Kimmy asked in Arts & HumanitiesGenealogy · 1 decade ago

I want to research my family tree..easiest way to do this for free online?

My last name isn't very common and I know there has to be some history of my family coming through Ellis Island. I am just curious where I can get some information on my family's history.

8 Answers

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    Start by asking all your living relatives for as much information as they can provide, then using that as a base, try your local library or the internet for:

    Free sites: there are several to choose from. Start with:

    Assuming they emigrated from Europe, start with Ellis Island and the Battery Conservancy sites:

    For Scotland, check:

    For Sweden:


    For ship’s passenger lists, try:

    For those with native American ancestry, try:


    For a fee, try a DNA test:

    When you really want to know where your ancestors came from, try such sites as:,,, and, of course, the National Geographics Genotype program,

    For Jewish ancestry, try:

    For people from India, try:

    Have a look at these sites these are South African ones,


    Meaning of names:

    Here are some general sites with lists of African names:


    Finding live people:

    Two good places I use are and

    Don't forget, use your local library. Ours (a small one, yet) has and, as well as periodicals, books and guidance from an experienced genealogist.

    Keep good notes on where you find what: sources are very important.

    Don't pay attention to the naysayers: if your ancestors came over here through Ellis Island, they WILL BE in at least some of the above websites. Remember: ONLY YOU can tell if a family tree is YOURS.

    Source(s): genealogical research
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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    Kimmy, you are not stupid, but you don't know much about genealogy. If people could get a 5-course gourmet meal served on a table with china, silver, cloth napkins and real flowers for $1.49, would anyone go to McDonald's? By the same token, if there was a "free and easy" way to research your family tree, would anyone subscribe to Ancestry, or bother to maintain the 400,000 free web sites about genealogy that are on the WWW?

    There isn't an easy way to research your family tree, unless your great-aunt has done it already and is willing to share her findings with you. (By the same token, if your mom or dad works as a chef in a 3-star restaurant and wants to try some new recipes while breaking in the apprentice waiters, so that someone CAN get a 5-course meal for free, call me. I'll even bring the wine.)

    Researching your family tree is work. That's why 99% of the teens who ask the same question here don't follow through; it is too much like homework. That is also why there is no magic web site that lets you put in your name and shows you 12 generations, with a "family" coat of arms for each surname.

    You have some excellent answers above. Even if you decide not to research your family, please stop and think a bit about "free and easy" in the future. Many things in life are one or the other; few are both.

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  • Anonymous
    4 years ago

    If you want to make your family tree, you will not get very far for free. Your first step should be quite obvious - get as far as living memory will allow you - which involves speaking to your parents, your aunts, uncles and grandparents and finding out as much about your immediate family and names and dates as you can. See where the different members of your family agree on names, dates and places, and see where they disagree. Someone might have the old tin of photos your granddad kept with his WW2 ration card or other old letters and pieces of paper, or better yet, an old family bible. Sooner or later of course, living memory will fail you - probably before you even get as far back as 1901 and could make the best use of what online resources are free, because quite simply, you will at some point need to buy a birth, marriage or death certificate simply in order to get back another generation. Just because you happen across a tree online, doesn't make it true. Whose to say that the original researcher was doing his research right in the first place. It is very easy to go down completely the wrong tracks in this game, and nothing should be taken for granted as fact unless you have the records in your hand that say it is so. My tree goes back to the 1500s on one line. If anyone asks me to prove it, I can hand over all the birth, baptism, marriage, death, burial and census records that say it is so, plus several wills and other documents. These things don't come free. You will have to pay at some point. If you don't happen across a fellow cousin or great aunt doing your tree by then and up online at Genes Reunited, then your tree will come to a juddering halt very very quickly. A family tree can take years to compile. It can also cost a small fortune. Don't enter into the hobby lightly. And if anyone says you can do it for free, then they are lying or else riding on the coat-tails of someone elses research and have never tried doing any of the work for themselves. The words "free" and "genealogy" are two words that should just never go together in the same sentence. Ever.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Among the BASIC rules of genealogy, is that YOU CANNOT MAKE ASSUMPTIONS. Every thing is based in finding accurate records.

    To do THAT, you start with you and your parents... document that link (yes, it is important, even if you know it). Next, document your parents to their parents. Since living persons are not (and should not) be online, this part has to be done with your family, and documents (ie birth certificates) that you or they are legally authorized to access. At some point, you will reach the ancestors who were born prior to 1930, and you should be able to find them in the census. What you will find in 1930 records, is the place of birth for the person, and the birth place for their parents. The same will be true for 1920, 1910, 1900, and somewhere you will see a notation regarding the year of immigration. Another way to approach this, is to look carefully at the place of birth for the children.

    The one place that has ALL census records is, and sorry, that is not free. You may be able to do that at your local library. NOT ALL FAMILY HISTORY IS ONLINE. IE, IF you find your ancestor's immigration year, and know he was naturalized, your best document will be the naturalization file itself.

    Ellis Island is the best known and largest immigration port. That does not translate to the only one.. many immigrants came through other ports; and persons immigrated before it opened. Certainly, if you find that your family was in the US by 1870, you won't waste your energy looking at the wrong website. The only way to KNOW is to work the basic info first, so you have reliable names and dates.

    I don't have a 'canned' list of sites to send you to. The only sites that matter are those that work.

    I do send people to this site, because the articles and links here, help you understand more about how research works, and when it doesn't.

    Source(s): 25+ years experience
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  • Sandi
    Lv 6
    1 decade ago

    You can get a 14 day free trial on (or 30 days is up for offer if you live in Australia) just remember to cancel before the free trial time is up. I am trying to do the same and it's not easy. I am going to join a local adult education course on the subject. It's not very expensive and I am sure it will help me a lot, you might think of doing the same. Good Luck.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    You've gotten some really good information in the previous answers. One thing I just wanted to add - a lot of the problems with genealogy research involves the misspelling of names. So don't reject something you find that appears to match, but isn't spelled exactly right. It may still be a match - dig a little deeper.

    And if you need help, feel free to email me. I'll be glad to help if I can.

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  • 1 decade ago is the largest database that I know of. It is subscription based BUT...I know my local library has access available when you use their computers. So if you have one close by - you should check it out.

    My library also has Heritage Quest available - and that you can access from home by logging onto their site with your library card. It has census records and some books of published genealogies.

    Family Search which is part of the LDS site is also running a beta version of a database where you can get some online records (for free) The URL is:

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    try, might woork, good luck.

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