How to track my family tree for free


How to Find Your Ancestors for Free

How to Find Your Ancestors for Free

By Family Tree Editors

Table of Contents

Free Genealogy Websites

Ancestry.com Free Features

FamilySearch Features

FindMyPast Free Records

Free Genealogy Records

Free Genealogy Software


Totally Free Genealogy Websites

Finding your ancestors for free seems like an impossible task. Everywhere you turn, subscription-based access seems to be the only way to gain the family tree information you’re desperately seeking. But before you take out that second mortgage, take some time to do research on these totally free genealogy websites. We’ve included websites where you can build your family tree, search records, find genealogy books to borrow and reach out to volunteers who may help you with some of your genealogy research—all for free.

AccessGenealogy

This grab-bag of free genealogy records keeps growing.

Allen County Public Library

Though based in Indiana, this library’s online reach extends much further—reflecting its status as the nation’s second-richest genealogy library.

Ancestral Findings

This site offers free lookups of marriage, birth, death, immigration, land, military and census records in dozens of different resources.

Ancestry Library Edition

Your local library may offer you access to Ancestry.com’s immigration, census, vital and other records through Ancestry Library Edition. The library has to pay, of course, but it’s free to you as a patron.

Books We Own

The next best thing to owning essential genealogy resources is finding someone who has what you need and will do a free lookup for you.

Facebook

The world’s biggest social networking site is a useful tool for finding cousins and getting help with research from volunteers. There are countless pages dedicated to helping beginner genealogists, specific states and heritages, surnames, projects and much more.

FamilySearch

More than 2,000 online collections make this the internet’s largest home to free genealogy data.

Genealogy Bargains

This site points frugal genealogists to deals across the web—from free records access promotions and webinars to discounts on subscriptions and resources.

Genealogy Gophers

Smart, intuitive searching is the hallmark of the partnership with Family­Search here, which quickly combs 80,000 digitized books.

Google Books

Has someone already written a local or family history book relevant to your genealogy? Use Google Books to find out.

HathiTrust

To get the most out of this digital library, you must log in with credentials from a participating institution (such as a university). But there’s plenty here accessible to the general public, too.

HeritageQuest Online

Free to your home computer courtesy of your library card via participating institutions, HeritageQuest is now “powered by” (but not owned by) Ancestry.com.

Internet Archive

The long list of collections here ranges from 2.4 million library items to specialized collections for California and Portugal. Plus the Wayback Machine can find vanished genealogy sites from the early internet.

Library of Congress

Though not specifically focused on genealogy, the nation’s library has plenty to offer online. The Library’s genealogy collection began as early as 1815 with the purchase of Thomas Jefferson’s library.

Midwest Genealogy Center

This site from the Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, Mo., taps one of the nation’s largest genealogy collections.

National Archives and Records Administration

Read all about the genealogical treasures stored at the National Archives, order military and other records, and browse historical maps and photos.

Olive Tree Genealogy

Since its launch in 1996, this modest website has grown into a useful collection of how-to help and databases.

Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAOGK)

For research tasks in a distant library or archive, turn to this directory of volunteers and locations where they can do research tasks. (Please note you may be asked to reimburse small expenses such as photocopying or postage.)

RootsWeb

This venerable free site still serves up how-to articles, databases of surnames and US locations, mailing lists, pedigree files and much more—making it an oldie but a goodie.

USGenWeb

This volunteer site, with its state and county pages and special projects, remain as vibrant as ever.

WeRelate

Contributors here collaborate to build a single, unified family tree, with pages for more than 2.8 million people and 400,000 places. Register to add your tree; upload your family tree as a GEDCOM; and share documents, photos and stories.

WikiTree

More than half a million genealogists have contributed to this unified family tree, which now boasts nearly 18 million ancestral profiles (including living people, though they’re private except for invited people). Uniquely, more than 4 million profiles include information about DNA tests at various sites, which may help you confirm or reject your relation to that profile.

WorldCat/ArchiveGrid

Find your family history in 2 billion items at 10,000 of the world’s libraries, then click to see holdings nearest you using WorldCat. (You may also be able to borrow the books you discover using interlibrary loan.)

Its offshoot ArchiveGrid searches more than 4 million descriptions of archival records from 1,000 different institutions. Learn about historical documents, personal papers, family histories and other materials that may mention your ancestors. A clickable map makes it easy to find archives near you.

