Best Free Genealogy and Family History Websites

By David A. Fryxell

Sign up for the Family Tree Newsletter Plus, you’ll receive our 10 Essential Genealogy Research Forms PDF as a special thank you!

Get Your Free Genealogy Forms

"*" indicates required fields

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
People sitting and having coffee while looking at a free genealogy website on an iPad.

In this article:

Free General Genealogy Websites

Free Newspaper Archives

Free UK Genealogy Websites

Free Canadian Genealogy Websites

Free Irish Genealogy Websites

Free Danish Genealogy Websites

Free Norwegian Genealogy Websites

Free Central and Eastern European Websites

Free French Genealogy Websites

Free German Genealogy Websites

Free Jewish Genealogy Websites

Free Dutch Genealogy Websites

Free Genealogy Technology Tools

Free Websites for Sharing Your Genealogy

Free Resources from Libraries and Archives

Related Reads

Finding your ancestors for free seems like an impossible task. Everywhere you turn, subscription-based access seems to be the only way to gain the family tree information you’re desperately seeking. But before you take out that second mortgage, take some time to do research on some of these totally free genealogy websites. Each of them has been reviewed and selected by our experts, and at some point winning our annual coveted “Best Websites” award.

Use this free genealogy research form to track searches in and other online genealogy databases.

This list is by no means exhaustive, nor is it entirely made up of “genealogy” websites. Instead, we’ve provided links and resources to sites that will be most valuable to you as a family historian. Browse the entire list, or jump right to the topic you’re looking for using the handy table of contents below.

Free General Genealogy Websites

Access Genealogy 

This grab-bag of free genealogy records keeps growing. Click the Databases tab to search data from Southern states, military records, small-town newspapers and the Guion Miller Roll index to Cherokee tribal members. The latter supplements what was already a must-bookmark site if you have Native American roots.

Allen County Public Library

Though based in Indiana, this library’s online reach extends much further—reflecting its status as the nation’s second-richest genealogy library.


More than 3,000 online collections (and growing) make this the internet’s largest home to free genealogy data, with recent updates spotlighting Italy, South America and US vital records. You can share and record your finds in family trees and a “Memories” gallery, and get research help from the wiki.

HeritageQuest Online 

Free to your home computer courtesy of your library card via participating institutions, HeritageQuest is “powered by” (but not owned by) This partnership has dramatically expanded its half-dozen collections to a sort of “ lite,” including the complete US census, military and immigration records, and city directories. Once logged in via your library, find Search and scroll all the way to the bottom to unlock more US records as well as selected foreign databases.

Olive Tree Genealogy  

Since its launch in 1996, this modest website has grown into a useful collection of how-to help and databases. It’s strongest on passenger records, heritage groups such as Palatines and American Indians, and less-familiar records, such as those for residents of orphans and almshouses.


This venerable free site still serves up how-to articles, databases of surnames and US locations, mailing lists, pedigree files and much more—making it an oldie but a goodie.


This website has been up and running for 20 years and recently got updated to provide users with a smoother mobile experience. Its state and county pages and special projects remain as vibrant as ever. Just found an ancestor who lived in, say, Stone County, Ark.? There’s a page for that, as for almost every other place your family may have landed.

Return to top

Free Newspaper Archives

California Digital Newspaper Collection

Read all about your California kin in this fast-growing collection that (at last count) contains more than 873,000 issues comprising more than 10.9 million pages and 48 million articles. The University of California, Riverside project can be searched or browsed by tag, county, date or title.

Chronicling America

Boasting almost 20 million pages from coast to coast, this Library of Congress project digitizes US newspapers from 1777 to 1963 and offers a directory to help you find newspapers in libraries.


One click seeks your ancestors in 200 million-plus items from more than 4,300 newspaper titles. Elephind searches big collections (including the aforementioned Chronicling America) as well as small, such as academic archives, and goes overseas to include plenty of Australian papers.

This specialized site will have you perversely wishing all your ancestors had died in train wrecks, fires, floods, shipwrecks, plane crashes or other disasters. Search by keyword or browse by type of disaster, state or province, or year to find transcribed newspaper accounts of the events.

