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Anonymous asked in Arts & HumanitiesGenealogy · 1 decade ago

Genealogy/Ancestry Search?

I know almost nothing about my ancestry and would like to conduct a search. When I try to find information online, I am invariably directed to pay sites. I don't think I should have to pay for my history, first of all, and second; I'm not sure what sites I can trust to give me accurate information. Is there anyone who could tell me how to get started on this family tree?

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  • Tina
    Lv 7
    1 decade ago
    Favorite Answer

    The following is a good basic plan for someone beginning to research their ancestors.

    First, start by asking all your living relatives about family history and get any documents or pictures they are willing to share with you for your files. You can photocopy or scan these and return them to their owner. Your public libraries will most likely have both Ancestry.com and Heritage Quest.com free for anyone to use while at the library and with a library card you can use Heritage Quest at home.

    Another free online resource is U.S. GenWeb at: http://www.usgenweb.org/ they have a page for every state and everything is free. Then there is Rootsweb at http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/, a free site hosted by Ancestry.com where you can search for surnames and leave queries on the message boards. Additionally, I would be remiss if I didn't mention FamilySearch.org they have many free online records and are digitizing more every day, all free. Their website is: http://www.familysearch.org/. Be sure to check each state that you need information from as many have their own projects, for example, the state of Missouri has a great website that has many free source documents online at: http://www.sos.mo.gov/mdh/ and South Carolina has many free wills at http://www.archivesindex.sc.gov/onlinear…

    Also, do not forget to check Cyndi’s List at http://www.cyndislist.com, which has many links for both free and paid sites.

    I’m sure I could come up with a lot more but that should keep you busy for a while and there should be lots of family history to be found for free with all these websites. As for the accuracy of the information, you will have to learn the difference between source documents and transcribed information as well as primary and secondary sources in order to judge your findings before accepting them as facts.

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  • 1 decade ago

    this is not to insult you..

    Please discard your thinking that "you should not have to pay for your history". You will come to a screeching halt, somewhere along the line, and probably, right out the door.

    Genealogy is documents. Not websites. The process is start WITH YOU.. and work backwards from there, and each step along the way.. accuracy depends on the validity of the record. Example.. you verify your parents from your birth certificate (yes.. even if you know the info.. you still use a record). Next, confirm their parents. If they are not living, you should have their death certificate, and/ or birth certificates. Unless you already have those, they are maintained by the govt. and there will be a fee.

    Next, your grandparents and verification of each of them. WHAT WILL BE USED, and how to find it.. is entirely explicit on each of them. If your grandfather was born in Texas in 1930, he should have a birth certificate. If like me.. MY grandfather was born in Poland in the 1830s.. there will be no birth certificate.

    The most valid info is not in "family trees" online. It comes from original documents.. ie the census; a tombstone, a probate file. For lucky ones.. that courthouse is 4 blocks from your house. More commonly.. you now live on the other side of the country. Pre internet.. the only way to access CERTAIN records..was getting in the car (or plane) and going to the site.

    What I am trying to give you is a honest understanding of what can be involved.. since you are (happily) wanting GOOD info.

    In the 30 yrs that I have been researching, the amount online has increased 100 times. You now can find SOME birth/death certs online. At the same time, I will also say that what is online even now.. is maybe 1/2 of the actual info that can be found. Most persons have only researched on the internet. They are unaware of what else is out there, and that it may actually be the only place to find who was the father of so and so.

    Having been blunt about the access to records.. one valuable site is ancestry.com. And right out the door.. it is a fee based site. This sounds like a flat contradiction, but it isn't. The census records alone are about indispensible for good research. This, you will have to take on faith: it will cost more to do it the old fashioned way, which is going to the library, when they are open. Instead, you can do it from home for a small flat fee per month, and can do it at 3 in the morning.

    This is very much an overview on STARTING. I consider genealogy a game. You win, by using your imagination or learned skills, to figure out what record will apply to your gr grandmother, based on when she lived, where that was.. then what trail did she leave? Census? diary? marriage record? widow's war pension? If, next week, you post again (and I hope you will).. you might be asking "where do I find a death date for Anna Jones, who died before 1880 in Alabama?". At that point, several persons will dig though their favorite sources (all different ones), and come up with the answer, or how you can find it. AS people find things, you'll notice a pattern of what they use. You will also find that some will be free, others will have a cost. It might become clear that going to the cemetery might be your only solution.

