Sunday, October 8, 2017

Family History Month: My Favorite FREE Genealogy Sites

I admit to playing favorites! My three favorite free genealogy sites are Family Search, Heritage Quest, and Find a Grave. I use all three nearly every day. Especially if I'm researching someone new to my tree, I'll check all three to see what I can find. 
  • - Not only does this comprehensive site have an incredible amount of information available for free (registration is required to view some images), the scanned images are also different quality than on other sites. If I look at the scanned Census on some other genealogy site and it's too light to be read, for instance, I can click to Family Search and see a different scan of that same Census. Even vital records scanned and posted on Family Search are often of different quality than from other sources. Case in point is the marriage license of hubby's maternal grandparents, Floyda Mabel Steiner (1878-1948) and Brice Larimer McClure (1878-1970). I paid for a copy nearly four years ago--then it turned up, for free, on Family Search three years ago. And the free copy was better quality than the paid copy! Plus Family Search's indexers may transcribe a name or place differently than the indexers used by other sites. This means I might find someone on this site after striking out on another site.
  • Heritage Quest - Many libraries offer cardholders free access to Heritage Quest from home. And it's a gold mine, not just for US Census data (including special schedules like the veterans schedule) but also for Revolutionary War pension and bounty-land records, Freedman's Bank Records, some immigration and naturalization records (newly added), Social Security Death Index, and much more. Ancestry "powers" Heritage Quest, so I suspect we'll see even more content available in the future. Remember, the scanned images and indexing is not the same as on other sites. No wonder I check here when I can't find someone or an image elsewhere isn't clear enough for me to decipher all the details.
  • Find a Grave - So many volunteers who create memorials and post grave photos on this site go above and beyond. It's always worth checking for an ancestor on Find a Grave because we may get lucky enough to see a death cert along with a memorial, or a transcribed census record, or a photo. I've been on a mission to indicate relationships on all of my ancestors on Find a Grave, linking parents to their children, for instance, as well as spouses to each other. Although I always double-check anything I find on this site, it's very helpful to see the relationship links and any additional details posted by volunteers. Gives me clues when I begin researching someone I don't know!
For more posts in my Genealogy, Free or Fee series, see here.

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