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Types of Genealogy That Are in the Public Domain

Genealogy records come in many different types and formats, many of which are available in the public domain.  If you are doing a genealogy search, the best place to start is to identify which types of genealogy records you are interested in finding.  Here is a list of some of the common types of genealogy records available and whether or not they are in the public domain.


Census Data:  Census data, since it is published by the US Government, is in the public domain and is a great source for free genealogy records to help you in your search.

Family Trees:  Regardless of whether you find a family tree in a book, online, or on a folded piece of paper inside your family Bible, the facts contained within the family tree cannot be copyrighted and are therefore in the public domain.  Facts such as names and dates are a great start in a genealogy search.

Public Records:  Birth certificates, marriage certificates, and death certificates are all examples of public domain genealogy records.

Books of Family Stories:  These may or may not be in the public domain, depending on whether they are copyrighted or not.

Old Letters:  Much like anything else that is written, if the material is copyrighted, then it cannot be considered a free genealogy record source and is not in the public domain.  However, many old letters were not copyrighted and can be used in your genealogy search.