Genealogy for People
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Searching for Your Ancestors?

6 places to find your ancestors online for free

1. LDS Family Search

This is a great website to search for ancestors and it is free. Members of The Church of Latter Day Saints (LDS for short, also known as Mormons) believe that it is important to research their ancestors. In accordance, the Church has funded the scanning of millions of genealogy records world-wide. These films are housed in the Family History Center in Salt Lake City that is open to the public. In addition, films can be ordered from local LDS Family History Centers in many cities around the globe.

Many of the records have be transcribed and are available online through their website

LDS Family Search

2. 1880 US Census, 1881 UK Census, 1881 Census of Canada

Again these censuses are due to the LDS web-site offering. If you are fortunate enough to have ancestors who were alive around 1880 and living in the United States, United Kingdom or Canada then you can find their information on the Family search website. However, it is probably more important to use these censuses to learn what information is available and how it fits into your family tree.

Typically census information gives the members of a family, their ages, relationship and place of birth. Other statistical information is not generally helpful to build your family tree. What you are looking for is specific items that will allow you to enter the person into your tree in the right place.

3. Free Birth, Marriage and Death for Wales and England

There are 3 key pieces of information on each person that essentially allow you to build your family tree. They are the dates and places of birth, marriage and death events of a person. These records are generally called BMD records.

If your ancestors' BMD events took place between 1837 and 1984 in Wales or England then you may find the details on the FreeBMD web site. This index to BMD records is being transcribed by volunteers and is for the most part complete from 1837 to about 1930. More records are being added every day so you need to check back frequently if you don't find the BMD information on the first go.

4. Passenger Records at "Find My Past"

Another good place to look is in the passenger records. Similarly to a census that records where a person was living at a given time, an accurate passenger record was kept for people who were immigrating or travelling between countries. These records can be found in many places on the Internet but require a lot of searching.

One place that houses outbound voyages from the United Kingdom to other countries such as the United States, Canada, South Africa and Australia for the period of 1890 to 1960, is the Find My Past website. This is a paid website that contains many records but you can search the passenger records for free. I have been able to find many of the records of trips my ancestors took on this website including my own voyage from the UK to Canada in 1960.

5. World Connect Project

This website is one of the first places that I check for ancestors. Many, many people have entered BMD information for their ancestors and it is free to search. Although, the information is not always accurate it does provide a very good clue for further research. Unlike the previous places that I have mentioned this site is a collection of family trees that you can browse by clicking on the links of the person.

This site was a great help when I first started out. It helped me to learn the parts of the family tree and how they are presented. Here are a few trees of famous people you can browse to learn

Genealogy for People

6. Google Search Engine with "surname list"

Many people have put their family trees on independent web sites using genealogy software. Once you have learned how a tree works and how the parts are presented then you can find many of these trees with a little searching technique that I learned.

Many family tree programs generate a list of all the family names. This list usually has the title of "surname list". If you enter this search query into a search engine like Google then the results will give you all the pages that contain the words "surname list". If you follow the keywords "surname list" by the last name of your ancestor then you will get Family tree pages that include people with that last name.

For example: By using the search surname list" thomas smith you will get pages that have family names of 'thomas' and 'smith' on them. By then following the links you may find your ancestors. You can narrow down the search by including both family names of a marriage. The resulting pages will give you trees that have at least connected these 2 names.