Online Historical Newspapers

Though still a work in progress, this website is worth bookmarking for help in answering these key questions: Are newspapers from my ancestors’ town online? And if so, where?

Return to top

Free UK Genealogy Websites


Volunteers for this site’s three online transcription projects have made available 288 million birth, marriage and death records (1837–1992); 55 million records from parish registers (1500s and later); and entries on 44.5 million individuals from census data (1841–1891). Before you pay to find your UK kin, check here.


Get your British Isles genealogy questions answered in this virtual reference library of genealogical information about the UK and Ireland (GENeaology + UK + Ireland = GENUKI). Maps, how-to’s, a church database, FAQs and more will jump-start your research.

Return to top

Free Canadian Genealogy Websites

Library and Archives Canada 

Do your one-stop “shopping” here for free Canadian censuses, immigration lists, vital records, land and military files at this umbrella site.

Return to top

Free Irish Genealogy Websites

National Archives of Ireland 

Explore your Irish ancestry in this collection that includes 1901 and 1911 census records, census survivals (1821–1851), census search forms (1841–1851), Tithe Applotment Books (1823–1837), Soldiers’ Wills (1914–1918), and the Calendars of Wills and Administrations (1858–1922).

National Library of Ireland 

The pot of gold here is the free collection of images of birth, marriage and burial registers from the majority of Catholic parishes in Ireland and Northern Ireland, dating from the 1700s to about 1880. You can browse them by parish; click on the map at to get started.

Return to top

Free Danish Genealogy Websites

Danish Demographic Database

Find the Danes in your family tree with this English-accessible collection of all Danish censuses plus some probate and emigration records.

Return to top

Free Norwegian Genealogy Websites


The fully scanned 1875 census adds to this comprehensive collection of Norwegian enumerations, church records, emigration information, historical photographs, land and probate records and more. Click the link for digitized archives to get started.

Return to top

Free Central and Eastern European Genealogy Websites

Federation of Eastern European Family History Societies

The map library is the star of the organization’s site, but you’ll also find databases and how-to guides.

Search nearly 2 million pages relevant to Central and East European family history here, including historical directories, Holocaust memorials, military lists and school sources.

Return to top

Free French Genealogy Websites


Find your French families with this site’s guides to archives, a genealogy encyclopedia, uploaded trees and beaucoup links.

Return to top

Free German Genealogy Websites

German Genealogy Server

Yes, this site from Germany’s Association for Computer Genealogy is in Deutsch, but Google Translate can open the door to its mailing lists, forum, society pages, digitized books, gazetteer, WWI casualty database and research aids.

Return to top

Free Jewish Genealogy Websites

Israel Genealogy Research Association

The 2.5 million-plus records in this collection range in date from the Ottoman era to the early 1950s, and cover Jewish communities both in Israel and elsewhere, including North Africa and Middle Eastern countries.


The dozens of databases here include the 500,000 surname and town entries in the JewishGen Family Finder, 7 million names in the Family Tree of the Jewish People, a database of 6,000 Jewish communities, a 54-nation gazetteer, and 3.6 million entries on victims of the Holocaust.

Return to top

Free Dutch Genealogy Websites

Wie Was Wie

This home to 220 million entries about Dutch ancestors puts civil-registration records at your fingertips, along with population and church registers and family trees and biographies.

Return to top

Free Genealogy Technology Tools

Cyndi’s List 

Launched in 1996, Cyndi’s List remains the go-to resource for carefully categorized links to genealogy websites—more than 316,000 in 229 categories, last we looked.


This digital scrapbook lets you save web pages and genealogy finds on one device—tablet, PC, Mac, even your phone—and then access them on all your gadgets.


Match your autosomal DNA (atDNA) results with genetic kin who’ve uploaded their data from AncestryDNA, 23andMe, MyHeritage DNA or Family Tree DNA’s Family Finder.


Seriously, if you’re not already using the search, mapping, translation and other tools here, you probably shouldn’t be reading this article.

International Society of Genetic Genealogy Wiki 

Learn all about genetic-genealogy technology from the experts at this informative wiki, founded in 2005 by DNA project administrators.

