Online Ancestry Search: Where to Start

Finding Information on Your Family Ancestors Online

There’s only so much you can do to find information about your ancestors from using old family records, newspapers, and such. Sometimes you have to search elsewhere, particularly if you’ve run into a road block. Finding information on your family ancestors online is one way to get past those road blocks and get back on track.

Obviously you’ll need to have a starting place when you’re searching for your family online. You may have a list of names, birth and death dates, and places of birth or death. These are a great place to begin, no matter how you go about finding your ancestors.

Obituaries are printed for everyone who passes away. If your loved one passed away after 1962, you can search the Social Security Death Index to determine exact date of death. The index will provide the person’s birth date, death date, and the place they last resided.  You may also want to try Genealogy Bank which has obituaries from over 1100 newspapers dating as far back at 1977.

If you already have some information about family members from the past, you may want to search for them on other online websites. Some genealogy websites are free to access and those might be the best place to start looking if you’re new to genealogy. After you’ve learned more about your family you may want to sign up for a subscription on the membership-based genealogy sites.

Free genealogy websites you may want to check out when finding information on your family ancestors include:
* Rootsweb.com
* MyHeritage.com
* FamilySearch.org
* EllisIsland.org
* CyndisList.com
* USGenWeb.com

Each of these websites will provide you with search functions as well as give you information on the best methods to search for your family online. Many genealogy websites also have forums where people can ask for information from people around the world.

The better-known genealogy websites require paid membership. These include Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com, WorldVitalRecords.com, and OneGreatFamily.com. These paid websites can be as little as $3.33 per month or as much as $24.95 per month depending upon if you choose to access to files in the United States or worldwide. Normally you will be billed annually for your membership.

If you’re not sure a paid membership site is right for you, most of them have trial memberships between one and two weeks. That will give you ample time to do some searching, find information that will be helpful in locating your family members, and let you know if there is a need to sign up.

As with any attempt at finding information on your family ancestors online, be sure to spell their name correctly. If you’re having problems finding them, you may want to consider that the surname (last name) may have changed over time. Try variations of spellings to ensure you find the people you’re looking for.

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