The Best Things in "Genealogy" May Be Free.
A woman took a "genealogy" trip to England where she searched in damp church basements and moldy attics. Upon arriving home, as she was sharing what she had, she found to her amazement that the information she had found was already in possession of a cousin. She could have spent more time site-seeing if she had only checked those sources nearest her.
My experience with genealogists is that, for the most part, they are very caring and sharing people. That is why there is so much available free of charge. That is also why, if you are really desirous to find your ancestors, you will find lots of help available. After you have gathered what you can from your own family members, check out the free sources and local helps first.
If you have started collecting data, you need a way to organize it. There are a number of good genealogy programs available, and one is free. It is called PAF [Personal Ancestral File]. You can download it from www.familysearch.org. It installs itself on your computer, so you don't have to have much computer knowledge and it is easy to use. It comes with built in lessons and because many people use it you can always find help if you have a question. If you don't have a computer, you can take your information and a floppy disk to you nearest LDS Family History Center and use their computers also free - to enter and print your information.
For the rest of the sources cited in this article you'll need access to a computer. If you don't know how to use one, you can contact the Verde Valley Computer Club. They offer free courses on how to use computers and they start you at "this is how you turn the computer on." Contact them at www.vvcclub.com. They invite you to take several classes free and then would like you to become member, but costs are low and you will find everyone willing to help.
Heritage Quest is available through the library. We've talked about this before, but take your library card to the Prescott Library and they will update it so you can use this program. It features free access to census records, and many books which are readable online.
My favorite free Web sites:
1. Immigration: www.immigrantships.net/ for Ship Records; http://ellisisland.org/ for Ellis Island Records.
2. US State and County www.usgenweb.com
3. England: www.genuki.org.uk/
4. Outside US and England: www.worldgenweb.org/
5. Cemetery: www.findagrave.com
6. Connect with "cousins," find family websites, and get on a mailing list through RootsWeb at www.rootsweb.com
7. US land records: www.glorecords.blm.gov/
8. Finding genealogy records: www.cyndislist.com
9. Last, but probably the most comprehensive is the LDS site whose information include the IGI [International Genealogical Index] that has over 250 million names, research guides, the Social Security Death Index and a file called the Pedigree Resource File, which is humongous and growing daily. It is located at www.familysearch.org.
10. National Records Archive is your tax dollars at work. Those online records are at www.archives.gov/
11. A site emerging in its importance is the BYU site at http://familyhistory.byu.edu/. They have an Immigrant Ancestors project where data is being collected from sties world wide, and a project where they are collecting family and individual histories. Both projects are growing daily.
12. Go to Google books and type in a surname or a locality to find books readable online.
13. Also remember that the local genealogy groups will begin meeting again in January. Watch the newspaper for lists of times and meeting places. I also have a list of these on my website www.relativebliss.com
To find your own free sites go to Google, or your favorite search engine, and type in the words "free genealogy" and the name of the area or the record you are looking for. Example: "free genealogy New York." Don't forget to keep a record of the sites you visit that are most helpful. Enjoy the Journey!