Updated on May 5, 2022
Ways to Search for Family Trees
Genealogy websites have their own way of doing things. These pages can help you best search the websites by making it easier to find family trees. There is a page for each family tree website. Each page provides search hints along with brief review and a checklist of the website's search capabilities. Family Tree Search Hints are listed on the menu at the left. The search hints pages start with Ancestry.com and run through the WorldConnect.
Suggestions If You Are Just Starting Your Family Tree Search
If you are just starting out on your search for your family tree, I suggest looking at the free family tree websites first. Each of the following websites provide free searches and also lets you see the details on each person in the tree for free. Some of thesse websites will require you to register, but the content in the website is free. When you are searching, your best bet is to pick the ancestor furthest back for whom you have accurate information. For most, this is a grandparent or great-grandparent. The reason for searching this way is that the further back you go, the more likely itis that someone else has posted a family tree with your ancestor.
Note that Your Active Family Tree Searches page on this website automatically creates the best searches based on your ancestor data and will search the above websites as well as other sites to view the details of the family trees. You only have to enter your ancestor information once. Be sure to check out Your Active Family Tree Searches.
Suggestions If You Are Looking for a Family Tree for All of Humankind
A relatively new effort in family trees is to create a single family tree (sometimes called a universal or shared family tree) that attempts to include as many people as possible. This is a great way to connect into an existing family tree. You need to be careful, however, that the existing tree is well documented. It can also be a problem if you believe some entries in the tree are incorrect. I have that issue in my ancestry. If you are interested, you can read about my John M. Hall puzzles here. I also had someone post highly incorrect information about my grandfather in one of the universal family trees. Keeping up with changes that others make to your family in the universal trees can be an effort. It is for that reason, that I limit my participation in universal family trees. Here are websites that have a universal or shared family tree.
Suggestions If You Are Documenting or Verifying a Family Tree
If you found a family tree online (either an individual or universal shared family tree) or you have a family tree from another source such as a family member, you need to verify that the information in the family tree is accurate. This done through documentation. This documentation could be birth records, marriage records, death records, census records, obituaries, etc. Many trees online have very poor documentation. So, you very likely will need to find documentation. Of the sites listed in the prior section, only FamilySearch allows you to actually view the documentation related to a person in their universal family tree. If you would like some documentation search hints or examples, see Search Guides for Researching Your Ancestry. The following websites allow you to document your family tree with sources you can view. (This is opposed to allowing only source citations that do not allow for direct viewing of the documentation.) Only FamilySearch and FamilyTreeNow.com are free. The others require a membership. FamilyTreeNow provides a transcription of documents. The others allow for viewing of the original documents.
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Douglas K Barry
Barry & Associates, Inc.