How to Find a Billion Free Ancestry Records

With more than six billion people in the world, and billions more that have lived through history, finding information about your ancestors can be an enormous challenge. But it's a challenge being made easier by some ginormous genealogy databases that can search through hundreds of millions of records -- even billions of records -- in just the wink of an eye.

These records reach around the world and across the centuries, and can shed light on family origins from all corners of the globe. Best of all, several of the largest and best family history databases are free to search.

Find out how to explore your own family's history in some of the biggest sources of genealogical information the internet has to offer.


    • 1

      Start at FamilySearch

      With more than 325 million records at its disposal, FamilySearch is one of the web's great genealogy resources.

      Created by the Mormon Church, FamilySearch is available for anyone to use, free of charge, and contains records from all over the word.

      This is a very active site, with new sources of ancestry information being added regularly, so be sure to check back here often. See the link in Resources to learn more about what FamilySearch has to offer.

    • 2

      Visit WorldConnect

      This amazing little (did I really say little?) database includes more than half a billion (with a 'b') records! Most of the material here stems from user-submitted family trees.

      In addition to quickly finding the information on a given name, you'll also see family connections. Even better, you can get the contact information for the person who submitted the family tree to begin with, meaning you can contact someone who is researching some of the same family members that you are.

    • 3

      Cross the Atlantic

      On the other side of the pond (or this side, for eHow's UK site), the absolutely wonderful FreeUKGEN site offers up more than 200 million name records spanning more than five centuries. Whew!

      You can access vital records here (births, deaths, marriages), census records, and parish and church records as well -- all for free.

      The emphasis here is on England and Wales, though Ireland, Scotland and other bits of the British Isles are covered as well.

    • 4

      Make Sure They're, er, Dead

      Even with just a mere 80 million records, the Social Security Death Index (SSDI) is still worth a visit. It includes almost all deaths of those receiving Social Security for the past six decades or so, and provides a host of useful information, right down to the deceased' s Social Security Number.

      For US deaths since about 1960, this is an absolutely invaluable family history resource.

    • 5

      Don't Forget

      Unlike the other sources mentioned, is not free, but with more than 6 billion records on hand, it's not one to overlook either.

      Actually, your initial search here IS free, and there's a surprising amount of information you can get at the site without having to subscribe. Definitely worth a visit.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't forget to research your family in old newspaper archives as of the best sources for ancestry research.
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  • Photo Credit Flickr Commons

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