How to Do a Genealogy Search for Free

by Michelle Blessing ; Updated November 17, 2017

Tracing your genealogy can be a challenging but exciting endeavor.

family tree image by Judy Ben Joud from

Tracing your family history and lineage defines genealogy. Using a variety of records and databases, you can obtain detailed information regarding your family history. You may decide to trace your genealogy for different reasons--to learn about your ethnic background, to clarify an old family story or to satisfy your curiosity about where your family name originated.

There are many resources available to assist you in researching your genealogy for free. Both paper and digital records are important in learning about your family history and genealogy.

Use the Internet to research your family's genealogy by finding a website specializing in genealogy searches. Access Genealogy and The US GenWeb Project are two free sites with an abundance of information regarding family backgrounds. Family Search is another free site you can utilize in your research.

Enter your family's last name or state of origin into the search engine. The US GenWeb Project is divided into state pages, and each page has a multitude of information and people you can contact to help you search for family history.

Access Genealogy allows you to enter a first and last name into the search engine to explore different databases for a relative or point of contact. Here you can find out if the person you are searching for is alive or deceased, as well as a place of birth and death.

Keep a notebook of all names and information you find. Researching genealogy is a complex process that can take many months or years. Organizing your information will make it easier to create a family tree or contact a person of interest in the future.

Use your local library as a resource. Many libraries keep old newspapers or other documents on microfilm for you to view. You may come across old birth or death announcements, an accomplishment listed on the front page or some other tidbit of information that could lead your search in a whole new direction.

Consider making contact with people whose names you discover on your search. Make a phone call or write an email or letter explaining who you are and your purpose for the contact. Be polite and considerate; if the person does not wish to participate in your research, you need to respect his wishes.


  • Be patient on your search; researching genealogy records can take years. Use variations of your surname when conducting your search; many names have been altered slightly or dramatically over the years.

    Paid genealogy sites often offer free trial periods. If your research is at a standstill, and you suspect a paid site contains crucial information you won't find elsewhere, the free trial period might be all you need in order to move forward in your search.

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About the Author

Michelle Blessing has experience in child development, parenting, social relationships and mental health, enhanced by her work as a clinical therapist and parent educator. Blessing's work has appeared in various online publications. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in sociology from Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania and is pursuing her master's degree in psychology with a specialization in applied behavior analysis.