Researching genealogy does not have to be expensive. Learn to research ancestors for free, save money and build that family tree with these 3 totally free genealogy tools.
I’m going to let you in on a little secret.
The three tools I use in almost every one of my genealogy research projects are free to use and not actually specific to genealogy research!
However, researching brick wall ancestors eventually requires the search for records not found in the major genealogy databases or even online.
That’s when it’s time to sharpen your researcher skills and use other research oriented tools to find your ancestors.
Best of all, these often overlooked favorites are free!
ArchiveGrid – A Powerful Tool for Your Genealogy Research Toolbox
ArchiveGrid is a powerful online finding aid genealogy researchers do not want to overlook! (And it’s FREE!)
As an online finding aid, ArchiveGrid accesses over 1000 institutions and 5+million of archival records including personal papers, family records, old documents and original manuscripts. They have listings across the US and internationally as well.
Now, imagine your ancestors hiding away in a small repository’s records you never even knew existed. I, for one, do not want to miss out on finding important genealogical clues located in areas I never thought to look. I know you do not either.
Now remember – ArchiveGrid is a finding aid and not a repository with the actual records. When you find records of interest, you will need to contact the repository to determine the best way for you to view the materials if not already digitized.
Learn more about ArchiveGrid in Use ArchiveGrid To Find Old Documents & Family Records.
Google Books – Find 1000’s of Free Books to Use for Genealogy Research
Next up, I’m talking about Google Books.
Google Books is a fantastic resource for finding books helpful in your genealogy and family history research.
Did I mention many of these books are FREE?! That makes a frugal genealogist’s heart happy. Books that are in the public domain are offered for free access. Others books and those still under copyright may give you a snippet of the book.
A variety of book types can be found. Here is a quick peek back at the type of books found on Google books I have used:
- Family histories
- Church histories
- City directories
- County histories
- A law dictionary (It’s important to understand the legal terms found in the documents we read.)
- State statute books
- Indices to state and county records
Set aside time to explore and puruse Google Books. Family histories and city directories are a great place to start.
Learn more about Google Books in How To Find & Use Google Books For Genealogy Research.
WorldCat – Another Resource to Find Books for Genealogy Research
Rounding out my favorite 3 free genealogy research tools is WorldCat.
Discovering WorldCat and how to use it in conjunction with genealogy research was a game changer for me. It gave me the ability and the access to relevant family history books in libraries around the world.
So, what is it?
WorldCat is essentially the world’s largest card catalog for books, articles, etc. Using WorldCat enables the genealogy researcher to search libraries around the world for family history resources to advance our research.
A variety of genealogical relebant books can be found including:
- Local area histories
- Specific family histories – I found one that include my ancestors and even named me(!)
- Records to Southern Plantations
- Religious records in a region (Ex. Methodist records in Pennsylvania)
- Transcriptions of Family Bibles
To learn more about WorldCat see How To Use WorldCat For Your Genealogy Research.
More Free and Frugal Resources
If you want to find more free resources and websites: