Posted by on 30 September 2011 in 15 minutes with 15 collections

Over the next couple of weeks, we’re giving you free access to some of our most popular collections from around the world. Better yet, we’re helping you make the most of them with a series of quick tutorials. All you need is a spare 15 minutes every day!

From October 1st-15th, we’re making another top collection free every day. From Australian electoral rolls to World War I documents, you’ll have access to all kinds of records, many of which are usually only available to our Worldwide members.

With each free collection, we’ll provide a tutorial right here on our blog. These helpful articles will give you a taste of what you can find in the records, and suggest some quick tricks you can try in a quarter of an hour.

Don’t worry if you miss a day – after they become available, the collections will be free right up to the 15th. And of course, we’ll leave our tutorials up indefinitely, so you can keep coming back and trying our tips.

By the time you’ve finished, you’ll have several new places to look for your ancestors, and some great tricks to help you uncover their stories. Just remember to keep checking this blog every day for the latest tutorial.

Here’s a full list of the collections we’re making free each day:

October 1st – US Social Security Death Index
October 2nd – Ireland, Griffith’s Valuation, 1848-1864
October 3rd – California Marriage Index, 1960-1985
October 4th – Bavaria, Germany, WWI Personnel Rosters, 1914-1918
October 5th – 1920 US Federal Census
October 6th – Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954
October 7th – Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997
October 8th – Sweden, Births from the Swedish Death Index, 1947-2006
October 9th – US WW I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918
October 10th – England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005
October 11th – Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage & Death Announcements, 1851-2003
October 12th – Quebec Vital and Church Records, 1621-1967
October 13th – 1930 US Federal Census
October 14th – 1901 England Census
October 15th – US Obituary Collection

* Each collection will become available to search for free from 7am BST on the relevant day.  All collections will be available to search until 12 midnight BST on 15 October 2011.  To view these records you will need to register for free with with your name and email address.


Andy Beck 

A real shame – I’m going to be on a speaking engagement in the USA for the majority of that time and away from my computer – otherwise I would very much have liked to take advantage.

30 September 2011 at 9:57 am
Dennis Tickle 

i am looking forward to registering free

30 September 2011 at 11:25 am
doreen jackson 

I will be away during this time otherwise I am of course interested. Can you re run the information access please? Kind regards Doreen

30 September 2011 at 1:19 pm
Eva Lawrence 

I’m already registered With Do I have to register separately?

30 September 2011 at 3:01 pm
Freda Jane Taylor formerly Knight 

Kind regards Freda 1936

30 September 2011 at 3:30 pm
Karen Mosby 

Do I have to register separately, or will I access this information when I log into Thank you

30 September 2011 at 4:34 pm
Richard McCulloch 

I am already a Worldwide member as my tree covers Australia and North America. While most of the new contents were publicly availabe some may well be new.

30 September 2011 at 4:39 pm
Annabel Reeves 

If you are already registerd or a current member of then there is no need to register again you will be able to view the collections.

30 September 2011 at 5:55 pm
John Brand 

Very interesting and could be of value. Regrettably will have no access part of this period. Any chance of a re-run later?

30 September 2011 at 6:15 pm
William Sharp 

I still cannot see why the 1911 UK census is not available in READY form, similar to all previous ones.??

30 September 2011 at 6:24 pm
Bob Pizzey 

I agree with William Sharp,I want to see the 1911 UK Census ready, before I come back to Ancestry.

30 September 2011 at 6:37 pm
Patricia F. HoughI 

I am interested in Geneology of Europe, in particular–Luxembourg, Belgium, Germany, &France and also Canada and USA in North America. Which plan would best fulfill my curiosity into my family history? I am anxious to try your “free” 15 day experience and learn
more about how to collect information.

30 September 2011 at 6:45 pm
Grahame Denovan 

Whilst I have been a member of Ancestry for many years and recently upgraded to Worldwide, I am looking forward to seeing so many new opportunities to add further information to my Tree– I think that Ancestry are doing a great job of facilitating family research and their systems are so helpful and easy to manage— thank you

30 September 2011 at 7:02 pm
colin hawthorn 

thanks for this chance.

30 September 2011 at 7:14 pm
Richard Kendrick 

Feels a bit like shameless promotion on the part of

When people are leaving the service in droves due to the high cost and current economic circumstances, is this the best that can do to seek new business.

Maybe the time has come to dramatically reduce the cost of membership to encourage new clientele, and maybe get rid of the foolish premium and world membership divide. Just have one world service and offer one competitive rate.

With the new competition in the market, from sites like (and its sister site, needs to get real and offer some better incentives. They are certainly not the only kid on the block now, and better record options are now opening up in other areas.

