GenDisasters disasters Eastland

SS Eastland rescue efforts, 24 Jul 1915. (Wikipedia)

GenDisasters, as of March 2022, no longer appears to be a viable website. This site may be gone, but you can still research disasters your ancestors experienced.

As a result, you should try alternative searches for more information about the disaster your ancestor(s) experienced.

First, try the search string “disaster + place” for information about the event in Google or other search engine.

Then, depending on your search results, try more specific information. Use the search string “disaster + place + surname” for more specific information about your ancestor(s).

If your search strategy results are still wanting, make sure you search newspaper databases, including Chronicling America,,, and state newspaper databases.

NOTE: Do NOT subscribe to a commercial newspaper database until you have searched their holdings to see if the geographic area you’re working in is covered.


GenDisasters is an online database of “information on the [U.S. and Canadian] historic disasters, events, and tragic accidents our ancestors endured,” as well as information about their lives and deaths.

I was working on a client’s tree. She needed more information about a family member who died in a civilian airplane accident in 1942. Then I discovered GenDisasters in the course of my search. The site had a transcript of a United Press wire story, confirming the loss of this family member and providing enough detail to find more records.

What You Can Find at GenDisasters

Browse the GenDisasters database by disaster, year, or state. Or you can search the content by name or other keywords. Newspaper articles and photographs about train wrecks, fires, floods, shipwrecks, plane crashes, accidents and other disasters are available. Most of these articles list the dead and injured or missing. Individual accidents and deaths are included, together with well-known disasters, such as the 1942 Cocoanut Grove nightclub fire in Boston or the SS Eastland that sank in 1915 at a dock in Chicago, killing 884 men, women, and children.

I suspect the very competent manager of this site would welcome new content. Contact the owner here. It’s my hope you never find an ancestor in this database, but if need more information on tragedies that may have befallen your ancestors, GenDisasters is the place to start.