Genealogy is a term that refers to the study of one’s family, the tracing of their lineages and the tracing of their history. Through genealogy, it is possible for individuals to not only connect with their past but to also build on their present and the future.
Genealogy is also instrumental in creating feelings of belonging and sense of pride in people.
Genealogical research has emerged as a popular hobby among many Americans. Most people choose to undertake their research by going backward through time. Others decide to start their genealogical research by documenting and connecting with relatives/people who are currently alive.
Whatever the case, genealogical research is often a strenuous and time-consuming task, more so, if you do not know where to start or where to look. Given this, here are some of the best free genealogical resources to use when researching your family history.
1. The US National Archives
The official US National Archives website is an appropriate place to start one’s genealogical research. This is largely because of the sheer number of genealogical resources that are found here. The US National Archives site has a wide range of freely available records including;
- Census Records
- Military records
- Immigration records
- Naturalization records
- Land records
- Casualty lists for the WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Wars
- Prisoner of War lists from WWII, Korean, and Vietnam Wars
2. Cyndi’s List
Over the years, Cyndi’s list has emerged as an authoritative source for genealogical resource particularly for those who are beginners in genealogical research.
The author of Cyndi’s list notes that the website is like a card catalog of the genealogical section of an online library. This just means that the list is intended to help researchers locate genealogical resources more efficiently.
Cyndi’s list includes links to beginner guides to genealogy as well as other resources such as genealogy blogs, genealogy podcasts and even guides on how to trace your family history.
Aside from these learning resources, one will also find links to websites that provide information on places, records, ethnic groups and religious groups among others.
This is one of the largest collections of genealogical records in the world, and the best thing about it is that all these records are free. The FamilySearch database includes more than 4 billion names from different parts of the world as well as over 4,700 FamilySearch centers located in different parts of the world.
The global presence of FamilySearch makes it one of the best genealogical resources for anyone tracking their family history.
4. Find a Grave
More often than not, genealogical research includes tracking down dead relatives. In some cases, however, one may not have any information regarding the grave sites where family members are buried.
Find A Grave, is a website that helps in finding and tracking down graves of relatives. It boasts a database of 157 million grave records as well as resources to help individuals search for cemeteries. Once you find the grave of your ancestors, the website gives you the option of creating virtual memorials and even virtual flowers.
5. Newspaper Archive
When tracing one’s family history, it is normal to look for news articles and images of loved ones whether living or departed. This online genealogical resource allows one to look for news articles related to individuals, locations or events.
Their database includes at least 120 million newspaper pages dating back to the year 1607. Easier for users, the website provides options of searching for articles based on State or City names or other keywords.
6. USGenWeb Project
This genealogical resource which has been in existence for the last 20 years is a directory of websites that have free genealogical information for all the US states as well as most counties.
The website provides a link to state genealogy sites which subsequently give leeway to county based genealogical resources.
Aside from the above-listed resources, there are other genealogical resources which are more specialized in nature. These resources include genealogical information on specific groups such as Jews, African-Americans, and Italians among others.
The following are examples of such resources;
- Hispanic Genealogy is a website that includes genealogical information about Hispanic persons.
- Italian Genealogical Group is a site dedicated to providing genealogical resources and databases in regards to Italian Americans.
- African Heritage Project provides genealogical resources and records on former slaves, freed slaves and their descendants.
- GenDisasters is an online genealogical resource that focuses on providing information regarding disasters or other drastic events that your ancestors may have affected your ancestors.