Humans have been tracking their ancestors for centuries. Understanding where one comes from can provide a sense of belonging, an understanding of culture, a connection to history, and a stronger sense of identity. In some cases, locating family information is a key to preventing or solving health issues.
Because the internet provides easy access to millions of records, ancestry searches have exploded in recent years. Every day, people worldwide use online data to connect them to census records, obituaries, and other records. Anyone can use ancestry search websites, free resources, or both to learn more about their ancestors.
Ancestry Search Sites
Anyone researching an article source on genealogy will undoubtedly uncover a list of sites devoted exclusively to providing ancestry data. These websites simplify searches because they aggregate information from various resources, saving members the time and energy required for locating information piecemeal. While sites do charge a fee for their services, charges are reasonable—some people even gift site memberships to other family members interested in researching their family’s past.
The National Gravesite Locator
For those who want to track their ancestry for free or enjoy the process of sleuthing, sites like The National Gravesite Locator can be goldmines. The site is updated daily and includes burial locations of veterans and family members in VA National Cemeteries. It lists state veterans cemeteries, military and Department of Interior cemeteries, and veterans buried in private cemeteries, including graves marked with a government grave marker. The site offers burial records from many sources but does not have information about burials before 1997.
U.S. Census Records
Census records are an especially rich source of information about family histories. Until recently, a 72-year restriction on access to census reports meant that only records up to 1940 were available to the public. But, in April 2022, nearly seven million census records were made available to the public, and Millions of families can now research their history with 1950 US census records.
Ancestry search sites like Genealogy Bank include obituaries in their archives, making it simple for users to input known data and get detailed information about family members. Anyone can access census records on their own for free. The National Archives provides a free library containing records, photos, and documents. It is not only free to use, but the site also offers helpful guidance, according to realtimecampaign.com.
U.S. Chronicling America
The U.S. Library of Congress and National Endowment for the Humanities sponsor Chronicling America, a website that offers access to digitized newspaper pages from 1777 to 1963. Searchers can use a family member’s name and filter their search using a state and date range. There is also an Advanced Search option.
AccessGeneology is a website claiming to have the most extensive collection of free genealogy search resources. It references hundreds of thousands of free-to-use websites, but its specialty is Native American genealogy and history.
This website is devoted exclusively to African-American history. It offers resources that include photos, a surname database, marriage and death databases, and slave data collection.
The Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter-day Saints started this website as a local project more than a century ago. Today site users come from 238 countries. Anyone can create a free account at the non-profit website FamilySearch.org and then search for ancestors.
Locating information about one’s ancestors can help forge a stronger identity and build a connection with the past. Fortunately, dozens of online resources can be used to connect with census reports, obituaries, newspaper files, and other data that link the generations.