Great Free Records Sources

+9 votes
Hi all.  I consider myself somewhat of an expert on records available in my small little province (New Brunswick, Canada.)  We are blessed with what I consider one of the most robust online records repositories with digitized images available for free anywhere.  I want to expand my knowledge of records available in other regions that I don't have to spend money to buy memberships to access.

What are some other great repositories of free records?  They can be regional, subregional, national or global.  I'm just trying to add to my list of free places to find genealogical information for when I'm improving profiles on Wikitree.  I tend to work with profiles in regions where good free records are easy to find for the challenges.

Maybe someone has already thought of this and there's a free space somewhere with a list.

Looking forward to hearing some great new places I haven't heard of before to search!

Matthew Evans
in The Tree House by Matthew Evans G2G6 Mach 7 (75.1k points)

4 Answers

+7 votes

Hi Matthew,  Check out Kitty's Library.  And please add your New Brunswick resource if it is not already there.  Thank you!  

by Kitty Smith G2G6 Pilot (652k points)
Thanks!  I figured someone had thought of doing this already.  I expanded on the links for the Provincial Archives with my 3 favorite search landings.  If I think of more, I'll add them another time.  Looking forward to going through all this.
+8 votes

Have you seen the Wikitree space page of Sources by Location or the one for  Family Genealogies?  Most have free links.

Kitty Smith has a wikitree space page Kitty's Library

by Linda Peterson G2G6 Pilot (795k points)
+9 votes

Nice initiative Matthew!  

Generally, I have found most Canadian provinces have a searchable database: Nova Scotia, PEI, NFLD, MB, SK and BC (though I agree with you about the extent of NB's information). I use FamilySearch for Ontario and Quebec, though our experts may have better suggestions, and the Library and Archives Canada site has wonderful resources online as well, such as the Book of Negros, ship information, and my grandfather's WWI army record, along with the War Diaries for his unit.  

The challenge for me is to go back before Canada was founded in 1867, as much of this information isn't available in the free searchable indexes on government sites. I tend to say away from published genealogy databases, particularly those that are not sourced, though it is tempting sometimes.  

FamilySearch has some rich resources in their catalogue, for instance, they have a digitized version of the Thomas Brenton Smith collection in Queens County, Nova Scotia, and the Brownson mansuscripts are super-helpful for identifying what may be behind a paywall for early Barnstable County, Massachusetts families.  Other colonial Massachusetts records are found here:  

I often use local history books and family genealogies to inspire my research - those that are out of copyright may be available on, hathitrust or google books.  But I would check out the information that's already recorded in WT space pages:, and any project resources published for the location you are searching.  For example the Atlantic Canada resources are here: and the Canada Project are found here:

Perhaps your research will identify links that you can add to these lists? 

by Laurie Giffin G2G6 Pilot (105k points)
+5 votes
Matthew: My family members donated a lot of items to the Beaton Institute: Cape Breton University Archives, so that has been a wonderful source for me. I have posted some of the 100-year-old photos of my family members that I have found there on their WikiTree profile pages.

Some of my family members donated to the Nova Scotia Archives. It was amazing to read letters that my grandfather's brother had written to my great-grandmother just before he was killed in action during World War I.

Nova Scotia has digitized their birth, marriage, and death records and they are available at the Nova Scotia Historical Vital Statistics website. They even have the marriage record of my great-great-great-grandparents from 1821.

Laurie suggested Library and Archives Canada. They have pre- and post-Confederation Census records that I have used.

I also recommend the Veterans Affairs Canada website. I was able to read the military files of both my grandfathers, my grandfather's brothers, and my grandparents' cousins.
by A. Creighton G2G6 Pilot (939k points)

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