5 Free Family Tree Search Resources in the U.S.

Premium genealogy resources are all over the place. But when you’re just starting out (or considering family history research as a hobby), you probably don’t want to dole out the cash for expensive subscriptions. Fortunately you don’t have to.

There are numerous free genealogy research websites out there that can help you get started. It’s a good idea to exhaust these resources before paying for databases (which often include the same information found for free elsewhere). Here are five free family history websites for U.S. research to get you started.

  1. FamilySearch.org — Family Search is one of the most popular free genealogy research sites on the Web. It’s run by the LDS church. In addition to having searchable databases online, they also manage several research centers across the country where you can access microfilm and other resources.
  2. USGenWeb.org — This is a site run by volunteers who try to make genealogical records from the U.S. accessible to family history researchers.
  3. Archives.gov — This is the website for the U.S. National Archives. You can learn about national records (such as military records) on the site. And if you log into a computer at one of their research facilities, you can also access premium genealogy databases (like Ancestry.com).
  4. EllisIsland.org — You’ll need to register for this resource, but registration is free. Once logged in, you can access ship manifests, ship images, and passenger records for immigrants who came through Ellis Island.
  5. CyndisList.com — Cyndi’s List is less about direct family history research, and more about pointing you in the right direction. It’s a directory of genealogy resources. You’re bound to find what you’re looking for here. It’s one of the oldest genealogy research sites around and still going strong.

What’s your favorite free family history research website or online tool? Share it in the comments.

Jenn is a professional writer and publisher, and the founder of Climb Your Family Tree.

She first became interested in genealogy as a teenager. Since that early start, she's spent 28 years putting her personal passion and professional research skills to use in exploring her own family history while assisting others in their genealogical journeys.

In addition to running Climb Your Family Tree, Jenn is a long-time PR, social media, and online marketing specialist and she's been a digital publisher / web developer for over 20 years. She owns a variety of web properties including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, Kiss My Biz, and NakedPR.

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