Friday, December 20, 2013

Dear Randy: "Can I Access for Free?"

I had an email correspondent ask this question (with some explanation before) and I've answered it several times in my local society research group meetings:

"I'm on a fixed income, and I cannot afford to subscribe to  Can I access it for free?  Could someone do lookups for me and send me a record image?"

My answer is:

1)  You can go to some local libraries and local LDS FamilySearch Libraries and access Ancestry Library Edition for FREE.  Ancestry Library Edition has almost all of the historical record databases available, with the notable exception of the Historical Newspapers (last time I checked).  It also doesn't include the Family Trees.  You can see all of the differences at

Look for the online databases that your local and regional libraries have available.  Ancestry Library Edition is not available for home users.  You will have to go to the participating library to use it.

If you want to obtain digital images of different records, then take a flash drive with you to save the records on.  Depending on the computer system at the library, you may have to download the image to a computer folder and then copy it to your flash drive using the "Save" button.  Consult with the computer folks at the library.  You might be able to email it to yourself - if Ancestry Library Edition has that feature (I can't access it at home to test it).

Here in the San Diego area, the San Diego City Library system, the San diego County Library system, and Carlsbad Library have access to Ancestry Library Edition on their public computers.

2)  A friend or colleague could do lookups for you on if they have an home subscription, and then email you the records using the email feature on a record image page.  However, doing more than one or two of them might violate the Terms of Use for your friend or colleague.

I hope that this helps my correspondent and anyone else who has these questions.

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Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Rosemary said...

The Library Edition we have is basically US only. They also have Fold3 and HeritageQuest available.

Let's not forget FamilySearch which can be used from home and is getting better and better. There are international records available there.

Leslie Ann said...

I am able to access the library edition from home using my library card so you might want to check with all of your local libraries to see if one of them offers remote access.

Cousin Russ said...


I would add, that the Library Edition will NOT allow you to view an Ancestry Member Tree.

You can, however, create an Ancestry Member Tree without a subscription, for FREE, but that would not allow you to view any of the Records you might find from the Library Edition.

Also, you would only have a Registered Guess "account" and there are limitations on what you can and can't see.

I think that there has been some Changes to the Library Edition and you may also have access to, an property.


Don Varner said...

Ancestry has some databases that are free access as well. Ancestry has a World Archives Projects where volunteers index the records (very similar Family Search). All records indexed by this group of people plus a few other databases are available free.

Beth Benko said...

There are 950 databases available free on You can search for them in the card catalog. Click on Search, then on Card Catalog and then enter the word "free" (without quotes) in the Keyword field.