Family History for Free!

I do like a bargain!  While I spend a fair amount on my family history resource (I subscribe to Ancestry.co.uk, Find My Past and belong to several family history societies) when it comes to wasting money, I’m as tight as a wet knot!  I don’t ever believe in paying for anything you don’t have to and it is surprising just how many sites offered on pay-per-view sites can be found completely free of charge.

Please don’t ever pay for anything without checking if it’s available free first of all.

For example, some Irish pay-per-view sites offer the Griffiths Valuation Books as part of their package.  These are available FREE OF CHARGE at the Ask About Ireland website (http://www.askaboutireland.ie/griffith-valuation/) and you can even explore their fabulous collection of maps too!

This got me thinking about some of my top FREE online resources and I came up with the following.  However, please come back to me with your favourites:

  • freebmd.org.uk: A free index to the births, marriage and death registers compiled by teams of volunteers all over the country.  They also have ‘sister’ sites including ‘FreeCen’ for the census and ‘FreeReg’ for parish registers.
  • gro.gov.uk: Use their free (if slightly awkward) indexes – the great thing about the birth index is that is shows the mother’s maiden name!
  • familysearch.org: Based in Salt Lake City, Utah, FamilySearch is a genealogy service operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The LDS church gathers, preserves, and shares genealogical records worldwide, and offers free access to its resources and services both online at FamilySearch.org and also at more than 4,500 family history centres worldwide.  It is well worth exploring this site as there are some wonderful ‘How To’ talks and demonstrations and the Family Search Wiki pages are invaluable.  Do register—it’s free and they won’t bombard you with emails!
  • https://maps.nls.uk/: Maps database for the National Library of Scotland. Includes 6” maps for the UK from the 1840s to 1950s and many of the 25” series.  It is possible to compare and overlay areas with modern (Google) satellite maps.
  • http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/familyhistory/get_started/: The BBC Family History website is packed with useful information, free tracker sheets, free family tree charts, and lots more.

Also, don’t forget that more and more record offices around country are putting indexes and finding aids online.  We have many indexes to our poor law records, military records, orphanages, etc on our website (https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/culture-and-leisure/history-centre/online-records#3) and anyone with Lincolnshire ancestors (like me!) are in for a treat at the Lincs to the Past website (https://www.lincstothepast.com/).

Please come back and share with us your favourite free websites but until then,

Keep safe and well and Happy Researching!


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Written by Jane Lewis - Modified by ESP Admin

3 thoughts on “Family History for Free!”

  1. Christine says:

    Great information, thank you kindly for sharing

    1. Jane Lewis says:

      You are very welcome!

  2. Denise says:

    That’s brilliant, thank you for sharing.

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