Do you want to know how to look up your ancestors for free? In this post, I’ll teach you ways to find information about your ancestors without having to pay a subscription.
It seems like every online records website wants to charge a hefty monthly fee. While some of those sites can be worth the investment, paying subscription fees on multiple sites can really add up over time.
I love genealogy so much, and I want to help you be able to learn about your ancestors without putting too much pressure on your monthly budget.
How to look up ancestors for free
There are multiple ways to get started finding free records and documents pertaining to your ancestors. Every single detail that you learn about your ancestors will help you piece together your family story.
Top websites for free genealogy records
Below, find my favorite websites for finding free information for family tree research.
Familysearch.org A completely free website managed by the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (also known as LDS). You’ll need to create a free account to access records, but it’s worth it because you can find millions of records from all over the world on this site.
Findagrave.com This free website contains information from volunteers about almost two hundred million graves and memorials. You can search here to find your ancestors and their family members, which is a great way to learn more about their lives.
WikiTree A free website where you can look up your ancestors to see if they show up in other people’s family trees. This is a cool way to see what other people have already discovered about your ancestors!
If your ancestors immigrated to the United States in the 19th or early 20th centuries, you might be able to find information about them on the Ellis Island or Castle Garden sites, completely for free.
Creative ways to find out about your ancestors for free online
There are lots of places to look for digitized records pertaining to your ancestors that you might not think to look. The following website might help you locate United States genealogy records:
- US GenWeb Project A free website that serves as a directory with links to state and county records, as well as links to other free genealogy resources. It’s worth checking out!
Have you considered that your ancestors may have been written about in newspapers during their life? Whether due to mundane activities like a sale of a property, or something more scandalous like being accused of a crime, we can often locate people from our family tree in old newspapers.
Fortunately, Google has put together an archive that we can search for free:
If you have African-American heritage, you might want to check out the Africana Heritage Project, which is a collection of links and resources dedicated to helping people who are descendants of enslaved individuals document the lives of their ancestors. The site is currently undergoing a major upgrade, but you can still access the original site by clicking on a link on the homepage.
People with Jewish heritage might be able to find out more about their Jewish ancestors on the JewishGen site. This site offers records and specific information about Jewish communities in towns and locales all over the world. You’ll also find links to helpful resources.
Have you ever wondered if you might be able to find photographs of your ancestors? Apart from the usual places to look, you might want to check out the following site where people have uploaded genealogical photos of their ancestors:
Are all genealogy records available for free online?
When I first began researching genealogy online, I thought that if I put my super-sleuth Google skills to use in just the right way, I would be able to find every document pertaining to my ancestors. I was convinced that they had to be out there somewhere, digitized and ready for me to find.
Unfortunately, not every record is available online, and not every available record online can be accessed for free. I have found two subscriptions to be worth the investment, as they have saved me lots of time:
(sponsored links below)
Definitely consider singing up for the free trials available on those sites in order to see if they work for you! You can click on the links above to read more about how to get a free trial.
What to do with information about ancestors
Now that you have learned all of the ways to look up your ancestors for free online, I want to encourage you to put all of the documents and information that you have learned into a family tree.
Fortunately, this is easier to do than it ever has been. You can start a family tree online with only a few clicks.
It’s a great way to keep track of who your ancestors are and what you’ve learned about them.
I recommend starting a family tree on Ancestry because it’s free and easy:
If you search through all of the sites mentioned in this post, you’ll be well on your way to understanding your ancestors’ lives.
I hope that this post has helped you understand how to find free information about your ancestors online, as well as what to do with information what you find it.
If you have any questions about something that you read in this post, or if you would like me to add a resource that you love, please let me know in the discussion below!
Thanks for being here today.