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If you need help with genealogy research, use Ourpublicrecords to get assistance finding the best resources for your search.

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Using Public Records for Genealogy Research

Thanks to 23andMe and similar companies, genealogy is a hot subject today. These home tests use your saliva and other types of samples to trace your ancestry. Not only can you see where your family originated and how they moved over the years, but you can also connect with family members who also took the test and create a family tree online. If you want to fill in some of the gaps on that tree or find information that the test did not, you should consider using public records. At Ourpublicrecords, we make it easy to locate and learn about everyone related to you.

What are Public Records?

Public records refer to court and government records open to the public. While you cannot use some types of court records because the courts sealed them, you can often view other types. Courts will seal records when people commit crimes as juveniles and when a conviction is overturned. For example, a family member might serve time for a crime that evidence later reveals someone else committed. You cannot view the records relating to that prison sentence because overturning it is like the court saying that it never happened. The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) gives everyone the right to use and access public records.

Which Public Records Should You Use?

Listing out all the different types of public records would take hours. You might focus on military records if you have relatives who served in any branch of the military. Each branch has a database that you can look through, though you’ll find the same information in public record databases. Not only can you see when the person enlisted and when the person left the military, but you’ll also see where that individual served and any awards received. Military records can also tell you if your relative received an honorable or dishonorable discharge. Certificates filed when couples marry, have children and divorce are also helpful as are court and property records.

What Can You Find?

The information that you can find depends on the records that you use. Some of the details you can find include an individual’s name, date of birth, date of death, marriage and divorce records and property owned. You can use court records to learn more about the lawsuits that a person filed and those filed against the individual too. Some records such as census reports can tell you the individual’s job and where he or she worked as well as the person’s age and the ages/occupations of anyone who lived at the same address. When you’re ready to do some genealogy research online to fill in the gaps and missing spots in your family history, use Ourpublicrecords to find the top public records databases.

Our Top Ranked Public Records Sites 2022

Background Check Service

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Pros / Cons

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Site

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Database Size
5/5
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5/5
Cost
4.5/5
Customer Help
5/5

Our #1 choice for the best ancestor search site on the web is Ancestry.com. The service allows you to search through 20 billion records from 80 different countries.

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Database Size
4/5
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5/5
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4.5/5
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4.5/5

Easy to use and has enough historical records data. Allows you to search through 20 billion records from 80 different countries.

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Database Size
4/5
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4.8/5
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4/5
Customer Help
4.5/5

Archives allow you to search millions of data points to discover vital information about your ancestors.

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Database Size
4/5
Search Features
4.8/5
Cost
4/5
Customer Help
4.5/5

Easy to use and has historical records from 80 different countries. Great user interface as well.

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Database Size
5/5
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5/5
Cost
4.5/5
Customer Help
5/5

Our #1 choice for the best background search site on the web is MyHeritage. 

It lets you search millions of records to get info.

0%
Database Size
3.8/5
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4/5
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4/5
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3.5/5

Great for public records, but doesn’t have the same volume of birth and death records as some of it’s competitors.

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This site is generally a reliable source for discovering public records. Very user friendly but fairly expensive relative to Archives.

Our Top Ranked Public Records Sites 2022

Background Check Service

Score

Pros / Cons

Bottom Line

Site

0%
Database Size
5/5
Search Features
5/5
Cost
4.5/5
Customer Help
5/5

Our #1 choice for the best genealogy records search site on the web is Archives.com. This service lets you search billions of records within seconds.

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Database Size
4/5
Search Features
5/5
Cost
4.5/5
Customer Help
4.5/5

Easy to use and has enough historical records data. Allows you to search through 20 billion records from 80 different countries.

0%
Database Size
4/5
Search Features
4.8/5
Cost
4/5
Customer Help
4.5/5

This site is generally a reliable source for discovering public records. Very user friendly but fairly expensive relative to Archives.

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Database Size
3.8/5
Search Features
4/5
Cost
4/5
Customer Help
3.5/5

A good source for genealogical records. Has genealogy guides and other resources that will help you dig deeper into your family’s past.

0%
Database Size
3/5
Search Features
4/5
Cost
4/5
Customer Help
3.5/5

Great for public records, but doesn’t have the same volume of birth and death records as some of it’s competitors.