Posted by Anne Gillespie Mitchell on March 20, 2014 in Ask Ancestry Anne, Research

Did you know that is available for free in thousands of libraries in the U.S? You can’t create a tree, or post messages on message boards. You can’t sit in your jammies and work on your family (please don’t sit in your jammies in the library!). You can’t work until 3am in the morning. But you can view much of our great content.

image02But how do you get the content home?  You’ve found that census record that shows your great great grandma’s maiden name was Smith (it’s always something challenging like that, isn’t it?).

You could print it. But that usually costs you money. Not much, granted, but it adds up. And printers don’t always work. You could save it to a flash drive, but not all libraries allow that. What is an excited genealogist to do? Trust your memory? Ha!

Well, how about if you send it home and download or print it there? When you are on the record page, look in the left hand corner and you will see a “Send Document” button.

Click that, enter your email address and we will send you an email with a link to a Family Discoveries Page.

From there you can download the image and print the transcribed information.


Want a quick demo?  Check out this Five Minute Find: Sending Documents Home from the Library for more details.

Happy Searching!


Anne Gillespie Mitchell

Anne Gillespie Mitchell is a Senior Product Manager at She is an active blogger on and writes the Ancestry Anne column. She has been chasing her ancestors through Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for many years. Anne holds a certificate from Boston University's Online Genealogical Research Program. You can also find her on Twitter, Facebook and Finding Forgotten Stories.


  1. I hold Ancestry Library Edition workshops each month at one of the local libraries.
    I have the attendees bring a USB drive to save things to.
    Pages can be copied and pasted into Word and/or OneNote, which our libraries have on their machines. And then these files are saved to the USB drive at the end of the workshop.
    The images can be saved to the USB drive.

    When copying and pasting one can include the Source Citation, Source Information and the Description, which will be helpful later.

    When Coping and pasting into OneNote, the source URL is included, but with Word one needs to copy and paste the URL of the webpage into the word document.

  2. But what if the record you found is something with information you need to attach to your tree? Is there a way to do that?

  3. Isetta Crawford Rawls

    Can documents be sent only from a library?

    My desktop keeps quitting, but my phone always works. Couldn’t I send it to my own email?

  4. Geo.

    I prefer to do it the “really’ easy way, with a digital camera. Don’t posses one? How about a cellphone camera?

  5. Annie

    Geez! If you get desperate, there is always paper and pencil!

    Really! Libraries are more advanced than that. Buy a flash drive!

  6. Linda S.

    George and Annie – Some libraries do NOT allow the use of flash drives or cameras. I worked at one that absolutely (for whatever reason!) did not allow flash drives and there was a fee ($5 per day) for using a camera, which a smart phone was included in. Rather than fight policy, it’s easier just to send it to an e-mail address.

  7. I would be curious about how much it would cost for us to provide that in our research library. We operate on a miniscule budget of less than $100k.

  8. Sally Emerson

    Be aware that the that is available through your local library is a “Library edition” and you do not have full access to all of Ancestry’s materials.

  9. David Oseas

    If the library user is not an subscriber, or if they only have a U.S. subscription and the doc is from the WorldWide collection can they still access the doc from home via the Email?

  10. Judi, I had someone contact you about price. David, any document you find at the library and send home you can access at home. You can access to up to 300 documents at anyone time.

    Not every library allows the use of flash drives as Linda said, but that is a fine option if they do.

    It is not available in CA, UK or AU but should be within the next month or two.

    I’ve never tried taking a picture of a document on a computer screen in the library. Does that turn out well?

    And whatever method you use that makes sense to you to archive your finds in the library — that is great by us! We know that printing can be expensive and problematic at times and that flash drives are not an option for everyone, so we thought we would add a new one to the mix.

  11. joan4164

    I’ve had no problem uploading a file to my tree. Just go to the main person and click on Media, then follow their instructions. It’s just as easy to add images to your own family tree software.
    Please be sure to add the database name, the name you used in your search, and the web address. You can copy and paste into Microsoft Word
    or other software provided by the library.
    This information can make it easy for you to find the record again and also help the rest of us if we need further information.

  12. Heather Holland

    When I tried to send things to my e-mail address it required me to have an account with Ancestry. Is this because I am in Canada?

  13. Jane Thoner

    The library where I work has subscribed to Ancestry Library Edition for several years. In the past we advised patrons to use the earlier option to email documents to themselves at home, which was found on the upper right of the screen, with an envelope icon. However, we suddenly ran into the situation in which the emails were never received. We were told that the problem was that a limit on the number of emails that could be sent had been exceeded. (They were far less than 300.) Is that no longer an issue?

  14. L. Anderson

    I’ve used this feature from our local library and it works great. When I have multiple items to send from one session they’re bundled together in one email message. Thanks!

  15. Stan Arney

    Well, it works great, if YOU are only wanting one image. However, if YOU are wanting to download multiple images, it does NOT work. Example: American Revolutionary War Pension Files (41 pages), it does NOT give YOU the opportunity to download All 41 images, therefore is useless. I have wasted my own time, twice, sending an email home, so I could download the American Revolutionary War Pension Files, of two individuals, (23 pages and 41 pages, respectively), only to find out, it would only allow me to download, the first image. Which is basically an index card with the individuals name on it, and nothing more. I pray that will work on this issue. 64 images/pages at 10 cents a page equals $6.40, just for those images. I would appreciate being able to save my time and money. Thank YOU, for your time, consideration, and cooperation, I truly appreciate it.

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