I have been wanting to do a blog on this subject for some time and now seems as good a time as any. I do not like sites like ancestery.com because they require that you pay a fee to become a member, and the fee is pretty steep, concidering the information they are selling you access to is in fact your family information. Their ads sound great, join free for a trail membership and discover your family roots. But after a few short weeks you are hit with a high monthly or yearly fee. This is why I wanted to put up a true list of free online genealoghy websites where you can access your family genealogy for free.
I love this free site for a number of reasons, the main one being its free. I do have to start out by stating Family Search.org was once directly connected with this site and your searches on this site would carry over to Family Search.org. I don't know why the two sites have parted ways but i spend a lot of my family research time on Family Search.org.
Family Search.org is a free site, but soon you will have to become a member to access the site - membership is free and very easy to do. Not only is the site great for researching your family roots, you can post your own family genealogy on the site. Your searches could reveal an entire family tree already posted on the site, you might come across old photos of family members going way back in time, and once you get use to using the site, off to the far right of names that come up on a search is often a copy of an official record of a birth, death, or marriage, and copies of census records - all free for you to download.
My favorite records are the official copies of cemetery records because often you will not only find the relative you are searching for, but often other family members are also listed on the records. You will also come across a link to the right to Find a Grave - click on the link by your relatives name and it takes you to their site where you will often find a photo of the relatives gravestone, some times even a family photo, and other information such as a copy of an obituary.
The Maine Genealogy Network was once part of the Family Search.org site, which is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The two sites were always clearly different sites but were joined at the hips, so a search on one site easily brought up information on both sites, which made it the second largest genealogy site online next to Ancestry.com. - which is a pay site.
But recently the two sites split away from one another, why, I have no idea. I did a google search to try and find out who owns Family Genealogy Network but was unable to find out who owned it or why the two sites went seperate ways. The end result is that Family Genealogy Netword has only so much information to offer visitors to the site compared to what it was once able to offer when joined with the other site.
But this is still a very solid site to check out for a number of very good reasons. The site by itself still has some useful information - you can still conduct searches for Maine marriage records, death records, birth records, court records, war records, and oddly a link still comes up letting you know that x number of information was found on your relative at Family Search.org, however when you click on that link, a message comes up letting you know that the information that you requested could not be found - like yeah, the two sites are no longer connected.
What is still great about Maine Genealogy Network is that its members can create free blogs, and many do, listing genealogy information on their families. You can also post questions that other members can help you out with. Than there is the sites family albums - each member can create as many family albums as they want to, and many do, posting photos of family members along with genealogy information in the box below each photo.
The photos, if tagged, show up high on google seaches, as does the blogs, just remember to properly tag your blogs. In the tag box as your making a blog, list each and every name that appears in your blog, each name seperated by a comma, such as James Flynn, James A. Flynn, James Alvin Flynn, and so on. It will take a while before your blog begins appearing on google and other search engines, but they will.
Find a Grave website is one of those sites that once you get use to using it you will be returning there again and again, and even though it was bought out by Ancestry.com...like which is happening to so many other free websites, they have not put a membership fee in place, at least not yet. The folks who owned the site before it was sold had made a promise to its users that if the site was ever sold, it would be on the condition that the site remain free for anyone to access, so lets hope that was put in writing in the terms of the sale.
Find a grave is operated by thousands of volunteers who go out and photograph gravestones in cemeteries and post the photo of the stones along with the information found on the gravestone. But members do much more than that, many post copies of obituaries, or do a bio on the person, telling some family information like when the person got married and where, listing known children, and such. Many members also will post a photo of the person they are researching or copies of official records.
Below the relative you have looked up is often the names of the parents with links to their pages, and across from the parents are a list of any known children or brothers and sisters, often with links to their pages as well. Members of the site will often take the time to do a quick research on the one's they are placing on the site, filling in pieces of information not found on the stone, which can be of great help. Not all members take the extra time to link family members together, so when you do find a relative, I suggest you click on the cemetery link and search the gravestone listings - you just might find other family members buried in that cemetery that were not linked yet.
