Surname Research
Linking you to your Lineage Past

Research Your Family Tree and Genealogy for Free


Your Guide to Surname Research and Genealogy.


There are many alternative Genealogy Sites on the Internet that you don't have to pay for. So, is free genealogy a thing of the past? With the constant addition of subscription genealogy databases on the Internet, people often wonder if there will soon be an end to free genealogy research via the Web. For those of you with this concern, take heart - free genealogy databases aren't going anywhere anytime soon. Web sites from all over the world contain free genealogy information of use to family tree researchers which has been contributed by individuals, companies and even governments. Birth records, marriage records, military records, ships passenger lists, surnames, census records, immigration records, wills, photos and much, much more are available on the Internet for FREE if you just know where to look. These free genealogy sites, in no particular order, should keep you busy searching for weeks!


1. Rootsweb - World Connect Project

Out of all of the online databases of submitted family tree information, my favorite is the World Connect Project which allow users to upload, modify, link, and display their family trees as a means to share their work with other researchers. The reason why this particular project is my favorite is it is one of the largest, and it also allows people to add to, update or remove their information at any time. While this by no means ensures that the information you will find here is correct, it at least increases the probabilities of finding current contact information for researchers with information which interests you. This free genealogy database currently contains over 3 billion names in over 300,000 family trees, and you can search them all online for absolutely no charge! You can also submit your own family tree information in GEDCOM format for free.

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2. HeritageQuest Online

The data on this site is only available through subscribing institutions, but free online access is available to many with a membership card from their local library. The databases are fairly US-centric, including digital images of the complete federal census, 1790 to 1930 (with head of household indexes for most years), thousands of family and local history books, and Revolutionary War pension files, plus PERSI, an index to articles in thousands of genealogical journals. If your local library doesn't offer online access, many genealogical societies offer free or low-cost access as a membership priviledge.

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3. Debt of Honour Register

Find personal and service details and places of commemoration for the 1.7 million members of the Commonwealth forces (including the United Kingdom and former colonies) who died in the First or Second World Wars, as well as a record of some 60,000 civilian casualties of the Second World War provided without details of burial location. The cemeteries and memorials where these names are commemorated are located in over 150 countries. Provided freely on the Internet courtesy of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission.

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4. U.S. Federal Land Patent Records

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) provides free online database access to Federal land conveyance records for the Public Land States, as well as images of more than two million Federal land title records issued between 1820 and 1908 for the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. This is not just an index, but images of the actual land patent records. If you find the patent for your ancestor and wish to also have a certified paper copy, you can order these directly from the BLM.

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5. Interment.net - Free Cemetery Records Online

You're likely to find details on at least one ancestor in this free genealogy database containing over 3 million records from over 5000 cemeteries worldwide. Internment.net contains actual cemetery transcriptions as well as links to other cemetery transcriptions available on the Internet from cemeteries around the world.

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6. WorldGenWeb

No list of free Internet genealogy records would be complete without mentioning WorldGenWeb. It began in 1996 with the USGenWeb project and, shortly thereafter, the WorldGenWeb project went online to provide free access to genealogy information around the world. Each region, country, province, and state has a page on WorldGenWeb with access to free queries, links to genealogy information and, often, free transcribed genealogy records.

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7. My Trees

Normally a pay-for-use subscription database, Kindred Konnections offers a free genealogy alternative - an Extraction Project offers you free genealogy search time in their subscription-only genealogy databases in exchange for helping them to extract names and dates from original source documents.

Once you sign up (it's free), Kindred Konnections will provide you with a link to an online source document. It will take about 5 minutes maximum for you to type in the names and dates from one document, and for that 5 minutes of your time, they will grant you one free hour in the subscription database area of the site where you can access over 1 billion names in their pedigree-linked archive as well as millions of other marriage, birth, death and census records, White Page Directories, and the imaged documents that have already been extracted. Unlimited hours of free subscription time are available through the Extraction Project.

