While a lot of important genealogy sites are fee-based, there are still many you can use for free online.
To find actual documents from county courthouses online, check familysearch.org, where you'll find records from all over the world, and the USGenWeb Project (usgenweb.org), which has information from every county in the United States. There is a similar network for the United Kingdom (genuki.org.uk).
State archives have a lot of information on their websites. The Georgia Archives (georgiaarchives.org) contains marriages, death certificates, photographs, land grants and much more, as well as the Vanishing Georgia photographs. They also have a free, monthly Lunch and Learn seminar, and other daylong training sessions during the year. Signing up on their Facebook page (facebook.com/Georgia-Archives-273195772785138/?fref=ts) helps you learn about these.
The Georgia Genealogical Society (gagensociety.org) has free monthly webinars from nationally known experts. The University of Georgia has a huge amount of free historical and genealogical material on its Galileo site (libs.uga.edu/research), including the Digital Library of Georgia, where there are many 19th century Georgia newspapers available and searchable for free.
You can sign up for Dick Eastman's free online newsletter (and learn about records being placed online and many other genealogy events) at eogn.com. The Genealogical Publishing Co. of Baltimore (genealogical.com) offers several free email notification options, including books for sale.
Genealogy information abounds for free via Google and other search engines, and I have made some great discoveries searching there. So genealogists have a lot out there for free that they can make use of easily.
American family names
To check further into the origins and different spellings of your surname, see “Dictionary of American Family Names” by Patrick Hanks. This three-volume set was published in 2003 by Oxford University Press and is fairly expensive, so it’s not found in most genealogy collections. In the metro Atlanta area, it’s at the Woodruff Library at Emory University, the Kenan Research Center Library at the Atlanta History Center, and at Georgia State University. Check worldcat.org for other locations. It is the source for name origins and surname spelling variations on ancestry.com.
Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P.O. Box 901, Decatur, GA 30031 or gagensociety.org.
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