Knowing where to find information about your ancestors, and what information you can trust, can be one of the largest challenges you will face when making a family tree.
While paid membership websites can be helpful and offer a vast amount of information, not everyone can afford the cost. Luckily there are a number of free resources that you can use.
This is a free website offered by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. They have a large collection of data including Census Records, access to millions of birth and marriage records dating back to 1500 and more.
World Wide Gen Web Project
This is a free website run by volunteers in an effort to provide genealogists with research information and to have every country in the world represented. Armed with your ancestor's information, you can enter a country specific site and begin your research.
Library and Archives Canada
This Government of Canada website holds a number of useful records such as World War I personnel files, 1901 Census data, Western land grants from 1870-1930 and immigration records from 1925-1935.
Free BMD (Birth, Marriage & Death)
This is a UK based site that offers free transciptions of civil birth, marriage and death records for England and Wales. All records are transcribed by volunteers so many records may be incomplete. The recording of births, marriages and deaths began in the UK in 1837
The National Archives, United Kingdom
This website is similar in nature to the Canadian government website and offers records of births, marriages and deaths registered in the UK.
The United States Government - Genealogy & Family History
This website offers a vast amount of information held by the US government and includes links to: census records, individual state archives, immigration records and national grave registrations,
While no one site will probably provide you all of the information you are looking for, using a combination of free information sites and paid membership sites will help. Once again, I have found that Ancestry.com has offered me a significant amount of helpful data which I have then been able to enhance along with my own independent research.
At one point, in order to confirm that the information I had previously obtained was correct, I paid a professional genealogist to verify several generations of a branch of my family. After spending over $300.00 Canadian for 6 hours worth of work, I had confirmation that all but 1 small piece of information I had gathered on my own was correct. It was nice to know that my research was valid, but I could not help but feel that I had wasted my money.
Since that time I choose very carefully what information I will pay for. With so much of our world now available on line, a great deal of the documentation you are seeking is already available for low or no cost. Just make sure you do your homework and validate the data before taking it as historical fact.