Ancestry for Free: Genealogy Research Sites That Don’t Cost a Dime

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Ancestry for Free: Genealogy Research Sites That Don’t Cost a Dime

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50 Free Genealogy Sites

Can you really research your ancestry for free? Yes you can!

Most seasoned genealogists know that there are an ever growing number of free family history resources online–but it is easy for beginners to get overwhelmed trying to find quality resources and end up turning to just one or two large paid sites, like Ancestry, for their information.

So, we thought we’d put together a simple list of high-quality, and completely free, genealogy websites to help you expand your research without spending a single penny.

Of course, this is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to free genealogy resources online. Don’t underestimate the value of a good google search when looking for free sites that relate to a specific location or surname.

Get Started Researching Your Ancestry for Free with These Six Sites

Family Search: OK, this one was easy and most people reading this list have probably already heard of the absolutely awesome and expansive family history site from the LDS. But, could we really leave them out? With a huge amount of records and genealogies, a free online and downloadable family tree program, resource lists, information wikis and so much more–Family Search is not to be missed.

Find a Grave: Looking for a tombstone? Find a Grave is a completely free, volunteer run website where you can search millions of grave sites from around the world, or request a search for relatives you cannot find in their database. Check it out here.

Library of Congress, Chronicling America: Search thousands of pages of newspapers from 1826-1922 and access the actual digitized images online. Name searches are easy and you never know what you might turn up about an individual you’re researching.

Ellis Island and Castle Garden: Are you one of the millions of descendants of immigrants who passed through Ellis Island or its predecessor Castle Garden? Not sure? Visit either one of these sites to see if you can find an ancestor from your family tree. Tip: make sure you are armed with at least SOME info about your relatives before searching. Many immigration records are vague and unless your ancestor has a very unusual name you will probably need estimated dates of arrival, names of fellow travelers, and/or estimated ages to find strong leads here.

National Archives Databases: Census records, military records, passenger lists and more can all be found in these extensive and free to use online databases. Looking for even more, check out their genealogy section.

Don’t see your favorite free genealogy resource on the list? Post it in the comments below!

Image: Making paper money, Bureau of Printing and Engraving, Washington, D.C. c1916 | Library of Congress

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  • alvinscott
    October 22, 2015 at 7:36 am

    i am trying to figure out were any of my ancestors were a slave

    • David Bofinger
      November 19, 2015 at 12:31 am

      If you mean, were any of them people of West African ethnicity who got brought to North America as slaves, I don’t know. But if you want to know literally whether any of your ancestors were slaves then yes, lots of them. Slavery has been around a long time, Europeans for instance were enslaving each other more or less from the arrival of agriculture up until the middle ages. We’re all descended from slaves and kings and every rank of human in between.

  • Annette Elliott
    September 25, 2015 at 4:48 pm

  • August 1, 2015 at 7:52 pm

    Always free. The hosts are required to update with new data regularly so there is always new information being added.

  • July 29, 2015 at 1:53 am

    Hi – are there any apps for Android users for Roots Magic, etc.? I don’t have an Ipad, etc.
    Thanks for any help you can give.

  • Spencer Allen (Columbus,OH)
    April 9, 2015 at 6:39 am

    Search for pictures/graphics of ancestors of Allen-Spencer, 1000AD to 1800’s England, Europe, N C, VA, southern U S; also “Place of Pleasure “& “Redbrick Hall “in No. Carolina? Where to find? Help deeply appreciated!!!

  • carmen Lacombe
    March 19, 2015 at 7:21 am

    I have no information on my biological family except description and where I was born can I found anything on this site
    birthname Blandine , marie Gisele danièle, born at pointes aux tremble the 6 of July 1950 at la crèche de la réparation (ou rehabilitation maintenant paroisse notre dame) fabrique de montréal
    mother 5 feet 2 inches 18 years old black hair pretty and 120 pounds and father 22 years old 5 feet 5 inches blond, 155 pound here is where it get to me he was a journalism in that period time so from 1949 to 1950 and nobody is able to gave me a clue but by this time they would be like 80 and 82

  • Cheyenne Chadney
    March 4, 2015 at 12:39 pm

    Hi! My name is Cheyenne Chadney. I am 23 and trying to find information about my birth family. I was born in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, and as far as I know my parents were born inside Canada. But i am having a very hard time finding information about my father, Norman Lawrence Chadney and my mother Joanne Lynn Gross. I know nothing about either side of my family and could really use some help.

    • Lillian
      April 8, 2015 at 9:02 pm

      Are you an adopted child? Are you trying to make contact with your birth family ?

