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50 Free Genealogy Sites To Search Today

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Find out what free resources are available to help you with genealogical research and how you can use each one to trace your family.

Family Tree Research

No matter how old you are or how close your family is, you may want information that you cannot get from living relatives. Family Bibles and stories that passed from one generation to the next can help because they give you names and dates that you can use as you search through public records. Thanks to the internet, you’re only a few clicks away from finding everything you need. Once you turn your attention to the web though, you might find yourself frustrated at what you find. It often seems as if every site charges a membership or a subscription fee. Paying those fees is often worthwhile because you can view military and other records that you can’t find anywhere else.

50 Free Genealogy Sites To Search Today

Before you give up hope and pay a subscription fee, check out our list of the top 50 free genealogical research websites that you can use. Most offer different types of information, including newspaper articles that might feature stories about your ancestors or websites that let you search for people from specific parts of the world. You can use all the resources that we found to confirm the results you got from a DNA test and to build the ultimate family tree.

Family Tree Research

Many of the top free resources let you search for photos of your loved ones.

What Information Do You Need for an Online Search?

Doing an online search for your family’s ancestry can seem daunting at first. If you have a common last name such as Johnson or Smith, simply entering that name in a database can result in thousands and even millions of results. It’s helpful if you search for a single name or person at a time. Let’s say that you know your grandfather was born in the UK and was named Joseph Johnson by his parents. When you use an online database, you’ll want to enter as much information as you know, including:

  • First name
  • Last name
  • Maiden name when searching for married women
  • Date of birth
  • City or county of birth
  • Parents' names

You do not need to have any additional information to do a basic search. The more data and details you know, the better the chances are that you’ll find the right person in the database. After you find a family member, you can view related records to see if he or she had any siblings or children and slowly create new branches on your tree that include those names. Don’t be afraid to ask loved ones for more details and to verify that the information you have and find is correct.

Family trees are an easy way to learn about your ancestors.

What Information Do You Need for an Online Search

Best Free Genealogical Sites

We scoured the web to find the best free genealogical sites around. Based on how much information you have as a newcomer, you may not want to invest in a subscription package because you don’t know how much the site will help you and if it can help. Take for example someone trying to find their adoptive parents. This person might only know the first names of one parent and have a rough idea of where that individual lived. Until the searcher finds out more, it may not make sense to join a membership site. If you have a large family, you’ll find that those sites make it easy to talk with relatives on the web and learn about your ancestral branches.

To help you get started on your genealogical search, we found the 50 best free websites in the world today. Though you might assume that you can only look for records in the United States, you can view records from around the world, including countries such as Ireland and Germany. With our list, you can spend hours researching your family and building a tree that includes every person who deserves a branch. You can go back generations beyond your parents and grandparents too.

Get Access to More Than 10 Million Records for Free

Ancestry.com is the biggest name in the genealogy industry. This company acquired and purchased other sites to build a database that now rivals government agencies and libraries around the world. Thanks to the free trial that is now available, you can view those records without paying a dime. You just need to add a debit card or credit card to your account to show that you’ll become a member if you’re happy with the available resources. Ancestry.com  has the largest collection of genealogy records in the world with the ability to search by name or date to try the site for 14 days for free.

Access Genealogy: Thousands of records transcribed by volunteers who visited cemeteries around the world to help you find where ancestors were buried and when they died

Family Search: Maintained by the Jesus Christ Church of the Later-Day Saints, which has one of the largest genealogical research libraries in the world. It includes millions of records and the option to search for specific names and people or general information based on your surname

MyHeritage: Family tree building tools and free access to genealogical records for 14 days when you first sign up. MyHeritage also has a DNA test that lets you link your results to your new family tree.

Olive Tree: Tips and guidance for beginners as well as census data and other public records. This ranks as one of the top research sites for newcomers.

