Ancestry.com has announced that it will be offering access to more than 1 billion UK and Irish records this weekend, Feb 17th through the 20th. If you have roots in England, Scotland, Ireland or Wales, and don’t currently have a paid Ancestry subscription, this is a great opportunity to do some no-cost research.
We’ve put together a quick Q&A below to help you take advantage of this free access.
When Will Access to These Records be Made Available?
According to Ancestry, these records will be made available at no cost from 2pm ET on Feb 17th to 11:59PM ET on Feb 20th.
What Collections Will Be Offered?
The collections included in the free access event can all be found here. The free access includes large collections covering wide geographical areas as well as small focused databases. Census records, vital records, parish registers, local histories, old newspapers, family history books, occupational records and more can be found in the list of included collections.
Some records that pertain to the US and Australia are also included, such as New South Wales, Australia, Convict Indents, 1788-1842 and Welsh Founders of Pennsylvania.
It is important to note that some of the collections, such as the UK Census and those from Find a Grave, can be found elsewhere online for free on a permanent basis. Others are only available online via Ancestry or other paid subscription sites.
Do I Need an Ancestry Account to Access These Records?
Usually, Ancestry requires that you have a free account with them before gaining access to any records on their site – this includes records they offer for free on a permanent basis and records offered during free record events like this one. A free account does not require any payment information to be entered and is different from a free trial.
If I Add These Records to My Family Tree on Ancestry Will I Still Have Access After the Weekend?
We’re glad you asked. The answer to this question is no, unless the record is already part of a free Ancestry record collection. To avoid losing access to these records once the free weekend ends you will need to download these records to your own computer. Simply adding them to your family tree, or saving them to your shoebox, is not enough. We have a how-to for downloading records from Ancestry here.
Visit the list of free record collections linked here starting Feb 17th at 2pm ET. Click on the collection of interest and conduct your search – you may need to sign up for a free account before you will be allowed to access a record. Remember to download any records you would like to keep to your computer, rather than simply adding them to your Ancestry family tree, or you will lose access after the 20th.