At Trustify, we love investigating all sorts of things - and that includes our own heritage. Everyone has a history. Parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and those who have gone on before help mold us into what we are. Did you ever wonder if you had royalty in your family? You might even be related to a famous leader or an actor/actress. In fact, 1 in 20 of you are probably descended from Genghis Kahn.

Fortunately, this is the kind of investigation you can kick off in your free time. There are tons of website that can help you track long, lost relatives from around the globe, and some of the best ones are community run - and completely free of charge. If you want to build your family tree or find someone you lost contact with, you can use these sites to do just that.

1. Access Genealogy

 This site includes charts, old letters, native American historical records, and military documents. This makes it a bit of a step up from the traditional ancestry sites. You'll find that the main page is well organized and pleasantly user-friendly. On the left side of the page, there are links to all sorts of resources, including some fascinating old cemetery records. These include every state in the country as well as birthdays, dates of death, and other pertinent information. There's enough on this site to keep anyone busy for hours.

2. The Olive Tree

This is a private researcher’s collection of links and other resources that are incredibly useful and in-depth. Anyone who uses this site will be able to see that a great deal of effort has gone into finding the links that are provided, and a great deal of experience backs up the advice given.

Lorine McGinnis Schulz started the site back in 1996 as a way for the public to have free access to genealogy and historical resources. One of the most impressive parts of the site is the extensive passenger listings that makes it easy to search for names of ancestors who immigrated to the US by ship. There's even a section on the website that is geared toward beginners too, able to walk you through each step to find your relatives. | @LorineMS

3. PIBuzz's Genealogy Links 

If you want to really get into things from a private investigator's perspective, this is a great way to start. This page is basically a list of all the genealogy resources that Tara Thompson has collected in the course of her investigations. I don't know how many links she's collected in the course of her research, but it's certainly way more than you could get through in one sitting. Take a look if you're ready to leap off into the deep end of genealogical research, but be warned - a mountain of data awaits you. | | @PIbuzz

4. Family Tree Searcher

The Family Tree Searcher is yet another website that was created by a private researcher to educate and assist amateurs. The interactive quizzes that ensure your search is correctly customized for your specific search are a huge help. The site even provides a research plan for you that gives you the proper links to accomplish your goals.

5. Genealogy Today 

This website has an impressive searchable collection of traditional and unorthodox historical records. Search through everything from birth and death records to old ration books, funeral cards, and much more - after all, the best information almost often comes from the most unorthodox methods. Be sure to bookmark this site as you'll certainly be using it often.

6. Cyndi's List

This site has 332, 340 genealogy links. Hot damn, that's a lot of links. Cyndi's list won't let you punch in your family name, but they will provide you with every single site and resource that you might need to go about tracking down your ancestors, from war records to immigration forms. |

7. RootsWeb

Part of the family, RootsWeb is a huge, community maintained database of US genealogy records searchable by first and last name, created by thousands of genealogists.

Aside from their searchable database they also have a message board and mailing list, both of which are indisposable resources that can help you learn more about genealogy, refine your searching methods, and bounce thoughts and questions off expert genealogists. | | @ancestry

8. U.S. National Archives  

The National Archives is the gold standard of records, and is considered one of the most (if not the most) credible source for records and information - and yet, people often forget to use it. It should always be one of your first stops if you're a historical researcher, after all, it's free, and it's the site that most other sites link to for information.

Look through old military records, bankruptcy reports, and old census information to your heart's content - but remember, the law limits the release of certain records (like census records), so you'll probably have to augment your search with other sources. | | @usnatarchives

9. U.K. National Archives

When you get deep into your historical searches, you'll find that your ancestors go back to other countries - like the UK, for instance. It's a big part of many family’s lineages, and by using the U.K. National Archives you can look through a huge collection of resources that date back more than a thousand years. | | @UKNatArchives

Note: We know that not everyone has UK ancestry - we are an investigative service after all! Many other countries have their own national archives (or similar institutions) and are just a quick google away.

10. US GenWeb Project  

The U.S. Genealogy Researchers website was created by a collection of history and genealogy enthusiasts to share resources and educate the public about genealogy and ancestry research. These people volunteer their time to find links and resources throughout the country - and they're extremely good at it. There are plenty of free links to help you research your family and community. Each state even has its own site with tons of information about its history and residents. 

Ancestry research is a hobby that knows no borders - and can be useful even if you're trying to find living relatives that you've lost contact with. At Trustify, one of the most enjoyable parts of our job is helping reunite family members, and we hope that this guide has helped you get in touch with your past, and your present. While these are good resources, there are much more that pop up every day - so keep looking, and stay curious! And remember, if you're looking for something difficult we'd love to help. You wouldn't believe what kinds of facts past and present our investigators are able to uncover.

Danny Boice
Danny Boice

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