There is no doubt that genealogists like free stuff. While not everything is free in genealogy (nor should it be), you can access some excellent guides, articles, and other genealogically relevant items at no cost.
Aside from free genealogy websites, there are other freebies that you can download or view online to enhance your genealogical education or provide tips and resources to find that brick-wall ancestor. Most of us are familiar with free websites such as Cyndi’s List and Linkpendium but what else is out there that you might not have considered? Here are a few items I’ve found that you might want to bookmark.
1. The National Genealogical Society Free Resources
Are you a member of NGS (the National Genealogical Society)? If you are, you know that they provide membership benefits including their publications. But do they offer anything for free to the genealogy community? Yes! And those free resources benefit all genealogists. First, go to their webpage, Free Genealogy Resources. Two items to pay special attention to are the NGS Magazine Complimentary Articles and the NGS Monthly Complimentary Articles. These articles can help you with everything from research methodology to learning more about reading an NGSQ article.
2. The Ancestor Hunt QuickSheets
The Ancestor Hunt is a great place to find links to online newspapers, but in actuality, the man behind the website, Kenneth R Marks, offers more than just links and videos about newspapers. Check out his Quick Reference Guide link for "quicksheets" on genealogical records such as probate, pensions, naturalization, and cemetery records, to name a few, as well as lots of historical newspaper information. He currently has 40 of these guides to help you with your genealogy.
3. The National Archives Palaeography Tutorials
One aspect of research that can be difficult is reading older handwriting. If this is one of your stumbling blocks, you'll want to check out the National Archives (UK)'s palaeography tutorials. Their webpage explains that “This web tutorial will help you learn to read the handwriting found in documents written in English between 1500 and 1800." Tips, tutorials, practice documents, and reference sheets for money and measurements make this a must-have for genealogists.
4. PhotoTree One-page Guides
Have vintage photos that you are trying to date? Not sure if they show great-grandma or her mother? PhotoTree.com's Identifying Photographic Types webpage includes 1-page guides to identify 19th-century photographs. Scroll down to the Photograph Characteristics section and click on the photograph type to learn more. This page with information about Daguerreotypes includes the various components of the framed photo so that you can understand everything about it, including what you can’t see in the photograph case.
5. The Newberry Library Research Guides
Make sure to check library websites for guides that can benefit your research—case in point, Chicago's Newberry Library's Research Guides. Although the library is in Chicago, these guides are a variety of genealogically relevant topics from Adoption records to Catalog Search Strategies, Germanic Genealogy, Jewish Genealogy, and Royal Lines. Most likely, a search through the approximately 80 guides will reveal at least one guide you could use to enhance your research.
Yes, there's no such thing as a free lunch, but some generous genealogists and organizations provide free content that benefits the genealogy community. These five examples are just a few to explore.
Gena Philibert-Ortega is an author, instructor, and researcher. She blogs at Gena's Genealogy and Food.Family.Ephemera. You can find her presentations on the Legacy Family Tree Webinars website.