This is a tip for those who may be just getting started on their genealogy journey. We have all seen the wonderful ads put out by Ancestry showing just how easy it is to click a leaf and discover new branches of our family tree, but when you start looking at the monthly cost of a subscription, I have the feeling most new genealogists stall out after the initial free 7 day trial.
Don’t despair because there are a number of FANTASTIC free resources out there on the internet that you can use to continue your research!
Make no mistake – I love Ancestry and several other of the paid sites and I have been using them off and on for years. Most of the subscription sites offer amazingly easy search capabilities and an incredible treasure trove of records. I just know that for most people, paying for a subscription can be a stopping point until you are fully “hooked” (addicted?) to genealogy.
Perhaps my favorite free resource is FamilySearch.org. This site is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS) and is a direct link into their Family History Library (FHL). I first discovered the FHL when I was starting out in my genealogy journey, but back then, I had to find one of the local FHL locations, and go there to manually search through their microfilm collections, order the films and then get the copies of records that I needed. FamilySearch.org has nearly eliminated that altogether!
FamilySearch.org is a digitized version of most of the collections contained in the FHL including some very comprehensive state collections, census records and many others. The FHL is an incredible collection that has yielded more results and documents for me than I can even begin to recount, and to have this resource at home for free is just incredible.
I encourage any new genealogist to go check out FamilySearch.org and see what they have to offer. While you are there, be sure to avail yourself of the free learning resources that they offer – it makes the genealogy journey so much easier when you learn from those who have gone before.