    If there is one free site to bookmark.. it is

    www.cyndislist.com

    She collects thousands of sites.. if you simply BROWSE her site, it will give you an idea of how sites are organized..what may/may not apply for you, etc. You also can come back here and get lots of help along the way.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    It cost money for big sites like Ancestry.com to stay afloat, so people need to pay, or it wouldn't be here for any of us. There are some free websites, but they are user based and are not verifiable. Here is a list of good free websites:

    RootsWeb.com

    FamilySearch.org

    Cyndislist.com

    As I said before, everything on free websites must be taken with a grain of salt. Half of it is untrue, and almost none have credible sources. Ancestry.com is a very prestigious trustworthy website. The fees start at $12.99 a month for very basic stuff and go up to $30.00 pm for the whole package. I would recommend the latter, cause of all the records you can find with it. Ancestry.com does have SOME free services, like the message board and the Family Tree maker. You could just go to your local library, because most libraries have Ancestry.com. You can send info on there to your email and attach it to your free tree. I did that before I decided to buy Ancestry.Com. Also, make sure you contact your eldest family members, because I know mine had a ton of info for me. Hope this helps.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You can contact almost any Mormon Church and ask where you can find their nearest history center. You do not need to be a member. Many who use the centers and even work in them are not. At the centers they have people who will help you for free and there are quite a few pay sites as well as their own records that are free to use. That is a good way to get started.

    I work for Footnote.com. We are a pay site but you can search the entire site for free. You can also register for free and with that registration you can upload your own scanned JPEG documents to your own personal gallery. Here is an example of a page that my sister and I collaborated on concerning my dad's life story. It is the first page to pop up on Google when you type Willis H Bell in. It has had 26,000 views and is an example again of what you can do, and share for free with family and friends.

    http://www.footnote.com/page/1853_willis_h_bell_a_...

    All of these are good ways to begin for free. The 1930 census is free right now as well on Footnote.

    Good luck with your quest!

    The History Man

    http://wwwhistoryman.blogspot.com/

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  • 1 decade ago

    Try these free sites: www.familysearch.org and rootsweb.com

    While these sites have a lot of information, Ancestry.com (a subscription site) also provides hints and once you find one person in your family, they connect you with other info about that same person including family trees already done by maybe some distant relative. You can access ancestry.com for free also if you want to go to your public library each time you want to work on it and do a search. This works for some people who don't mind "scheduling" their research activities. The drawback is that you still have to pay to print anything.

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    I use roots.com and the genweb project, which I believe is affiliated with ancestry.com. I am in the same boat as you; my parents, who are still alive, have told me very little and seem to remember even less! I found some relatives through these sites, but on my dads side, I cannot go farther back on his mothers side than his mother. I may have to pay for the info I need.

    Good luck on your hunt. It really is like a treasure hunt, especially to those of us who feel there's no history.

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  • 1 decade ago

    You are not paying for your family history, you are paying for the transcribed indexes, records, photos, uploaded to the internet from paper, ledger, photos, microfilm and microfiche, previously stored in court houses, libraries and county records offices. This give you the proof of your find and clues to another branch or generation of your tree. Otherwise you will have to write, call, travel to the places that have those records and still pay the state, county, library for copies.

    To get started ask you parents about their parents, if your grandparents are living, talk to them about their parents (your great grand). Talk to the oldest living relative that can answer questions about family on your mom's and dad's side. You order birth, death and marriage certificates from the state/counties they occurred in. School, church, military records, old newspapers with announcements, either birth, marriage, death, graduations, enlistments.

    Look at the state web sites that your family lines lived and died in. Some have State archives with online databases, IL. TX, MO, WV are ones that come to mind right now.

    Try free sites like the LDS Family Search Pilot records site.

    http://pilot.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.h...

    Rootsweb:

    http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/

    USGenWeb Project:

    http://usgenweb.org/

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  • Anonymous
    1 decade ago

    > I don't think I should have to pay for my history, . . .

    I don't think I should have to obey the speed limits, be limited to one wife, have to pay for food and drink - especially Mendocino County chardonnay, dry and crisp as a gravenstein apple, served with a grilled salmon slab and herb roasted potatoes - or need to mow the lawn when my wife asks me.

    I think we are both going to be disapointed.

    Just start digging in your grandmother's attic for all the birth, death and marriage records you need. Hope she kept a copy of what she told the census enumertor from 1850 - 1930, too. If you can't find them, you will have to buy them from the county, one record at a time, or sign up for Ancestry.com.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Most libraries have a free ancestry site, all you need is a library card and you can access it from home with your number. My library has heritage quest, but every library is different.

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  • 1 decade ago

    Unfortunately, the kind of information you want is best found on the paysites, unless you have time to personally go down to the local courthouse and review records (even then you might be limited to your name only).

    I would say go to ancestry.com and sign up for the free trial...do as much research as you can in the two weeks and then cancel it before you are billed.

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