“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.
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.
You will notice a large variety of records. Some are index only and others are full record sets.
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:
- 1880 Census
- Index to Find A Grave
- JewishGen Online Worldwide Burial Registry (JOWBR)
- Mexico’s 1930 national census
- Aiken County, South Carolina: Cemetery Records
- Arizona, Prison Records, 1875-1929
- 1881 UK Census
1881 England Census
- 1881 Wales Census
- 1881 Isle of Man Census
- Quebec Vital and Church Records
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.
Now here’s an “outside of the box” genealogy record! New Zealand Sheep returns!
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
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.
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 frugal genealogy research ideas? Explore these previous articles:
- Where To Find FREE Online Historical Maps For Your Genealogy Research
- Free Genealogy Websites – A Frugal Genealogist’s Guide
- Where To Find Free Genealogy Courses – It’s Easier Than You Think!