Ancestry.com: The largest collection of genealogy records in the world with the ability to search by name or date. You can view millions of records on this site that are not available anywhere else. Though Ancestry.com does charge a membership fee, you can get a 14-day free trial.

How Much Does Ancestry.com Cost?

Monthly Memebership

6-month membership

US Discovery

Grants full access to all records about American citizens.

Monthly Membership

$24.99

6-month membership

SAVE $50

$99

World Explorer

Includes access to all the records on Ancestry.com, including those from foreign countries.

Monthly Membership

$39.99

6-month membership

SAVE $90

$149

All Access

Gives unlimited access to the site and access to other sites that include newspaper archives and additional content.

Monthly Membership

$49.99

6-month membership

SAVE $100

$199.99

Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR): Free resources available for searching for ancestors who fought in the Revolutionary War. The DAR has one of the biggest databases of Revolutionary War records in the world.

Chronicling America: Huge database of digitized newspapers from across the country and lets you search for papers from specific regions, states or cities as well as look for mentions of certain names in those papers.

US GenWeb Project: This database includes a map of the United States and lets you click on any state to view the resources available there. This makes it easy to find information from other states when living a far distance away.

Dead Fred: Historic photographs submitted by users and the ability to search for images based on a surname. If you have historic photos of your family, you can upload them to the site with as many details as you know or can remember.

Find A Grave: Thanks to this volunteer database, you can view photos and biographical information from graves as well as people related to each name. If you click on a name that you find, you can view some biographical information about that individual, including any deceased family members and the date of death.

Find Instant Results About Your Family Tree Today

Have you ever wanted to create a family tree but weren’t sure who to add beyond your parents and grandparents? Thanks to Ancestry.com, find the family members worthy of including on that tree is a snap.

When you sign up today, you get a free 14-day trial that lets you use all the genealogical records. You can even post in the Ancestry.com community to get help from long-time members. Sign up today to see all the records you can find.

AfriGeneas: This is one of the best resources for African Americans with info divided into different regions. It can help you trace slaves and others who came to America from Africa.

Ellis Island: The passenger and ship manifest for those who immigrated to the United States and passed through Ellis Island available on this site let you trace the immigration patterns of your ancestors. It features some photos taken of those immigrants too.

Reclaim the Records: Filing Freedom of Information and Open Data requests is one way to find out information about loved ones who served in the military or had their records sealed. Reclaim the Records is a site that takes some of the frustrations out of filing those requests. It also features public information shared by users.

GENUKI: GENUKI is the main site to use if you have family who came from Wales or the United Kingdom. It offers data and records in an easy to view format and lets you copy and paste details onto the family tree you built on another site.

Free BMD: Includes free civil registration records from England and Wales, including birth, death and marriage records that you can use to find your ancestors and others who immigrated from those regions.

Seventh-Day Adventist Archives: Thousands of free records on members of the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, including burial sites and obituaries. Some of the Church’s records include details of people who left the faith too.

Library of Congress: Free scans and digital versions of newspaper articles and photos along with transcribed narratives that help you find mentions of ancestors in those newspapers and view photos of them

Rootsweb: With a massive collection of obituaries and other artifacts with the ability to share photos and information about your family, Rootsweb is one of the main competitors to Ancestry.com. It offers millions of free records.

Danish Demographic Database: If you have Danish names on your family tree, you’ll want to use this database, which features Danish census records from 1787 and on as well as a probate index. With the probate index, you can find out more about people who passed away, including who inherited their property.

Elephind: Elephind provides access to more than 4,000 newspapers and more than 3.7 million articles dating back to the 18th century. You can view articles from any paper that mention an ancestor in one convenient spot.

The National Archives of Ireland: Wills, marriage licenses, crew lists for ships and other records relating to people from Ireland with the ability to search for the specific type of information that you want.

GenDisasters: Historic photographs and newspaper articles about shipwrecks and other disasters with the option to search for specific names to help you find loved ones who were part of those disasters.