While this is a great site, I often do not do my searches directly on the site, I have found a search method which has served me pretty well over the years. I google the name as follows;
James Alvin flynn, Maine, Find a grave
You can place any state or town in your search and you get results much quicker using this method. The pay to use site Ancestery.com makes use of direct links to Find a grave, but so does Family Search.org that I reviewed above, and it cost you nothing. You are free to make copies of records and photos placed on Find a Grave, but some members like people to get their permission before posting photos of the gravestones which they have taken - most members will gladly let you repost them. If you find a relative on the site that does not have a photo of their gravestone, you can make a request for a photo and as soon as a volunteer can, they will go out and try and get the photo for you. Membership to the site is free and anyone can become a volunteer there.
I have already covered this site from top to bottom on one of my blog posts, so check it out for full details. Early Waterville Maine Families is one of the best genealogy sites on the web, but it will only help you in your family research if one of your relatives once lived in waterville maine, or a spouse or relative once lived there. The site keeps records on anyone who once called waterville home, even after they have long since moved away from the area. There is a ton of information to be found on this site, so check out my blog and learn why this site is a gold mine of information.
Geni.com is both a genealogy research site as well as a site where members can place their family tree on. You can also upload a photo of each family member if you wish. The site is not too heard to get use to with two key links on the right hand side of your profile page - VIEW TREE and VIEW PROFILE. The profile of a person your researching will bring up the page of just that person with all their information. There are also other buttons you can click on that will open other pages with further information on that person, like marriage information, work information and such.
The view tree link takes you to a family tree that branches outward, clicking the view button on any family member in the tree will take you to that persons profile page. Many members add a photo of the relative
Geni is a commercial genealogy and social networking website, owned by Israeli private company MyHeritage. If you look up relatives on the site, you will get a "To view page of information requires a monthly fee" type of message, but I will show you how to view any profile for free. Also, becoming a member and placing your family tree on the site is free.
So here is how I use this site, the same way I use other sites. Fo to google and type in your search, such as;
James Alvin flynn, Maine, geni.com
This will get you directly to the information your searching for without paying a fee - it works every time. Now you will see a PRO FREE TRAIL button, ignore it unless you want to join the paid version of the site. Regular membership is free.
The link should take you to the CNET site where I downloaded my copy of My Family tree from years ago. If for some reason it doesn't, simple google My Family Tree - there are a number of sites where you can download the software program from for free.
My Family Tree is a free genealogy program that allows its users to construct their own family tree. Once you create your tree you can access it and edit it at any time on your computer. there are other free genealogy programs out there, and I have tried many of them, but My Family Tree I have found to be the most user friendly program. But My Family Tree goes one step further than many of those other free programs, the software allows you to easily convert your family tree into a GEDCOM, something some online genealogy sites require in order for you to place your family history onto their site. It is easy to do and with My Family tree, everything is free.
You can attach photos, videos, sound clips, and more to individual records, including your own narratives. It has a full range of genealogical tools, such as relationship calculators, timelines, statistics, and even genetic data, and can also import GEDCOM data.
I like the idea of seeing a photo of the relative whose profile I am looking at and I like how easy it is to add notes or memories to each profile. You can also view your tree in different formats which is another great feature.
You can construct multiple trees as well, simply give each tree a separate name.
THE DAILY ME is a Central Maine site that lists copies of obituaries listed by year. There are a lot of Maine obituries listed on this site so pick a year and scroll down through the names. The site is free and you do not have to be a member to access their files.
Simply type in the name your researching into the box...its as easy as that. I would suggest doing multiple searches, first and last name, first, middle and last name, maiden name, covering your bases if you don't find anything on your first search. In genealogy finding a single obituary can open up all kinds of new doors to explore, and its free.
This newspaper pretty much covers Hancock and Washington county and has a wealth of obituaries in their files. Oddly, I was not able to locate any type of search box, but the obituaries are there for anyone to go through - it might take a while as there are 420 pages of obituaries to go through.
I was doing volunteer work on the Find a Grave site one day when another member contacted me and asked if I had ever heard of a site called Wikitree. They said that they looked up a relative on that site and the information on the relative was all wrong. They said they had contacted the person who placed the information on the site repeatedly and the guy would not respond to them. I said I would check it out.