      If so I may be able to give you some leads to follow up.

      Contact me and we’ll go from there.

      • Crystal Renee Pratt Hunt
        May 3, 2015 at 9:06 am

        Born 11/5/79 Louisville, Indiana, Tennessee, or KY through KY Baptist Board of Childcare Shelbyville Rd Louisville, KY Adoptive parents – Randolph and Rita Pratt – Erlanger, KY Birth Mother 16 yrs dk brown hair, Birth father 17 yrs med brown hair, both attended school & church together, birth father was also adopted; good students, athletic, had siblings, Not much to go on. Official adoption papers legalized June, 1980. Was placed with adoptive family on Nov. 28, 1979. All help would be greatly appreciated.

      • craig fisher
        June 26, 2015 at 4:21 am

        hi, im trying to find my birth parents and have had no success so far, I have my original birth certificate and my adoption certificate, I also have my birth name and my parents names, if you could please contact me it would be appreciated.. thanks

      • September 26, 2015 at 11:35 pm

        Looking for birth mother all i know her surname was Elliott and I was born feb 13 1950 in clarksburg wv, adopted by wm and esther hymes

      • Cheyenne Chadney
        October 22, 2015 at 7:47 am

        I was a foster child and I only know my parents I don’t know who any of their relatives are I know my grandparents are dead

  • Sharon
    February 26, 2015 at 4:11 am

    Anyone know of free records from kansas, esp Wyandotte county???
    I can find marriage records from Johnson county but absolutely nothing
    from Wyandotte.

    • Calvinia Hudson
      October 5, 2015 at 7:25 pm

      Kansas Historical Society they are on line and have great resources, will copy articles about ancestors or towns and send it to you

  • February 23, 2015 at 9:38 am

    My name is Kim Melchior and I am a professional Genealogist specializing in Danish and Swedish research. I have a Facebook page called Scandinavian Genealogical Research Center and it is found here:
    When I find links and other tidbits I believe could be of interest to people interested in Scandinavian genealogy I post them on my Facebook page. I would like to invite you to take a look at the page and if you like what you see, like, share and follow it. I would also welcome a friendship request from you here on Facebook.
    Kim Melchior

  • Michelle Della Pelle
    February 21, 2015 at 9:54 am

    Big Problem….. My Italian heritage…. I am from New jersey. My hobby is genealogy. I have search my Della Pelle family in Penne, Abruzzo, Italy That I cannot find it. the reason… Very very very struggle frustration. My grandfather Aurelio Della Pelle was born and raised in SAME house in Penne…. I have no clue about his family in the past….. I cannot afford to fly to Italy cost me very expansive tickets and the hotels. The professional Italian Genealogy cost me between $1,900 to $5,000 or more. I am not rich. Because those Italian language is old style italic like 1800 AD. How you can help me to find in Penne, Abruzzo, Italy for me???

    • Nancy Averill
      February 21, 2015 at 10:57 am

      I found this on a passenger list, I don’t know if it is your relative but it lists father’s name.
      Name: Aurelio Della Pelle
      Arrival Date: 3 Apr 1922
      Birth Date: abt 1898
      Birth Location: Teramo
      Birth Location Other: penne
      Age: 24
      Gender: Male
      Ethnicity/ Nationality: Italian (South) (Italian)
      Port of Departure: Naples, Italy
      Port of Arrival: New York, New York
      Ship Name: Regina D Italia
      Search Ship Database: Search for the Regina D Italia in the ‘Passenger Ships and Images’ database Father: Franco Della Pelle
      Destination Quebec, Montrl

      There is a seven day free trial at the link below.

  • marilyn
    February 20, 2015 at 1:37 pm

    my sister and i have found a lot of great information by searching any states historical society. i.e., if i were looking for information on an ancestor who lived in mississippi i would simply key in MISSISSIPPI HISTORICAL SOCIETY. you have to dig around on the sites as each state sets theirs up differently. but, so far, most have census records, death records….all kinds of information and it is all FREE.

  • Cindy
    February 19, 2015 at 2:26 pm

    I am trying to trace my husbands ancestry, original family name before coming to Canada from Holland was Van den Vorstenbosch.Once the family entered the country in the1960’s they dropped the Van den.Is there any free sites that may help me.?

  • February 19, 2015 at 10:53 am

    They have documents from ancient to the 21st century by century.

  • February 19, 2015 at 10:52 am

    The have ancient documents to the 21st century by Century.

