Great places to look for free genealogy records.
In a decade online, this two-webmaster site has blossomed from a simple set of 50 state pages into more than 250,000 pages and millions of records. American Indian records remain its strong suit—including more than two dozen databases of tribal rolls—and it’s worth a look for such varied additions as victims of the Johnstown Flood of 1889, pre-1799 Virginia wills, WWI honorees from Oregon, and 379,533 Southern California naturalizations from 1887 to 1940.
Daughters of the American Revolution
The recent addition of the DAR Genealogical Research System (several interconnected databases that let you tap the DAR’s background files on members’ patriot ancestors) has thrust this former 101 honoree back onto the list. In addition to searching ancestors and members, you can find kin in a descendants database of more than 7 million individuals. An index of the Genealogical Research Committee books in the DAR Library covers another 20 million names, or you can search the entire DAR library catalog.
Boasting more than 6 million records from more than 1,500 sources, this site is strongest on often overlooked resources such as city directories and school alumni lists. But it’s also worth a check for vital records, military records, obituaries and stubborn surnames.
Find a Grave
If your dearly departed ancestor isn’t represented in Find a Grave yet, just wait. It won’t be long, with 43 million grave records and counting. Or browse by cemetery, to find an elusive ancestor by his or her “neighbors.”
Google News Archive Search
Plug in search terms, just as in the regular Google search, and this wicked-fast engine returns results from newspapers of all sorts, while also generating a nifty timeline. Not all the sites searched are free themselves, but results indicate the price, if any, so you can view free articles and abstracts first.
Covering not just the United States but also nations including Australia, Canada, Germany, Ireland, the United Kingdom and New Zealand, this site also boasts a daily RSS feed on newly added transcriptions plus a weekly blog.
Before you pay for sites that put old newspapers online, check the more than 69,000 pages of abstracts and extracts from historical newspapers available here. Growing by more than a thousand pages a month, Newspaper Abstracts concentrates on the “good stuff,” genealogically speaking, such as obituaries, births, marriages, deaths, court notices, land sales and tax notices.
Family Tree University
makes searching your ancestors online simple with a variety of courses for genealogists at all levels. One such course, Google Tools for Genealogists
, offers in-depth instruction to four online resources to enhance your family history.
From the September 2010 Family Tree Magazine