David Fryxell and Sunny Jane Morton

More Resources

NATIONAL GENEALOGICAL SOCIETY

NGS Recommends…
18 Important Free Websites for Genealogy Research

GENEALOGY EXPLAINED

26 Free Genealogy Websites

AMY JOHNSON CROW

7 Free Genealogy Websites That You Might Be Overlooking

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Ways to Use Ancestry.com for Free

Even outside of a free trial, the savvy researcher can take advantage of Ancestry.com without having a paid subscription. Check out these seven free features of Ancestry.com (and its sister sites):

  1. Search the free index collections, which include both US and international records
  2. Use the free Ancestry.com card catalog
  3. View record previews
  4. Take a peek at public member trees
  5. Learn from Ancestry Academy’s how-to videos
  6. Watch Ancestry on YouTube
  7. Test with AncestryDNA (You’ll need to pay for a test, but you won’t need a paid Ancestry. com subscription to view your results or contact matches.)
  8. Search free records on Ancestry.com’s sister sites

Nancy Hendrickson

More Resources

FAMILY HISTORY DAILY

How to View Thousands of Free Records on Ancestry Without a Subscription

ANCESTOR SEARCH

Free Databases at Ancestry.com

ARE YOU MY COUSIN?

How To Do Free Genealogy Research on Ancestry.com

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Four Features of FamilySearch

FamilySearch.org is the world’s biggest, all-free, all-genealogy website, with the most global record content. Here are four features you should know about if you want to research your ancestors for free.

Historical Records

At last count, FamilySearch is home to more than 4 billion historical, high-quality genealogical document record images, painstakingly gathered over the course of several decades from repositories around the world.

FamilySearch Wiki

The FamilySearch Wiki hosts nearly 100,000 articles to get you started (or help you break through a brick wall) with your current research question.

Family History Library Catalog

The catalog of the entire Family History Library is searchable on FamilySearch.org. Search the catalog by place to explore what resources are available for your locale of interest.

FamilySearch Digital Library

In addition to the shelves of the Family History Library, the Digital Library offers search results on about half a million titles made available through libraries, genealogy societies and university libraries.

Sunny Jane Morton

More Resources

AMAZON

Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org: How to Find Your Family History on the World’s Largest Free Genealogy Website

FAMILY HISTORY HELP BY CAROL HILL

How to get HELP on FamilySearch.org

PORTSMOUTH PUBLIC LIBRARY

Guide to FamilySearch Resources

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Free Records on FindMyPast

Most of the giant genealogy websites, including Findmypast, allow users to create free guest logins and at least search their record collections for free. But viewing the actual record transcriptions and images you’ll find in search results generally requires the proper subscription. Findmypast’s free portal gives full access to the following to those who create their free registrations:

  1. 1940 United States Census and all Canadian censuses
  2. Parish registers, cemetery records and marriage indexes
  3. Passenger lists and travel records
  4. Irish Catholic parish records
  5. 1881 Census of England, Wales and Scotland

More Resources

THE GENEALOGY GUIDE

4 Ways You Can Get Records at FindMyPast For Free!

ARE YOU MY COUSIN?

Get the Most from A FindMyPast Free Trial

DUMMIES

How to Set Up a Findmypast.com Free Trial

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Free Genealogy Records

Here are some websites for tracking down more free genealogy records. Also keep in mind many public libraries, state archives, historical societies and universities host free digitized records on their own websites—so if you want to find your ancestors for free, you may have to do some extra digging.

It’s also possible to find free genealogy records at subscription genealogy sites, if you know where to look. Plus, be on the lookout for temporary, free full access to record collections on subscription sites, usually available around a specific holiday or anniversary of a historic event. You can easily find these at GenealogyBargains.com.

VITAL

The Ancestor Hunt

Archives.gov

FamilySearch Wiki

ResearchGuides.net

USGenWeb

VitalRec.com

CENSUS

Census Finder

Census Online

Internet Archive

My Free Census Records

ResearchGuides.net

CHURCH

The Ancestor Hunt

FamilySearch Wiki

FreeReg

Random Acts of Geneological Kindness
(links on left)

NEWSPAPERS

Chronicling America

Elephind

GenDisasters.com

Google News Archive

Online Historical Newspapers

Old Fulton New York Post Cards

ResearchGuides.net

DIRECTORIES

MyHeritage

Internet Archive

Google Books

Online Historical Directories

WorldCat

MILITARY

FamilySearch Wiki

ResearchGuides. net

USA.gov

More Resources

ARE YOU MY COUSIN?

Free Genealogy Records – A Guide To Frugal Genealogy Research

USA.GOV

Genealogy and Family History

ANCESTRY

Free Genealogy Records: Where to Find Them and How to Contribute

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Free Genealogy Software

If your research has ranged much beyond one family, you’re probably scouting for a way to organize your family tree. Genealogy database software could be just the ticket—and you don’t have to spend and arm and a leg to get enough power to accomplish the task. Several great options are just a free download away.