Signed, a very disappointed existing customer

Richard Kendrick

30 September 2011 at 7:28 pm
Mike Kelly 

I agree totally with Richard Kendrick. I have only just upgraded my subscription to the Worldwide package although I can’t really afford it, yet I’m still waiting for the 1911 UK Census ready.

30 September 2011 at 8:00 pm
Pam Riddet 

I have to agree with many of Richard Kendrick’s comments. Findmypast also offers a 6 month subscription which for those of us who have more time in the winter months is very useful as we are not wasting money in the summer when we are busy and unable to spend time on geneology.

Much of the info on Ancestry can be accessed on other sites for free these days, if you do a little bit of searching.

Plus the search facility can be very annoying at times – for example, having decided an entry is correct and added it to the person in your tree, the search engine then finds numerous other entries that have no relevance at all.

I’m afraid I will not be taking up another subscription for a long time I suspect, and certainly not at the current prices.


30 September 2011 at 8:26 pm
Mike Henwood 

Similar to other comments I am about to go away for two weeks so will miss this opportunity.
Any chance of a re-run?

30 September 2011 at 8:42 pm
Clive Andrews 

As a UK pensioner, with other hobbies too, I found it impossible to afford to subscribe continuously to Please substantially reduce your rates and make your otherwise excellent key to our ancestors, available to more of us!
Kind regards,

30 September 2011 at 9:24 pm
Pat Greaken 

some of us pay for this are we going to get a reduction in our subscription to compensate?

30 September 2011 at 9:33 pm

I am already registered on Ancestry.

1 October 2011 at 1:47 am
Bernice Cox 

I am already a Worldwide member and can see nothing in this list that I can’t access already.

1 October 2011 at 3:27 am
Peggy Beckett 

Whilst happy to have the opportunity to view collections not usually available on my current subscription, I agree about the comments on cost.
Findmypast offers a loyalty discount when resubscribing – why can’t ancestry at least match this?

1 October 2011 at 4:13 am
FREE* today – USA death records 

[…] marks the start of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown. To kick things off, we’ve made our US Social Security Death Index completely free […]

1 October 2011 at 7:01 am
Edward Newall 

The list of collections seems to be rather biased towards the USA which I suppose is inevitable bearing in mind that Ancestry is an American company. I was hoping that WW1 military records for the United Kingdom would be included. Perhaps next time!

1 October 2011 at 8:18 am
Rina Callingham 

How many other registered ancestry members have received an email today inviting them to take part in the 15 days of competitions to celebrate’s 15th anniversary? Great you may think – until you read (hidden away in terms & conditions) that ONLY United States residents can take part. For an apparently global company, ancestry continues to operate in a very small minded and parochial (not to mention disciminatory) fashion.

1 October 2011 at 2:32 pm
Clifford Simmons 

Many thanks for this opportunity. Really enjoyed the similar promotion you offered with immigration records and making the most of this one. Much appreciated.

1 October 2011 at 3:20 pm
Elizabeth Falkingham 

Agree with comments above. No access available on your website as YOU advertise on your email.

1 October 2011 at 3:22 pm

When will these records become attachable? I remember during the free passenger list access it took a day or so to get from being able to view them, to being able to attach them. I hope this isn’t going to be an issue everyday!

1 October 2011 at 3:40 pm

Rina – same here, received email and tried unsuccessfully to enter the competition and then realised I had to live in the USA to qualify!! Very discrimatory and small minded. whats wrong with us?

1 October 2011 at 4:17 pm

Its almost all USA baseD. Why?

Where is the 1911 England Census?

Why are the annual fees so high?


If you believe your collection is superior and you are doing a great job to rectify all the transcription errors(mega mega) then entice people at much less than half price. This will not work for you!

Theres to much else out there….And people are penny wise nowdays!!!!

1 October 2011 at 4:55 pm
Gill Bonnell 

How does one sign up? I am already registered but find it rather difficult to research this as there sems to be nowhere to sign in. I only paid for this year because you claimed that the 1911 census would be ready to search but what you have at the moment is very awkward to use.

1 October 2011 at 4:55 pm
Carol Williams 

As a Worlwide member I totally agree with the previous few comments, I already have access to these records, we pay a premium price for this, yet have to pay even more to use other sites to get full reords of the English 1911 Census, it is high time more effort was put into this than adding obscure records that are rarely viewed, and just lenthen the time taken to see what you really want. Carol

1 October 2011 at 4:57 pm
Caroline Wimble 

I do agree with other members – PRICES ARE TOO HIGH- its a big chunk of money to pay for a hobby,even when I use it a lot. Times are tight – get real and give your members some discount.
And please include those of us in UK in ALL your offers

1 October 2011 at 5:10 pm

The US Social Security Death Index, available “free” today has been searchable — for free — for years on Rootsweb. It’s also free to search on the LDS website. And Cyndi’s List has links to the same info.

