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How To Use Free Ancestry Search Sites

Updated on June 6, 2013

Today, those who wish to learn their family heritage have an advantage over our ancestors. Vital, military, census, voters, immigration and public records are available to assist in tracking our family lineage. Many people hop on the web and think they will quickly find their ancestors through the several "free" search sites offered.

We see them all over the web; free genealogy search sites. The word "free," on any label, instantly attracts attention. Being compelled by this offer, you click on the site. You are allowed to enter information of a relative. Anxiously, you click the "search" button to find, not information on your relative, but a demand to join the site's community if you want to get results on your inquiry.

You proceed to give your name and email address. Thinking you will now be able to get your results, the next window to open is a form for billing information. This is where you find out you have to give your credit card information for a 7-day trial offer to access your desired information.

Selecting to continue without a plan could limit your ability to search. You may also end up spending money you not not intended to spend. If you haven't really thought through the work and time it will take to handle this project, you may feel you can accomplish this in your free time. .With routine responsibilities, work, family and recreation, you may feel you can use the trial period in your spare time to find results. As you start your journey, you find how time-consuming and frustrating it can be.

The most efficient method to use these search sites for free::

  1. PLAN TIME: Commit a certain time to take the best opportunity of the "trial" offer. Searching for family with little or no clues is time consuming, frustrating and forever rewarding. Maybe use a vacation time where all you want to do is rest. This will allow you the entire day to go back and forth to the site. Intermissions are necessary to allow your brain to rest.
  2. DETERMINE SUPPLIES: Which will be more comfortable to use; desktop, laptop or tablet? Do you have enough ink in your printer and paper? Are writing utensils ready available for note taking. You may want to print out the information, spread it out on the table to understand all the information. You can create a sketch of your family tree.
  3. INVESTIGATE COSTS FIRST: Some genealogy sites clearly show varies payment plans you can select. However there are some where the cost is hidden. You really have to check the site in order to find out the cost. Most of the time, if the cost isn't easily readable, the membership is really expensive. Do this first before signing up for a free trial. You have to think about the possibility of forgetting to cancel before the end of the trial. On the opposite side, you may really like the site and want to continue membership.
  4. USE A CALENDAR: When you sign up for a trial period, the site will tell you how long you will have to freely browse before your credit card is charged. Jot down the date you signed up and note the day before your trial period ends. Canceling the day before will ensure you have canceled BEFORE the trial end date.
  5. COMPARE RESOURCES: While on the site, if the available resources yield little results, you may want to cancel immediately. Some sites have more information and may be easier to search than others. Start with the most popular site and compare your findings to the smaller sites. This is also why you need to have a committed time to handle this project.
  6. DON'T GET FRUSTRATED: With plenty of records to check, often you will have to cross reference and recheck information. If you are having a problem finding material, try a search engine like Google, by placing the name and date born in quotes. This tactic is unpredictable; you may have a hit or you may get a response to remove the quotes.
  7. ASK FOR HELP: Get other family members involved if they have available time. Message others in the community of the search site you are on if you find an overlap into another family. Also, if the material isn't online, it may be stuck in the library where the relative lived. Although you may no longer live in the area, you can have lovsl family members check the library for you. Everything is not on-line, unfortunately.
  8. STAY WITH IT. If you find a site with several pieces of information on your family, you may want to stick. Pick a plan which best suits your budget.

You can use the search engines, as well, to find information. If you put quotation marks around what you are looking for, you will get exact results. Some of the smaller genealogy sites may have information you haven't seen. However those links may refer back to the major sites such as and Remember, if this is something you really want, continue your journey until you are satisfied.

Happy Hunting and Have Fun!

"Genealogy On The Cheap"

Which side of the family have you had the most success?

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    • OMGirdle profile image

      OMGirdle 4 years ago from United States

      @Vinaya I didn't think there would be an online archive of my ancestry either. But if I had not tried, I wouldn't have found some valuable information. Your comment is welcomed.

    • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

      Vinaya Ghimire 4 years ago from Nepal

      This will not help me because there is no online archive of my ancestry. However, we have published a book tracing authentic ancestry of more than a thousand years.

      PS: Thanks for leaving a valuable feedback on my photography hub.

    • alocsin profile image

      alocsin 5 years ago from Orange County, CA

      Thank you for these tips, which are useful to all amateur genealogists such as myself. Voting this Up and Useful.

    • maglette profile image

      maglette 5 years ago from London

      Very good Hub here..... lots of good tips!

    • Nancy Owens profile image

      Nancy Owens 5 years ago from USA

      This is great advice for beginners. Working on my ancestry has been on my bucket list for a long time, but I haven't started yet. I'm glad I read this hub. Now I have some directions on how to get going. Thanks OMGirdle, for a very useful Hub. Voted up and useful!

    • KrystalD profile image

      KrystalD 5 years ago from Los Angeles

      This was very informative and well put together. I have been wanting to try this but thought it was to complicated. Thank you for showing me how it works.