Type : Photograph Medium : Print-black-and-white Description : A view of the temporary Lending Library Central Library New Bridge Street Newcastle upon Tyne taken in 1949. The photograph shows two female members of staff taking books down from shelves which line the walls. A third member of staff is standing beside them. Books are piled up on surfaces.The temporary Lending Library was used during alterations.Libraries Collection : Local Studies Printed Copy : If you would like a printed copy of this image please contact Newcastle Libraries www.newcastle.gov.uk/tlt quoting Accession Number : 045790

Genealogy Subscriptions – Free Trials

If you are a frugal genealogist, like me, you’ll be pleased to hear that there are a huge number of useful resources online that are totally free. Whilst these resources are often fantastic, and sometimes have records that you can’t access anywhere else, there are some records that can only be accessed via subscription service. This is where using free trial subscriptions comes in.

There are many reasons to make use of free trial subscriptions. You can complete a surprising amount of research in the time period granted, can access records not available elsewhere and get a feel for what platform works best for you.

This post contains affiliate links. This means that I get a commission if you choose to purchase/ subscribe to a product through my links. This is at no additional cost to you. Please be assured that I only ever recommend services that I use myself and that I think you will find useful. Read the full disclosure here.

Feature Image from the Newcastle Libraries Collection.

Free Trial Tips

A free trial subscription tends to be for a limited period or time and you want to be able to make the most of it. Here are some tips to consider before you sign up:

  • Do your homework – Use free resources, including speaking to your family and raiding their boxes of old documents and photos, before starting the free trial. Read up on what records can only be accessed online through these platforms so that you can focus your research on areas where it will have the biggest impact.
  • Save down your sources – If you are using Ancestry on Findmypast to house your family tree and save sources remember that some of them will no longer be accessible once your free trial period has ended. Save the documents/ images onto your computer so you can still access them at the end of the period.
  • Sign up when you have time to use it – This might seem a bit obvious, but when you sign up make sure you have time to make the most of the free trial period. Don’t sign up in a week when you’re super busy with lots of other things to do.
  • Explore all the functionality – Part of the reason to use the free trial might be to explore which services and platforms work best for you. Take your time to explore the functionality and find your preferred resources.
  • Set a reminder – This one is really important put a reminder on your calendar or phone to unsubscribe before you get charged. Most trial periods require you to enter card details and will auto-renew. If you don’t want to sign up then make sure that you cancel in time.


Ancestry is my preferred platform and it also has an impressive 14 day free trial subscription period. Even before you sign-up to a subscription you can use ancestry for free to record your tree and access the Free Index Collection.

When you sign up for the free trial you can choose from all three of Ancestry’s subscription levels – obviously select the ‘Everything on Ancestry’ option so you can access all of the records! You have to enter your card details for the trial and will auto-renew at the end of the 14 days but you can cancel at any time. Even if you cancel on the first day you will get access until the end of the trial period.

The only thing excluded is AncestryDNA, which you can only access if you buy a kit.


Findmypast is another popular choice for recording your family tree and searching records. It has a feature that allows you to search by address, which is really useful if you are trying to research the history of a home or property. 

The free trial subscription period is 7 days long and you can choose from Plus (UK & Ireland) or Pro (worldwide plus newspaper archives) – it’s totally free so why wouldn’t you choose Pro! Unfortunately you are unable to trial Premium access which gives access to the 1921 Census of England and Wales (the only place you can access this online).

You have to enter your card details and the subscription will auto renew. You can cancel at any time and will retain access for the full 7 days.

The Genealogist

With a 14 day free trial you have plenty of time to explore The Genealogist, which includes a large number of map based records via the Map Explorer. However, you do have to input your card details, the subscription will auto-renew and it is not as easy to cancel your subscription as other providers. To cancel your subscription you have to contact them at least two weeks in advance of the renewal date – so for the free trial this is essentially straight away!

If you can deal with this and have time to call them then they do have an impressive record set and the map based search is a different way to approach your research.

Forces War Records

Forces War Records houses a huge collection of military records. If any of your ancestors have seen military action then this is a fantastic source. The free trial subscription is 7 days, gives access to everything and can be cancelled at any time – you will still get access for the full 7 days. You do have to enter your card details and the subscription will auto-renew if you forget to cancel.

The site is provided by Ancestry and it is very easy to associate records with individuals in your family tree.

British Newspaper Archives

The British Newspaper Archives offers a different approach to a trial in that it is free to sign up, free to search and rather than a trial period you can access your first three pages for free – choose them wisely! What is best about this one is that you do not have to input any card details. The archive has been created through a partnership of Findmypast and the British library and offers access to an extensive collection of fully searchable newspaper articles.


Another site to find historic newspaper articles is Newspapers.com, this one is provided by Ancestry. It has a different selection of newspapers available to definitely worth trialling both sites. You can sign-up for a 7 day free trial and can cancel at any time and retain access for the full 7 days. You do have to enter your card details and it will auto-renew if you don’t cancel.

Because this site is provided by Ancestry it is super easy to attach relevant newspaper articles to your tree in the form of clippings.

The details of free trial subscriptions in this post are accurate at the time of writing and I will periodically check to keep them up to date. If you spot a change please contact me and I will update the post.

Have you found a great free trial period that you’d like to share? Any tips using free trials or questions about how to get the most out of them? Please share in the comments and I’ll try to reply as soon as I can.

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