Whether you’re starting family research as a new-found hobby or because you need to find crucial ancestral connections to join a community or heritage organization, or even to find lost family members—the first few weeks are often the most challenging.
While there is no shortage of resources both online and offline, it is precisely this abundance of resources that can make family research feel overwhelming.
To help you out, we’ve put together list of a few websites and books that we wish somebody had made for us when we first started!
Best Websites for Genealogy Research (They’re Also Free!)
Many beginners often subscribe to genealogy websites for their research without looking into the ones that are available for free. This can make your research a very costly affair, one that you may not be able to sustain for a long time.
So, we’ve shortlisted the best ones for you – and they won’t even cost you a penny!
This website is supported by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and is free to all regardless of religious affiliation. The Church funds family research as a means of promoting family relationships – past, present and future. FamilySearch offers everything from census and church records to military records, passenger lists, and immigration-related information. You can also find data and records from outside of America on this site! One of the best kept secrets about FamilySearch is its Research Wiki – one of our favorite online resources with a ton of information about researching your family history from A to Z!
· Chronicling America
This one’s owned and managed by the Library of Congress and has a vast collection of digitized historic US newspapers. Produced by the National Digital Newspaper Program, Chronicling America is the brainchild of a joint effort between the National Endowment for the Humanities and the Library of Congress – a long-term effort to develop an Internet-based, searchable database of US newspapers. The site is easy to navigate with plenty of tools and filters to make searching a breeze.
As the name suggests, this website can help you find graves! It’s like a virtual cemetery where you can find burial details, obituaries, photos and other related information for your ancestors over time and around the world. Over 200 million memorials have been created since the site was established in 1995, and this valuable resource is completely free.
Must-Read Books on Traditional Genealogy
Reading genealogy-related books can help you go a long way in your family research. Because while websites may provide you with the data you need, a well-written and effectively researched book can help you figure out what to look for and how to organize your research.
Here are some of the books we still refer to the most:
· Genealogy Basics in 30 Minutes by Shannon Combs-Bennet
This is the best book for beginners in the field. It’s simple yet so useful in the way it covers everything important. It’s kind of a crack course of genealogy research but the material is presented in very simple terms with lots of examples.
· The Hidden Half of The Family by Christina K. Schaefer
This is a book that we realized we needed a few weeks into our research. It basically focuses on tracking women ancestors in records and other old sources. It has been very helpful in breaking down some very stubborn brick walls that we were sure would be in our way for a long, long time!
· Evidence Explained by Elizabeth Shown Mills
This is a more advanced book but incredibly well-written. It addresses issues related to citations and analysis – with a special focus on electronic sources, given the changes in the field related to the digitization ofthe world of genealogy.
Resources You Haven’t Considered at All
Besides books and websites, your network is your biggest resource and one that you should never stop expanding.
This means joining forums and online groups related to genealogy and family research. Facebook is a great platform for genealogy groups of all kinds – and it’s free!
You should also consider getting assistance from professional genealogists like the ones at DavisDNA And Family Research. They offer investigative genealogy services and expert DNA research assistance.
Get in touch with them to learn more.