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How to Find Your Ancestors Online for Free

by Andrea Buckner Schoenherr

An online search for your ancestors may result in family trees spanning centuries—the countless hours of work done by long-lost relatives. Even for those who cannot find family trees created by others, online searches will help you search for ancestors by analyzing U.S. Census records, which are readily available online. While some sites offer paid subscriptions, there are easy ways to find your ancestors online for free.

FamilySearch.org

Go to the website FamilySearch.org. This free website requires no registration. Enter the name and other known information of an ancestor you are searching for. If you already have a family tree, referring to it as you search is helpful. Start with recent generations and work backward.

Check the Pedigree Resource Files that appear. These files contain research and a link to family trees submitted by users to the site.

Contact the user who submitted the information. Learn more about their research techniques and the credibility of their work. They may also know other interesting information about your ancestors.

Use other available records through FamilySearch.org like the U.S. Census and Social Security Death Index to help trace your ancestors.

FamilyTreeSeeker.com

Visit the completely free website FamilyTreeSeeker.com. This website is a database for family trees found across the Web.

Search for an ancestor by their name. You may find a link to a genealogical website about your ancestors that was created by a family historian.

Sign up to be alerted when another match is created for your search.

Ancestry.com

Register for a free 14 day trial from Ancestry.com. While you can only use it free for a limited time, this website is the world’s largest genealogical resource.

Enter an ancestor’s name to search for family trees, U.S. Census, military, Social Security and other records.

View any possible family trees to see if they likely match your ancestors.

Contact the creator of any plausible family trees to learn more about their research.

Items you will need
  • Computer
  • Internet
  • Ancestry information
  • Family tree
  • Contact information for user-created documents
  • Record keeping system

Tips

  • Create your own family tree online for other researchers to connect with you.
  • Develop a record keeping system, digital or hard copy of the information you discover.

About the Author

Andrea Buckner Schoenherr is a middle childhood educator. She greatly enjoys teaching students to write and is excited to use her own writing skills outside the school setting. She has a Bachelor and Master degree in education, recently earning the Heidelberg University 2009 Master of Education Award.

Photo Credits

  • Thinkstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images