While I love my Ancestry account, I still find myself on the search for FREE genealogy tools that help me accomplish my research goals. Below are six of my favorites. I use most of these specifically for genealogy, but a few come in handy for my food history and heritage research, too. Bonus, right!Check out these 6 FREE genealogy tools! Click To Tweet
1) Internet Archive
Founded in 1996, the Internet Archive is a nonprofit organization dedicated to building a digital database of historical collections. I have been using this site for many years for both genealogy and food heritage research. It’s amazing what you can find sometimes if you just dig and read a little! After creating a free account, you have the ability to save your favorite finds. I have located several heritage cookbooks, local history books, and general history books that have aided in my research. Most of the books are accessible immediately, but, sometimes you have to “check out” the book just like you would from a physical library. I’ve used this primarily to hunt for books that I can’t find elsewhere, but their collections include video, audio, and images, too. It’s definitely worth a test drive!
On Twitter: @InternetArchive
2) Genealogy.com Forums
Oh, what can I say about Genealogy.com except that it was one of the first tools I started using way back in the day when I was but a pup … not that I’m old now! The site is primarily forums that are divided by both surname and geographical location. For example, if I search for a “Douglas” forum, I’ll receive a list that includes a forum for the Douglas surname as well as forums for the various Douglas Counties in the US – there are 12, by the way. Once you select a forum, you can search for a specific term (ancestor’s name, perhaps) within the forum. It’s all very easy, but takes a lot of reading! I have posts on this site that go back to the early 2000s, which seems forever ago. This site is a great way to connect with fellow researchers … everyone helps each other find or fine tune family history information.
3) Daughters of the American Revolution
The DAR Genealogloical Research System has been an invaluable resource for me. I have been able to find or confirm my ancestors who were part of the US Revolutionary War. I’ve also been able to confirm lineages based upon information provided on applications submitted to the DAR. You also have the option of purchasing these application. One fair warning, don’t give up … search variation of surname spellings and input various birth/death locations for an ancestor. We all know too well how names and dates can change for a single ancestor!
On Twitter: @TodaysDAR
4) US Library of Congress Chronicling America
I just discovered the Chronicling America site a few months ago, but it’s a great spot to spent (maybe waste!) some time, especially if you love old newspapers like I do. Each day on the homepage you’ll find links to newspapers from “100 years ago today”. I love this feature … just from an interest perspective. Digitized newspapers range from 1836 to 1922, but you can access a directory of newspapers from 1690 to the present. So far, I’ve only used this for recipe and food heritage research, but it will certainly come in handy for genealogy. I usually go to old newspapers and cookbooks to find glimpses of how people lived … newspapers are a great way to learn about what we considered important or newsworthy “then”. It’s very different from now.
On Twitter: @LibraryCongress
Linkpendium is the ultimate in genealogy resources, all with links. Currently, links for surnames worldwide are provided, along with geographical links for the US, UK, and Ireland. You just have to go there. Trust me, you’ll discover someplace new. Don’t, however, let yourself get overwhelmed. There really is a lot to look at. You also have the option of contributing to the site if you have or find a free resource that isn’t included.
6) Blacksheep Ancestors
Blacksheep Ancestors is fun to spend time on, even if you’re not searching for anyone specific. You’ll find court and prison records, insane asylum records, execution records, and biographies of famous outlaws and criminals. Various of these records are available for the US, Canada, and the UK. There is also a section dedicated to pirates … unfortunately, not the Captain Jack Sparrow kind! I think we all have a black sheep in our family tree … I have several. If you haven’t found one yet, keep digging!
Help build this list! Let us know what your favorite genealogy tool is in the comments!