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8. Canada Archives Search

Search the index of over 600,000 Canadians enlisted in the Canadian Expeditionary Force (CEF) during the First World War (1914-1918) right online! An index to those WWI personnel files held by the National Archives, the CEF database also includes over 800,000 digital images of the original Attestation papers. Archivia Net, a service of the National Archives of Canada, also offers numerous other free genealogy databases, including the index to the 1871 Census of Ontario, 1901 Census of Canada, the Canadian Census of 1851, 1906 Census of the Northwest Provinces, Home Children, Dominion Land Grants, Immigration Records, and Colonial Archives.

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9. Geneabios - Biographies for Genealogy

Search through thousands of bios of ordinary men and women posted by genealogists around the world, or post your own. A big plus is that this site, though small, links to most of the major online sources for biographical information to help you expand your search for biographies of your ancestors.

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10. The Digital Archives of Norway

Are there Norwegian ancestors in your family tree? This joint project of the National Archives of Norway, the Regional State Archives of Bergen and the Department of History, University of Bergen offers online censuses (1660, 1801, 1865, 1875 and 1900), lists of Norwegians in U.S. censuses, military rolls, probate registers, church registers and emigrant records. There is also an English version.

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11. Ancestry.co.uk - Free Trial Membership

While Ancestry.co.uk is a subscription genealogy service, they do offer a 14-day free trial, allowing you unlimited access to over 6 billion names! If you like what you see, they offer a variety of monthly and annual subscriptions. If not, you can cancel any time during your trial membership and owe nothing. Be aware that you will have to provide a credit-card number to access the free trial period and you will be charged for an annual subscription if you do not call to cancel before your free trial period has ended.

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12. British Columbia, Canada - Vital Records

Search for birth, marriage or death registrations in British Columbia, Canada for free. This free genealogy index covers all births from 1872-1899, marriages from 1872-1924, and deaths from 1872-1979. If you find a record in the index which you would like to request, you can do so by visiting the archives or another agency which holds the microfilms in person, or by hiring someone to do so for you.

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13. 1901 Census for England & Wales

Search for free in this comprehensive name index to over 32 million individuals who lived in England and Wales in 1901. This free genealogy index includes the individual's name, age, place of birth, and occupation. While the index is free, viewing transcribed data or a digitized image of the actual census record will cost you.

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14. Obituary Daily Times

A daily index of published obituaries from around the world, this free genealogy index grows by approximately 2500 entries per day, with obituaries dating back to 1995. This is just an index, so if you would like the actual obituary you will need to request a copy from a volunteer or track it down for yourself. You can access the list of indexed newspapers and publications here.

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15. RootsWeb Surname List

A list or registry of over 1 million surnames from around the world, the RootsWeb Surname List (RSL) is a must-visit. Associated with each surname are dates, locations, and contact information for the person who submitted the surname. You can search this list by surname and location, and limit searches to recent additions. You can also add your own surnames to this list for free.

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16. International Genealogical Index

A partial index to vital records from around the world, the IGI includes birth, marriage and death records from Africa, Asia, the British Isles (England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, the Channel Island and the Isle of Man), the Caribbean Islands, Central America, Denmark, Finland, Germany, Iceland, Mexico, Norway, North America, South America, Europe, the Southwest Pacific and Sweden. Find dates and places of births, christenings, and marriages for more than 285 million deceased people. Many of the names were extracted from original records from the early 1500s to the early 1900's

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17. Canadian County Digital Access Project

Between 1874 and 1881, approximately forty county atlases were published in Canada, covering counties in the Maritimes, Ontario and Quebec. This wonderful site includes a free genealogy database derived from these atlases, searchable by property owners' names or by location. Township maps, portraits and properties have been scanned, with links from the property owners' names in the database.

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18. USGenWeb Archives

Most people with United States ancestors know about the USGenWeb sites for each state and county in the U.S. What many people don't realize, however, is that most of these states and counties have free genealogy records including deeds, wills, census records, cemetery transcriptions etc., available online through the efforts of thousands of volunteers - but you don't have to visit each state or county site to look for your ancestor in these free records. These hundreds of thousands of online records across the United States can be searched through just one search engine!

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19. US Social Security Death Index

One of the largest and easiest to access databases utilized for genealogical research in the United States, the SSDI contains over 64 million records of U.S. citizens who have died since 1962. From the SSDI you can find the following information: the date of birth, date of death, state where the Social Security number was issued, the individual's residence at time of death and the location where the death benefit was mailed (next of kin).

