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Keeping Watch Over Massachusetts Public Records
Free Access to the Big Paid Subscription Sites
Did you know about Ancestry's Guest Account or NEHGS's Free Account? Two of the biggest paid subscription sites for New England genealogy include free-access materials on their websites. In addition, the Church of Jesus Christ of the Latter Day Saints has an entirely free site at FamilySearch.org.
Many people on budgets have been accessing any or all of these sites at libraries and Family History Centers. I just thought it would be nice to go over what you can access from home. Here's a little more information on these free or guest services.
New England Historic Genealogical Society's AmericanAncestors.org
Here are the databases that are free at the New England Historic Genealogy Society's website:
- Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850
- Social Security Death Index
- NEHGS Library Catalog
- Irish Immigrant Advertisements, 1831-1920
- Index to Revolutionary War Pensioners
- New York Wills, 1626-1836
- Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati
- Gloucester, MA: Burials
- Ware, MA Families
To learn more about NEHGS's Free Account, going to http://www.americanancestors.org/join/?reg-type=free. To set up a Free Account, click on Register Today.
Another resource for information on these free records is the Ancestry Insider's posting Free New England Records. (In fact, Ancestry Insider inspired me to write this post.)
There are two ways to gain access to Ancestry for free.
One way is to go to your town or county library, a Family History Center, or the National Archives and use the free library edition. The library edition will not permit you to put up a personal family tree although it will allow access to many databases and books.
The other way is to create a Registered Guest Account. As a guest, you can work from home. You can put up a personal family tree and invite people to see it. Among the many free databases you can access are:
- 1880 U.S. census
- 1940 U.S. census
- World War I Draft Registrations
To learn more about Guest Accounts, go to Ancestry Guest Registration. To create your Guest Account, go to https://secure.ancestry.com/register/guestregistration.aspx. No credit card is necessary.
FamilySearch has made a wide variety of Massachusetts data available for some time. In a previous post, we discussed access to the Massachusetts Deeds. That's but the tip of the iceberg on Massachusetts records. Here are several other Massachusetts databases (some with images) available on FamilySearch:
- Massachusetts, Births and Christenings, 1639-1915
- Massachusetts, Births, 1841-1915
- Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1820-1891
- Massachusetts, Boston Passenger Lists, 1891-1943
- Massachusetts, Death Index, 1970-2003
- Massachusetts, Deaths and Burials, 1795-1910
- Massachusetts, Deaths, 1841-1915
- Massachusetts, Land Records, 1620-1986
- Massachusetts, Marriages, 1695-1910
- Massachusetts, Marriages, 1841-1915
- Massachusetts, Naturalization Index, 1906-1966
- Massachusetts, PlymouthCounty, Probate Estate Files, 1686-1915
- Massachusetts, PlymouthCounty, Probate Records, 1633-1967
- Massachusetts, Springfield Vital Records, 1638-1887
- Massachusetts, State Census, 1855
- Massachusetts, State Census, 1865
- Massachusetts, State Vital Records, 1841-1920
- Massachusetts, Town Clerk, Vital and Towns Records, 1579-2001
FamilySearch includes Family Tree, a free area to put up your own family history. An introduction is available on Getting Started.
FamiliySearch is completely free, but it does require that users register. To do so, go to https://familysearch.org/register/.
With all these free resources, having genealogy fun during your summer vacation has never been easier -- or cheaper.