It's a holiday weekend—the perfect time to kick back and do some online sleuthing for those elusive East European ancestors. Two popular genealogy sites are offering free access to some of their databases through Labor Day.
Ancestry.com is offering free access to its database of immigration and travel records now through Labor Day. Immigration records will help you track down important details about your family history. Start with passenger lists to understand your ancestors’ trip to America, then search for passports and naturalization documents to learn more about their lives once they arrived. While on the site, check out the other updated collections.
MyHeritage.com is providing free access to the complete US Census collection starting Saturday, August 31 through Monday, September 2 (Labor Day). Find out more about your ancestors, and their professions, in hundreds of millions of records in MyHeritage collection of US Federal Censuses spanning 1790-1940. To access the site's entire US Census Records collection click here.
Even More Free Records
While online, surf on over to FamilySearch, where you'll always find plenty of free digitized images and indexes. You can search by name, browse by location, or even search for a specific type of record/collection. You can browse or search passenger lists/arrival records from a number of different US ports including: California, Los Angeles Passenger Lists, 1907-1948, Maryland, Baltimore Passenger Lists, 1820-1948, New York, Passenger and Crew Lists, 1925-1942, and Pennsylvania, Philadelphia Passenger Lists, 1883-1945. Be sure to check out their collection of state census records, and New York-specific collections.
No matter which database you choose, here are a few general search tips.
Be realistic about time period you’re researching (earlier lists, less info)
Start broad (unless common last name, e.g. Smith), then narrow search as necessary
Experiment with various search criteria (adding first name, middle name, location, occupation, date ranges, etc.) as the database allows.
Check for women under maiden and married names
Try spelling variations (not just suggestions provided on a site, but your own too)
Browse records page by page if necessary.
Enjoy the holiday weekend, and Happy Searching!