I also agree that this list of collections is too US-centric. Eight of the 15 items are American, including all of the historial newspapers on 11 October. And the Quebec records on 12 Oct are Canadian, ie. also North American.

Instead of offering, with fanfare, “free” access to collections like the SSDI which have been free elsewhere for years, how about improving all the appallingly obvious errors in the UK census transcriptions (all of them) and making full access to the 1911 census available?

1 October 2011 at 8:07 pm
Ann Hannah 

I agree with many of the comments above regarding cost and access. I currently have the premium membership but have recently found that I could do with access to the World records however as I have recently retired I am having to consider the additional costs involved. Whilst I find Ancestry to be a good site and the hints are extremely useful. I have accessed the US Social Security Death records to day which has been extremely useful.

1 October 2011 at 8:56 pm

Hi don’t you think it’s about time you got your act together and instead of these gimmick Get 1911
Transcript sorted I was tol when I renewed at the beginning if the year it would done

1 October 2011 at 9:24 pm

It`s nearly al for the USA. What about the UK?

2 October 2011 at 12:59 am
FREE* today – Irish landowners 

[…] day two of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown! Today, we’ve made Griffith’s Valuation, 1848-1864, completely free for everyone […]

2 October 2011 at 7:01 am
Michael Archer 

Ancestry is great value for money where else at the touch of a button do you get such a vast wealth of information the thing that bugs me about ancestry is the ever increasing amount of people who havnt understood the concept of research and plunder info and pictures from others trees without asking first! and the info isnt relevant to their family so come on folks more research stop copying and appreciate what ancestry give you for your money

2 October 2011 at 8:17 am
Pauline Beaumont 

Ancestry have given me loads of info on my ancestors, which is great, but I have to agree with members on here that it is expensive and feel some sort of discount should be given if your a continuous member. My main qualm really is where is the 1911 Census, I cant understand why other sites got there before you. Whats the problem??

2 October 2011 at 9:20 am
Marje Turner 

Hi, I’m not sure whether I’ve missed something but I got so excited when I got the email which said about having a spare 15 minutes and saying that we would get a quick tutorial. I thought it implyed that the tutorial would have been a short video giving some tips on reasearch techniques instead of having to read through reems of information to try and understand and get to what you want. I’m in Australia and was equally disappointed that the 15 days of prizes wasn’t available to us either.

2 October 2011 at 10:04 am
ray mcdonald 

I agree with many comments about the 1911 full census which the majority of subscribers want and not the more obscure records. At least give a hint when it is coming on line.

2 October 2011 at 10:33 am
Chris Jackson 

I agree with the comments about the 1911 census. We have been waiting far too long I am seriously thinking to change to Find my past. Please at least let us know when we can view the census without going round the houses and takeing about an hour to find one particular family , especially when the name you are researching is Jackson.

2 October 2011 at 11:59 am
Roy Brocklebank 

Gripe, gripe, gripe, all I see is gripes. It’s free for goodness sake and it is available outside the USA. My invite came from and it works. That the freebees concentrate on the USA (there are Australian records) is very useful for those in UK who probably don’t have too many links with the USA. A quick look – 15 days for the death index – is great.

I have a couple of ideas for subscription discounts but I shall discuss these with Ancestry rather than just gripe.

2 October 2011 at 3:01 pm

Roy do you think Ancestry willtake notice

2 October 2011 at 3:57 pm
Colin Reynolds 

Is it just me or is there no free access yet (Sunday 2nd)?
I’ve logged on but the 1930 US census just shows you have to be a worldwide member to view.

2 October 2011 at 5:58 pm
Francis Payne 

Yes, what a lot of moaners. It’s not a competition, there are no “prizes” and you can access these records from outside US (I’m in New Zealand).

To Colin, it clearly states that 1930 census will be made available on Oct 13. So yes, it is “just you”.

To the people who are “going away” and want a re-run. What a cheek ! Have you not heard of internet cafes ?

Agree that a loyalty discount would be good.

2 October 2011 at 8:07 pm
FREE* today – American marriages 

[…] See all our free record collections this month .  […]

3 October 2011 at 7:01 am
Carol Burgess 

Having not renewed my membership to Ancestry this year,I was pleased to receive the email regarding the free records for 2 weeks. However I am disappointed to find there is only 1 a day and they are not what I wanted. I was looking for Canadian B.D.M records none of the others are of interest. I also agree with other members re. 1911 census records, not being fully available on Ancestry. Despite this is a very good site with a wealth of information.

