How to Search Free Collections on Findmypast

By Family Tree Editors
Laptop computer on desk, showing

Findmypast is best known as the British Isles record giant, with millions of exclusive records from The National Archives (UK) and The British Library, as well as an extensive collection of parish and church records from across England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. What a lot of folks don’t realize is that Findmypast has a free records portal, too. Here you can search over 830 million of their key collections (including 10 million Irish church records) without a paying subscription.

Did you know some of the genealogy databases on subscription websites are also available elsewhere for free? This chart compares the gratis and subscription versions of several popular data collections.

Most of the giant genealogy websites, including Findmypast, allow users to create free guest logins and at least search their record collections for free. But viewing the actual record transcriptions and images you’ll find in search results generally requires the proper subscription. Findmypast’s free portal gives full access to the following to those who create their free registrations:


U.S. census population schedules, 1790-1940

You can access what’s arguably the most key resource for tracing U.S. ancestors: the federal census. Taken every ten years since 1790, census returns show varying amounts of detail about nearly every household across the country. The population schedules are the meatiest and most frequently-consulted part of the U.S. census records.


census record

Public vital records for the United States and Canada

In both these North American countries, many historical records of vital events (births, marriages and deaths) exist. They can be essential to helping link together spouses and generations of parents and children. However, vital records in these countries aren’t centralized into one enormous national collection. Instead, you have to try to find collections for your ancestor’s state (or even locale) and time period. Some don’t exist and some aren’t online, but Findmypast has pulled together several notable vital records databases you can search for free, such as Texas divorce records, New Jersey death records and birth records for British Columbia.

Irish Catholic parish records

An estimated 40 million Americans have Irish heritage. If you’re one of them, you’ll be glad to know that you can search 10 million Catholic parish records from the National Library of Ireland here for free. The collection covers an estimated 98% of Ireland’s historical Catholic population—more than 1000 parishes—and includes birth, marriage, burial and confirmation records.

Findmypast does offer free tree-building tools with your guest registration. So you can start building your tree here in North America, then connect back to Ireland or wherever your roots may take you.

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