  • Olga
    February 18, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Thank for the information
    I found my great gran father in family search. There are not many places to find family from Europe or Africa. Those are from American people.
    I still try to find my grand ma and my great gram I could not

  • Gail
    February 17, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    One of my favorite free websites is . I initially searched it because my great grandparents lived in Fulton, N.Y, but it covers the entire state. The site has newspapers from all over New York (and a handful from other states, too) and is easy to search. It is an absolute goldmine. But be forewarned. If you have family in New York, expect to spend at least a week sitting at the computer…it is almost impossible to pull yourself away!

  • T
    February 17, 2015 at 11:57 am

    Does any one have any pointers on finding data from Lithuania non Jewish?

  • Pam Mortensen
    February 17, 2015 at 10:28 am

    The only problem with is that when I find errors (and there have been many), there doesn’t seem to be a way to contact anyone to correct them. At least on Ancestry, I can leave a comment, whether or not the person who has made the mistake cares to pay attention, say thank you, or (last resort) fix i! This is distressing when it is MY family they are messing with! Any suggestions?

    • Roisin
      February 17, 2015 at 4:12 pm

      Transcription errors can be quite common, When I cannot find someone that I am sure should be, I get creative on the search and search for just given names.

    • February 19, 2015 at 2:01 am

      Pam, I have a phone number that will help you with the problems you are having. They helped me bring one of my relatives back to life. 1-866-406-1830. Let me know if you get everything worked out or if you need anything else.

      I hope I was able to help you. Joyce Smith

    • genealogy lover
      February 21, 2015 at 11:17 am

      The new family search has a few ways of dealing with incorrect information…I’m not expert yet and I am sure there are more ways than I am aware of. I know that you can merge people and reject incorrect information when you are working on your family tree. Also, sometimes information is incorrect because for example…a census worker, back in the 1920’s, wrote phonetically how they thought the family’s information was spelled. I hope this helps you.

    • Wanda Daniel
      August 13, 2015 at 7:33 am

      I have also found incorrect information on Family Search. They did follow up on my emails promptly but even though the information for my great-grandmother is incorrect, they stated they checked the microfilm and because it’s that way on there they won’t correct it. So be cautious of info you find on websites…they may be incorrect!

  • Dave McDougle
    February 16, 2015 at 3:26 pm
    There are many personal benefits of membership but everyone in our community shares one mission: to connect the human family.
    Modern family history on WikiTree is private. As you go back in time the privacy controls open up.
    Collaboration between genealogists is kept enjoyable and productive through a simple nine-point honor code.

  • Susan
    February 16, 2015 at 7:07 am

    I have my family tree back to late 1700 but I was wondering how to find history from the UK. It is for my son-in-law. With my first grandchild on the way, I thought a family tree would be really cool for them

  • Leon Jose
    February 15, 2015 at 9:53 am

    hi, I am looking to trace down my family as far back as possible…the oldest relative that I know of, is Colonel Charles Young ( Charles Young was born March 12, 1864, in Mayslick, Kentucky)…my mothers relatives, are prejudice against african americans, so I have no clue about her family

    • Leon Jose
      February 15, 2015 at 9:58 am

      U.S. Army,,,,he was in command of a squadron of the famous 10th Cavalry,,,”A native of Kentucky he graduated with the class of 1889, 49th out of 49 graduates, at West Point, and reached his Majority in 1912. He was retired for physical disability early in World War I, with the rank of Colonel.”,,,He died on January 8, 1922 and his funeral was one of only a handful in history to be held at the Memorial Amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery. He is buried in Section 3 of the cemetery.

  • Heather
    February 15, 2015 at 5:17 am

    Does anyone know of a good FREE site for Colorado! Looking for marriage/death records.

    • Rober
      February 15, 2015 at 9:40 am

      Heather – At in their records collection you will find Colorado Statewide Marriage Index, 1853-2006 which can be searched by name. They also have images (but no index yet) of Colorado, County Marriages, 1864-1995. I didn’t note any death records there. is totally free.

    • Jim Church
      February 16, 2015 at 10:11 pm

      Visit your local LDS Library.. They have access to quite a few pay websites link and

      • Heather
        February 17, 2015 at 8:28 am

        We don’t have a LDS library in our area. I’ve subscribed to for a number of years, and had no luck with information for Colorado. I did not renew my subscription at this time.

        • Teresa
          February 18, 2015 at 11:49 am

          Heather just go to on the website there is a meetinghouse locator, plug in your area and it will give you the closest LDS church to you. The family history centers are actually in the church building and is staffed by volunteers at the church. They will be more than glad to help you with your search. If you run into a problem finding a local LDS family history center you can email me your address and I’ll find the closest one to you and send you their address, phone number and hours the center is open. Good luck with your searching.