Ancestral Quest

Basics

This software has all the essential features for working with your family tree.

Gramps

Gramps is a free software and community project, created, developed and governed by genealogists. Features include family groups, charts, events, repositories list, and much more.

MyHeritage Family Tree Builder

Use this software to create your family tree offline or on a secure site at MyHeritage. com. You can print decorative family tree charts from your online tree (order larger copies for a fee). The program supports 36 languages and its SmartMatching technology searches for matches to your ancestors in other users’ trees.

Legacy Family Tree Standard Edition

This free version of the popular software includes family and pedigree views, a to-do list, research log, event reminders and more.

RootsMagic Essentials

You’ll get many of the core features of the award-winning RootsMagic software in this free version: the Source Wizard, loads of reports and charts, unlimited data capacity and more.

Lisa Louise Cooke

More Resources

CYNDI’S LIST

Free Genealogy Software

THE GENEALOGY GUIDE

6 Best Free Genealogy Software Downloads!

ARCHIVES.COM

Genealogy Software & Family Tree Research

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General Genealogy

Author

Family Tree Editors

How to research your family tree without paying a dime

With the advent of DNA testing and various web-based companies using this technology to delve into ancestry, more and more people are researching their genealogical backgrounds.

But some companies that use DNA to trace family trees have been found to be not so reliable when it comes to protecting your data. In fact, one of the most well-known ancestry companies was sold to a private equity firm. Tap or click here to find out how to remove your data from this shady site.

In addition to questionable data storage and usage, these genealogy research sites charge money for their services, requiring one-time fees or ongoing memberships to gain access to all features. But there are a number of free resources available that the average person can use to dig into the roots of their family tree without signing up for complicated plans or risking compromising their data. Here are a few sites that can help.

FamilySearch.org

One such website is FamilySearch.org, where you can create a free account and begin researching your family’s history by entering basic data including an ancestor’s name and dates of birth and death (if applicable.)

There is a lot of information available on the FamilySearch site, but there are two main ways to start researching your family’s history and current connections. One tool is the Family Tree database, and the other is the Search function.

The Family Tree is a good place to start to build your family’s chart and record information about relatives and ancestors. These databases are created and maintained by volunteer end users and can link to one another, so that you may potentially gather more information about your own family by browsing other trees. To use:

  • Go to FamilySearch.org and create a free online account.
  • Click the Family Tree icon.
  • Enter the information you have gathered about your own family history.
  • Add photographs, dates, and other pertinent information.
  • Search other family trees to expand your own pedigree chart.
  • Use the Search option to look up information about family members and add to your tree.

FamilySearch also uses indexing to create a searchable online database of historical records. You can search these records once they are entered into the database, and you can also volunteer to enter data from records provided. Because these records are in picture format they must be entered as text, which requires a small army of volunteers.

National Archives

Another free online resource to learn about your ancestry is the genealogy section of National Archives. This site offers a wealth of information and search tools gathered from public records such as census data, military service records, immigration information and land records.

Go to the link marked Start Your Genealogy Search and you can begin searching through the vast array of available national records.

Genealogy Resources from the National Archives

Geni

Similar to FamilySearch, Geni uses an open-source model to create and maintain family tree databases. According to its website, Geni connects nearly 150 million profiles through its database called World Family Tree. It’s just what it sounds like — it aims to be a family tree connecting the entire world. You can be part of it by joining for free!

Geni World Family Tree

USA.gov

The genealogy section of USA.gov uses similar databases as the National Archives, which you can also access from this site. Additionally, users can search State Archives which offer records of Native American resources and Pioneer certificates. If your family history extends back that far this search tool is a great way to find out some interesting information!

State Archives also offers a list of agencies you can contact organized by state. You can also use the national Gravesite Locator and access Census records from the USA.gov site.

You can link to the Statue Of Liberty Ellis Island Foundation website from USA.gov as well. If your relatives came in through Ellis Island you can enter their names to search for information about their entry into the U.S. You can even find out the name of the ship they arrived on. These kinds of details are part of what makes genealogical research fun and rewarding!

Legacy Family Tree

If you are looking for a software program to download, look no further. Legacy Family Tree is a genealogical research tool that you can download to search for and store your family’s history.

There are two versions you can download, Standard and Deluxe. The Standard model is totally free and offers a variety of features. The Deluxe version requires a fee and offers extra tools such as hinting (minimally available on the Standard version as well), tagging, online backup and color-coding among others. Tap or click here for a more detailed look at the site.

