25 Free Family History Sites You Don’t Want to Miss
A few months ago we published our popular guide, 50 Free Genealogy Sites to Search Today, which has helped tens of thousands of family historians discover new family history resources.
Since that time we have learned of many more free genealogy databases – including quite a few that our wonderful readers were nice enough to share with us. We have pulled these diverse suggestions together, along with even more no-cost offerings, and are excited to share them with you today.
Check out the list below for 25 free genealogy sites from across the globe (find 50 more here) and, as usual, thanks to the dedicated volunteers who make these resources possible!
Please note that we’ve done our very best to make sure that the genealogy sites listed are 100% free to access, however some may display ads, external links or some records or services that require payment. Others may require free login for access to parts of their site.
Tip: Several of the sites listed here are not in English, some offer English menus, guides and records, others do not. Remember that you can always right-click in Google Chrome to translate a page, install an extension to your browser to help translate, or use Google Translate for help deciphering a record. However, for truly accurate translations you’ll need human help. Check out this page for more information.
25 Free Genealogy Sites
1. Access to Archival Databases: This section of the US National Archives contains more than 50 million searchable records for civilians (including vast immigration records), military personnel, prisoners of war and more. We’ve used and recommended the US National Archives many times before, but hadn’t tried this section until recently. Wow.
2. Danish Family Search: Free Danish family history site with church books, censuses, school protocols, military conscription rolls and the police registration archive. Menus can be viewed in Danish or English.
3. Genealogy Trails: A very large and eclectic collection of transcribed family history, and general history, data created by a group of volunteers. A little something for everyone here.
4. Families in British India Society: More than 1 million searchable names of those who lived in British India, as well as a wiki, image gallery and more. Membership is offered, but access to records is free.
5. Digital Archives of Norway: Resources and records for researching Norwegian ancestors. Parish records, census returns, probate records, and genealogies are just some of what is offered here for free. Parts of the site can be viewed in Norwegian or English.
6. Papers Past: More than 3 million pages of digitized New Zealand newspapers and periodicals. The collection covers the years 1839 – 1948 and includes 119 publications from all regions of New Zealand.
7. NZ Birth, Death and Marriages Online: This site offers more than 3 million historical birth, death and marriage records for New Zealand. You can search the extensive index and order complete records when available.
8. Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives: The GG Archives offer access to 10,000 + documents and photographs, including passenger lists to America, original immigrant passage contracts, steamship brochures and much more.
9. DistantCousin: A free online archive of more than 10 million genealogy records from a wide variety of sources, such as newspaper obituaries, city directories, school yearbooks, military records, and others. Their site does have some links to paid sources as well, so be aware.
10. LINC Tasmania: Tons of records for Tasmania, including church, cemetery, marriage, school, work, Aboriginal ancestry and pioneer records.
11. BLM General Office Land Records: This resource from the Bureau of Land Management has some fascinating free records. Find more than 5 million land titles for public land states dating back to 1820 and more. Great FAQs and history section here.
13. Commonwealth War Graves Commission: The Commonwealth War Graves Commission ensures that 1.7 million people who died in the two world wars will never be forgotten. They care for and have free records online for cemeteries and memorials at 23,000 locations, in 154 countries.
14. POWVETS: WWII POW search for those prisoners of war held in German camps, those held in Japanese and Italian camps cannot yet be searched but can be found by browsing records — also included is an escapee and evaders search. Fascinating historical information as well.
15. Hathitrust: Huge free resource library with more than 13 million records from across the globe, mostly books and periodicals, but other records can be found and many contain genealogy gems. Easy to search. Get a full how-to here.
16. Passenger List Indexing Project: This project was carried out by the Nanaimo Family History Society of British Columbia and they have recorded 757, 749 passengers from 31 Jul 1903 to 13 Oct 1910 going to Montreal and Quebec City. Many people who eventually ended up in the United States came from the old country on these ships. More Canadian site can be found here.
17. Avotaynu: The leading publisher of books on Jewish genealogy offers the Consolidated Jewish Surname Index (CJSI). CJSI has information on almost 700,000 surnames, mostly Jewish, that appear in 42 different databases containing more than 7.3 million records.
18. Freedmen’s Bureau Records: The Freedmen’s Bureau was organized near the end of the American Civil War to assist newly freed slaves in 15 states and the District of Columbia. Many details were collected and millions of records are available or are currently being indexed. We recently wrote about this amazing resource and preservation effort, you can read all about it here.
19. Japanese Immigrant Database: Presented by BYU Idaho, this resource offers a free searchable database of Japanese immigrants to the US between 1887 and 1924.
20. MooseRoots: This site has millions of freely accessible census, birth, marriage, death, military records and more. They appear to be working in conjunction with a variety of sites to provide this data. Some records require a free login and others link to external data (some paid, some free). Nice, easy to use search.
21. Dawes Rolls: Think one of your ancestors may have been a member of one of the five civilized tribes (Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Creek, or Seminole)? Search the Dawes Rolls, and other tidbits, for free on the Oklahoma Historical Society website.
22. GenWed: Transcriptions of marriage records for the US, UK and Canada. This site has many records hosted on their pages, as well as links to external records (mostly free).
23. Mayflower History: Full Mayflower passenger list as well as lists for other early ships to the Plymouth Colony. Genealogies, history, source records links and much more.
24. BritRoyals: If you think you might have British Royal ancestry this site is for you. With genealogies, bios, historical snapshots, timelines and a massive FAQs sections, you’ll find much to fascinate you and aid you in your research.
25. Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness: This site is a gathering place for volunteers from across the US who are willing to do record lookups, cemetery searches, research and more for free. They do request that you be willing to pay for the actual costs associated with these requests, but the services of the volunteers is offered at no cost. This is a wonderful way to find records in remote locations and, if you can volunteer, to help others.
Many other articles on finding free resources can be found in the Genealogy Resources section of our site.
Image: “New York, New York. The Di Costanzo family, owners of a restaurant on Mulberry Street.” 1942. Library of Congress.