in her family history but knows almost none of her own - and her family isn’t helping her, for reasons I don’t understand. She knows the names of her own relatives, of course, but she’d like to know where her family comes from ancestrally and we don’t have a clue - just a guess or two based on last names.
Are there are some Web sites where she can enter the information she has and find some reliable results?

Okay, this looks like a decent start. Unfortunately it’s hard to search for information about someone else’s family. It really isn’t good for the surprise part of the gift if I start asking a ton of questions.

This outfit can get her in contact with people who match or come close to matching her DNA – of course it can only be done with her signed permission and some cheek swabs: is indeed a great, though not inexpensive, start. If there’s any chance that some of the ancestors came to America via Ellis Island, you can search here. They often have photos of the ships, copies of manifests, etc.

There are other sites that are unique to particular countries, so we’d need to have some idea of where the ancestors may have been from to know what to recommend. is free and has a lot of stuff on it. It’s underwritten by the LDS church, since retroactive baptism is apparently part of the church’s mission. It has a free link to the US Social Security Death Index, so you should never use a site that charges for access to that database.

Thanks very much for those responses. I guess there’s not much chance I’m going to find any answers *for[/i/] her. I’d probably be better off sending some links or giving a getting her a membership to a site like one of these.

Since you live in the NYC area, I don’t think you should go to any expense to join one of the sites. Your local library probably has access(although, in the library only) to the best site, Ancestry(the library version). Too expensive for the little it will possibly help to subscribe from home. Give her something else, but let her know about the possibility of using the site in the library.

On this board, the most knowledgeable poster about this kind of thing is Walloon. I’ve done quite a bit myself on my family and a few others, going back to the 1830’s and would be glad to talk by email with you.

Cyndi’s List has tons of information and links to searchable databases. Many are free.