From state vital records and censuses to historical books and immigration data, this year’s 101 Best Websites list features tools that can bust your brick walls -- but not your budget.

In a bumpy economy, is there any more welcome word than free? When we took a break from checking our credit-card balances and 401(k) accounts to consider this year’s 101 Best Websites, the theme was as obvious as the lint in our wallets: the best free genealogy sites. Fortunately, when it comes to online genealogy, the old sayings “There’s no such thing as a free lunch” and “You get what you pay for” go right out the window. You can learn plenty about your family history without ever entering a credit-card number.

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