Top 10 Free Surname / Pedigree Databases
Your Guide to Surname Research and Genealogy.
Can't find what you are looking for on Surname Research? Then search for your surname and make family tree connections in these top ten pedigree databases, containing over 650 million surnames. The linked family trees include names -- and often dates, places, and submitter contact details -- making it easy to collaborate with other researchers to exchange surnames and family trees. Most are free or allow some type of free access.
1. Ancestry World Tree / RootsWeb World Connect
Created from a merger of the RootsWeb World Connect Project begun in 1996, and Ancestry World Tree begun in 1997, the Internet's largest pedigree database contains over 250,000 million names. Advanced search options, easy submission of family trees, submitter contact info, and the ability to add electronic "Post-em" notes, make it easy to see why this genealogy surname database tops our list!
2. FamilySearch - Pedigree Resource File
More than 60 million names are now part of Pedigree Resource File, a database of compiled pedigrees submitted by users via FamilySearch.com or gathered from printed family histories. A successor to the Ancestral File, PRF indexes individual records with events, parents, locations, and submitter contact information. Approximately 1.2 million names are submitted to this file every month.
3. MyTrees.com - Ancestry Archive
This collection of pedigree-linked surnames contains over 200 million names provided from family group sheets and contributed family trees. Searching the index is free, and Ancestry Archive also offers free full access to people who submit a GEDCOM, or spend a few minutes extracting an online document. Free software makes it easy to build a family tree online, or submit updates.
4. GenCircles - Global Tree
A relative newcomer to the genealogy scene, GenCircles founded by Cliff Shaw has quickly become a popular place for searching and submitting family trees. Surnames from over 90 million ancestors can be searched for free and, if you've submitted your own GEDCOM file to GenCircles Global Tree, you can use "matching technology" to pair the people in your pedigree with those already on file.
A world-wide index of online and offline genealogy resources, GeneaNet includes entries in excess of 75 million, statistically representing more than 210 million people. Originally created in France, this is truly a worldwide database with no obvious U.S. bias. Many of the indexed family trees are available on GeneaNet, while the rest provide surname details and contact information.
6. FamilySearch - Ancestral File
Like the Pedigree Resource File, this large surname database from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints provides free access to millions of names contained in user-submitted pedigrees. This is an older database which in most cases has merged information on individuals from multiple sources, and does not include sources for the information outside of the names of the submitters.
The first site on the Internet to database GEDCOM files for easy searching, GenServ by Cliff Manis now contains over 25 million individuals in 16,000+ GEDCOM databases. Surname searches of the database can be conducted via email or Web, and 60-day free access is available upon submission of a GEDCOM. GenServ gets a plus from me for encouraging people to submit notes/sources with their family tree.
8. Yates Publishing - Computerized Ancestor
An offshoot of Bill Yate's "Family Group Sheet Exchange," Computerized Ancestor contains the surnames of over 1 million individuals, primarily from the eastern half of the United States. Index searches are free and provide brief details, including name of spouse and dates for submitted events such as birth and death. Full copies of the family groups sheets are available for a small fee.
9. Genealogy.com - World Family Tree
One of the largest pedigree databases, containing over 130 million names in 180,000 actual family trees, World Family Tree (WFT) is ranked a bit lower on our list because it doesn't allow free access. Surname searches are free, but you have to either pay for CDs, or for an online subscription to access the actual family trees. Obtaining submitter contact information is also a bit complicated.
10. Everton Publishers - Bureau of Missing Ancestors
Previously known as Everton's Online Search, Bureau of Missing Ancestors offers one-stop search of over 10 million names contained in GEDSRCH, Pedigree File, Internet Family File, Roots Cellar, and a variety of genealogy record indexes. Surname searches are free and return limited details, but membership is required for full access to all databases.
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