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20. Hamburg Emigration Lists

The Hamburg Emigration Lists Database will eventually include data on 5 million people (from all over Europe, especially Eastern Europe) who emigrated via Hamburg, Germany between 1850 and 1934. Searches are free, and the index information includes the first and last name, state of origin, marital status, approximate year of birth and destination. Copies of the actual passenger record are only available for purchase, however.

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Like the sites above? Want to find more Irish content then check out the top list of Irish Genealogy sites below -

 

1. FamilySearch
Many Irish parish records of births (baptisms) and marriages have been transcribed by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and can be searched for free on their Web site at FamilySearch.org. Coverage is by no means complete, but it is a good place to start. To help narrow down your search, you may find it helpful to use Ireland IGI Batch Numbers - see Using IGI Batch Numbers for a tutorial. Free

 

2. Irish Family History Foundation
The Irish Family History Foundation (IFHF) is a coordinating body for a network of government approved genealogical research centres in the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Together these research centres have computerized almost 40 million Irish ancestral records, primarily church records of baptisms, marriages, and burials, and made the indexes available online for free. To view a detailed record you can purchase credit online for instant access at a per-record cost. Free index searches, pay to view detailed records

 

3. Irish Origins
This subscription-based genealogy site features an Irish Wills Index (1484-1858), the 1851 Dublin City Census, Irish Royal Garrison Artillery Records, and the best online version of Griffiths Valuation. While other Web sites such as MyIrishAncestry.com offer a free index to Griffiths, Irish Origins offers full details and links to digitized images. Free name search. Subscription

 

4. National Archives of Ireland
The genealogy section of the National Archives of Ireland offers several free searchable databases, such as the Ireland-Australia Transportation Database, along with finding aids to many useful record series held in the National Archives. Of special interest is their digitization of Irish 1901 and 1911 census records. The first phase, consisting of Dublin City and County in 1911, is available for free searching and viewing online, with the rest to come. Free

 

5. Emerald Isle Ancestors
This extensive Ulster genealogy database contains baptism, marriage, death, burial, and census records for over 1 million Irish ancestors in Counties Antrim, Armagh, Down, Fermanagh, Londonderry and Tyrone. Most database results are indexes or partial transcriptions. Subscription

 

6. Irish Newspaper Archives
A variety of newspapers from Ireland's past have been digitized, indexed and made available for searching online through this subscription-based site. Searching is free, with a cost for viewing/downloading the pages. The site currently features over 1.5 million pages of newspaper content, with another 2 million in the works from papers such as The Freeman's Journal (1763 to 1924), Irish Independent (1905 to 2003) and The Anglo-Celt (1908 to 2001). Subscription

 

7. Failte Romhat
The personal Web site of John Hayes might not be the first place you'd expect to visit, but his site actually offers a surprising number of online Irish databases and transcribed documents, including Land Owners in Ireland 1876, Irish Flax Growers List 1796, Pigot & Co's Provincial Directory of Ireland 1824, cemetery transcriptions and photographs, and much more. Best of all, it is all free!

 

8. Irish Family Research
A variety of interesting Irish databases are offered online through this family history research site, although most require a subscription to access. The focus is rare 19th Century genealogical materials, most of which are exclusive to this site. The most popular database features transcriptions of gravestones from old churches and graveyards made by The Association for the Preservation of Memorials of the Dead, formed in 1888. Many of these headstones no longer exist today. Subscription

 

9. Fianna Guide to Irish Genealogy
In addition to excellent tutorials and guides for researching ancestry in Ireland Fianna also offers transcriptions from a variety of primary documents and records. Free

 

11. Irish War Memorials
This beautiful site presents an inventory of war memorials in Ireland, along with inscriptions, photographs and other details of each memorial. You can browse by location or war, or search by surname. Free

 

12. IreAtlas Townland Database
If you know the name of a town that your ancestors came from but cannot find it on a map, this resource will help locate it! Search for a particular Irish place name, or enter a townland or county to generate a list all of the civil parishes, poor law unions, and townlands in a particular area.

 

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