Researching Your Family’s History and Story Using Photos and Free Resources

Chart of family history
Researching family history

You’ve heard colorful tales of the past so you begin researching your family’s history to learn what’s true, but you wonder what tools are the best to use. A listing of free resources below can help you form a complete family tree.

Or, you got a good start digging into the genealogy but can’t get around obstacles. Professional family researchers can help, especially if you run into a language barrier when researching the countries where families immigrated from.


Free Listings

U.S. Census Bureau

Get links to state census records; use tools for research; and access copies of original forms and questionnaires.

National Archives and Records Administration

In-depth resource for census records; government records; military pension files; early naturalization records.


Partial screen shot from Natl Archives
The federal govt has various free resources to research family history like the National Archives.

Library of Congress

A resource for all copyrighted materials in America and foreign countries. Access collections of nearly all city directories and county histories in the U.S. Maintains the U.S. Newspaper Directory and Chronicling America database.

New York Public Library

The NYPL is second only to the Library of Congress in the size and scope of its historical and genealogical collections. The NYPL Map Division has one of the best collections in the U.S.; the Milstein Division has extensive local history and genealogical materials related to all fifty states.


US Gen Web Project and World Gen Web Project

Free county/state historical and genealogical resources; research resources and content projects driven by volunteers of local and state genealogical societies throughout the United States. Use the World Gen Web Project for information outside the U.S.

Research Guides for Ship Passenger Lists and Immigration Records

Providing guidance and links to records for passenger lists from about 1820 to the early 1950s. It includes suggestions for finding records for ports of arrival and immigration records.

Allen County Public Library, Fort Wayne, Indiana

Includes an African American and a Native American Gateway; military records; and a surname database contributed by researchers. One of the largest genealogical library collections in the U.S.


Offers many record groups and good surname search abilities. The algorithms use phonetic arrangements to assist in Eastern European and Jewish name searches.


Professional Researchers

If you find gaps in records or can’t complete files then professional researchers can find ways to access records that show life’s milestones like birth, weddings and deaths. If you find gaps in records, can’t complete searches, or even need records dating back into the 20th century, 19th century, or earlier then professional researchers can help you acquire those needed records.

Researchers through FOREVER, a service I use with my clients, can verify the accuracy of information you’ve found or point you in a new direction.

Woman's fingers on journal with picture
Photo by Emma Dau, Unsplash

Journal Your Photos

Sifting through records of family history gets important narratives started while adding collections of family photos illustrates the family tree from one era to another.

Researching your genealogy and researching family photos is a good task to do with aging parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles.

Tell the stories of your family in an online storage system through FOREVER. The benefit is that you own it and can share with others now and in the future. You can create digital albums that are guaranteed for a lifetime, plus 100 years.


I’m Here to Help

Melody Whitehead
Melody Whitehead, Safeguard Your Memories


I stay up to date on technology and the best practices for journaling your photos and storing them online.

Get the most from your photos and your family story. Check my Events page to join me and my friends in activities like writing your family story and using photos as gifts.

Interested in photo coaching as a business or as extra income? I’ll be glad to share my experiences based on my career of 27 years.

Contact me here to get started.

Thanks for reading and I hope you enjoy adding depth to your family tree.

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