3 October 2011 at 11:37 am
Annabel Reeves 

Hi everyone, thank you for your comments. In response to some of the queries raised:

If you are an member or registrant and are receiving emails from, please call our Member Services team on 0800 404 97 23 and they will resolve this for you.

Access to our free collections starts every morning at 7am GMT from the 1st to the 15th October 2011. If you are already an member and would like to take advantage of this offer, just log in using your regular username and password.

To access the free collections, just use the links in the blog articles about the records you’re interested in.

With regards to the 1911 Census, we will have an update for you in the coming weeks so please bear with us until then.

If your specific questions are not addressed in the responses above, please contact our Member Services on 0800 404 97 23 so that they can help you.

Many thanks.

3 October 2011 at 12:03 pm
Chris R 

To all those who want 6 months membership only – buy a copy of Family Tree Maker. If you get it from Amazon you’ll pay less than half the cost of an annual subscription. You have to install and register the software, then you can choose when you activate the subscription. You’ll need a credit card but you can cancel the subscription just before it expires and then they won’t take any money from your card – you will get an email warning when the time comes. The different versions of the program give different lengths and types of membership. The platinum version gives 6 months Premium subscription. If you don’t like the program you don’t have to use it – the subscription is just a normal subscription.

The new version has just come out so the prices are still quite high – but look again nearer Christmas. I got the 2011 version for £29.99 last December. I am still waiting to activate it so I can use the 1911 census index – which was promised for early this year, but there is still no sign. Later we were promised ‘regular’ updates – clearly Ancestry have a different interpretation of the word ‘regular’ from most of us!


3 October 2011 at 4:07 pm

Unfortunatly I agree with all those who posted NEGATIVE comments,in perticular Kevin,entry 31 such as 1911 census and your title(Ha) or should it be and may be some others.

3 October 2011 at 8:44 pm
Vi Carr 

I agree with quite a lot of the comments being made I am a pensioner and I am really struggling to keep my membership with ancestry I have to ask myself am I getting value for the money I am paying And unfortunately the answer must be no I am am also a member of Genesreunited because I have access to the 1911 Census and once again I had to pay for it

3 October 2011 at 10:39 pm
FREE* today – German WWI records 

[…] you making the most of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections countdown? Remember, there are now four free collections for you to search! Today, we’ve made our […]

4 October 2011 at 7:02 am
robert sommerville 

surprised that there has been no mention of lack of information from anyone looking for SCOTTISH relatives in collections

4 October 2011 at 1:49 pm
James Taylor 

All very nice but I would be happier if I could access a wider range of Scotland’s records. Being that I and all my ancestors are from here.

4 October 2011 at 8:38 pm
James Taylor 

I won’t be renewing my membership!

4 October 2011 at 8:41 pm
FREE* today – 1920 USA Census 

[…] day five of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown! Today, we’ve made our 1920 United States Federal Census, completely free for everyone […]

5 October 2011 at 7:01 am

@Rina Callingham – Hi Rina, I live in NZ and I can access & save all of the info avail to date as listed. Keep trying.

5 October 2011 at 11:46 am

Agree totally with Richard Kendrick.

5 October 2011 at 11:13 pm
FREE* today – Australian electoral rolls 

[…] miss today’s installment of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ series! For our sixth free collection, we’ve made our Australian Electoral Rolls, 1903-1954, […]

6 October 2011 at 7:51 am
Shirley Harrison 

I totally agree about the high cost of membership. When I joined Ancestry a trillion years ago, it was one payment for complete access. Then Ancestry realised that they could make more money by splitting access up.
James there’s a site called & it doesn’t cost an arm & a leg. There cert’s give more info than the English certs.
Now do I pay for a monthly World sub. because I want to try it (tell’s me I’ve had a free trial??) Or ask for a discount as a trillion year member. Do I hear you all laughing.

6 October 2011 at 3:31 pm

Just wanted to say for me world wide membership is not worth it because we are a bunch of stay at homes. However I have to day found the middle name of one person who did go to Oz. Also her husbands first name, so thank you. Oh and I was able to find her and her parents address for the 50’s;60’s;70’s.

