Ready to start a FindMyPast free trial? How to get most out of your genealogy research and decide if it’s right for you.
Spoiler Alert: The strategies I show you below work for all genealogy type free trials!
Start With a Research Plan
I might sound a bit like a broken record sometimes, but I have to say this one more time. Start your research with a plan!
Prepping for a trip to an archive or prepping for research session online at one of the genealogy databases is really no different. You must start with a research plan.
Your genealogy research plan does not have to be overly commplicated. Having even a basic plan helps you stay on task and be efficient when taking advantage a free trial.
Your genealogy research plan should include:
- Your research question or research goal.
- The types of records to be searched.
- The location of those records. (In our example below, FindMyPast is the location).
- What to follow up on at the end of your research session.
Learn more about creating your own genealogy research plan in How to Create Your Genealogy Research Plan (& Why You Should!)
📝Don’t Miss This Genealogy Tip!
Genealogy friends do not let other genealogy friends research without a plan!
What Records Exist For The Research Time Period?
The next step is determine what records would have been created and still exist that your ancestor would potentially be found in. To pursue my ancestor Matthew Talbot, I would research “how to research genealogy in Maryland in early 1700’s” or “how to research genealogy in England 1699-1725”.
A visit to the Maryland State Archives website provided a good overview of how to research genealogy there. Existing pertinent records for the time period in question were determined. For the English records, I started with FindMyPast‘s “Getting Started” resource. When your research takes you into another country, you must take time to learn how that country recorded events and what records were generated. In the case of Matthew Talbott, I had to shift my thinking once in England to “think like a Brit!”
I use Google Docs for for this process, but the important thing is to use the system that works best for you. Mine might look like:
|Record Set||Type of Record||Years Covered|
|Maryland, Compiled Marriages||Marriage Records (MD Archives)||1718 – 1725 [1655 – 1850]|
|England Births & Baptisms||Birth Records (FMP)||1538-1975|
|London Apprenticeship Abstracts||Apprentice Records (FMP)||1442-1850|
|British Newspapers||FMP Collection||Look at early 1700’s|
Understand the Basics About The Records You Want To Use
Now as researchers we need to take things a little further and understand what that record is telling you.
- Why was the record created?
- What information does it include?
As you answer these questions you extract all of the information a particular record has on your ancestor.
NOW You Are Ready for Your Free Trial
It is time for your free trial. We will take a look at getting the most out of a FindMyPast 14 day free trial.
Decide which membership option best suits your needs.
FindMyPast has two membership options to choose from: Essential British & Irish records and the Ultimate British & Irish option. I personally recommend the Ultimate British & Irish option. In addition to Irish and British record collections, you also have access to exclusive guides and classes, British & Irish newspapers, wills and probates and more.
Do not overlook the the guides and classes offered. These are a fantastic way to learn about British and Irish research if you are new to it. Remember, you need to think like a Brit!
Mark the beginning and end dates of your free trial on your calendar.
I mark my calendar with the start date and the end date of any free trial I use. Genealogy database trials and non-genealogy free trails alike. Tip: Mark the free trial end date for the day before. This gives you time to evaluate your experience in an unhurried manner and make your decision if you wish to continue with a full subscription or not.
Start your family tree.
As you start your trial, go ahead and add your family tree. You can create a new one or upload a new one.
Do you really need to start a family tree on the site when exploring a free trial? No, not necessarily. I like to add a tree to be able to take advantage of hints and suggestions offered by the site, in this case, FindMyPast. By having a family on a free trial site, you will be able to find other researchers of the same family lines. This offers you an opportunity to network genealogy style!
Start exploring those records!
Now for the fun part! Well, it’s all fun, but let’s get into those records.
Keep these tips in mind as you research:
- Schedule research time on your calendar! Don’t let your free trial days slip away.
- Use the name variation parameters. This is especially helpful if you are new to a country’s records.
- Do not forget about those wildcard searches.
- If you get stuck, ask the experts! You will find help sections on the homepage and in the top menu.
Do NOT forget to explore PERSI!
The PERiodical Source Index (PERSI) at FindMyPast is another one of its super powers! PERSI has over two and half million entries from historical and genealogy periodicals.
If you are not familiar with PERSI, read How To Use PERSI (PERiodical Source Index) For Genealogy Research.
Fun Fact 😊
While writing this article, I hopped over to PERSI for a “quick” look up. I went down a genealogy rabbit trail and found a lisitng for a small rural church history where my ancestors attended in Surry County, North Carolina. Let me reiterate, a small rural church. I already have a plan to get a copy of the journal. Yes, I’m doing a bit of the genealogy happy dance!
Evaluate your free trial experience.
Once your free trial is complete, evaluate your experience. What did you like? What did you not like so much? Did you take advantage of the free guides and the help sections?