Free family history websites

Both Ancestry and My Heritage offer free trials to their entire collection of genealogy records.

Even if you don’t think you can afford a monthly subscription, it might be worth signing up for a free trial then cancelling before it ends if it’s not for you.

Both companies offer a 14-day trial which can sometimes be enough to work through a specific genealogical problem.

Here are some other free websites you might like to visit – just click on the links below.

Family Search is a non-profit family history website owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. This is by far the biggest and one of the best genealogy websites. There are countless records and collections from all over the world including census records, military records, church records, vital records, passenger lists, immigration records, and many, many more.

Searching on Family Search can be a bit overwhelming, so I recommend going to the Catalog section first and entering your geographic area of interest. From there you’ll see a categorized list of all the available collections. You should consider what type of record you’re searching for and what jurisdiction would have been responsible for creating and/or holding that collection (ie the town, county, state, country, etc).

Family Search also has an amazing digital library of family history books, as well as a Wiki which is a goldmine for locality research.

Cyndi’s List

Cyndi’s List is a free genealogy directory that lists external resources for any and every category you can think of. This is an invaluable resource because of one of the very first steps in genealogical research is to know what records, research, resources, etc already exist for your particular research interest. You can find resources by location or by topic.

There are many resources available for international researchers. Every resource is neatly cataloged and cross-referenced. The site is managed by genealogist Cyndi Ingle and has been around for over 20 years.

FindaGrave is a free “virtual cemetery” which contains the burial details of hundreds of millions. It is a crowd-sourced website that was acquired by in 2013. FamilySearch and Ancestry, among others, actively index these listings so you might have already seen links to FindaGrave while researching on other sites. This website makes it easy to find the exact burial location of your ancestors – down to the actual plot location. And if you’re lucky, someone may have already photographed the grave marker allowing you to see inscriptions or who else is buried in the same plot.

Because this site is crowd-sourced, you can add your own information to someone’s “memorial page” such as photos, obituaries, or any other pertinent genealogical information for that individual. You can also do keyword searches for entire cemeteries to see who else might be buried there that could help with your research.

USGenWeb Project

The USGenWeb project is another volunteer-based website that has been around since 1996. It’s similar to the Family Search wiki in that it’s a directory of available sources by location. You first drill down by state, then by county, then in some cases by town. Unlike the Family Search wiki, this website links out to thousands of individual “microsites” which cover counties and towns in more detail.

The USGenWeb Project should be one of the first sites you consult when taking on a new project. Sites like this are invaluable in the initial stages of any genealogy project so you know what sources exist, and where you can access them. This group of websites also has other advantages such as message boards and various educational resources to help grow your family tree.

Other links which may be of interest

FreeBMD –

JewishGen (Donation) –

FreeCen (England, Scotland, Wales) –

IrishGenealogy (Church & Civil Records for Ireland) –

National Archives of Ireland –

Australian Newspapers & Gazettes –

GenDatabase (South Africa) –

Ellis Island Foundation USA (Donation) –