    • Helen
      February 17, 2015 at 3:23 pm

      Heather, you can also type in the name of your county and then Colorado and then the work linkpendium. It will call up a lot of sites for that county on the internet.

  • February 15, 2015 at 2:05 am

    Several Canadian census records are found on Split screen feature allows you to see the original and transcription at the same time.

  • Thomas
    February 14, 2015 at 9:01 pm

    Many states have free GenWeb sites. Also don’t forget LDS. There is information on that site that extends into other countries and centuries back. Also don’t hesitate to search church records, and library newspaper archives.

  • February 14, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Let’s not forget our Ancestors Photos!

    Trace your roots for FREE with our searchable database containing thousands of identified and mystery photos for genealogy enthusiasts looking for long-lost family.

  • February 14, 2015 at 8:58 am

    The DAR has many records at their website for Revolutionary War era and forward. You can find some things out free of charge, but still have to pay for in-depth info. Still a good source to check and getting better all the time.

  • mireille sauve
    February 14, 2015 at 8:41 am

    looking for family tree of the Sauve and Sarault family tree> My grandpa came from Water Town NY like to find family there

  • February 14, 2015 at 7:36 am

    US and World GenWeb. Both free sites. Many early records; census, civil war; marriages; deaths; tombstone photos and surveys. All states and international.

  • February 14, 2015 at 7:33 am

    National website with many projects- census, gravestone pictures, early records…all states. Also World GenWeb. All free.

  • Jill
    February 14, 2015 at 12:29 am

    I don’t think anyone has posted – Findagrave has a lot of individual memorial pages, with a lot of them linked with their family members already. It’s been online for 15 years now and it’s growing bigger. It’s kinda like a community effort, where some people are the grave walkers and photographers, and others are the researchers who link people together by sending edits to the people that maintain the pages. They’ll even transfer your close relatives’ pages to you to maintain, if you ask. It has helped me piece together my family tree a whole lot. Still got a ways to go, though. But it helps me feel more like I’m visiting graves of my family members that I could never go so far away to ever visit them. And you can even leave “flowers” on their memorial pages. Just thought I’d suggest this and see if it might could help you all in your family searches.

    • Heather
      February 15, 2015 at 5:35 am

      Find A Grave is a wonderful site, I’ve been using it for years. I try to link as many family members and add additional information when ever I can.

    • Toot44
      February 18, 2015 at 4:25 pm

      FindAGrave was the 2nd free site mentioned in the lead article. It can be a great ‘clue’ resource, but don’t depend on it being accurate. Many Memorials are posted by Genealogy Societies from actual cemetery records or gravestones, but a lot are posted by individuals who do not have accurate information. This site is not a primary source for citing your research. However, I’ve been using it for years for research and clues.

  • February 13, 2015 at 9:05 am

    Free genealogy & history of Jones County, Iowa.

  • Jane Struckman
    February 13, 2015 at 7:17 am

    Looking for information on William Duncan (Dunkin) Austin killed in Hawkins, TX buried in Big Sandy Cemetery around 1910. His son, Moses, was living with him at that time.

  • Roisin
    February 12, 2015 at 10:25 pm

    Researching in Arizona – birth certificates and death certificates – actual images – free – fully searchable

  • February 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    This is a site that is free and done by volunteers. The site offers a photograph of the gravestone or monument with a bio if applicable. You can view by county, name or cemetery. If you go to the bottom of the page see Other AGP Projects. There is Tennessee, Texas, Missouri and other states.

  • February 10, 2015 at 6:35 pm is a free collaborative website that includes 9,163,017 people contributed by 244,734 genealogists from around the world.

    • Kykendra
      May 2, 2015 at 8:45 pm

      Wikitree is an excellent resource! I am a frequent genealogist contributor on there, and the contact and collaboration with other members is fantastic and helps with accuracy.

  • Deanne
    February 10, 2015 at 6:50 am

    I found a site named with lots of free Native American info.

  • February 5, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Try our Free Genealogy Search Engine

    If you’re looking for a simple way to search many free genealogy sites at one time for your ancestors, try out our free genealogy search engine. We have included hundreds of sites that hold millions of records and resources (including those seen above), and we’re adding new sites all of the time.

  • kateherine prewitt
    March 16, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    what is the best site to find a lost sibling? have dob, father name, mother name, unknown last name of sibling. Do I have any chance of finding this person?

    • Jan
      February 18, 2015 at 10:09 am

      Hi I have Ancestry,com. If you’d like, I could do some look up’s for you to see what I can find out. They have almost all documents that might help! I would need those names, dates and where they possibly lived. Jan Nolan

  • October 22, 2013 at 2:50 am

    Always search the Guild of One Name Studies http;// to see if anyone is studying your name. – See more at:

  • Jesse
    August 13, 2013 at 11:17 am is great and 100% free ( I use it myself).

  • July 12, 2013 at 12:29 pm

    Over the years I have used the World Connect Project for a lot of free information

  • Bill
    June 6, 2013 at 8:33 am

    How can I find out my step dad’s social security number? He died in 78. Social Security Admin refuses to help since I’m a step son. His only daughter just died. I’m trying to sign up for the GM Legacy program and they need his SS # in order to find the right person.

  • RUTH T.
    May 6, 2013 at 8:29 am


  • Jason F
    April 14, 2013 at 8:04 am

    If you are looking for Dutch (Netherlands) vital records from 1811 forward, you can use It has a searchable database and scanned images of the actual documents, all available for free. The only downside is that the records are in Dutch, but that’s where comes in handy :)

  • April 13, 2013 at 10:34 am

    For researching Jewish heritage in Lithuania, don’t miss

    For Jewish heritage anywhere, is a must visit site. From there, one can find SIGs devoted to specific geographic areas and topics (Sephardic ancestry, Rabbinic ancestry, Vaudeville and Yiddish Theater plus more).

    For New York City and environs, don’t overlook the searchable indices to vital records and naturalizations at a virtual Jewish History website which includes hundreds of links to free databases such as Jewish cemeteries. – The Jewish Genealogical Society Inc., New York City.

  • Susan Sirles
    April 9, 2013 at 9:54 am

    Georgia’s Virtual Vault is a wonderful free site. Has some of the GA Confederacy Pension records and lots of GA history. Just found out about it myself a month ago.

  • April 8, 2013 at 10:25 am

    3 additional things that are free:
    1. Lookups free from Family History Library in SLC and other archives–sent via email in 3 days
    2. Online research group in Skype where you can get free help finding your ancestors (via instant messaging) from professional researchers
    3. Weekly webinars taught by professional researchers

  • Pam
    April 8, 2013 at 6:42 am

    For those researching in West Virginia, WV vital records are online for FREE at

  • Michelle
    April 8, 2013 at 5:32 am

    US Genweb –

    Rootsweb – While it is now owned by Ancestry, it is FREE.

    Northern New York Historical Newspapers –

  • Robert
    April 8, 2013 at 4:08 am

    My Genealogy Hound at is a free site to view thousands of family biographies from early and rare history and genealogy references. Also included is a collection of vinage county maps.

  • April 7, 2013 at 7:07 pm

    Family Genealogy & History Internet Education Directory – Wiki:
    Scholarly mega site map of world wide Internet resources.
    Free Coverage of the Genealogy World in a Nutshell.

    Professional, worldwide humanities and social sciences mega portal,
    connected directly to numerously related sub-sets, with billions of
    primary/secondary database family history & genealogy records.

  • Sally
    April 7, 2013 at 12:39 pm
    All census records (except 1940), non-copyrighted books (fully downloadable), family histories, etc.

  • Yvonne
    April 7, 2013 at 11:01 am

    I love

  • April 6, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    Always search the Guild of One Name Studies http;// to see if anyone is studying your name.

  • Pat W
    April 6, 2013 at 5:56 am

    If you are doing research in Missoui, you can’t beat Missouri Digital Heritage. I have accessed digital images of actual death certificates and probates records (wills).

    Plus, many libraries offer free access to HeritageQuest.

  • April 5, 2013 at 7:18 pm

    It seems like is coming along nicely and adding stuff all the time.

    • Toot44
      February 18, 2015 at 4:31 pm

      However, Billion Graves is no longer supported by; probably because they now own FindAGrave.

  • April 5, 2013 at 7:08 pm

    I’ve been using Open Library ( lately. It has many scanned in books that have had genealogy information in them. The books can be saved to the computer or kindle. I’ve checked Google Books for the same books and they don’t exist there. I also like to use Rootsweb, GenWeb, and message boards or forums.

    Soldiers and Sailors Civil War Search ~
    DAR Genealogical Research System ~
    Indiana Digital Archives ~
    Illinois Digital Archives ~
    Ed and Debby ~
    Tipton County, Indiana Newspapers ~

  • February 11, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    for train wrecks, fires, tornadoes, etc and ancestors who died in accidents

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