In 2013, I became (for lack of a better term) obsessed with genealogy and tracing my family’s history and I still am to this day. I used a number of websites and resources (including my local library) to gather information about my ancestors and my husband’s ancestors. While I knew I was Hungarian, I discovered that my great-great grandfather was a cobbler and his father in law died of pneumonia while in the army (among other things). Neither of us have royal lineage or are related to celebrities, though I found that my husband’s family has their own cemetery. I was fascinated by how much I had learned.
For most people, genealogy is just a hobby. However, to some (like me), it can be so much more and even provide a connection to the past, especially for those who enjoy research and care to take the time to uncover their roots. So, not surprisingly, genealogy websites receive 108 million visitors per year. The most popular website is Ancestry.com (for good reason), which is affiliated with FamilyHistory.com, followed by MyHeritage.com.
FamilyHistory.com is an all-inclusive source that gives users access to 26,000 family history databases, including those for marriage licenses, military records, and birth records. You can even search by year (for censuses) and state. FamilyHistory.com is very user friendly, too. The con to this is that it is just a collection of databases, so you aren’t able to delve too deep to find information.
Another good source is Ancestry.com, though it can be a more pricy option (a full six month membership is $199). However, it offers a free fourteen day trial. I found the most information on Ancestry.com and I was able to use it for free at the library. Namely, the leaf feature that pops up when you create your family tree is very helpful. It’s my personal favorite site and one I highly recommend if you can afford it.
Another favorite of mine was FindAGrave.com. While it doesn’t provide an abundance of information, I was able to find out which cemeteries my family members were buried in and see photographs of their headstones (and even maps of the cemeteries). In some cases, other users had submitted pictures of family members and added bits of information. (I met a woman who is a distant relative of my husband on there and she sent me old family photos and we still keep in touch). Overall, it’s a helpful starting point.
Next is FamilySearch.com, which is provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, though it’s great for anyone to use and free. It even has an international search engine. (My searches usually ended when the records were in Hungarian). They offer photos, family trees, and user submitted content because they stress making connections on your own.
As you will see through your own research, the Internet is a great source of information and it has no shortage of genealogy websites available. But don’t forget about good, old-fashioned library research. Our library has a genealogy research center, so I was able to find so much information without a single keystroke. No matter how you choose to research, I can promise that, with time and patience, you’ll be rewarded.