A common misconception about tracing your family history is that it costs a lot of money. While there is some information that is only available for a fee, most people would be surprised to learn that there are a number of places to find free information for use in their genealogy research.
State archives often hold a variety of information from vital records to military listings and everything in between. A growing number of archives have begun offering a portion of their collections online. While on the archive’s website, just look for a link to their digital, virtual or online archives.
The Georgia Archives is one of many state archives that offers a number of free genealogy resources through their website. These include marriage records, Confederate Pension applications, limited death certificates, will books and county tax digests, just to name a few. While on the Archives website, look for a link to the Virtual Vault to see what all they have.
In many cases, you can download or print the records you find for free. Some archives do charge a fee for a copy of original records, but it’s usually inexpensive.
Your Local Library
The next time you visit your local library, ask where their genealogy collection is. Many libraries have a separate area set aside for genealogical materials. In this section, you will find items such as family histories, local histories, finding aids, transcriptions and more. Some libraries have an area set up for patrons to use the library’s subscription to genealogy websites such as Ancestry, Heritage Quest or News Bank.
If your library doesn’t have a genealogy collection, don’t give up. Some smaller libraries don’t have the space to have a special collection so their items may be scattered in various spots throughout the building. Check the card catalog using search terms genealogy or family history to locate them.
Don’t forget about inter-library loan. Most libraries participate in it. Check WorldCat for books that might be helpful. Then, stop by the main desk to fill out the form for inter-library loan. If there’s enough interest in a specific book, your library may even decide to purchase it for their own collection.
Grave Registration Sites
While grave registration sites are primarily there for recording burials, many also offer genealogical information as well. This may include links to other family members or contributor-submitted notes on the individual.
FindAGrave and Interment are just a couple of the grave registration sites you cna use for your genealogy research.
In an effort to expand the amount of genealogical information available for free, many people volunteer their time to transcribe and index records. This information is then posted on websites for anyone to view for free.
The USGenWeb Project and FamilySearch are the most well known volunteer-efforts. Records you can expect to find on these sites include vital records, cemetery transcriptions, newspapers, census records, draft registrations and more.
Even sites known primarily as subscription genealogy websites may offer free databases. Thanks for volunteers for Ancestry’s World Archives Project, there are over 400 databases available for free to the public. All you have to do is register with the site to gain access.
These are just a few of the many places you can find free genealogy resources. Learning about family history should be fun, not a financial burder.