Genealogy on the Cheap
by Paul Bech

There are plenty of sites on the Internet that will offer to supply you lots of information for a fee. Those fees can add up to quite a bit, however, over time. If your budget can’t stretch to such luxuries you don’t have to give up your dream of finding out where you came from. There are plenty of resources on the Internet for the savvy searcher. Really, you don’t have to spend a heap of money searching out your ancestors.

A search engine such as Google should be a first stop. You never know what you might find! You could just type in a name, but that would probably give you too many results to search through effectively. Using quotation marks around your search term will keep the words together as a phrase rather than searching for those 3 words anywhere on a page. So,

Phillip John Boardman

will give very different results from

“Phillip John Boardman”

Quotation marks can be used in this way to search many online resources. You might be searching for a very common name, like John Smith. In cases like this it might help to add a location, or some notable detail to your search. Also try variations in a name. Many notices (birth, death and Marriage) have the last name listed first, so you might try searching for:

“Boardman, Phillip John”

Also, try common mis-spellings, or initials plus the surname. So in the example I gave above, I might try any of the following combinations to try and find what I am looking for:

“Phillip J Boardman”

“Phillip Boardman”

“Boardman, Phillip”

“P J Boardman”

and I might also add a town he lived in

“Phillip John Boardman” Cowra NSW

Newspapers are also an excellent source of information, and there are many free resources. It is not just birth, death and marriage announcements, but all sorts of other events that you can harvest information from. There are many free online newspaper sites. Many are listed in the WikiTree Genealogy help section:

If you know of any others, please let us know.

Cemetery inscriptions can also provide much more than just a date of death. Many inscriptions provide dates of birth, or at least an age to calculate the birth date from. Often relatives are listed as well. There are many online cemetery sites like Billion Graves and Find-a-Grave. You can also find a listing of many other cemeteries in the WikiTree Genealogy Help section at:

If you have an interest in helping to catalog cemeteries, then contact me, Paul Bech, and join a WikiTree Cemetery Project.

Many countries have free, searchable indexes of people who served in the military. WikiTreer, Terry Wright, has assembled a comprehensive list of Miltary resources at:

including some WikiTree pages such as the Roll Of Honor, which is a Project to remember those soldiers who paid the ultimate price, or who were awarded an honor. If you have a profile that suits this project please submit for inclusion.

You might also like to browse:

for other types on information resources that you might be able to use in your search.

And don’t forget G2G. Ask a question and you never know who might be able to help. Of course, supply everything you know when you ask. Dates, even if approximate, places, and full names. Remember that WikiTree is worldwide.

Long before becoming a WikiTree team member, Paul Bech was one of our earliest active volunteers. He helped pioneer the usage of free-space profiles and categories, created the Genealogy Help section, leads the Australian Convicts and First Settlers project, and took it upon himself to create this video introduction to using WikiTree.  If you’re dealing with an Unresponsive Profile Manager or a 200-year-old profile that isn’t being openly shared, Paul is the man to contact. Paul has been tracing his genealogy for over 40 years. He focuses on his Oxley and Standen lines (both from Kent, England; came to Australia in 1839 and 1841), and his Hayes, Wall, and Bech families (from Korsor, Denmark). His wide range of other interests include photography, astronomy, “bushwalking” (that’s Aussie-speak for hiking), cycling, bowling, and science fiction.

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