Library

Finally, if you want even more help, ask a librarian. Librarians know everything! Check the online version of your local library. There may be free resources available to you to search right on the web.

If you still need some extra help consider hiring a trained and respected genealogist, such as Rich Venezia at Rich Roots Genealogy. Having an expert walk you through the process may not be free, but your privacy and data are guaranteed to be kept safe.

Researching your family tree should be a fun and enriching experience. There are a wealth of free online resources available — and none of them require you to send DNA through the mail. Have fun and happy researching!

Find your ancestors in Family Tree

Are you trying to find an ancestor or deceased family member? If so, we encourage you to search our Family Tree, the largest single family tree in the world. It contains over a billion names. The tree is free and public, and the ancestor you're looking for may already be in it.

Gather everything you know about your deceased relative - their full name, birth or death information, if possible the names of parents, spouses or children - and follow these steps to find out if they are listed on Family Tree. Or click on the button below and go directly to our "Search" page.

Family Tree Search is a quick way to start building or adding more information to your family tree

If you want to find a relative who might be in the Family Tree, go to the FamilySearch website and then in the Family Tree tab select Find . Get ready to sign in or create a free FamilySearch account. (You can also access this page via the tab Search and select Family tree .)

On the Find page, enter what you know about your deceased relative. The system will open a page with a simplified search bar that works for the initial search. However, for best results, we recommend that you open the advanced search function by clicking More Options .

Tree Search looks and functions much like the FamilySearch Historical Record Search tool. We did it on purpose, of course. Any search strategies you have learned for this page will be equally useful here. Let's go through each filter individually and see how they work.

1. Names

Let's consider some recommendations for filling in the fields for full name.

  • Enter the person's last name in the Last Name field.
  • Use the Name Variation tab to list maiden names, nicknames, aliases, other spellings of the first name, middle surnames, and any name changes that may have occurred during the person's lifetime.
  • 2nd floor

    Entering the gender of a person Male or Female if known, will narrow your search results.

    3. Events from life

    In the line "Add event from life" enter the information you know about where this person was during his life. Be sure to change the filter from Any to Birth , Marriage , Residence or Death . This will probably make your search more accurate.

    4. Family members

    In section Add family members , enter what you know about the person's spouse, father, mother, or other relationship. You can use the same guidelines and strategies for entering names here as before.

    5. Exact Search

    Directly below the Family Members section is the radio button Show exact search . Be careful using this option. Use it only when the system produces search results in such a volume that you cannot analyze. The actual data in Family Tree may differ slightly from the names, dates, and places you enter, so it's best to be flexible with your search criteria.

    It is important to note that by enabling the checkbox Show exact search , it is not necessary to immediately search for exact criteria. The system opens fields opposite all search filters on the screen, which you can select or leave blank. It is strongly recommended that you fill in only those fields for which you absolutely need to search by exact criteria. Start your search using a small number of these fields. In other words, you can search for exact criteria for a specific date of birth without using other fields.

    After entering the information you know, press Search to search for your ancestor's profile in Family Tree. When the system returns the search results, click on the name to see a summary of that person's information. Then click on the name in the dropdown box to go to the person's page.

    Helpful Hints for Finding the Right Person

    Too Many Results

    Use the gray button filters at the top of the page to quickly narrow your search results:

    In the search, as shown in these screenshots, I first enter my great-grandfather's name. As you can see, this broad search brought up a lot of results - too many to explore. If I click on the filter Birth and select a specific region of the world, I can immediately decrease that number.

    No results or matches

    If your initial search was unsuccessful, use the search bar on the right side of the screen to change your criteria. Note: Depending on your screen size, the search bar may be initially hidden. If so, press Search in the right corner to open it.

    To broaden your search, you can change things that might be too specific, such as the exact year. Increasing the date range for a particular event can be an effective way. You can also try selecting Birth or Place of residence instead of Any in the Life Event section. If applicable, use the "Name Option" line to enter your maiden name, alias, or other spelling of the first name. Then press Search .

    If you still can't find the person you want after editing your search, that person may not have been added to Family Tree. In this case, you can add this person yourself.

    To add a person to the Tree, you will need their name, and then you can enter as much additional information about them as possible, such as where the person was born or where they lived.

    Hint: If you are missing information about your ancestor, try to find it in the historical record, for example, in a birth certificate, marriage certificate, military card or death certificate.

    Using the "Settings" option to customize your search results

    Experienced researchers will certainly appreciate the functionality of the "Settings" section that appears at the top of the search results page. In Preferences, you can make important decisions about formatting and exporting search results.

    For example, the first option in the "Settings" section is the choice of displaying search results as a data page or as a fixed table: data page. The format makes it easy to scroll through and find matching results.

