How to Start Researching your Family History for Free
Many years ago I started researching my family history online. I was young, and newly married, so I didn’t want to pay out for what seemed like expensive subscriptions when I first started out. There are some invaluable websites out there for people who are looking to research for free.
FamilySearch Partner Access
In 2012, I joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Indexing program. In return for having use of the indexed records, FamilySearch partners have given members of The Church free access to their sites: Ancestry, Find My Past, and My Heritage. If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and you would like to find more details of how to access this free resource, you can find them here on FamilySearch.org.
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints also have designated Family History Centres all over the world where they offer free access to these websites. These centres are run by volunteers who are able to help you with any stage of your research.
If you prefer to do your research in the comfort of your own home, then read on for some more FREE resources.
FamilySearch.org offers FREE access to ALL of their records. This is a great place to start without having to pay a single penny. The main feature of FamilySearch is their world-wide family tree. Everyone works on the same tree, so you might find that some of the research is done for you. My suggestion for beginners is to learn how to use this website before you start altering someone else’s research, and always remember to cite sources so other people can see what you have done.
FreeBMD.org.uk was one of the first completely free websites I came across. You can use this database to find details of Birth, Marriage, and Death certificates in the UK. I still use this website regularly because I like how I can manipulate the search functions to find what I am looking for.
Ancestry.co.uk is one of the biggest subscription sites for Family History. They offer a 14 day free trial if you wanted to try out it’s PAID features (ie searching records), but you can build your tree on their site for FREE. It is great to have somewhere to keep all your research online, and you can always export your tree if you would like to keep it on another website, or perhaps on an off-line program.
RootsWeb.com is a community-based website. People put their research here to share with other researchers. I always take the time to verify someone else’s research before I add it to my own (I learnt this the hard way!) but you might find some stories here, or valuable information to help you on your way.
I hope you have found this helpful. If you can think of other websites that have been useful in your research then please leave a comment below.