Most of us are aware of the importance of distancing during this difficult time in history, and are staying at home to protect ourselves and others. And, while the coronavirus pandemic is causing emotional and economic stress for us all, it is important to find ways to relieve our worry by taking part in activities that lift our mood and help us stay connected (virtually).
That’s why those of us at Family History Daily are so glad to see several genealogy companies and organizations stepping up to provide free access to a wide variety of documents, images, courses and tools to enhance research while we all self-isolate. We’re proud of the family history community for pulling together to support one another and hope these resources will bring a smile to your face.
Free Genealogy Resources Being Offered During the Coronavirus Pandemic
Please note that some links on this page point to family history partners who we have affiliate relationships with. We may earn a fee to support our work if you choose to take advantage of some services from these companies.
Updated April 19th.
MyHeritage: Unlimited Use of MyHeritage In Color
If you’ve ever wondered what your old black-and-white family photos would look like in color, now’s your chance to find out! MyHeritage has unlocked access to MyHeritage In Color during the pandemic, an incredibly addictive tool that lets you easily enhance digitized photos using a creative color palette.
It’s easy to get started:
- Go to www.myheritage.com/incolor.
- Upload your digitized black-and-white photos using your scanner or the free MyHeritage mobile app. (If you’ve already uploaded images to your MyHeritage family tree, here’s how to colorize those.)
- Follow the easy MyHeritage In Color guidance and color away!
MyHeritage In Color ordinarily allows users who don’t have a Complete plan to colorize just 10 images for free, but through April 22 anyone can color as many photos as they like at no cost. Plus, if you share your colorized photos on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram with the hashtag #ColorBeatsCoronavirusBlues and tag @MyHeritage you’ll be entered into a weekly drawing where one winner will get a free MyHeritage Complete subscription.
Family History Daily: Free and Discounted Courses
As a digital publication, Family History Daily provides most of our content completely free every day of the year – and we have hundreds of helpful articles to help you with your research. However, we also offer paid online courses for those who are looking for a more structured and detailed approach to learning.
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Like other genealogy companies, we recognize that the pandemic has caused major financial stress for many of our readers and we want to do what we can to help make family history education affordable while we all pull through this together. Learning something new can be a great way to lift your mood and pass the time. That’s why we are offering free and seriously discounted courses to our readers.
Until May 25th when registration closes for the summer, those who have lost their main source of income, either temporarily or permanently, or those who are acting as essential workers in any field, may register for the courses at no cost. Once registered, courses are permanently yours (including updates) and are available all year, even when registration is closed.
If you qualify, simply email [email protected] to request a 100% off coupon now.
All readers who do not qualify for free courses can instead receive a 50% discount until this date. To register for any course level at this reduced rate use code help50 after selecting a course level on our courses page.
Ancestry: Access to NARA Records and History Lesson Plans
Ancestry.com has partnered with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) to offer free temporary access to the NARA’s incredible database. Browse through nearly 500 million records and images from almost 300 different collections, including:
- World War I and World War II U.S. Draft Cards,
- U.S. Passport Applications, 1795-1925,
- U.S. Border Crossings from Canada to U.S., 1895-1960,
- New York Passenger and Crew Lists, 1820-1957, and
- U.S. Confederate Soldiers Compiled Service Records, 1861-1865.
If you’re not an Ancestry.com member, you’ll need to create a free account to access these records. Free access to these records is temporary, and Ancestry and the NARA have not yet announced an end date.
Ancestry is also providing access to 19 lesson plans on topics ranging from autobiography to WWII battles to the Trail of Tears. Written by teachers, these step-by-step plans satisfy the history standards established by the National Center for History. These lessons are great for students learning from home, but family historians will enjoy using them as refreshers to place ancestors into authentic historical context.
Legacy Family Tree Webinars: Free Video Lessons
Legacy Family Tree offers a wide variety of high quality genealogy webinars from experts, including Dear MYRTLE, and Cyndi Ingle, creator of Cyndi’s List. Usually these helpful educational tools are available by paid subscription only but, right now, they are offering one webinar a day at no cost (currently active through the end of April).
Additional Fun Family History Activities
Still looking to fill your day with genealogy? Several sources have curated comprehensive lists of creative ideas for how to incorporate fun family history activities and research into your days at home. Check them out.
- Coronavirus: 8 family history activities to do at home (From the UK’s Who Do You Think You Are Magazine)
- When Life Gives You Lemons: Genealogy Activities for Coronavirus Quarantine (From LegacyTree Genealogists)
- FREE Genealogy Resources for Cooped-Up Kids (From Thomas MacEntee’s Abundant Genealogy blog)
While many libraries offer free family history resources from home year round, a number are adding additional resources during this time, so contact your library or visit their website to see what is available. Residents of New York State, for example, can sign up for a free library card for at-home access to the New York Public Library’s most popular onsite databases, including Newspapers.com, JSTOR, and a searchable, full-text archive of the New York Times from 1851 to 2016.
This is also a good time to organize your genealogy records, digitize your family photos, start a family tree craft project, begin a diary, or write an email to a family member to encourage them to join the fun by sharing photos, stories or research.
Family History Daily wishes all of our readers health and happiness during these challenging times.
Image: “Home Work, Somerville, Mass. Crocheting on underwear. A common sight. 35 Horace Street. See also Home Work report about woman working here with running sore on limb.” 1912. Library of Congress