Wondering how to save money while trying to find your ancestors? Check out Ancestry.com's free genealogy records collections. You'll be surprised at what you find!
Genealogy Resources

How To Do Free Genealogy Research on Ancestry.com

Learn how to do free genealogy research on Ancestry.com using their large collection of free genealogy records. Both US and World records can be found.

“How to perform free genealogy research?” is one of the most common questions I am asked.

I get it!  This genealogy hobby – like most hobbies – can get expensive. DNA tests, Genealogy subscriptions, research trips, conferences….. the list of wants and needs can seem endless.

One of the tough decisions genealogy researchers need to make about using their genealogy dollars is deciding if a subscription based genealogy database is a good investment.

Genealogy can be expensive. Learn how to research Ancestry.com's free records collections!

Does the database such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast, or MyHeritage have the records you need?

Is it possible to search the large subscription databases for free?  Are there free searchable collections on Ancestry.com? 

The Short Answer – Yes!

How To Do Free Genealogy Research on Ancestry.com

(Or Always Free Genealogy Records Collections at Ancestry.com)

Ancestry.com offers many always free collections for the genealogy researcher.  

Finding the free collections is not always an easy task.

Find Ancestry.com’s free collection index here.

You will notice a large variety of records. Some are index only and others are full record sets.

Free genealogy collections at Ancestry.com

Do not discount records that are index only. Some of the index only collections have quite a bit of important information in them. Determining if an ancestor is in that record index will indicate whether or not you need to pursue the original record.

Here are a few samples of always free genealogy records at Ancestry.com:

You will see the collection is quite varied and contains a lot of “out of the box” or uncommon genealogy records. Learn more about how to use “out of the box” genealogy records in Uncommon Genealogy Resources – 6 “Outside of the Genealogy Box” Resources!

Notice the free collection includes both U.S. and World Records. 

Wondering how to save money while trying to find your ancestors? Check out Ancestry.com's free genealogy records collections. You'll be surprised at what you find!

Now here’s an “outside of the box” genealogy record!  New Zealand Sheep returns!

List of free genealogy collections at Ancestry.com

Explore Beaver County, Pennsylvania tax records (1832 – 1925) for free. You know how much I love using tax records in my genealogy research!

Beaver County, PA Tax Records 1832 - 1925
Beaver County, Pennsylvania, Tax Records, 1832-1925 (Source: Ancestry.com)

Ancestry.com‘s free collections seem a bit of a hodge-podge. You can find US records, World-wide records, state records, family histories, private papers, prison records, records from the Holocaust….. The list goes on.  The list is alphabetized, so that should help you narrow your search.

If your genealogy research is stalled, be sure and look at these free record collections. I have a full World subscription to Ancestry.com, but I found some fantastic records in the free list for my own use.

Free Genealogy Charts and Forms

Having genealogy charts and forms close at hand can be beneficial to our genealogy research. 

While not a record collection, you can find free genealogy and charts at Ancestry.com including:

  • Ancestral Chart
  • Research Calendar
  • Research Extract
  • Correspondence Record
  • Family Group Sheet 
  • Source Summary
Free genealogy charts and forms at Ancestry.com including census forms, ancestral chart and research calendar

You will also find blank census forms which I always have beside me when I research. Download and print them off.

Having a blank census form helps you to quickly and easily read and keep track of the column headings.  I think all of us have at some point, struggled to decipher a census heading to determine more information about an ancestor. (Surely, I’m not the only one!) In short, I’m faster, more efficient and more accurate using blank census forms when I research.

Make The Most of a Free Access Weekend

Watch for Free Weekends on Ancestry.com featuring specific collections. For example, around Veteran’s Day, Ancestry will open it military databases for a weekend of free access. It’s a great way to explore the records for free. 

But…..here’s the key to making the best use of your free access weekend.

Have your genealogy research plan ready ahead of time!

Woman's hands on keyboard of laptop sitting at wooden table

Know which ancestor you are researching and what you hope to find in the records. Create you research plan and save it until  a free access weekend arrives. 

You will be ready to start researching right away!  No lost time trying to remember just what you were planning to research.

Looking for other ways to save money while researching genealogy? Explore these previous articles:

Explore the Everything Page. Mock up of laptop and tablet for genealogy resources

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  • Sandy Mansell

    How can I find a privately written book called “The Sons of Solomon”, which was published for the Yeomans family of Georgia? Sorry. I do not know the author.

  • RonNasty64

    I was surprised that this exact listing is available in Canada: https://www.ancestry.ca/search/categories/freeindexacom/#collections

    I like to get hints from Ancestry and check them out at the library to see they are any good.

    One thing I’ve been doing lately is accessing Library and Archives of Canada to review Census records. The images are available on Ancestry, but only if you pay to access them. I can see the enough of the details to search for the file at Archives of Canada and download it from there.

    • LisaL

      The easiest way is to go through that link. Otherwise, go into the Ancestry.com catalog search and type free into the keyword box.

  • Peggy J. Reed

    Thanks you for your help and good information for researching geneaolgy. I am
    slowly working on my interest in 7 or 8 family names that I am associated with.
    I move very slow on the vast amount of information that becomes available. I have planned to purchase a membership when I feel that I have gaine skills enough to find productive. Thanks you for all that you and others have made available. Peggy J. Mc Reed

  • Donna Forbis

    You can also check with your local library to see if they subscribe to Ancestry Library Edition. If they do, you can do your research at the library and email copies of records to yourself! The libraries near me allow anyone to use their Ancestry access while inside the building, even if you are not a cardholder for that library.

  • Maurice O’Connell

    Hello Everyone
    I need help I have spent years looking for my Great Uncle John Sullivan birth 13 July 1865 in Fermoyle Sneem Co Kerry Ireland.
    His parents were John Sullivan and Ann Neenan , this is all I have I have searched for him everywhere.
    Any information would be appreciated.

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