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15 Great Websites for Genealogy Research

Many records can be found for free without leaving your home

En español | There's a bonanza on the Internet for anyone searching for their family roots.

As more records go online worldwide, a click of a mouse can take you back in time by hundreds of years in a matter of minutes via websites designed to help you hunt down your past.

See also: How to begin building your family tree.

Though some sites charge a fee, some of the best are free. If you don't get a match right away, don't give up. Try spelling your ancestor's last name different ways if you come up with a blank, because errors are rampant throughout historical records.

father sits with laptop and son on sofa

A lot of genealogy research can be done from the comfort of your own home. — Tetra Images/Aurora

Ancestry.com: A subscription-based service that searches 6 billion records worldwide. Many libraries have a subscription to the site and some offer a library edition you can access from your home computer for free. Ancestry.com also sponsors RootsWeb.ancestry.com — a free, all volunteer-based project that includes local history, gravestones and old church records.

Archives.gov: The federal government's exhaustive database includes U.S. military records, naturalization records, land records and much more.

Census records: The U.S. Census Bureau does not have digitized census records, but Ancestry.com and Heritagequest.com have digitized many of these records from 1930 and earlier. The 1940 Census will be released next year. These websites are subscription-based, but access is free of charge and unlimited from any National Archives facility and from many public libraries.

Cyndi's List is a huge compilation of genealogical sites in the United States and around the world. CyndisList.com includes city directories, wills, marriage certificates as well as church, military and adoption records.

Ellisisland.org: It offers a list of passengers from every ship that entered the Port of New York between 1892 and 1924. Manifests include place of last residence, occupation, family members in the United States and the residence before arriving in United States.

FamilySearch.org: This exhaustive free database of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints includes databases from around the world and a wide range of documents from births, baptism and death records.

Footnote.com: This subscription site is sponsored by Ancestry.com that provides access to original documents, including orphan records, military pensions, Confederate papers and much more.

Findagrave.com: An online repository of more than 60 million grave records and millions of photos.

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