Are you new to researching your family history? If so, you’ve probably been in this situation at least once: you found a family history research site, you ran what looked like a free ancestry search, and then you were told that the site found results for your ancestors.
“Awesome!” you probably thought.
But wait. Then you found out the records were only viewable if you paid for premium access to the site. And some of these sites can be expensive, especially for a hobbyist.
With so many paid genealogy tools available, how are you supposed to pick between them?
Here’s the thing. If you’re new to this, you really don’t have to pay for any of them, at least not right away.
First, contact living family members to get as much information as you can about the most recent generations. Without accurate information to start with, you’ll be shooting in the dark on those paid sites anyway.
Then, why not try free family history websites before paying for one? I think you’ll be surprised at how much information is freely available to budding genealogists.
For example, here are five free ancestry search tools to help you start building your family tree.
- FamilySearch.org (Worldwide)
- USGenWeb.org (U.S.)
- Archives.gov (U.S.)
- FreeCen.org.uk (U.K. census records)
- Ancestry.com Free Databases (Worldwide)
In addition to the Ancestry.com free databases that don’t require a premium account, remember that you can also sign up for a 14-day free trial of Ancestry’s paid service.
While I don’t personally subscribe to Ancestry on an ongoing basis, it’s proven to be one of my most valuable research tools when I have time to really dig into a particular branch of my family tree. If and when you decide to upgrade to a premium tool, this is the first I recommend.
What about you? Have you come across other great free ancestry search tools? Share your recommendations in the comments below.