There are hundreds of websites out there that help you find and research  your family history. Many of them charge you a fee or a subscription but there are so many that you can use and find information for that are free. Sometimes however, there are certain sites that you do need special access or a subscription to use.

For those really difficult names and relatives you can’t track down, before you sign up for these sites, I recommend locating your nearest Family History Center (click here to locate one now) because their library of computers already have subscriptions to many of these sites and you can access them for free my going there. When I’m going to the Family History Center, I will gather all the information I can on the challenging relatives, and then focus on those names with their programs to see if I can find a lead.

This is a real photo of an old Bible that has family names listed in Swedish. I have another one with German names.

Here is a list of sites that you can use for free to help locate relatives and use as tools. When I find someone, I keep notes as well and write down any ID numbers that the different websites use to help me keep track of them. Make sure you are linking everything back to your home base in Roots Magic.

Family Search
Find A Grave
Billion Graves
Ellis Island
World Vital Records
Obits Archive
Death Indexes
Legacy
Genealogy Links
US Gen Web
Cyndi’s List
Genealogy Bank
Mormon Migration
Federal Land Records
Genealogy
Roots Web
National Archives
Family Tree Magazine
Surname Search
National Cemetery Administration

Sites that need special access or subscriptions:

Heritage Quest
Fold 3 (Military Records)
Newspapers
Find My Past
Ancestry
Civil War Data
My Trees

Google & Other Searches

  • Search for “Digital Archives” for your state, some are free, others must receive requests.
  • Larger cities had “social status” books where they had bios and photographs of those in the higher classes, especially around the turn of the century. Check with libraries and cemeteries if they have these documents. I found 5+ relatives through 1 biography found from one of these books.
  • Contact Cemeteries. They often have birth records, death records, bios, or even information about the family who organized the burial.
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