How to Find Your Ancestors Online for Free

Written by andrea buckner schoenherr
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An online search for your ancestors may result in family trees spanning centuries---the countless hours of work done by long-lost relatives. Even for those who cannot find family trees created by others, online searches will help you search for ancestors by analysing U.S. Census records, which are readily available online. While some sites offer paid subscriptions, there are easy ways to find your ancestors online for free.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Computer
  • Internet
  • Ancestry information
  • Family tree
  • Contact information for user-created documents
  • Record keeping system

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  1. 1

    Go to the website This free website requires no registration. Enter the name and other known information of an ancestor you are searching for. If you already have a family tree, referring to it as you search is helpful. Start with recent generations and work backward.

  2. 2

    Check the Pedigree Resource Files that appear. These files contain research and a link to family trees submitted by users to the site.

  3. 3

    Contact the user who submitted the information. Learn more about their research techniques and the credibility of their work. They may also know other interesting information about your ancestors.

  4. 4

    Use other available records through like the U.S. Census and Social Security Death Index to help trace your ancestors.

  1. 1

    Visit the completely free website This website is a database for family trees found across the Web.

  2. 2

    Search for an ancestor by their name. You may find a link to a genealogical website about your ancestors that was created by a family historian.

  3. 3

    Sign up to be alerted when another match is created for your search.

  1. 1

    Register for a free 14 day trial from While you can only use it free for a limited time, this website is the world's largest genealogical resource.

  2. 2

    Enter an ancestor's name to search for family trees, U.S. Census, military, Social Security and other records.

  3. 3

    View any possible family trees to see if they likely match your ancestors.

  4. 4

    Contact the creator of any plausible family trees to learn more about their research.

Tips and warnings

  • Create your own family tree online for other researchers to connect with you.
  • Develop a record keeping system, digital or hard copy of the information you discover.

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