Saturday, October 17, 2020

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun: Your Top 10 Free Genealogy Sites

I'm not really a fan of "Top 10" and similar posts, but at least I can come up a list fairly easily for the subject Randy Seaver has chosen for today's Saturday Night Genealogy Fun:

Here is your assignment, if you choose to play along (cue the Mission:  Impossible! music, please!):

(1) Last week we defined our top 5 or 10 fee-based genealogy websites.  This week, let's define our top 10 free genealogy websites!

(2) List your Top 10 (or 20 if you want!) FREE genealogy sites and a short reason for listing each of them.

(3) Share your list on your own blog, in a comment on this post, or on Facebook.  Please leave a link to your list wherever it is.

Drum roll, please:

1., absolutely.  Not only does it have a massive collection of records, it also has a wonderful wiki with great information on so many research topics.  Plus there are the FHL catalog, online digitized books, learning center, and the FamilyTree, if you want to have your tree online.  And all totally FREE!!

2.  Chronicling America.  Since I love newspaper research so much, this one is a natural, plus it's our tax dollars at work for us.  Chronicling America is the online collection that grew out of the mandate for all states to catalog and digitize their historic newspapers.  One day, all fifty states will finally be posted . . . .

3.  You can also find this site by going to and, but not  Just remember, that guy is the imposter; the genealogy Steve Morse is the real deal.  Steve started working on his genealogy shortly before the Ellis Island database went online; when he discovered how badly designed the search engine was, he created his own, and it has only grown from there.  Not only does he have better search pages for Ellis Island, he also has pages for most of the major immigration databases and a huge list of BMD search sites, plus all sorts of cool tools, such as transliterating Cyrillic and Hebrew to the Latin alphabet and figuring out the dates for Easter and Passover every year.  And a whole bunch more besides those!  Oh, just go check out the site and bookmark it!

4.  This is actually just one section of a cool site created by Joe Beine.  There are also links to sites for German research, immigration databases, Black research, county histories, and more.  Plus you can sign up for e-mail notifications of when new links are added.

5.  This is still the granddaddy (or should I say grandmomma?) of genealogy portals.  It includes links to hundreds (thousands?) of categories of genealogy sites covering all sorts of topics, and more are added regularly.

6. and  These are two different sites owned by different companies (Ancestry owns FindAGrave; BilliomGraves is independent), but they're essentialy the same thing:  collections of data collated from tombstones in cemeteries and contributed by volunteers.  There's overlap between them, and each has information the other doesn't.  If you're looking for a death, check 'em both out.

7.  Family Tree Webinars.  This used to be an independent site, part of the company that created Legacy Family Tree software, until the parent company was gobbled up by MyHeritage.  The site itself isn't totally "free", but most of the Webinars offered are free to watch when they air and for up to a week afterward.  Lots of genealogy topics are covered, sometimes multiple speakers covering the same subject at different times.

8.  Wikipedia.  At first I thought of one specific page on Wikipedia, the List of Online Newspaper Archives, which I contribute to regularly.  Then I decided I should broaden the listing to include the entire site, as a free online encyclopedia is useful for research in so many ways.  But my favorite page is sitll the List of Online Newspaper Archives.

9.  U.S. GenWeb.  This is a volunteer contribution site for the United States.  It's broken down by states and counties.  You never know ahead of time what you're going to find for a given location, because you don't know what someone might have contributed.  So it's always good to check and see what is there.  And if you feel like contributing, or maybe vounteering to be the coordinator for a county that doesn't have one, so much the better.  Oh, and there is an archive of older U.S. GenWeb info, too.  (There is also a World GenWeb which works similarly, so check that out too.)

10.  Google.  Yes, I know, Google isn't actually a genealogy site per se, but you can use the tools to help you with your research, and it is free.  And as Randy pointed out in his top 10 list, in addition to Search (which I admit keeps getting worse and worse as Google continues to dumb it down for mobile users, but I still like it better than the alternatives), Google also has Blogger (the platform I use for this blog), Translate, Images, Books, News Archive, Maps, and more.

So there they are, my top 10 free sites that I use for genealogy.


  1. I considered a lot of the ones you mentioned that I didn't. Yours is a great general, all-purpose list for any genealogist and ones I use often, too.

    1. I chose to focus on general sites to create a good springboard. It's great that there are many specialized sites that are also free.

  2. I didn't include DeathIndexes, but I use that website often. Excellent list.

    1. Joe Beine has put together such a great list of resources, hasn't he?


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