Your Family Tree: You Can Trace Your Ancestors With Free or Inexpensive Online Resources
As a beginner in genealogy you may be wondering how expensive it can be to get on the internet and build a family tree going back “lepleteen” generations, as my granddaughter counts. You will be glad to know that genealogy can be a recession-proof hobby. Here are 5 sources you can use to help you find ancestors and build your family tree correctly, without breaking your budget.
FREE Family Tree Software Programs
Use a software program designed to keep your ancestors’ details organized the correct way, and in a form that will let you share with others in the family as well. Two possible free options could be the Standard version of “Legacy” from legacyfamilytree, or “PAF” found on the FamilySearch website. A number of other programs are available for under US$60. Remember that some commercial websites offering genealogy resources may provide a free copy of a software program with a one year membership.
FREE Databases To Search And To View
The world’s largest database is also free, on the FamilySearch website. With cameras recording documents, registers, and records all over the world, FamilySearch has information and details available for the searching. From their Family History Centers (in many regions) or from your local public library, you can also request microfilms of specific places and documents for a minimal charge.
Commercial sites frequently carry some specific databases free for searching as well as viewing of the document online. For example: 1881 Canada Census, 1881 U.K. Census, 1880 U.S. Census records are all free on several sites such as Lost Cousins and on Ancestry. Another possibility: WorldVitalRecords provides up to 2 weeks searches and views free on NEW databases it adds, such as a particular state published histories, or civil war pension lists. It is worth searching through any commercial site to find any free databases: contact the company for more information on free searches and free views.
WorldGenWeb or USGenWeb are non-profit volunteer organizations providing genealogical and historical records and resources. They are very variable in quantity and quality of offerings, but are well worth searching for your ancestors.
Your local library may have one or more commercial sites (library version) available free of charge to you with your library card. HeritageQuest and Ancestry.com are two which may be available, so ask your librarian! Family History Centers may have the database of the New England Historic Genealogical Society available for you to search at their centers, and for free.
Finally, remember that many commercial sites will allow you to search free… but charge you to view the original documents that your information is on, such as findmypast in the U.K., or scotlandspeople. If you are very detailed and specific in your searches, you may actually be able to pin down who it is you are looking for through these free searches!
FREE Gravestone Information, Inscriptions, and Photos
An amazing resource, gravestones offer much to the beginner in genealogy. You may be able to trace your ancestors by finding their gravestone with all its details, next to a wife (or two) and children. You may find the wife’s maiden name as well, a great boon. Findagrave is one of several such internet sites devoted to cemeteries inhabitants. It is a relatively large free site, and you may receive photos of your ancestors’ graves simply by making a request. Volunteers do the legwork of photography and then contacting you with the photos, usually emailed. And, as these volunteers are from the village or region, they may also have more information on the family or history of the area. Wonderful resources in finding ancestors.
FREE Paperwork: Charts, Forms, “Tree” drawings
You will need to keep your information organized, remember various document details, list where a family or an ancestor lived at various times, plus all the dates and places. How can you do this? By using forms and charts designed for the purpose. Rather than re-invent the wheel, use the various free charts and forms available on many many sites, which can be downloaded to your computer and printed. Check on Cyndi’s List for free forms; click on “genealogy resources” on government web sites and blogs; click on Get Started on familytreemagazine, and then click on Free Forms to download a number of helpful charts and forms. Use Cyndi’s List or a search engine to search for tree drawings you could use for 2-3 generations “trees”. It is all available for the asking. Your library likely has genealogy books with forms at the back which may be copied for your own personal use, as well.
FREE Genealogy Newsletters Blogs How-To’s
These are wonderful resources for the beginner in genealogy. Others have been able to do genealogy research online as well as offline, and love to share their findings. As you search online, look for sign-up boxes for “Free Newsletter” since many commercial sites as well as professional genealogists offer helpful email newsletters. Search for Genealogy Blogs as a topic, and browse through the wonderful variety available online. Blogs are short personal writings, like a brief letter or note, on a specific topic. You can always unsubscribe if you find a blog or newsletter not useful to you.
Researching family history need not be expensive. With these free ideas, you will be able to find your ancestors and build up family trees, learning more and more from genealogy research sites. Enjoy your searches.