You can search your ancestry for free using the many available databases on the Internet, but there are certain mistakes you don’t want to make when conducting a free online ancestry search. There is lots of advertising for free ancestry this and free ancestry that online, but there are often underlying costs involved that are not apparent to the untrained genealogical, or even Internet eye! This article will discuss some of the mistakes that beginning genealogists and internet users make when looking to compose their ancestry for free.
Probably the biggest mistake that beginners make when searching their ancestry for free is using the word "Free" as a search term. If you use terms like "free ancestry" or "free genealogy", you’re going to receive anywhere from two to ten million results; and 99.9% of them won’t be free at all. It is better to use terminology such as "free access vital record" or "no cost genealogy". This type of free online ancestry search will return results that are genuinely free to use.Try Ancestry.com and get 14 Days FREE!
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Using the + sign in your Google search is another overlooked option when searching ancestry for free. Using this tool allows you to sift the genuinely free sites from those that have hidden expenses. For instance, try typing "free+access+genealogy+records" in the search box at Google. You’ll notice that you receive a mere 346,000 results, and the top five web pages all have genuinely free means of searching ancestors.
Registering your credit card information on a website to get a free trial will allow you free access to some genealogical records, but if you neglect to cancel your subscription before the allotted time, you’re going to be charged. This happens quite frequently, especially with people who register for more than one trial. Many beginning genealogists get caught up in the excitement of locating their family member, or get frustrated from searching for long periods of time without getting results. In turn they sign up for a free trial, and quite often forget to cancel their subscription, only to remember when they see that their card has been charged. If you do sign up for a free trial, mark the cancellation date in your calendar, or program a reminder to yourself so that you remember to cancel your subscription, or you won’t have searched your ancestry for free after all.
Overlooking off-line resources is a common error made by beginning family historians when attempting to build their ancestry for free. Public Libraries, Genealogical Societies and Family History Centres all have vast resources available to those who wish to search their ancestry for free. Public libraries and genealogical societies are often partners in a larger organization of information and data networks that have subscription to otherwise costly research databases. If your local library or genealogical society doesn’t have the records you seek, often one of their partner organizations will, and they can arrange access for you.
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The Family History Centres operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter day Saints (Mormon Church or LDS) have a vast genealogical database, and they are devoted to assisting family historians to research their ancestry for free. You can find the Family History Centre closes to you by going to FamilySearch.org and searching the locations of their worldwide association of Family History Centres under the "Library" heading.
Avoiding these basic mistakes (I’ve made them myself!) when searching your ancestry for free, will not only help you to find genuinely free ancestry resources, but make you a better researcher as well. Conducting an ancestors search can be a long and tedious undertaking, and it’s easy to succumb to the temptation of clever marketing. Don’t fall into the trap of confining yourself to the internet as a research module. You can find your ancestors at off-line depots as well, and have fun doing it while meeting people of similar interests. Join a Genealogical Society near you, and learn from the pros how to really search your ancestry for free!
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