I got to the site and looked my a great uncle and was not happy when I saw the same thing had happened to me...three pieces of information on my great Uncle was wrong, including the statement that he had never had any children. And when I looked at the name of the person who had placed the information on the site, it was the same name as the person who had placed the other incorrect information on thereof the Find a Grave member who had contacted me. I thought that was odd. I tried repeatedly to contact that Wikitree volunteer and got no response, and another family member tried repeatedly to contact him and he also got no responce.
I contacted the site and told of the problems I was having and was told that the Wikitree member had been a member of the site for many years and was considered a senior member who was listed as being a professional genealogist, and that if I wanted any changes made to my relatives profile I needed to contact that member directly...
I contacted this person again with sources to back up the facts and again I got no reply from this so called professional genealogist so my impressions of this site not not very good. That is not to say that most of the information on my relatives were not correct, because in most cases the information was correct, but if you are going to use this site, know that at least some of the information there is not correct and the site does nothing to help correct incorrect information.
Rootsweb has a ton of genealogy research on Maine families, and families and the history of washington county, Maine. The one problem I had when I first began using this free site was with all the different search boxes, I would fill our first and last name and hit search only to find it was not searching for information on Rootsweb but searching for information on pay sites like Fold and . Those other pay sites pay to have their search boxes placed close to the free Rootsweb search boxes, which can be very confusing to people just starting out. So pay close attention to the box your doing your search information in, other than that I have found the site to be very useful.
The site also has a lot of free links to some very rare information, there are links to the old Machias Union Newspapers, but only certain information is available. There are links to old ship records, passenger and crew lists for Washington Country and Bangor maine. All links are well marked and take you to pages with free download options so you can copy the entire files.
They also have old Machias Maine annual town reports with tons of information, beginning way back in the early 1900's and ending in the late 1940's. These are also available for free download, but you have to download each year one at a time.
This brings us to the sites Worldconnect Project, a project aimed at connecting the world through one Geodom at a time. The site does this through the use of volunteers that are assigned to trace different family lines, and they do a pretty good job. My family had already been documented and posted on the site before I even became a member of the site, and membership is free and does not require you to become a volunteer.
Right off I noticed a number of errors but after contacting the person who placed the information on the site, the errors were corrected. Still, I saw where they had been missing a large section of my tree so I became a free member and uploaded my family Geodom for free. What I soon realized was that one of the volunteers had seen my Geodom up on the site and copied the missing information from my geodom and added it to the Geodom the site had researched on my family before I had joined - which I do not have a problem with. There are a few very cool options this site offers its members, one option is that on every single profile anyone can place a link either to another site or to a family photo of the person, I thought that was a pretty good thing. Another option you have on every single profile is the option to post a note. The note, once posted, leaves a bright yellow link next to the relatives name that anyone can click on and check out. I take advantage of these notes to leave further information on family members - I wish every genealogy had this option, some do.
So now for the downside of using the worldconnect Project - like I said, once you post your family genealogy Geodom, and you can only post your genealogy using the geodom option, any volunteer on the site is free to borrow from it, and as far as I could see they give no credit as to using your information, which would be kind of a nice thing to do. Problem two is being able to actually reach your posted Geodom, it is very easy to reach once you sign in, but lets say you have relatives who are not free members of the site, if they try and reach your geodom they are more likely to reach a geodom done on your family by one of the many volunteers at the site. I can't even get my geodom to come up on a google search, all I get is the one the site did on my family, which is really strange - my geodoms, I have a few different ones, have been up on the site for years and still they don't come up on a google search. The only way I can reach them is by doing a complicated search on the actual site, they have different search options and still many times it can take up to half an hour of ssearching to get my actual geodoms to come up.
I have a theory as to why people always seem to reach the geodoms put up by the sites volunteers, I believe the site tags those geodoms, which places them high up on a google search, and that the site does not tag geodoms placed on the site by volunteers, but that is just a theory. My biggest complaint has been on how hard it is for relatives of mine to reach my geodoms there.
This past year the site has been having a major upgrade to it and I am hoping this major upgrade will put everyone's geodoms on an equal footing, but we will have to wait a while because I recently visited the site and their front page has a notice posted on it - the upgrades they had done to the site was having problems and until those bugs were worked out, the site would be down. So you will have to keep checking in to see when the site is back up and running.