The 10 Best Free Genealogy Websites to Find Your Ancestors

Christian Cawley Updated 31-05-2019

Researching your family tree is fun, fascinating… and tough. Whether your family hails from various towns, cities, or countries, or your ancestors lived in the same village for centuries, finding out about those that came before can be fraught with difficulty. Free genealogy websites offer a great opportunity for research.


Paid ancestry sites tend to have a higher profile than free. That doesn’t mean that the free ancestry sites aren’t worth using, however; just that they’re difficult to find.

Here are several totally free genealogy websites to research your ancestry without spending a dollar.

Free Genealogy Websites for a Free Ancestry Search

Without exaggerating, there are thousands of genealogy websites out there.

Occasionally you’ll find a truly useful website with a free ancestry search feature that accesses real data. For the purpose of this article, I will provide a list of the top 10 free genealogy websites that would be most valuable to anyone first entering the hobby. These sites provide valuable tools, guides, and access to databases that are overflowing with historical data.

When you’re done with these, don’t overlook Google. With the right search tricks, you can use the search engine giant for genealogy research too.


For additional help, you may also consider boosting your research with an ancestry DNA test from or AncestryDNA. Check out our look at which of those two DNA testing services is best for you 23andMe vs. AncestryDNA: Which DNA Testing Service Is Best for You? Considering online DNA testing? Several options are available, but 23andMe and ancestryDNA are the top dogs. Read More .

1. AccessGenealogy

Use the Access Genealogy resource

Access Genealogy is more than your typical ancestry website and a great place to get started. Its main page is pleasantly clean and well organized. You’ll find links to some unique research sources including charts, old letters, military records, Native American records and more.

One of the more fascinating resources here are the transcribed cemetery records. There are researchers in every State around the US that walk through the oldest cemeteries. While there, they transcribe names along with birthdates, date of death and family members.


This resource alone will keep you busy for hours.

2. The Olive Tree

The Olive Tree genealogy research site

Olive Tree Genealogy is another private researcher’s website holding a collection of links and resources for historical data. One thing that sets this site apart is the considerable research that went into the provided links.

Website creator Lorine McGinnis Schulze writes that she started the site in 1996 to provide free resources to other researchers. While it looks as though the site is still in 1996, it remains an unmissable resource.


She certainly delivers on that promise. One of the more impressive links on the site are the ship passenger lists where you can search through the names of your ancestors who immigrated to the US decades ago.

Meanwhile, the site provides a “guide for beginners” that walks you through each step of finding your ancestors. Specific resources are listed that you should check out first in order to conduct preliminary research.

3. Family Search

Family Search free ancestry site

One of the most well-known names in the genealogy research world is FamilySearch. This is the famous genealogy website provided and supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also known as the Church of Mormonism.


Family Search will amaze you with the sheer volume of information available. A single search found my paternal grandmother, her correct date of birth and death, and the town where she lived. I also found the name of her spouse and most of her children.

Birth and death records appear to be accurate, even though relationship records seem incomplete.

The historic gems you can discover here are truly remarkable. For example, I discovered an actual scan of the 1940 Census conducted by the Department of Commerce. If you’re a genealogy researcher, that kind of document is a gold mine.

4. Family Tree Searcher

Genealogy research across 11 sites

The family tree searcher is another website created by a private researcher. This site is unique; some of the resources are interactive quizzes that allow you to customize your research method.

One very useful quiz, in particular, is the “free advice” quiz, which quizzes you about what you’re looking for. In the end, it provides you with a customized “research plan” along with the free resources to help your search.


Research your UK heritage with UKIGEN

If you’re in the UK or researching lineage that reaches back there, then GENUKI is your one-stop shop for genealogy. UK & Ireland Genealogy (to use its full name) features links to local groups across England, Wales, Scotland, and Ireland.

A database of churches is included, useful in helping to track down graves and family records. You can also use the site to find more about towns and cities in the UK dating back centuries, grab information about professions and trades, and even see old maps.

If you haven’t accessed the resources on offer from GENUKI before now, it can help to unlock so much of your research.

6. Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

Learn more about your family tree at Allen County Public Library Genealogy Center

An eclectic collection of databases and catalogs, the Genealogy Center of Allen Country Public Library can be accessed online. It’s a remarkable group of tools, ranging from a microtext catalog of microfilms and microfiche at the library to transcriptions from family bibles donated to the center.

The Surname File can put you in touch with others researching the same name, and there’s a Native American Gateway. Information on how to research First Nation family history can be found here, as well as links to relevant information in the US National Archives.

You’ll also find resources for many other US states.

7. US National Archives

US National Archives for genealogy research

For a US-based historical researcher, the National Archives should be at the very top of your resource list. Eventually, most other websites end up linking to these resources anyway, so why not just start at the source?

