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FindMyPast is completely FREE until 10pm AEST on Monday 9 March 2015. This gives you access to billions of historical records and newspapers from many parts of the world, plus the new Family Tree 'Hints' feature.
You may want to start by reading the latest tips on using FindMyPast's new search system, which has improved since it was first introduced.
Apart from the obvious sources like censuses and parish registers, I suggest that you search these four FindMyPast record sets, all of which include people from many countries (links open in a new window):
- Trade union records (includes railway staff, carpenters, joiners, cabinetmakers, woodworkers, lithographic artists/printers, designers, engravers, boilermakers, iron shipbuilders, etc).
- Great Western Railway shareholders (death dates, places, wills, relatives, executors etc).
- British India Office collection (records of the East India Company, military personnel, civil servants, surgeons, planters, entrepreneurs, missionaries and others).
- New South Wales will books (including wills for many people in other States and overseas, as explained below).
With the New South Wales will books, don't be put off by the 'NSW' heading. This source includes wills for many people in other States and other countries. Click 'Learn' above the search boxes to find out more about the collection. Searches are free, but if you find a relevant entry you need a subscription or pay-as-you-go credits to see an image of the original book. These are my personal search tips:
- Start by searching for a name in 'Who'. You can use asterisks as wildcards. 'Death year' is optional, and you can select 'give or take' (+/-) up to 40 years. For now, ignore the 'Residence' field.
- There is a separate field called Heirs' or executors' last name. Enter a surname here (you can use wildcards), leaving the Who fields empty.
- If you use the Residence field, use wildcards. You'll understand why if you search for *Brisbane*, with asterisks before and after, and note the residences shown in results! Data in the Residence field is not entered in any set format. It may be just a town, or just a State, or just a country, or town+State, or State+country, etc (with or without punctuation, which makes a difference to the results). Sometimes places are abbreviated (eg, Queensland / Qld).
- Experiment with other variations and combinations. Keep a list of the search criteria that you use, because you may later think of other ways to search.
- It is essential to view images of the original Will Books, because a 'transcription' does not include the will itself.
LostCousins is free until midnight (GMT) on Tuesday 10 March 2015 (which gives you extra time to enter the census data you've collected from FindMyPast during the free access period there).
(This post first appeared on http://updatesgenie.blogspot.com/2015/03/free-access-to-findmypast-and.html.)