Totally Free Ancestry Records – Secret Sources of Totally Free Ancestry Records

Totally free ancestry records are in great demand by family historians, and due to the competitive nature of the internet, just about everyone is advertising them. There are several major websites that do offer legitimate and totally free ancestry records, and they are extremely valuable to the family historian. But it's not always possible to locate our ancestors in the standard databases of totally free ancestry records like census reports and BMD indexes. In those instances we must begin to dig deep into our ancestor's history, and try to find them in more obscure records. Following are some suggestions on how you might find ancestors in the minor databases of totally free ancestry records.

School Registers as Totally Free Ancestry Records

There are many websites now placing details of old school registers and log books online, in addition to photographs of the old school buildings and attending pupils. These make for excellent totally free ancestry records, and an excellent source for them is the website, where you’ll find links to totally free ancestry records that are available online.

Trade Directories as Totally Free Ancestry Records

What are ancestors did for a living may be detailed on certificates, church register entries, and census reports, but there is a wealth of other sources that can serve as totally free ancestry records. Produced in the 18th, 19th, and early 20th centuries, Trade and Commercial Directories make excellent totally free ancestry records. They provide us with an image of a bygone era, and provide a description of the area and a listing of tradesmen within it. Later directories even gave the addresses of those listed in them, and early Telephone Directories can help you to establish if your family were at the forefront of social change.

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These totally free ancestry records may seem of little value to you, particularly if your ancestor wasn't a tradesman, but if you possess old studio photos that you're struggling to identify, they may be of immense value. Knowing when a particular studio was operating at a particular address can help you to date a photograph, and consequently provide you with a good idea of the age or ages of those within.

Occupational Records as Totally Free Ancestry Records

There are many websites now being set up for specific occupations, and these can be an excellent source of totally free ancestry records. You can now find sites with details of a variety of trades, the workers, their histories and tragedies, and much more. Railway workers details, for instance, can be found hidden within the websites of Railway Companies or old newspaper articles. These provide substantial value as totally free ancestry records, especially if you are looking for the details of an accident or tragedy.

Prison Records as Totally Free Ancestry Records

Everyone has a "Black Sheep" in the family, and it's possible one of your ancestors ended up in jail or prison for awhile. It was much easier to be sent to jail or debtors prison in times gone by, and high percentages of the working class spent time in Gaol. There are many totally free ancestry records online offering indexes of court records, newspaper articles, actual prison records, convicts lists, and more. Manu gaol records provide those extra details about a family member every genealogist loves to have such as; height, weight, eye colour, and whether or not they were prone to eccentric behaviour. Don't discount the value of prison records as totally free ancestry records just because you might be embarrassed at what you may find!

Ship's Lists and Immigration Records as Totally Free Ancestry Records

If your ancestor went abroad of their own free will or participated in a placement scheme, you may well find them in totally free ancestry records such as Immigration and Ship’s lists. Many websites contain journals of the crossing, or photographs of the ship to help you imagine your ancestor sailing across the ocean. Ellis Island of course was the main port of call for people immigrating to America, and they have records of all ships that called there.

If you can’t find your ancestors at Ellis Island, prior to Ellis Island there was another port used called Castle Garden, which was used between 1830 and 1890, or there was the Barge Office for passengers arriving from 1890 – 91. You can see what totally free ancestry records are available for Castle Garden at

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As you can see there are many places outside the mainstream where you can locate totally free ancestry records. Everyday, as the popularity of genealogy soars, more and more totally free ancestry records are placed online by dedicated volunteers and family historians who are passionate about their past. Why not subscribe to our Newsletter to receive alerts whenever we discover new totally free ancestry records.

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