We get many request from folks who ask “can you help me find my ancestors?” My answer:
when you are ready to delve into your family tree you can begin with a free ancestor search on the internet. You will have a lot of questions to be answered, and as long as you have some basic, preliminary information, you can do most of the detective work on your own, at no cost to you.
Find My Ancestors
First, you need to gather all of the information you can about your ancestors. You can organize this on www.myheritage.com, where a family tree diagram will be organized for you; you simply have to gather names, dates, birth places, any information on dates of death and so on. If you have family elders still living, you should interview these people. Search for photographs as these can be placed on this site also. This will give you a good starting point for organizing your free ancestor search.
There are quite a few web sites dedicated to ancestry searches and some of them can be conducted for free. One of these free ancestor search sites is www.familysearch.org. This site is run by the Mormons’ Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. There is a lot of information on this free site. In fact, it is one of the most powerful ancestry search engines on the internet today. If you input the person’s name, place and dates of birth or death, you will get information that you may find extremely helpful. The U.S. Census is linked here, so that data comes up. The dates of birth, places of residence and children’s names will appear on your screen. You will also find links to marriage records for this person. There is a Learning Section and a Blog to help you navigate not only this site, but other ancestry searches in general.
Often, these free searches can only be performed if you join the organization on a free trial basis. For instance, www.ancestry.com will allow you trial access to their site for a free ancestor search. It has a very large online community that does nothing but ancestry searches! You can find other people who are searching for your family members and contact them through the site. You can also search publicly placed member trees to find your own family members. There’s a world of information on this site, showing how to conduct your search. Locate birth, marriage and death records. Access the U.S. Census Records, immigration and emigration reports and military information on your ancestors.
Now some of these pieces of the puzzle can also be accessed freely by simply going to the U.S. Census Bureau site. You can also access the Social Security Death Index site to get information there. But if your ancestors emigrated here from another country, checking the Ellis Island web site can offer you a lot of data on your relatives: when they came to America, who was traveling with them, their age at the time, how much money they had with them, the town they came from, and more. This can be a wonderful source that will lead you down other paths to discovering your past. So the next time you ask “can you help me find my ancestors you have some great information here to get you started.
by Leonard Smith