This is where you’ll find census information, military records, immigration records, and even bankruptcy records. There are even articles and information on historical researching techniques.

8. UK National Archives

UK National Archives

The UK also has a valuable resource for history buffs in the form of its own National Archives website. The main page of this website links to data such as births, marriage, deaths, census records, passenger lists, etc.

European history is long, and these resources are unbelievably thorough and archived all the way back a thousand years. On this website, you’ll also find valuable guides and articles on researching family and military history.

9. US GenWeb Project

US GenWeb

One of the largest and most valuable resources for historical information available to US genealogy researchers is the USGenWeb project.

This project is made of up historical enthusiasts who actively volunteer their time and energy to provide free information for other researchers throughout the country.

Simply click on the State where you’re looking for information, and you’ll go directly to the State’s GenWeb site. Here, free resources for your community and local history are provided.

10. WorldGenWeb Project

Use WorldGenWeb for genealogy research

Once you get involved in genealogical research, the first thing that becomes apparent is that the hobby knows no borders. You’ll find expert researchers in just about every country around the world, and the WorldGenWeb Project brings them all together.

WorldGenWeb lets researchers focus on valuable and useful resources to conduct their research. Click on the country of your choice and eventually, you can drill down to the specific community, and related free genealogy websites.

In turn, you’ll find other free ancestry search tools to hunt for more ancestral information.

More Free Ancestry Search Tips

Sometimes it isn’t enough to use a free resource. As you may know, has the biggest library of census information and military records available to the public. However, it can be expensive to access regularly.

So, what can you do?

Some of the information Ancestry offers is duplicated from information in the sites listed here. BMD information, newspaper reports, that sort of thing. But occasionally you need direct access to primary sources (that is, historical documents created at the time you’re researching). You need to use Ancestry.

However, this need not cost you anything. Simply find the right library with a family history section and use one of their computers. Educational institutions, libraries, and other community or municipal buildings can provide free access to Ancestry.

You may need to pay to use the computer or printer, or join as a member, but this approach to searching ancestry for free can save a lot of money.

The Best Free Genealogy Websites You Cannot Miss

The sites we have covered are great if you’re a history or genealogy enthusiast or if you just want track down family members past and present.

  1. Access Genealogy
  2. The Olive Tree
  3. Family Search
  4. Family Tree Searcher
  6. Genealogy Center
  7. US National Archives
  8. UK National Archives
  9. US GenWeb Project
  10. WorldGenWeb Project

And if all that fails, simply search for free via your local library.

Want to know more? See our in-depth guide to researching your family tree online Research Your Family Tree Online Various specialist software tools are available to help you to map your family tree and there are websites available that can help you out with everything from census results to finding graves. Read More . And while you tracing the history of your ancestors, you might also want to trace the history of your house 7 Online Tools to Trace the History of Your House Every house has a history. If you want to trace the history of your own house, then try these fantastic online resources today. Read More .

Affiliate Disclosure: By buying the products we recommend, you help keep the site alive. Read more.

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  1. Greg
    November 28, 2018 at 3:50 pm

    Stories about ancestors, their strengths and peculiarities of everyday life help to better understand the world. The actions of these people are evaluated differently, through the prism of unity. Everything good and bad relating to close people causes more vivid emotions: pride, admiration or surprise, confusion, disappointment. The experience of one who is connected with you by blood ties affects the attitude of the world much more.

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  3. Fiona Dachshun
    March 6, 2017 at 4:13 pm

    Top free are not free the catch is join for 10 . Try to cancel, they will try every which way to keep you. Sad, our name is difficult to find info, tried paying for ancestry .com found nothing. Don't care for the come on free when it is'nt

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  5. Kleio
    January 12, 2017 at 1:57 pm

    There is a page called Acta Croatica. You can search your name or surname and find your ancestors. Especially interesting for people with Croatian origin.

  6. Mateja
    January 10, 2017 at 1:34 pm

    There is a page called Acta Croatica where you can find millions of people mentioned in the numerous historical documents, a lots of detailed descriptions of Croatian family names and different surnames mentioned in Croatian historical spaces and large number of Croatian names. You can also search for your ancestor, explore your name and surname in historical sources and preserve and organize family memories. After signing up (it is free) you can see all kind of historical documents such as Catholic Church Parish Records, different yearbooks, old phone books, censuses, Emigration Commission documents, list of dignitaries, officials and public notaries of the Kingdom of Croatia-Slavonia and so on. Also, it is possible to see which Croatian surnames can appear in other countries such as Australia, US etc. It is very interesting and useful.

