Utilize free resources to find your ancestors.
Genealogy is an exciting adventure into the past. Many people begin genealogy as a hobby, but soon find out that there is a lot of work to track down information about ancestors that lived hundreds of years ago. If a person has the time and money, they can have access to nearly all the records in existence around the world. But for those that don’t want to spend a lot of money or cannot travel to libraries and archives, the Internet is an essential genealogical tool.
Genealogy researchers are well aware of the paid site such as Ancestry. These sites are excellent for researchers that can afford a monthly or yearly membership fee. Researchers that want to get information without paying have less options, but there are still many free resources on the Internet that can provide thousands of documents for genealogical research.
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FreeBMD: FreeBMD (Birth, Marriage, Death) is an excellent website for those that can trace their ancestors back to England. The website contains the records and images from a majority of birth, marriage, and death records throughout the country during 1837-1983. FreeBMD is just one of many websites in the FreeUKGEN family that provides free records from the UK.
Rootsweb: Anyone beginning genealogy research needs to utilize the resources at this website. Rootsweb provides information from millions of user-contributed databases and GEDCOM files. After searching for a specific ancestor, a researcher can link up with researchers looking at the same family tree. Rootsweb also provides free access to the Social Security Death Index, a database that provides specific vital information for those that died after the year 1962.
Google News Archive: Google News Archive is a comprehensive way to search for ancestors mentioned in newspapers, books, and other documents from around the world. Timeline searches give researchers the ability to pinpoint specific documents. This service does not provide images for all documents, but it can link researchers to free and paid websites to gain access to the documents.
Newspaper Archive: Newspaper Archive is a website that provides nearly 80,000 newspaper pages per day. Newspapers included come from around the world and all fifty states. A free account provides three page views a day in the free content database. All newspaper front pages are accessible without an account and do not count towards the daily limit on page views.
USGenWeb Project: The USGenWeb project is one of the best resources for genealogy researchers that want information specific to a location within the United States. Counties in all of the fifty states have their own website filled with local histories, volunteer contributed databases, and links to local libraries and genealogical societies. Although this information is provided free, there is a wide range of quality between individual county sites. Some are updated frequently while others still need to be adopted by a webmaster.
Free sites can be a lifesaver when you are getting started on your family history, but remember to use any information you collect with caution. Not all transcribed databases are free of errors and other family trees may not be correct. Free resources are a great starting point, but always remember to double check any fact for accuracy.