February 5, 2021
If this is the year you’ve decided to add documents and other source materials to your family tree, now is the perfect time to begin. Why? Ancestry.com has extended free home access to their website through March 31, 2021 (and perhaps even longer, depending on how the pandemic situation progresses).
If you have been putting off using this free resource, don’t procrastinate! You have two months right now to access a wealth of original records that will beef up any family tree. Getting access is easy. For anyone who has a Poudre River Public Library District library card, just go to https://www.poudrelibraries.org/ . Click on the “Research” tab at the top of the page, then scroll through the listed databases until you get to Ancestry.com. Click on it, and you’ll be directed to enter your surname and library card number. Once you do that, you’re in – all of Ancestry’s riches are yours!
In case you have a library card from another library, almost every library of any size has a subscription to Ancestry, and all of them are offering free access from home. Just Google the name of the library you want to use, access the website, and you’ll find directions similar to the ones above. After the pandemic eases, the libraries will still offer Ancestry, but you will have to use it in person. That’s still a great deal, but not nearly as convenient as now when you can research to your heart’s content at home in your jammies, with a cat on your lap and a snack or two within arm’s reach!
If you’ve heard that Ancestry is all about family trees, which are often full of errors, you’re in for a real surprise when you access the Library Edition of Ancestry. Yes, there are a lot of family trees on Ancestry, some accurate and some not so much, but there are literally hundreds of thousands of actual documents available as well. All yours at the click of a mouse. I’ve belonged to Ancestry for over twenty years now, and I couldn’t research without it. Ancestry is continuously adding new resources; everyone I visit the website, I find something new.
Within just the last few weeks, I’ve accessed an extensive collection of Quaker records where I found a series of records detailing an ancestor who was disfellowshipped because he refused to manumit a slave. Eventually he capitulated, perhaps less because he wanted to free his slave and more because he wanted to marry and was refused reinstatement to do so until he freed the slave. A great story told through a series of copies of handwritten original records that I would have had trouble accessing anywhere else (especially during the pandemic).
In addition, I recently found a long-sought marriage record for one of my husband’s third great grandparents. I’d looked on and off for years and never could find anything until it just popped up on Ancestry – two counties over from where I’d been searching. To make it even better, Ancestry partners with FamilySearch so I was able to click onto a link to their website to access a copy of the original record.
I could share pages of examples like these because I use Ancestry almost every day. I’m sure that anyone who takes advantage of Ancestry’s free home usage will find dozens of examples of their own. Just don’t delay; home use may stop at the end of March. You’ll be sorry if you miss it!
Researcher/Director at Large