  7. Victoria Bishop
    September 27, 2016 at 1:14 pm

    thank you for this very helpful info

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  9. Justtoletyouknow
    May 16, 2016 at 2:15 am

    Just a comment to share regarding the family history site, and the Mormon Church. If you are not of the Mormon faith, please do some research before setting up your online tree. This site is excellent for research and records. Members of the church have a unique number assigned to them that allows them to also search and transfer the results from the website, to their family tree. They also have research centers almost everywhere they have churches around the country. Check with the local LDS Church in your city for the location. They have volunteers that will help you with your research at these research centers, and have computers you can use that allows you to do micro film searches as well. Please research why all Holocaust names are being removed from their site, and research their practices for Babtising by proxy, and what you need to do to stop it from happening on your family tree. In regard to myself, I am not Mormon, and do not believe in their practices. I do not want someone 100 years after I am gone, doing an ancestry linage research to come across my family tree, (which are all strong in Christian faith, Church of Christ) to find my family's faith had been changed to Mormon on my tree, by another ancestor who did a babtism into the Mormon Church by proxy for someone on my tree who they were also related too, which in turn changed the faith noted in my tree to Mormon! Other than a couple things that you need to clarify and note in your tree, it is the best site, and free site I have found.

    • Tom
      April 21, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      I think there are a lot of misconceptions out there. If you have questions about the doctrines of the Mormon church you should seek out an active member of The Church of Jesus Christ to discuss it. I would not ask a Catholic what a Jew believes. I would ask Jews what Jews believe. Yet many people's concept if Mormons is based on what they read on the internet. If you want to know the actual truth you'd need to go to someone who knows and does not have a hidden agenda to tear them down.

      Trees are not labelled as one religion or another. If you were active in a particular religion in life your familysearch record would likely contain a link to your obituary that said so. Nobody wants to hide or change your life story.
      Mormons generally only do work for people to whom they are related. If in 100 years someone baptizes you by proxy, it's because they are either your cousin or your descendant. Also if you don't believe in it what difference does it make? God's not going to let someone change your religion after your dead without your consent. Also when someone does temple work for someone it means they love them enough to spend hours, days, or even years finding them and doing work for them. Again do you somehow suppose someone can knock you out of heaven after you're dead? That doesn't even make sense. What possibly harm could it make to be baptized in your behalf if you don't even believe in it? You always have the free will to decide whether you will accept or reject this work done on your behalf. Anyway, best wishes to you.

      • S Parker
        April 25, 2018 at 2:45 am

        Recently, I was checking my father's direct ancestor, George Hull (1589-1659), on, (the LDS religion was established in 1830) and saw that he had been baptized into the Mormon Church. I know my cousin whose tree this is, and she did not convert anyone. The Mormons I know personally are fine people whom I greatly admire, and I don't mind, because I believe they acted out of love. However, I can understand those who may be offended or hurt by such actions e.g. Jewish people were tortured and murdered precisely because they were Jewish.

  10. shahid durrani
    February 15, 2016 at 6:20 am

    Explore Family Tree Magazine's picks for the 101 Best websites for doing genealogy.The leading family history magazine for researching Genealogy.

  11. Anonymous
    September 4, 2015 at 7:53 pm

    I agree with this article but after a very frustrating experience on Olive Tree it's worth pointing out that quite a few links take you to which immediately wants you to sign up for a phony 14 day free trial. Be aware that a lo of sites link you to for profit sites and if you don't want to sign up for their service you're a bit stuck. On the other hand the GenWeb project is wonderful.

  12. Anonymous
    July 6, 2015 at 7:09 pm

    None of those Ancentry Societyes that I come across seem to be interested in gathering information from people outside theire family tree, I have seen some I might have been able to solve when Brovsing through some of them, but not sure I could find them again. Just a reminder that you might get som usful info. if each Society had a space for outsiders to comment. Best regards Anomyn

  13. Evan KG
    April 2, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    This is what I love about modern genealogy--there are more resources than ever for people to research their ancestry online for free! I think one of the most underutilized resources is a regular old Google search. It may sound kind of crazy, but I found a photocopy of my 5x great-grandfather's will that a distant relative of mine had posted on his personal blog-just by Googling my ancestors name! The internet is full of gems like that if people are willing to look. Thanks for the great list of sources :)

    I list free genealogy sources on my website as well,

  14. Raphael Mann
    February 11, 2015 at 11:11 pm

    A good deal of the information on the Mormon site ( is actually free. They give you external links to pay for stuff that they don't have, but if they have it themselves it's free, and they have plenty. I managed to trace back about 500 years over the course of a few days without spending any money , just from browsing their site.

    Linda, I don't know about any other countries, but for UK births, deaths and marriages you can apply for a certificate in a conditional basis. So you pay up front, and give them the info you have, and if it doesn't match with what's on the certificate they won't send it out and they'll refund your money in full.