Internet Archive 

The long list of collections here ranges from millions of library items to specialized collections for California and Portugal. Plus the Wayback Machine can find vanished genealogy sites from the early internet. (Remember Geocities?)

One-Step Web Pages 

Clever Steve Morse has figured out how to dive deep into genealogy databases—notably censuses and passenger records—with flexible search forms. (Matches in subscription websites require payment to view.)


Build your own family history website with the most popular platform, complete with thousands of free themes, or host a blog-style site at the companion

Return to top

Free Websites for Sharing Your Genealogy


Not just for posting political rants and pictures of your kids, the world’s biggest social networking site is also a useful tool for finding cousins and sharing research finds. All your favorite genealogy organizations (including Family Tree Magazine) have pages as well.


Start your own online tree here by looking for matches among 245 million individual profiles generated by 15 million users. You can also invite family members to collaborate.


Sort of like Facebook for images, this online scrapbook/digital tagboard has proven a valuable tool for family historians, who share everything from records to old photos.


Winner of the Developer Challenge at FamilySearch’s 2013 RootsTech conference, Treelines takes a narrative approach to online family trees, helping you turn your pedigree charts into ancestral stories.


This wiki-style project from the Foundation for On-Line Genealogy has pages for over 3 million ancestors of its members.


This shared family tree includes more than 33 million profiles contributed by more than 972,000 genealogists from around the world. Don’t let the sharing scare you, though: Modern family histories are private; as you go back in time, the privacy controls open up.

Return to top

Free Resources from Libraries and Archives

Allen County Public Library 

Though based in Indiana, this library’s online reach extends much further—reflecting its status as the nation’s second-richest genealogy library. Special collections focus on Native American, African American, military and family Bible records.

Ancestry Library Edition

Your local library may offer you access to’s immigration, census, vital and other records through Ancestry Library Edition. The library has to pay, of course, but it’s free to you as a patron.


An offshoot of 101 Best Websites fave WorldCat, ArchiveGrid searches more than 7 million descriptions of archival records from 1,400 different institutions. Learn about historical documents, personal papers, family histories and other materials that may mention your ancestors. A clickable map makes it easy to find archives near you.

Digital Library on American Slavery

This University of North Carolina at Greensboro project compiles sources including extracts from court and legislative petitions, slave “deeds,” insurance registries and “wanted” ads for escaped slaves. The focus is North Carolina, but data relate to all slave states.

Digital Public Library of America 

One click searches more than 47 million digitized items from libraries, archives and museums, or you can navigate via interactive timelines and maps. Your searches also include FamilySearch’s growing free digital historical book collection.

Genealogy Gophers 

Smart, intuitive searching is the hallmark of the partnership with Family­Search here, which quickly combs 80,000 digitized books.


Log in with credentials from a participating institution such as a university to get the most out of this digital library’s almost 17 million total volumes and 6 billion pages. But there’s plenty here accessible to the general public, too.

Library of Congress 

Though not specifically focused on genealogy, the nation’s library has plenty to offer online, including the National Union Catalog of Manuscript Collections and its own comprehensive catalog.

National Archives and Records Administration 

Read all about the genealogical treasures stored at the National Archives, order military and other records, and browse historical maps and photos. Access to Archival Databases serves up files ranging from WWII enlistments to passenger lists for millions of German, Irish, Russian and Italian immigrants.

Midwest Genealogy Center 

This site from the Mid-Continent Public Library in Independence, Mo., taps one of the nation’s largest genealogy collections. Online extras include an index to US Railroad Retirement Board pension records.

New York Public Library Digital Collections 

The cool factor is off the charts at this handsome home to more than 900,000 digitized prints, photographs, maps, manuscripts, videos and other items. The site’s maps and atlases alone are worth a visit.


Find your family history in 3 billion items at 10,000 of the world’s libraries, then click to see holdings nearest you.

Return to top

Hit the online road with this travel guide of starter tips and websites guaranteed to rev up your genealogy search.
Ancestry or MyHeritage? FamilySearch or Findmypast? Our expert compares the records, family trees and DNA tests of the “Big Four” genealogy websites.
Take the time to explore every one of these websites that covers a state (or territory) where your ancestors lived.

Last updated: January 2023