Get started with your family tree for free

Researching your family tree can seem dauntingly expensive. Some costs, such as birth, marriage or death certificate fees, are unavoidable. But, with a little effort, you can bring other costs down to nothing. The internet has revolutionised family history research over the last decade and much of its content is free. At the same time, county record offices, which are open to the public and free to use, can take you deep back into your family’s past. Just follow the tips in this feature and you’ll soon be able to start tracing your family line back without any cost at all. First steps When beginning your family history research, you will want to look first at censuses and birth, marriage and …

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Five great websites for free family history

Here are some of the best ways to progress your family history for free: 1. ‘First steps’ at TheGenealogist This data website’s free First Steps offer has proved incredibly popular among those looking to start a new hobby while staying at home in the pandemic of 2020. IN the course of the year, this offer has been extended, and now gives newcomers to genealogy the following resources completely free for three months: Complete Birth, Marriage & Death records index for England and Wales 1837-2005 English and Welsh census records to see where ancestors were living in 1891, 1901 and in 1911 TreeView, the online family tree builder A huge image archive of churches, places and people from the past A …

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Genealogy in the cloud for free

Lots of software is now based in ‘the cloud’. This is a term for a huge collection of servers (specialist computers) networked together and providing data storage and manipulation services, and much of what happens on the internet lives there. Even if this is tedious gibberish to you, the important thing is that it means yet more free stuff. You’ll have noticed that a number of major genealogy data sites now invite you to build your family tree within their website, with sophisticated tools that are beginning to approach the level of software like that which you download to your own computer. They usually read GEDCOM, so you can swap data between systems, and they have the benefit of taking the responsibility …

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Free genealogy software

Here is an area where there are plenty of free options for the family historian. Several top-level genealogy software packages provide free trial versions, and it’s a good idea to explore what they offer. In some cases they are time-limited, which won’t help you long-term though at least provides an opportunity to see if you think they’re worth paying for. In others, though, you can get hold of ‘light’ versions of the program for free: these will have a restricted feature set, but if you’re not too fussed about all the knobs and whistles, these can be ideal for recording your research. Sometimes there are ‘demonstration’ versions which work in a similar way. RootsMagic for Windows offers a free ‘Essentials’ version, …

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