Monday, February 25, 2013

Ancestry Guest Account

Last week as I was teaching my beginning genealogy classes, I always tell my students that they should exhaust their free options before paying for subscriptions to paid sites.

One of my students asked, how do I do that without putting in my credit card information? A very good question. like any other business wants to make money, so on their home page they offer a 14 day free trial or a subscribe button. But what if you don't have a credit card and thus can't sign up for the 14 day free trial because of this.

I decided to explore Ancestry's help and see if I could find any information on free guest account. I first had to sign out of my subscription. Then I click the link “Get Help”. Here I was greeted with a nicely laid out screen with a spot on the top to type in my question and below several boxes with suggested Help Topics. I decided to click on the boxed for Accounts and Billing. This was followed by being presented with topic choices and I clicked Subscription Help. The box to the right of the topics displayed many related articles. The first being Ancestry Guest Registration seemed to be just what I was looking for. After selecting that option and entire article came up with several hot links within the text. It explained that Guest Accounts are necessary to view the free databases and all that a guest has to submit is their name and email.

So I proceeded to enter a valid name and email (for my daughter) and it instantly created an account and displayed the user name and password on the screen.  Plus I was already signed as said user. The username and password were not exactly choices I would have selected, so I decided to see if I could change one or both. I clicked the down arrow next to my username that was displayed on the right top of the screen and selected “My Account”. Here I was given the option to upgrade my account as an Annual, semi-annual or monthly membership for either just the US or World Membership. However on the right hand side of the screen was an option to “Update your username and password”. I followed that link and it give me suggestions on usernames on the top of the screen and a place to key in a new password on the bottom of the screen. After saving the change I was on my way to using Ancestry as a guest with an easy to remember login and password.

As I always say to my students, use your free options fully before paying for subscriptions to paid sites. Plus, just because you can’t see the results fully of your hits to paid sites, if you find enough hits, you could always visit a public library that might have Ancestry’s Library Edition. Again, this isn’t everything, but after you exhaust many of those options then you may want to subscribe to one of Ancestry’s paid subscriptions. I have decided to trace as many branches of my tree as I can in the US first and then I will subscribe to the World Subscription at that time and try to take my tree back to the native countries.  

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