Eight Great Genealogy Resources To Find Out Who Your Ancestors Were
If you want to find exciting discoveries about your ancestors, find out when your ancestors came to the this country and from exactly where, there are great genealogy resources, both online and offline, to help you. The following eight resources are relatively inexpensive, or free, for you to use in building your family tree.
1: Go to your local public Library – Talk with a Librarian.
Your best first genealogy resource is inside your library: the librarian. Your library may have Handouts, Worksheets, journals, genealogy books, reference material, access to commercial databases, and more. You need to ask the librarian what is available in the library, as well as what may be brought in to the library (microfiches, inter-library loan, and more). A wealth of resources are available for you to find your ancestors.
2: Investigate your local Genealogical or Historical Society.
With regular meetings, educational opportunities, newsletter, library, professional genealogists and expert amateurs, your local or regional genealogical society is chock-full of great free or inexpensive resources. Membership fees are very reasonable for the services you can access. As a member, you will also hear first of local genealogy conferences or special events, accelerating your learning about how to find out who your ancestors were.
3: Free Genealogy Newsletters on the Internet.
Free e-newsletters from genealogists or genealogy companies are excellent resources. As you look at an online genealogy site, search on it for a free newsletter. Examples may be found on Family Tree Magazine, ProGenealogists, Lost Cousins, World Vital Records, Ancestry, Legacy Family Tree, RootsMagic, and many more. Packed full of practical information on general or very specific topics, newsletters are great ways to learn about how to do genealogy research.
4: Message Boards online.
Are your ancestors from Canada, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, or other places? There is likely to be a Message Board somewhere on that country or region within the country. RootsWeb is one of the largest, with Surname boards, regional, historical, and other boards. Check them out, and click on the link that will explain how to make a great post if you find a perfect message board for your purposes. Look for other message boards in the regions of your ancestors’ past residences, there are so many online. Search for “message board and -topic-” to see if there is a message board on for example Ireland (at least 7). A long-lost cousin found me on a message board, so I tend to search them regularly for more information!
5: Surname Associations, Family Associations or Societies.
I have been very lucky to have 5 of my ancestor family lines with Family or Surname Associations with professional-level researched family trees I could use immediately, sources and all. What a great boon to my personal genealogy research!With history, documents, photos, maps and more, a surname group may be available for one or more of your ancestors or ancestor lines, available free or a very low membership cost. Search for “-a surname- and family association” and see what turns up online. I receive newsletters from several associations; another has updated information online and available with a membership. Excellent resources.
6: Free: Databases, Charts, Forms.
Much is free online these days, or available at your local library. The following Censuses are free to search and view: 1881 U.K., 1881 Canada, 1880 U.S. on most sites. In Canada, Automated Genealogy provides free access to search and view the censuses from 1851/1852, 1901, 1906, 1911. In the U.K., freeBMD will help you find your ancestors’ birth, marriage, death record so you can order a copy. Olive Tree Genealogy has free searching of ship passenger lists from the early 1600s. Library Archives Canada provides free searching and viewing of many documents, records, censuses, and more.
Charts and forms are freely available to help keep organize your ancestors, your documents, your research history, your correspondence, and more. Check on any genealogy site for their Free Forms, or Getting Started items. Even government sites which provide any genealogy information will have some downloadable forms and charts for you to use. Check on Cyndi’s List to find any specific sites which provide free forms.
7: FamilySearch and Family History Centers.
The world’s largest database of genealogical records is available through the work of the Mormon Church, the Church of Latter-Day Saints (LDS) in Utah. From official records and registers around the world, to individually-submitted family trees, FamilySearch has many sources to help you. Remember to look for the proof or source of the details in every tree or individual as you search. In the Family History Center (FHC) in your community, there are more resources as well, such as free access to commercial databases, books, microfilms of commonly-searched records in specific countries. Staffed by knowledgeable and helpful volunteers, the FHC is an excellent resource for building your family tree.
8: Free Family Tree software.
To keep your family tree organized with details, photos, stories, proof/sources, and more, there are many software programs available. Two free versions are (a) the Standard version of Legacy Family Tree (a “Deluxe” version is US$29.95), or (b) the PAF software available from the FamilySearch site (right side of page). Commercial databases sometimes offer a family tree software program free with a one-year subscription; call and see what is possible. Check on Cyndi’s List for comparisons of software programs. Get started easily with a program which helps you do all the necessary steps to build your family tree.
These eight great resources should help any beginner in Genealogy keep to a budget while learning a great deal about researching their ancestors. Enjoy your searches.