Researching your family ancestry can be a lot of fun, and also a lot of work! A lot of the time people never finish a family tree simply because they’ve been through a few bad resources that charged a lot of money, and never supplied great results. In order to spare you the same experience, I’ve compiled this guide consisting of the top 5 resources to research your family history. All of these resources are considered to be top rated genealogical databases, and some of them won’t even charge you a dime for the information they can provide!
Ellis Island.org – Since many American immigrants first entered this country through the Ellis Island Port Authority, this website could be excellent resource to use in researching our family ancestry. Using this genealogy database is free, although many of its features will require you to register an account. The search checks passenger records which will include first and last names, residence (If given), date of arrival, and their age when they arrived. You can also view the passenger records, ship manifest, and often the name and photo of the ship they arrived on. Another nice search feature of this site is that you can enable a “search by ship” and “sounds like” option. These options are useful just in case your information is a bit sketchy such as being unsure of the correct spelling of an ancestor’s name, but you have other information to help you narrow your search.
Ancestry.com – Is one of the largest and most popular subscription based American genealogical research databases. Their featured collections of ancestral historical data includes, but is not limited to, Jewish and African-American family ancestry, U.S. military and immigration records, and U.S and U.K. census records going back as far as 1790. One of the great features on Ancestry.com is that it is also set up so users can post family trees and family reunion contact information so that you can get a hold of long lost family members, including the ones you never knew you had!
Scotland’s People – This is the official government source of genealogical data for Scotland. Here you will be able to find and research statutory registers (Births, marriages, death), census records, old parish registers, as well as other records such as wills and coat of arms data from an online compilation of over 50 million records going as far back as the year 1513. Searching for most records is free of charge for registered accounts, but there are various charges you will have to pay in order to view the actual documents.
African Ancestry – Uses DNA to track African lineage. Their African Lineage Database claims to be the largest and most comprehensive resource of African lineages available; with data being compiled from historians, anthropologists, linguists and geneticists. The genealogy database at African Ancestry.com currently includes lineages from thirty countries and over two hundred ethnic groups. Because of this vast database this African genealogy service claims to be able to find identical matches for approximately 85% of the people they test, with the ability to find closely related lineages at around 95%. Prices for the DNA test kit which will also provide paternal or maternal roots is currently around $300, with less expensive options being available if you have already taken a DNA test and can supply them the results.
Family Search – Is a free online genealogical search provided by The Church of Latter-Day Saints. You can actually pull up some great information on ancestors through this site because it actually not only interfaces with US and international census records, but it also searches church records! You can actually find out what church related event an ancestor attended or the date and location of their christening.