Hard to Beat Free

family history at computerYou don’t have to travel to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah to research your genealogy. It would be an awesome trip, though, if you could make it! Before we go there, let’s start in your own living room, well, in my case our kitchen. I’m going to assume that you’ve already gathered information from records you have in a box and from family members. You’re ready to organize it in a computer program, and to search for documents to lead you into your family’s past.

FamilySearch.org – This is my favorite!


  • FREE!
  • Great way to preserve your family history for many generations to come.
  • Creates a pedigree tree showing your direct ancestors and descendants. Ties into work that others have entered.
  • Creates an individual page on each person entered where you can attach photos, stories, and documents.
  • Awesome search engine to find birth, death, census, military, marriage, and more records.
  • Remarkable help section with training videos on different topics and in different languages. You can also chat, email, or phone for help.
  • Sponsored by the Mormon church which has been involved in genealogy since 1894, and has the largest library of records. It’s not going away. You won’t be contacted about their religion.

Websites – All you need is a computer and the internet!

When I googled “free genealogy websites”, http://familyhistorydaily.com/genealogy-resources/50-free-genealogy-sites/  popped up listing 50 other websites. It included links to researching Ellis Island, newspapers, Daughters of the American Revolution, African heritage, Jewish ancestry, and Civil War records.

Take a look at findagrave.com. Over 150 million grave records have been cataloged. Sometimes the information provided is pretty minimal, but once in awhile you strike gold. findagrave


Try it out. Go to findagrave.com. Click on “Search 150 million grave records” and type in the name Usual Meeker. Select Usual Halford Meeker. Jackpot! His entry provides his birth and death information, links to other family member grave records, pictures of him and his gravestone, a copy of his obituary, and his biography from a county history.

Now try it out on someone you know that is deceased.



Genealogical Societies – These come in all shapes and sizes, and have very dedicated members. A wealth of information can be found in them.

They may be organized based on location, whether national, state, or county. About 30 years ago my dad gave me a lifetime membership to the Wood County Ohio Genealogical Society. I still receive their newsletter, and have on occasion found articles mentioning my ancestors. They have a very active society, and a great website. Every year they put together an exhibit at the county fair. This year’s theme is World War I and will include pictures and stories of the men and women of Wood County who served.

My 7th great grandfather

Others are focused on a historical event, such as The Daughters of the American Revolution. Thanks to my dad’s previous research, I’m now a card carrying member. 🙂 I’m excited to meet with the ladies in my chapter. They have monthly guest speakers, promote patriotism, and provide community service. And as one lady put it, we can talk family history, and not have the other person roll their eyes in boredom. Does your line go back to the early years in America? With today’s resources it is much easier to find the supporting documentation.

You can also find groups centered around religion, culture, nationality, and more. Here’s a sampling:

  • The Freedmen’s Bureau     http://www.freedmensbureau.com/
  • American Jewish Historical Society     http://www.ajhs.org/
  • Italian Genealogical Group     http://italiangen.org/

Google – Don’t forget the power of the Google. Search names, places, and events. Rare treasures of information may be floating on the internet.

Next time we meet you will have to leave the comfort of your living room and pajamas. I’ll take you to a place where you can have free access to some paid websites and some skilled volunteers. First explore some of these other resources that I have covered, and see what you can learn about your family history.


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