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  16. Linda Hansen (@witornado)
    December 29, 2014 at 2:17 am

    I hate being told something is free until after results are found. Then, in order to view them, either sign up for a free trial or subscribe immediately. How can I even be sure the results match my criteria if I can't see them? I had signed up for "marriage" notifications on ancestors through one site, and keep receiving emails on his birth or death. But the birth/death info doesn't even come close to matching my search criteria.... why bother searching any site for this type of aggravation?

  17. Anonymous
    December 25, 2014 at 10:51 pm

    Liars, I tried to do a search and you admitted it was not free. People like you ruin the internet

  18. Marie Stephenson
    October 28, 2009 at 8:34 pm

    you said free, did you mean just free search? cause all those sites will search through hell for free but if you want results it costs you your second child as payment. no such thing as free. if it was i wouldnt be here.

  19. Ivana
    September 20, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    Visit, Free Genealogy Email, Search, Data online and more.

  20. Travel South Africa
    August 12, 2009 at 4:33 am

    Wonderful resources for family historians.

  21. Keith
    August 11, 2009 at 3:23 am

    Is there a geneology site where you can just type in the name, date of birth and place of birth and get some information for FREE! I am really tired of going round in circles, being told its free and then at the last told "yes we have your information but you have to pay to see it", I hate that sort of thing. do it & keep popping up all the time!

  22. tribalpages
    August 9, 2009 at 10:08 am

    Build your Free Family Tree website online.

  23. david
    August 1, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    Shoot! Let's try that again...

    And don't miss out on ( Free Genealogy Tools. It has some very useful and unusual resources.

    • tribalpages
      August 9, 2009 at 10:10 am

      Build your Free Family Tree website online.

  24. shkirman
    June 25, 2009 at 8:27 am

    This resource provides researchers with a safe place where they can focus on valuable and useful resources to conduct their research

  25. V. Chris & Tom Tinney, Sr.
    June 16, 2009 at 8:39 am

    The Family Genealogy & History Internet Education Directory:
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  26. Denise Olson
    June 16, 2009 at 7:56 am

    All the sites mentioned in your article - and the comments - are wonderful resources for family historians. I would also recommend WeRelate. It is an impressive adaption of MediaWiki for genealogy use. It combines a collaborative family tree with family histories, local histories, biographies, research guides and so much more - all free and all user-generated. It's quite amazing.

  27. Taby
    June 16, 2009 at 11:31 am

    Another site that helped me a great deal was, this one doesn't have census records but it has family tree information in it and you never know when you will make a connection.

  28. Ryan Dube
    June 16, 2009 at 5:57 am

    Hey everyone - thanks for the heads-up on I agree, appears to be an excellent resource as well.

  29. Martina
    June 16, 2009 at 4:47 am

    Yes, you need the Mormons (, they have the biggest database. And you don't have to be a mormon to use it!

  30. Steve
    June 15, 2009 at 2:24 pm

    You can't get into genealogy without running into the Mormons. Try out, or go to one of their local family history centers.

    • D. Allen
      June 16, 2009 at 9:50 pm

      My search there had turned up dry. You may have better luck as you go further back in years, to great-great-grandparents or beyond, but if you only know back to grandparents or more recent. My wife did find her family clear back to the 1400's, but I couldn't find anyone. Here comes the obligatory YMMV statement.

      Please note that anyone may submit, but they prefer that you only submit your own relatives.

  31. Lisa Louise Cooke
    June 15, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Discovering your family history is incredibly rewarding. Thanks for encouraging your readers with this list!

    As an experienced genealogist I can tell you that is the #1 free genealogy site with more free records than any other, and is available to everyone.

    Before investing hours at these websites would-be researchers would be well served to spend some time getting up to speed on the research process. It can save you headaches and help you make the most of your time.

    My free podcast Family History: Genealogy Made Easy regularly ranks #1 in the family history and genealogy iTunes categories. The show will walk listeners step by step through the genealogical research process.

    My other podcast The Genealogy Gems Podcast provides research tips and expert interviews. Both are available at

    • Ryan Dube
      June 16, 2009 at 5:54 am

      Lisa, thanks for your comment! It's cool having an expert genealogy research providing feedback - thanks for the great resources.

  32. Lisa Louise Cooke
    June 15, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Discovering your family tree is incredibly rewarding. Thanks for encouraging your readers with this list!

    As an experience genealogist I can tell you is the #1 free site for online genealogical records, and is available to everyone.

    In addition to online records, would-be family historians will want to get up to speed on the research process to make the most of their efforts and avoid valuable wasting time.

    My free podcast Family History: Genealogy Made Easy regularly ranks #1 in iTunes in the family history and genealogy categories and will teach you step by step how to build your family tree.

    For researchers with some experience try The Genealogy Gems Podcast. Both podcasts are also free at