It’s wonderful that we live in an age where a lot of genealogy research can be done online. We don’t have to drive long distances and pay large sums of money to get access to many different record sets anymore. While there is no substitution for in-person research to find ALL of the available records concerning your ancestors, and to get the true story of who they were and how they lived, you can still find out so much online. While many of the best known genealogy websites are subscription-based, it doesn’t mean you are forced to pay large amounts of money to do online research. There are some really good free genealogy websites that can give you some excellent information that will help you get to know your ancestors better.
These are some of the best free genealogy websites for bringing your ancestors back to life in your research and writings.
The GenWeb is one of the original free genealogy websites, and has been around for a long time. It is a volunteer effort, with people in different regions around the world contributing records that pertain to their areas to the appropriate sub-sections of the GenWeb. It is a site that explores genealogy around the world. Divided by country, and then regions within the countries, you will find a lot you can put to good use there. If you are researching foreign genealogy, you might find some records in languages you don’t know, so be prepared to run them through an online translator.
If you are using the U.S. GenWeb for United States research, know that it is divided by state, and then by county within each state. Each county has a volunteer who coordinates the documents people submit to it and keeps the sub-section organized. Some counties are “orphans,” which are currently without a volunteer or never had one. If you live in the area of an orphan county, you can volunteer to take care of it if it interests you.
Whatever section of the GenWeb you are searching, you will find unique things that may not exist anywhere else online. Newspaper articles, old family Bible records, marriage records, will and probate records, personal family records and photos, and so much more can be found here, all for free.
The Jesus Christ Church of Latter-Day Saints (aka the Mormons) own and operate this large, free website full of all kinds of genealogy records from all over the world. This is because genealogy is a big part of their religion, so compiling these records is a sacred endeavor for them. Whether you’re a Mormon or not, you can benefit from their record collection, which is one of the largest in the world. While a trip to their huge family history library in Salt Lake City, Utah is usually a “must” on the traveling plans of any serious genealogist, you can still get the benefit of many of those records that are digitized and available through their website.
The website is searchable by name, or you can look through their list of record collections, which is in alphabetical order, then choose the one you want, and search by name within that collection. The more you can narrow down where you want to look, the easier it will be to find the records you are hoping to locate. Be aware that not every database is indexed. Some of them are only browsable. But if you have the time to search manually through hundreds or thousands of digitized pages of records, you may be rewarded with a spectacular genealogy discover. – Learn More
3. Old Fulton Postcards
This website started as a free database of historical newspapers from New York (not just the city, but the whole state). While it is still mostly that, it has expanded to include a lot of newspaper records from other places in New England, particularly Connecticut, Pennsylvania, and Massachusetts. The records go pretty far back, sometimes to the early 1800’s, or even mid to late 1700’s. If you have ancestors from this area, look them up in the searchable database on the site and see what results you get. You will sometimes find stories about your ancestors that aren’t located anywhere else. This allows you to piece together their lives in even more detail, which is a priceless genealogical gift. – Learn More
Will Moneymaker founded Ancestral Findings back in 1995. He has been involved in genealogy research for over 20 years. The thrill of the hunt, the adventure, and the excitement begin when he started investigating the meaning of his surname. Why I Love Genealogy (And You Should, Too!)