Family history research is still one of the most popular hobbies in the UK not only because of the continuing popularity of shows like Who Do You Think You Are? and major family history events at the NEC, Birmingham and Olympia, London but also because of the availability of the free family history research resources now available online.
It wasn’t that long ago that researching your family history meant spending many hours trawling through dusty old documents and archives in libraries or squinting at census records on microfilm. It also often entailed travelling around the country to visit the places where your ancestors were born and/or lived to visit the appropriate record offices. But this all changed when much of that information became available online.
You can now do your research from the comfort of your own home and spend hours rather than months or even years gathering the same amount of information.
There is a huge amount of information online some of which is free to access and some of which you pay for either as pay-per-view or via a subscription. However, if you are new to family history research then it is worth starting your research using one of the many free online resources.
Getting started with free family history research resources
Here is a selection of some excellent free family history research resources which will help you get started with your research:
FamilySearch run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has the largest collection of free genealogical records in the world It is used by millions of people worldwide and is one of the best free research resources available online.
FreeBMD includes a civil registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales.
Cyndi’s List is free to use and is a great starting point for researching online. It includes a list of links that point you to genealogical research sites and a cross-referenced index to genealogical resources on the internet.
The primary purpose of RootsWeb is to connect people so that they can help each other and share their genealogical research.
GENUKI provides a virtual reference library of genealogical information for the UK and Ireland.
The National Archives is the official archive for the UK government and includes 1,000 years of iconic national documents.
The National Archives of Ireland includes access to census records for 1901 and 1911, Tithe Applotment books, soldiers’ wills, calendars of wills and administration and much more. All of the records are free to access through searchable databases.
The WorldGenWeb Project includes world-wide genealogical and historical records and resources. Simply click on the area of your choice and then work your way down to the information you want.
One of the main sources of information for genealogists/family history researchers is the census records for England and Wales from 1841 to 1911. They are available at UK Census Online.