50+ (Mostly) Free Essential Resources for Genealogy Research

Last month, I share ten favorite types of genealogy resources. That started me thinking and I realized that I last shared a lengthy list of genealogy websites and resources way back in 2017.

It’s time to share an updated list of mostly free genealogy resources that all serious genealogists should have in their research toolboxes.

I’ve divided the list into twelve categories, with almost all being 100% free. Exceptions are mainly in Categories 1,2 & 3.

Here is the 2023 list. This year’s resources have been selected because, in general, most genealogists will find they need them at some point.

1. $$ Genealogy Software – It is essential that you own genealogy software, housed on your own computer, to keep control of your work. Share online trees wherever you want, but your software program should be the place where you enter and update data.

Most of these software programs have a limited version to try out for free:

Family Historian (PC)
Family Tree Maker (PC & Mac)
Heredis (PC & Mac)
Legacy Family Tree (PC)
MacFamilyTree (Mac)
Reunion (Mac)
RootsMagic (PC & Mac)

All are solid programs that have been around for a long time.
What’s important is that you use one!

2. Large Genealogy Databases

FREE – FamilySearch
$$ AmericanAncestors (main focus on New England, but expanding to other places)
Ancestry worldwide record database
ArkivDigital Swedish records
$$ FindMyPast – focus on UK records
MyHeritage – world record database
Roots Ireland
$$ ScotlandsPeople
$$ Your country of interest

Before leaving the subscription-based resources, it is important to know that it is okay to pick and choose the subscriptions that are most useful to you at the moment for your personal research.

Few of us have unlimited budgets. Personally, I allow subscriptions to lapse when I am not using them regularly and then renew when the need arises. That helps keep the genealogy budget under control!

3. Genealogy Education

Conference Keeper – calendar of most upcoming genealogy webinars. Most online webinars are free if viewed live.
YouTube – Thousands of free genealogy-related videos
$$ Salt Lake Institute of Genealogy (SLIG)
$$ Institute of Genealogy and Historical Research (IGHR)
$$ Genealogical Research Institute of Pittsburgh (GRIP)
$$ Applied Genealogy Institute (AppGen)

4. Country/State or Province/County/Local Repositories

Some countries whose first language is not English have translation buttons on their website to convert to English.

U.S. National Archives and Records Administration (NARA)
Libraries and Archives Canada (and provincial archives)
Danish National Archives
Swedish National Archives
The National Archives – UK
National Archives of Slovakia
DAR Library – Not just for Revolutionary War ancestry, but focuses on U.S. history
Your Country of Interest
State/Provincial Archives – Search online for those of interest. Most have online collections and reference librarian help if you telephone or email.
University/College Libraries and Special Collections – Search online for your schools of interest.

5. Historical Newspapers Online

Chronicling America
Google News Archive Search
The Ancestor Hunt

6. Maps and Land Records

Understanding Metes and Bounds
$$ DeedMapper
Understanding the Public Land Survey System
Atlas of Historical County Boundaries
Bureau of Land Management Federal Land Records
New York Public Library Digital Collection of Maps & Atlases
Sanborn Fire Insurance Maps
University of Texas – Perry-Castaneda Library Map Collection
David Rumsey Map Collection

7. Books

FamilySearch Digital Library
Google Books
Internet Archive

8. Genealogy Website Links

Cyndi’s List

9. Reference Tools

Tombstone Birthday Calculator
One-Step Webpages by Stephen P. Morse
U.S. Dollar Value – Then and Now
BYU’s Script Tutorial
Irfanview – free web clipper used in the Family History Library

10. DNA Education

International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki
DNAeXplained – Genetic Genealogy by Robert Estes – Click the HELP tab for a list of topics

11. Help Forums

Genealogy on Facebook Groups by Katherine Willson – PDF of 16,000+ genealogically/historically/locality related groups
FamilySearch Community
Family History Library Online Genealogy Consultation

12. Empty Branches on the Family Tree Blog

Historical Newspapers Online – Worldwide newspapers available online. Scroll down past the Libraries and Archives list.
Digitized County Histories– Links to all 50 states and their counties
Maps and Land Records Online – Links to U.S. and worldwide
U.S. State Links – Links compiled for all 50 states. Click and view the drop down menu.

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