Free Genealogy Websites

NGS Recommends…
Eighteen Important Free Websites for Genealogy Research

  1. FamilySearch A completely free genealogy database website. You can use an Advanced Search tool by surname, record type, and/or place to access millions of records. The FamilySearch Wiki is a “go to” resource to find what exists for a wide range of family history topics, even beyond FamilySearch’s extensive databases.
  2. U.S. Census Bureau Discover explanations on all federal census years and access copies of original forms and questions. Also see Census Online for links to state censuses; tools for research; and calculators to convert year of birth.
  3. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) Maintained by the U.S. Federal government, NARA houses millions of microfilmed, printed, and manuscript records. Excellent for census records; governmental and military history records; military pension files; product patents; also passenger lists, early naturalization records, and much more.
  4. Library of Congress (LOC) One of the largest collections in the world of printed and recorded materials; outstanding source for free images; resource for all copyrighted materials in America and beyond. LOC maintains collections of nearly all city directories and county histories in the U.S.; houses a comprehensive directory of all known copyrighted newspapers by timeframe and where they can be located today, in the important U.S. Newspaper Directory and Chronicling America; and offers comprehensive historical materials of all kinds.
  5. New York Public Library (NYPL) Among the elite tier of library collections, second only to LOC in the size and scope of its historical and genealogical collections. The NYPL Map Division has one of the best collections in the U.S.; the Milstein Division has extensive local history and genealogical materials related to the all fifty states, including one of the largest American collections of city directories on microfilm; other notable divisions are the Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, Dorot Jewish Division, Manuscripts and Archives, Performing Arts Division, and the Science, Industry, and Business Library. Plus many accessible online digital collections and image galleries; and use of lntraLibrary Loan through ILL and your local library card.
  6. USGenWeb Project Free county/state historical and genealogical resources; research resources and content projects driven by volunteers of local and state genealogical societies throughout the United States.  Also see WorldGenWeb Project for records beyond the U.S.
  7. Research Guides for Ship Passenger Lists and Immigration Records Focuses on providing guidance and links to records for passenger lists from about 1820 to the early 1950s. It includes suggestions for finding records for ports of arrival and immigration records.
  8. Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana Special collections include African American and a Native American Gateway; military records; and a surname database contributed by researchers. One of the largest genealogical library collections in the U.S.
  9. Freedman’s Bureau A Federal agency of the United States Department of War to help slaves who were set free after the Civil War and also poor whites with provisions, clothing, and fuel. It also helped with immediate and temporary shelter and supplied food and aid to the destitute and suffering.
  10. Access Genealogy Access hundreds of links to genealogical data by state or by topic. Very helpful and handy website.
  11. JewishGen An easy-to-use website with many record groups and good surname search facilities. Daitch-Mokotoff phonetic search algorithms for eastern European and Jewish name searches. Some databases require payment.
  12. BillionGraves Search their free database by people or by cemetery. Many entries have photos of gravesites. Free app helps to direct you to the GPS location in a cemetery, which is a great help as many cemeteries are poorly marked.
  13. Find A Grave They call themselves the world’s largest gravesite collection with more than 170 million memorials. Search for free. Many photos and text has been added to gravesite information.
  14. Legacy.com The global leader in online obituaries, partners with more than 1,500 newspapers and 3,500 funeral homes across the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Europe. Consumers can also express condolences, share direct support for families, and celebrate the people who have touched their lives.
  15. Afrigeneas.com An excellent starting place for African American genealogy. It features a “Beginners Guide” video; details on best sites for African American records, resources, and research; good direction on finding slave data, vital records, history of slavery; plus a website search function, forums and chats.
  16. Rootsweb One of the first genealogical resources on the internet; it still offers excellent help with mailing lists; Ancestry Wiki; obituaries; connect to USGenWeb; Family Trees; queries; and more.
  17. Cyndi’s List Offers links organized by topics/categories. A cross-referenced index contains extensive lists of online genealogy resources. Don’t know where to look for specific records?  Check Cyndi’s up-to-date list of suggested sources.
  18. Society of American Archivists Laura Schmidt in “Using Archives: A Guide to Effective Research” provides an excellent tutorial on archives: what are archives, the types, requesting materials, visiting and guidelines, copyright, and more.