WikiTree: Collaborative site where you can upload and share your family tree and find other users with shared ancestors as well as update each branch in minutes when you uncover new data. This site offers one of the easiest ways to make a family tree that you can share with others.

Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center: Features scanned copies of family Bibles and tips on connecting with distant loved ones. Though you might think this site only helps if your family lived in Allen County, it has records from other counties too.

Online Historical Newspapers Website: Searchable database collection with millions of newspaper articles available to read for free online as well as the ability to save and print copies of useful or helpful articles. You can copy and paste articles into a Word document for viewing later too.

Library and Archives Canada: Census, military and government records of Canadian citizens along with dissertations written by residents who graduate from college along with thesis details from students.

Soldiers and Sailors Database: Free records of soldiers who fought in the Civil War with information about prisoners of war and burial plots. This is the website to use if any of your ancestors were in the Union Army or the Confederate Army during the Civil War.

Find Instant Results About Your Family Tree Today

The Soldiers and Sailors Database is one of the best free resources for tracing those who served in the Civil War.

TONI: TONI has one of the biggest databases of Canadian surnames in the world. You can use it to see if you have relatives living in Canada or to get an idea of when your family left the country.

Free Reg: Free Reg offers free parish records from different communities across the United Kingdom. It’s an easy way to see if your ancestors belonged to any specific churches.

Africana Heritage Project: Finding your African American ancestors is easy with this site, which contains thousands of records. The makers behind the site plan to relaunch it in 2020 will brand new content and search tools.

Preserve the Pensions: An organization run by volunteers, Preserve Out Pensions hopes to digitize the records of pensioners from 1812 and on. You’ll want to keep checking back to view more data as it becomes available.

WorldGen Web Project: Like other genealogy projects, this one has a searchable database with information available on specific people who immigrated from different countries and lets you add more details about your ancestors.

POW Vets: One of the only genealogical websites with updated information on prisoners of war, including the dates they were taken and their current status. You’ll find links to learn about those classified as killed in action or still missing.

US National Archives: One of the top places to look for military records and information on civilians, including bankruptcy and immigration records is the US National Archives. It gives you access to the same information you would find when you visited the physical location in Washington DC.

Free CEN: Census records dating back centuries from the United Kingdom are available on this site. It also includes options for you to add a city of birth or other information to narrow down your search and distinguish between two people with the same or similar names. This is especially helpful if you have a common surname.

What is the Most Popular Surname in the World?

More than 75 million people in the world have the last name Wang and another 69 million share the Devi name. The most popular surnames in the United States include Smith, Johnson, Williams, Jones and Brown.

Guild of One-Name Studies: A large community of genealogical enthusiasts joined this site and access the millions of records that are available. It also has an index that includes court records and marriage certificates.

Viximus: Viximus is where you can pay your respects to loved ones who passed away. It includes photos, death and birth dates and other information about deceased people and lets you add new individuals not already on the site.

Google News Archives: As long as you can use the wen, you can access this free archive search offered by Google. It lets you view hundreds of issues from thousands of newspapers across the world with a search function for names, dates and places.

Jewish Gen: The best repository for people with Jewish ancestry is Jewish Gen. You can look for the names of individuals on your family tree and see people with the same surname.

Native Web: One of the top resources for those with Native American ancestry is Native Web. You can perform searches based on name, tribe and other data to find ancestors who belonged to any tribe.

India Office Family Search: More than 300,000 records from the India Office of Records, including birth and marriage certificates are available online from this search. It’s the best place to start looking for immigrants from India.

Wie Was Wie: This is a German database designed to help users find information about immigrants from Germany. You’ll want to make sure that you click on the translate button to view the content in English if you don’t understand German.

Immigrant Ancestors Project: Finding immigrants is easy with this site because you can look for them based on name, date or country. It’s easy to transfer that data to your family tree too.

UK National Archives: Similar to the US National Archives, this database has a focus on records from the UK. You can look through census records, browse marriage and death certificates and check out birth records.

