Free genealogy is alive and well

free genealogy

When I first launched my book 52 Weeks of Genealogy, I saw several comments from people who felt that the era of free genealogy was over.  I think many people have the notion that is the only game in town and without a subscription you can’t really climb the family tree.

To some extent that’s true. has really corralled records that are difficult to find any other place. However, that doesn’t mean the world of free genealogy is gone. For me, it’s quite the contrary. Here’s my thinking:

For Both U.S. and International Records

> is constantly adding new (free) records to their website. If you click on this link you’ll see a list of all 2000+ collections. Many collections now have images or index summaries.

>FreeBMD:  Freely searchable database of civil registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales

>Google Out-of-Print books. This is another of my go-to resources as I’ve found family mentioned in several free books that I’ve downloaded as a PDF.

United States Resources

>One of my very favorites is USGenWeb. If you’ve never used this site you’re missing out. It’s organized by states and then by county. Each county has a volunteer county coordinator. Depending on the coordinator you’ll either find a lot of county resources or few. However, most counties have a place to leave a query or ask someone locally to do a look-up for you.

>General Land Office Records  I could go on and on about this site, but instead I promise I will write a how-to article about it sometime in the next month.

>Find-a-Grave  I love this website as I’ve located several ancestral graves using it. Again, it’s totally free. Other free burial sites include Billion Graves and Interment.Net.

>Looking for photos of hometowns, military regiments or special places? Go to and start searching. Just for fun, enter “Civil War” as a search term to get an idea of what’s available. Again, I think you might be surprised.

>American Memory from the Library of Congress. A great source for photos, documents, and images. One of the maps from the collection was drawn by George Washington. It’s his “A plan of my farm on Little Huntg. Creek & Potomk. R.” (Click on the map below to enlarge)

>Ellis Island: Immigration records, free indexes and original records, fee to download copies

This and That Genealogy

>Although I promote certain genealogy products on this site, the site itself and all of the information on it are totally free. And I’m just a speck in the ocean of genealogy bloggers.

>Networking. The idea of message boards has been around about as long as online genealogy. It may be considered somewhat old-fashioned, but it’s still valuable.  GenForum has more than 14,000 message boards, divided by surname, locale and genealogy topics. I cracked the case on one of my difficult surnames thanks to another researcher I found on GenForum.  We networked to both of our advantages.

>Family Tree Magazine – Although the magazine itself isn’t free, the website is loaded with free articles, tools and resources.

>States, genealogical societies, and historical societies are now putting genealogy information online, for free.  Do a little searching and I think you’ll be surprised at what’s available without spending a dime. Google terms like “Shelby County Indiana genealogy”

Free Genealogy is NOT Dead!

If you think the era of free genealogy is over, I’ll have to disagree. I found a huge amount of genealogy resources online long before I ever had an subscription. If you have other free genealogy sites you’d like to recommend, leave a comment and I’ll start creating a resource list.

I receive several requests a day for assistance with genealogy research. If you would like to receive research pricing information please contact me using the Contact link at the top of the page. I look forward to working with you.

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  1. How do I join your mailing list? I’m sorry, but I can’t seem to find anything to sign up for this on your site.

    1. I have been researching my family for just about a year(seriously) and have hit a road block. So any tricks of the trade or insight from those with vastly more experience would be appreciated. Could I join the group mailing list. Please.

      1. Hi Kathy, Oh-those-roadblocks! I’ll add you to the list this morning and I hope future newsletters will be of help. Nancy

    1. Tim,
      Thanks for your comment. And thanks so much for the link to your site. Always lovely to have more information about England and Wales genealogy collections.


  2. Just sort of stumbled onto your web site. Haven’t done any recording on paper but have information on my mother’s side and for some weird reason there is one family member name, Sheldon Nichols, that keeps showing up. He must have had a bunch of kids, who had a bunch of kids, etc. Also just found siblings for a great, great grandfather, Azariah Theodore Crane Pierson, that were never mentioned in his obit. Is there a way they can be confirmed? Also, have responded to the family member updating information and only one responded – he was in his 20’s. Going to do some “snooping” thro the publications you mentioned. Thanks

  3. Hi Nancy

    If you could add me to your mailing list I would be greatly appreciative.

    Thank you
    Have a wonderful day

    1. Hi Larry, I’m going to add you to the list this morning. And best of luck in your Irish research!

  4. Nancy, I just discovered your site and can’t wait to read your newsletter.
    Would you please add me to your newsletter list? Thank you!

    1. Hi Alice, Happy to have you here! I’ve just added you to the newsletter list. Let me know if there’s any way I can help in your research. Nancy

  5. Could you please add me to your news letter list also. Often times I use to help me. I am not sure how many records they have but there has only been a handful of times that there was no record for me. was a free part of Ancestry the last time I used it. I have been researching for 10 years and I am finding new info all the time. Sallie

  6. Hello, thanks for the great info. Its a start. Could you Plz add me for your newsletter. Could use all the help I can get. Thanks have a great day

  7. I would very much like to be added to your mailing list. Need all the help that is available. Thanks!!!

  8. Dear Nancy,

    Thank you for posting free sites. It’s always nice to be reminded just how much is out there!

    My brother just returned from 2 weeks in Northern Italy, where he spent some time at the Parma genealogical archives. What a treasure trove! I inherited a large oil portrait painted around 1850 in Italy, from my mother. We always referred to the woman in the portrait as Zia (aunt) Fiori, “knowing” only she was the aunt of a great grandmother. After this trip we discovered that this “aunt” was the second wife of our great great great grandfather! We had never known this man had more than one wife. Archives are amazing!

    All the best, and thanks again for sharing your knowledge :c)


    1. Hi Francesca,
      Lucky you! (or should I say lucky brother!). I’m so happy that you made such an exciting discovery – and hope that one day you, too, can visit those Archives.


    1. Linda – I’m so happy to hear that. There are many free sites and I’m just glad that you’re finding my list useful. Also, just added you to my mailing list. Nancy

  9. Hi Nancy, I’d like to be added to your mailing list, please. I am a beginner at this and am anxious to get some direction. Thank you. Kathy

  10. Please add me and I’ve been trying to find info on Port of New Orleans where my family came in from Germany. Thanks I have even gone to Germany and done lots of research, just not enough time in a day. 🤔

      1. Please add me to your newsletter mailing list. This is a valuable tool for researching ancestors. Thank you for sharing your research ideas.

  11. Thank you for all your work in helping others find help in researching their family history. Didnt know about the free web sites out there you could access. Would you please add me to your newsletter mailing list also. Thank you for all your help!

  12. I have no comment right now just wanted to be registered for your news letter and whatever. I am fretful on my mom’s side of the family right now and I don’t know what todo for it.

  13. Add me to your mailing list. I go back and forth on my genealogy study, working on it a few months and then taking a break. Am ready to jump in again. I like your site and am eager to look at more free info.

  14. I am hunting for relatives in Germany and can’t find anything through Ancestry world or Ellis Island. I can’t go and join all these sites to find the people I’m looking for. Do you have any ideas?

    1. HI Lane, Please use the search box in the right column and search for my article on free genealogy sites. That should help. Nancy

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