'Cheap & Free Ways to Trace Your Ancestry'

There’s a raft of resources out there to help you delve into your family history and find out about your ancestors. Some are free, yet others charge a hefty whack to track down your roots.

So we want to tap MoneySavers for the best free and cheap ways to trace your tree.

Please post below to share your top tips.



  • I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ Of Latterday Saints and we have up to date facilities to trace your ancesters for free. All you have to do is find the nearest building in the phone book and give them a call to see when the next available time slot is as you have to book in as it can get busy. It is free, donations are greatfully recieved. There are professional people there to assist if anyone wants to learn also. but booking an appointment is a must you cant just turn up.
  • webwiz
    webwiz Posts: 215
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Go to www.cyndislist.com for all the free on-line sites.
  • There is also an easy to use web site, freely available from them. (be careful some dates are a little iffy). www.familysearch.org
  • Another one is http://www.freebmd.org.uk/
    FreeBMD is an ongoing project, the aim of which is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales, and to provide free Internet access to the transcribed records.
  • aje_2
    aje_2 Posts: 1 Newbie

    The top three are limited because they rely on volunteers scanning information in, but you do sometimes get decent information from there. Rootschat is a way to compare trees and geneology data with other searchers.
  • Don't forget your central library. In Birmingham we have Kellys Directories, which show many of the local addresses, occupations etc of local traders, although not everyone is shown there. We have electoral rolls there, too.
  • AdrianR_2
    AdrianR_2 Posts: 40 Forumite
    There is so much to add here. The first is that genealogy is not like on Who Do You Think you Are, this gives the impression that it is easy to look up your family tree, and within a couple of weeks you will have all the links possible, in a tree with thousands of roots. If you are lucky, and a number of things are in your favour, you could progress steadily and find a number of relatives fairly quickly. If you are serious about looking into you tree, consider the following
    What is your research plan? - do you want to look at direct ancestors, all the descendants of those ancestors, do you want to research all with links in one family name, are you wanting to find as many relations as you can, no matter how far from the ancestral line they go, do you want to research the full lives of individuals with everything abut them, and how fussy are you about the accuracy of your research?
    How will you collate the research data? - Do you want to use software on your PC (paid or free), keep paper records, use an online genealogy website to store the data, or just keep it in your head!
    Privacy - You must preserve the privacy of people alive today. In genealogy you will learn of living people's birth date and place of birth, mother's maiden name, occupation and a whole host of information that could ruin someone through fraud, id theft or just gossip. Think carefully on what and how you keep your info, if publishing it, remove as much data on the living as you can. As an example, on websites I tend only to publish the surname of a living relative and no more. Be careful too who you give your information to. You may find someone online who appears to be connected to your tree and a website has 'hot matched' you, but nearly everyone has a Smith, Brown or Jones in their tree, and some even have fake ones!
    Copyright - remember to ask permission to use the work of others, and acknowledge them for their work if you publish it. Think what copyright you want for your work, look into 'Creative Commons' as an option. Do not pass off the work off others as your own. Keep in touch with those you take info from as they may find research later that changes complete lines. Verify the work of others, moking sure you get the same results.
    Record the source of your information - I cannot stress this enough. Document where you found information, whether it was said, written or digitised. This is your only way to prove the validity of your research, and the only way to keep track of it when you come to review it.

    There are many free resources out there, though paying for some things will improve your chances and speed. I will do another post on what I use later


    All my software is completely free,even the operating system. Look at Linux :)
  • Does anyone know of a free software cd for storing family tree data, please? Compatible with Vista, if poss.

  • AdrianR_2
    AdrianR_2 Posts: 40 Forumite
    First of all recording the data,
    I used to use Family Tree Maker from a freebie on a newspaper, but I then started looking at Linux for a free operating system and I found GRAMPS really suited my needs and I can feel really involved in the software. There is a Windows version, but I prefer it on Ubuntu :) This software allows me to store all my data, and allows me the ability to publish it on paper or as a website. I could say more, but that's another thread.

    I also subscribe to GenesReunited because this allows me to connect with people I would otherwise never meet. Upload your tree and you can often find people will come to you! Remember privacy though, especially your own.

    I also subscribe to Ancestry.co.uk but you can go for a month at a time if dipping your toes, you have set yourself a specified time or you are able to specify exactly what you want to gain. Ancestry.co.uk membership can give you access to a great deal of census records for the UK and depending on your subscription this can have overseas data too, though remember 1881 is free and other sites do post other census info, but it is not as comprehensive. The 1911 census is just becoming available here with some degree of free searching.

    The main things to remember are not to trust other's research unless you have checked it yourself, websites that hold historical data may not have the best search engine and lateral thinking may be needed, names are not always written or transcribed correctly and don't take who you find too much to heart. Just because there is a line of murderers does not mean you need to do the same, there will be many other lines that can absolve any guilt. Do not expect to become an aristocrat and gain great wealth just because Great Great Aunt Mildred knew a member of the Royal Family. And always, always always, write down what, where, when and how you heard about any peice of info.

    Websites that I use which have free elements to them include;


    ultimately http://www.cyndislist.com/

    to name a few
    All my software is completely free,even the operating system. Look at Linux :)
  • http://ukfamilyhistory.bravehost.com
    This is a site I found very helpful when researching my family history. There aren't any lists of people or censuses (or is that censi) on it but it does give details of lots of sites that you can search for free.
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