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Online Archives for Your Genealogy Research

Do Your Genealogy Research From Home!

Looking for your ancestors? Make the best use of the online archives available, both free and paid.

grandmother and granddaughter
My grandmother and granddaughter visiting the farm

With the rapid expansion of internet use, more and more genealogy information is available to you from your home computer. Before you plan a long trip to a brick-and-mortar archive, check to see if they have digitized information available to you online. Also, many of the growing online archives have no actual physical location for you to visit to do research.

Archives online exist in both free and paid editions. Additionally, even the paid sites usually have some free material for your use. Sometimes this simply allows you to check whether there is any material on that site pertinent to the person(s) you are looking for. So you can find out that your ancestor is included in some digitized material there, but you cannot see any of the actual records without joining the site, or paying a fee to access a particular record. This can save you some time and money, however, since you may find there is nothing there to warrant a trip to the archive or library.

Amongst the membership online archives, the most well-known is probably ancestry.com. They have several levels of memberships depending upon geographical area or type of information you wish to search. They also have a level of membership which allows you access to all their materials.

Ancestry.com is digitizing records at a fast pace, so there are always new databases available there. They also are not limited to the United States or North America for the records they are putting online. There are increasingly records from all over the world available.

Amongst the free online archives, probably the largest and most well known is the Family History Library of the Church of the Latter Day Saints (Mormons). They have digitized records from all over the world and are making more and more of them available free on their FamilySearch site.

The Mormon Church also runs FamilySearch Centers (also referred to as Family History Centers or FHC) in many cities. You may be lucky and have one near you. Most offer computer and microfilm machines, and have a supply of microfilm copies of records for the geographic area in which the center is located. They will also, for a fee, have a microfilm sent in from their archives in Salt Lake City at your request. They are staffed by volunteers, and have limited hours, so check with the one you will be visiting before you make the trip. In most of the FamilySearch Centers, you must make a reservation for a time and date and for specific machines such as a microfilm reader with printer.

To find a FamilySearch Center near you, use the search here

The Salt Lake City archives of the Mormon Church is probably the lodestone for world-wide records, and if you go there you will probably feel a bit overwhelmed at the quantity of materials available for research.

Be Persistent - There is Often a Big Payoff!



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