    In contrast, with a fixed table, we can analyze a small subset of the search results that we think are promising and see how they match what we knew about the person.

    Next in the Preferences panel is the Language Options section. Here you can choose to view the information as it was originally entered into FamilySearch, or view it with minor edits, which we call "translations," to make it easier to read. A simple example would be "January 1855" which, if refined or translated, would be "January 1855".

    Last but not least in the Preferences panel is the option to download search results to your computer. Perhaps you have your own methods of accounting and filtering information. If yes, then you can download the information in any of the following file formats: XLS, XLSX, CSV, ODS, TSV and ODS.

    Find your ancestors in FamilySearch Family Tree!


    Ready to learn something new about your ancestors? There is room for everyone in our Family Tree. We want everyone to help in its creation!

    Select a deceased ancestor and see if their name is among the 1.2 billion names in the FamilySearch Family Tree! Find a person's profile and enjoy stories, photos, timelines and more about them. Then think about what you know about this person and what you can add to their profile. Perhaps one of the relatives will thank you in the future!

    The Internet helps in compiling a family tree

    Many Russians study their genealogies and try to find relatives from whom they were separated due to circumstances.

    But not everyone knows that the Internet can be of great help in this regard. And those who know do not always guess how to use thematic resources and programs.

    Your ancestors on the Internet

    The largest and most popular site is the All-Russian Genealogical Tree (www.vgd.ru). It maintains an extensive database of people, their years of life, places of birth and burial. To fully use the site, you must register on the local forum (forum.vgd.ru).

    From the main page of the "All-Russian Genealogical Tree" you can start searching for relatives and namesakes - you just need to click on the link with the appropriate name. The page that opens will display a list of surnames, each of which is a link to a particular section of the forum, where some site visitors help others in finding information.

    Having found your last name, click on it - a page with links to the forum section will open. If the information that is published there did not help you, you can ask a question to the forum regulars.

    There is also an impressive list of personalities sorted alphabetically in the "Knowledge Base" section of the "All-Russian Genealogical Tree" website. Users also add information about their relatives (which can easily turn out to be relatives of other people). You can do this to help someone else continue with the family tree. If your last name is on the list, you can post information about yourself and what you know about your family. If there is no surname, click on the link "Add dictionary entry". Another site that you may find useful is FamilySpace (www.familyspace.ru). The creators call it "the territory of relatives. " With it, you can not only find relatives, but also make a family tree.

    During registration, you will be asked to enter your first and last name, as well as information about your parents. You get access to your very real family tree - it is displayed in the form of a hierarchical structure via the "My Tree" link. Around each "personal card" there are green arrows - they allow you to add information about new relatives. For example, clicking on the arrow pointing to the left of the father's "card" will allow information about his brothers or sisters to be entered into the database. After you have added new "fruits" to your tree, you can invite your relatives to the site so that they can fill out their own questionnaires in more detail. Of course, for this a person must have access to the Internet and use e-mail - this is where the invitation will go. In addition, the FamilySpace website allows you to search for people by last name, first name, patronymic, and other parameters, such as place of birth. If the person you need is not found, you can post a search ad, and then other resource participants will help you.

    FamilySpace also includes an archive section where you can search through documents that are a hundred years old. Among them are city directories of Moscow and St. Petersburg, documents from the Vologda and Nizhny Novgorod provinces, etc. There are also military reference books - for example, a list of heroes of the Great Patriotic War.

    Pedigree

    on a computer

    It is worth talking about programs that allow you to build a family tree without resorting to the Internet. One of them is called "The Tree of Life" (www.genery.com/ru) and exists in the form of free and paid versions. The free version does not allow you to add more than forty people to the database. However, it is quite useful for building a small family tree. The program recommended by the creators of the site "All-Russian genealogical tree" is called GenoPro (www. genopro.com/ru). Its free version also limits the number of persons in one tree to no more than twenty-five.

    Finally, I would like to warn you that when trying to compile a pedigree, you may encounter fraud. Do not trust sites that offer to "create a family tree using your last name" and pay by SMS. Building a family tree is a long and painstaking business, and it should be done by professionals. Well, it’s best to start studying your pedigree on your own.

    Dictionary

    Genealogical site - an Internet resource that allows you to track the pedigree, build a family tree, find relatives.

    Genealogical program - a computer application that helps build family "trees" and stores information on your disk.

    Announcement of the heading

    The next issue will be devoted to Internet encyclopedias - we will talk about what a "people's encyclopedia" is and how to read TSB on the Web.

    Question-answer

    - Tell me, please, what is the difference between the sites vkontakte.


    Learn more