Five Free Genealogy Things You Can Do on

By Diane Haddad

I’m happy to pay for something of value to me, and subscription genealogy sites are worth their weight in old records to a genealogist who can’t spend a lot of time or money renting and scrolling microfilm, or traveling to repositories around the country. Or one who wouldn’t be able to unearth family information without the benefit of a name search.

But I also need to watch my pennies just as much as the next person, so I really appreciate it when the genealogy information or tool I need is available for free. You might be surprised to find that has some very useful free tools.

You’ll need free guest registration to access these free features. A guest registration doesn’t require entering a credit card number (and it’s different from a free trial, which does require payment information).

  • You can create your family tree and upload records from your computer to your ancestors’ profiles. (Viewing those “shaky leaf” hints, though, is a subscriber benefit.)
  • You can use the Family History Wiki, which has the text from two genealogy reference books that were published by Ancestry: The Source: A Guidebook to American Genealogy and Red Book: American State, County and Town Sources.
  • You can search and post on the message boards, which exist for surnames, places and topics (such as Cemeteries, Spanish-American War, etc.).
  • You can use Ancestry Library Edition at a library, if one near you offers it, to access most of the records on Notable exceptions include the Passenger and Immigration Lists Index (especially helpful for finding early immigrants; many genealogy libraries have older, printed versions of this index) and the Periodical Source Index (which indexes genealogical journals and magazines).

If you do have an subscription, or you’re thinking about subscribing, our How to Maximize week-long online workshop (July 24-31) will show you how to get the full value out of your investment. See a workshop program and sign up at Family Tree University.