Family History Daily: A good place to turn as a beginner is Family History Daily. Not only does it include some genealogical records, but it offers tips that help when you hit a brick wall or have trouble finding the data that you need.

The Hispanic Genealogical Society of New York: If you have family who lived or worked in New York o have Hispanic ancestry, this genealogical society can help with your research. You can become a member and get access to special events held every year too.

Genealogy Trails History Group: This is something of a one-stop spot for people doing family research. It offers historical data about Native American tribes, pension records and military obituaries to name a few.

Automated Genealogy: Through this searchable Canadian database, you can view census records dating back to 1901. Those records tell you who lived at a specific address, his or her occupation, age, marital status and if they had any children or others living with them.

Fulton History: This is a fun website filled with historical postcards with the ability to search for the names, dates and locations featured in each one. You never know when you might find an ancestor appearing on a postcard.

Family Tree Searcher: Family Tree Searcher is a popular and free website that searches multiple sites to find information based on the name you enter. This is a good way to view the data available from multiple sites in one easy spot.

What Types of Records are Available from Free Sites?

Are There Any Benefits to Using Premium Sites?
Subscription and membership sites use the term premium to show how they are different from the free sites that you can use. Some free sites simply act as a funnel to one of the premium sites. Once you enter a name, the site will show you all the available records. When you click on one, it takes you to a new page associated with a premium site and asks you to sign up. Premium sites offer many benefits that you might not get with free sites too, including:

  • Message boards where you can post questions about your family and get answers from other members
  • Search functions that search for similar names in databases, which comes in handy if your family named changed or someone made a mistake when uploading a record
  • Family tree searches that help you look for branches shared across two or more trees
  • Messaging systems to help you connect with members who share your same ancestors
  • The ability to save your family tree and any special records to view them later
  • Options to keep your information and family tree private if you don't want to share that information
Are There Any Benefits to Using Premium Sites

Though Ancestry.com charges a membership fee, it has some free resources that can help with your search. With an index search, you can enter a name and other data, including a spouse's name or the county where the person was born to see what records are available that relate to that person.

What to do When you Hit a Dead End

Hitting a dead-end is something that can happen to the best of us. You might find yourself on a roll and finding dates and names of your great-grandparents as well as their parents and siblings when you suddenly reach a point that you cannot move past. Instead of panicking, you can try some of the following tips:

  • Switch to a different website: Simply moving your search to a website can help you get by that dead end. You'll want to enter as many details as you can find and use multiple sites for your search. You may want to put your search on hold and focus on another family member or the opposite of your tree. More information will likely become available later.
  • Look for dates: If you trace an individual back to a specific point and cannot find any more data, try looking for names instead of dates. Immigrants often changed their names after moving to the US, and some changed their names after moving to a new town. You may find that an ancestor's last name changed because of prejudice against the Irish or another group.
  • Talk to Your Family: One reason some reach a dead-end is that they do not have the right data. You'll never find your great-grandfather if you have the wrong middle name or date of birth for him. Try talking to your family to see what they know before you conduct a new search.
What to do When you Hit a Dead End

Birth certificates are one of the best resources that you can use because they list the date, time and location of the birth, the doctor and the names of at least one parent.

Get Two Weeks of Searching for Free

From military and census records to birth and marriage certificates, Ancestry.com makes it easy to find all the data you need to track your family, see where they came from and learn about their lives. 

The sooner that you sign up for a trial membership, the sooner you can get started. Use our link  today to get a free two-week trial membership to the leading genealogy site on the web.

Start Your Quest

Starting your quest to build your family tree and learn about your heritage is easy. If you can’t afford to join a premium site or worry that you won’t find everything you need, turn to some of the free sites for help. They offer tons of information and give you access to millions of records, including birth certificates, court transcripts, military records and marriage certificates. We hope that our list of the 50 best free genealogy sites to search today will help you on your quest.

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