6 October 2011 at 6:41 pm
Paul Herold Lee Young 

I can’t believe there are so many negative comments on this board-some verging on the vitreolic. I have been with and spend about two hours daily and still there are so many loose ends to follow up.In financial terms that is about 20p per hour- where else can you get that sort of value.
Satisfied Customer

6 October 2011 at 11:49 pm
FREE* today – Texas births 

[…] day seven of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections ’ countdown! Today, we’ve made our Texas Birth Index, 1903-1997 , completely FREE for everyone […]

7 October 2011 at 7:02 am
FREE* today – Swedish births 

[…] reached the half-way point in our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown! For today’s treat, we’ve made our Births from the Swedish Death Index, 1947-2006, […]

8 October 2011 at 7:32 am
FREE* today – American WWI heroes 

[…] day nine of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown! Today, we’ve made our US WW I Draft Registration Cards, 1917-1918, completely FREE for everyone […]

9 October 2011 at 7:02 am
Roy Brocklebank 

Annabel, do you have an email address rather than a telephone number?

9 October 2011 at 10:10 pm
Roy Brocklebank 

I have just searched the Australian electoral records. Comprehensive as they are they are rendered useless by the lack of filters.

I am looking for someone with a first name and surname but it is not possible to insist on EXACT. I know the state and I know the years but the smallest filter I can get is 35,500.

This is common with a number of other databases too, the filters are simply inadequate.

9 October 2011 at 10:26 pm
Roy Brocklebank 

Ah, found the EXACT but it still left over 2,000 names.

9 October 2011 at 10:31 pm
FREE* today – England & Wales births 

[…] day ten of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown! Today, we’ve made our England & Wales, Birth Index, 1916-2005, […]

10 October 2011 at 7:02 am
N D O'Brien 

Had a look at my birth on the records available today. According to your records Dover comes under London Middlesex. If I was searching for my record but knew very little information then this would be very confusing for some. Your database needs to be more accurate.

10 October 2011 at 8:24 pm
FREE* today – American announcements 

[…] day eleven of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown! Today, we’ve made our US Historical Newspapers, Birth, Marriage & Death […]

11 October 2011 at 9:58 am
Database accuracy 

ND O’Brien makes the point that the database is inaccurate. This arises as the transcription has been handled and cross-checked but the people so doing may not be familiar with the geography. The issue of Dover, London, Middlesex is the result of a ‘best guess’ of inferred county which is wrong.

The solution is for the user to post a correction.

In one instance I corrected two complete pages of census where SAUGHALL and been published as SANDHALL. As Saughall is an odd name I only recognised the error from local knowledge.

In another ‘error’ place of birth was given as MAKER, Devon. No such place exists on maps however Maker was the parish and not the place.

11 October 2011 at 7:53 pm
Francis Payne 

My birth has Southampton being in Oxfordshire. Just that one page is full of other geographical errors. The whole index is so bad that when searching for a birth NEVER enter a county name – otherwise you probably won’t find what you are after. Really needs sorting out.

11 October 2011 at 11:36 pm
FREE* today – Quebec church records 

[…] you keeping up with our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown? Remember, there are now a whopping 12 free collections for you to search! Today, we’ve […]

12 October 2011 at 7:03 am

I was looking forward to searching for newspaper articles on my relatives, but I found its only American newspapers. What good is that to me, ancestry?

12 October 2011 at 4:29 pm

And apparently I was born in October, when I definitely wasn’t. For what some people are paying, its ridiculous they can’t sort the basics out.

12 October 2011 at 4:32 pm
Angela Bolton 

Yes, I agree with everything being said. As for Josh saying his birth wasn’t Oct, is that because he was registered in a later quarter, or maybe it was just a mistake ? I was born Dec 1950 but wasn’t registered until Jan Qtr 1951.
I pay into findmypast too so now retired, was wondering if I could get rid of ancestry. Just decided to renew another year on both sites. Having said that, if I do, will my tree be deleted? Anyone know?

12 October 2011 at 6:59 pm
Francis Payne 

Josh – where on the birth indexes does it give a specific month ? You will find Oct-Nov-Dec, Jan-Feb-Mar, etc but not “October”. I’m sure if you click on the image it will be the dates as transcribed. Don’t blame Ancestry for what’s on the original index !

If we’re going to criticise Ancestry, let’s criticise them for something they can fix !

12 October 2011 at 8:19 pm
FREE* today – 1930 USA Census 

[…] nearing the end of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown! Today, we’ve made our 1930 United States Federal Census, completely free for […]

13 October 2011 at 11:37 am
FREE* today – 1901 England Census 

[…] the penultimate day of our ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown! Today, we’ve made our 1901 England Census , completely free for everyone to use. […]

14 October 2011 at 7:02 am
FREE* today – American Obituaries 

[…] ‘15 minutes with 15 collections’ countdown reaches its climax today. As a final treat, we’ve made our United States Obituary […]

15 October 2011 at 7:02 am