Connecting to the “Old Country”

I’ve reached the place in my genealogy that I’m attempting to connect my ancestors to their roots in Europe. Only I’ve discovered it’s not so easy and even rather daunting to do European research. As I begin to dig into the “old country” here are some free websites that may be helpful in your search for the ancestors “across the pond”.

ASK ABOUT IRELAND <www.askaboutireland.ie>

This site has a free version of Griffith’s Primary Valuation, a key resource for 19th-century Irish research. It includes as explanation of how to interpret the valuation. Also you will find free e-books, online services for libraries, Irish history and cultural info.

FREEBMD <freebmd.org.uk>

The aim of FreeBMD is to transcribe the Civil Registration index of births, marriages and deaths for England and Wales. They’ve posted more than 248 million records created between 1837 and 1983.

GENEANET <en.geneanet.org/first-step/search-your-french-ancestors>

The GeneaNet genealogy database contains 2 billion individuals, 600,000 family trees, 6 million digitized records, 500,000 old books, 3 million old newspapers, and much more.

GERMAN GENEALOGY HOME PAGE <daddezio.com/germgen.html>

Since 1998, this site has provided German genealogy how-to along with data on surname studies, passenger lists, military records, vital records and more.

NATIONAL GERMAN MILITARY GRAVE REGISTRATION SERVICE <www.volksbund.de/en/volksbund.html>

Search for the names of more than 2 million German soldiers dead or missing from world wars I and II.

REGISTER OF SWISS SURNAMES <www.hls-dhs-dss.ch/famn/?lg=e>

This database covers all the families holding citizenship in a Swiss community as of 1962.

WIE WAS WIE <www.wiewaswie.nl/en/home>

The records include church registers and user-submitted family trees. This is the go-to source for finding ancestors in the Netherlands.

ACCESS TO RUSSIAN ARCHIVES <online.eastview.com/projects/ticfia>

This is an online database containing descriptions of approximately 80,000 archival fonds (record groups) from more than 20 guidebooks on Russian federal archives and 40 regional archives published from 1987 to 2004. It provides the most comprehensive access to the holdings of the entire Russian archive system in one place, with English transliteration.

AVOTAYNU < http://www.avotaynu.com/csi/csi-home.htm>

Consolidated Jewish Surname Index is your gateway to information about 699,084 surnames, mostly Jewish, that appear in 42 different databases. These databases combined contain more than 7.3 million records.

JEWISHGEN <www.jewishgen.org>

This easy-to-use genealogy website features thousands of databases, research tools, and other resources to help those with Jewish ancestry research and find family members.

This is just a start….a jumping off point. Take a dive and see what you can find about your ancestors from the “old country”. Share some of your favorite sites and success stories in the comments. Next time I will share more free sites for finding your European ancestors.


Fryxell, David A. “Catch the Wave.” Family Tree Magazine May/June 2014: 54-59. Print.

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One response to “Connecting to the “Old Country”

  1. William Holland

    Thanks for all the valuable information

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