Best FREE Genealogy Websites of 2017: The Big Sites

By David A. Fryxell Premium

Access Genealogy 

This grab-bag of free genealogy records keeps growing. Click the Databases tab to search data from Southern states, military records, small-town newspapers and the Guion Miller Roll index to Cherokee tribal members. The latter supplements what was already a must-bookmark site if you have Native American roots.

Allen County Public Library 

Though based in Indiana, this library’s online reach extends much further—reflecting its status as the nation’s second-richest genealogy library. Special collections focus on Native American, African American, military and family Bible records.


More than 2,200 online collections (and growing) make this the internet’s largest home to free genealogy data, with recent updates spotlighting Italy, South America and US vital records. You can share and record your finds in family trees and a “Memories Gallery,” and get research help from the wiki.

HeritageQuest Online 

Free to your home computer courtesy of your library card via participating institutions, HeritageQuest is now “powered by” (but not owned by) This partnership has dramatically expanded its half-dozen collections to a sort of “ lite,” including the complete US census, military and immigration records, and city directories. Click Search and scroll all the way to the bottom to unlock more US records as well as selected foreign databases.

Library of Congress 

Though not specifically focused on genealogy, the nation’s library has plenty to offer online, including the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections, the American Memory collection and its own comprehensive catalog.

National Archives and Records Administration 

Read all about the genealogical treasures stored at the National Archives, order military and other records, and browse historical maps and photos. Access to Archival Databases serves up files ranging from WWII enlistments to passenger lists for millions of German, Irish, Russian and Italian immigrants.

Olive Tree Genealogy  

Since its launch in 1996, this modest website has grown into a useful collection of how-to help and databases. It’s strongest on passenger records, heritage groups such as Palatines and American Indians, and less-familiar records, such as those for residents of orphans and almshouses.


This venerable free site still serves up how-to articles, databases of surnames and US locations, mailing lists, pedigree files and much more—making it an oldie but a goodie.


This volunteer site recently celebrated its 20th birthday with a mobile-friendly update. Its state and county pages and special projects remain as vibrant as ever. Just found an ancestor who lived in, say, Stone County, Ark.? There’s a page for that, as for almost every other place your family may have landed.

See the rest of our 101 Best Websites for Genealogy in 2017: