What is the True Value of Free Genealogy Research Databases?
The abundance of free genealogy research databases available on the internet increases on a daily basis. As organizations complete their conversion of files to electronic form, they are uploaded to their website and become available for family historians to use. It would seem then that finding your ancestor would be a breeze with all that information about, but many of those free genealogy research databases may be irrelevant to your search or even free at all. So what is the true value of free genealogy research databases?
Finding Your ancestor Using Free Genealogy Research Databases
The best place to start the search for your ancestor is one of the major free genealogy databases that are available online. These include; FamilySearch.org, run by the Mormon Church and The National Archives or National Library of your ancestor’s country of residence. You may have noticed that I have included only one recognized website, that of The Mormon Church. This is because many sites that advertise free genealogy research databases are not free at all. You may be able to search for your ancestor, and you are likely to find them, but access to the actual index or records in the database requires you to either subscribe for a monthly price, or pay a small one time fee to access the documentation.
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Using the Family Search.org and Other Free Genealogy Research Databases
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Using the FamilySearch.org as a model for using free genealogy research database, I’ll go through the steps required to search for your ancestor. Once you log-on to FamilySearch.org you’ll notice the search engine right away. Located on the left hand side of the home page, the search criteria are clearly laid out. If you only know the name of your ancestor, don’t worry. If they’re in one of the free genealogy research databases possessed by the Mormon Church you’ll find them. I tested it with my father’s name, typing in the country of his birth, and found him instantly.
Of course the more information you have on your relative, the more accurate and focused your search can be. There are options for entering a life event such as a birth, death, or marriage, their country of birth, and the year or year range in which you think the event may have taken place. There is also a separate search engine at the bottom of the page where you can look for a Family History Center near you. Family History Centers are basically libraries full of free genealogy research databases maintained by the Mormon Church around the world. They are open to the public, and genuinely contain free genealogy research databases.
The Free Genealogy Research Databases of National Libraries and Archives
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Other free genealogy research databases are housed and maintained in the National Archives and National Libraries of most major countries. They often contain indexes for births, deaths, and marriages, wills, estate records, and military records. Many provide online access to their free genealogy research databases on their websites. It is best to visit that of yours or your ancestor country to find out for certain. Some may have access only to a portion of their complete set of records, but visiting the establishment in person, you will give you access to the full database. Most of these establishments make it easy for genealogists seeking free genealogy research databases by having a section especially for them. Usually the section of the website will be entitle Genealogy, or Genealogists/Family historians, and will contain only the free genealogy research databases that are relevant to a genealogical search.