Power Your Genealogy Research with Ancestry Library Edition

Attention! Now through the end of April 2020, Ancestry Library is available to use from your home computer with your CRRL card. 

Don't have a card? Apply for one today.


Many people find the subject of their ancestry fascinating and make a hobby of charting their ancestors’ journeys from “the old country” back as far as they can, researching centuries of birth, death, and marriage records to chart their origins. It’s possible to spend a great deal of money attempting to complete the research on your own, but CRRL offers you a free service that can allow you to save money while learning about your family tree.

Ancestry Library Edition offers many user-friendly functions, including the ability to access records by geographic location and send documents home from your search session at the library. With CRRL and Ancestry Library Edition, you can explore the mysteries of your family’s past without having to worry about the expense. 

Ancestry Library Edition allows you to use most of the features of Ancestry.com for free.

Some of Ancestry.com's features of Ancestry.com (listed here) are not accessible in Library Edition, including interactions via Members Connect, archives of the Ancestry Daily News, and the AncestryDNA testing service. On the other hand, you do get access to many core features of Ancestry, including records from U.S. census up to the year 1940; Canadian records, such as the Drouin Collection; and military records dating back to the colonial era.

Seek the Guide

Ancestry Library Edition connects to so many databases and records that it can be intimidating for a first-time user. It may help to look at a guide before you begin. Learning the nuances of how to search and how to send documents home will greatly speed your research. There are several ways to send documents digitally, detailed on ProQuest’s guide. If using the database remotely, you can email records to yourself, send yourself a link to a document via email, or print or download an image of a document at the library to take home with you.

Proquest’s video guides will teach you Ancestry Library Edition’s basics in less than 15 minutes of viewing time. Ancestry also provides some sample searches to demonstrate how you can explore death records by location. 

Many Paths to Explore

There are other functions of Ancestry Library Edition that will greatly improve your user experience. For example, you can save items to your Discoveries page for easy access and maintain a collection of up to 300 items for viewing and printing at any time.

You may also find it useful to search military draft cards, as they offer a great deal more information on people than can be found in census records, such as their signatures, whom they considered next of kin, and what occupations they had during wartime. Should you find a photo or other image that is relevant to your search, you can make use of Ancestry Library Edition’s interactive image viewer to zoom in and out, rotate the image 360 degrees, pan in any direction, and print the image.

If you already know the topic, location, or type of resource you want to search, you may find Ancestry Library Edition’s Card Catalog a useful resource, as it provides indexed, searchable card catalogs for 10,000 individual data collections from across the world. In order to deal with inconsistencies in name spelling (which can be common in earlier records) you can switch your search to Soundex, a system that searches names via sound rather than spelling. To switch to Soundex from the default Exact Match search, locate this option in the upper right corner of the search template, and choose Soundex on the drop-down menu. 

Chart the Branches of Your Family Tree

Although you won’t be able to access Ancestry’s Family Tree service through Library Edition, you can use free Web-based services, such as Family Echo and Family Tree, to enter and track the names and information you find on Ancestry Library Edition. If you’d like to manually draw your own, you can use Draw.io to create a flowchart for your family tree. Library Edition does have useful blank worksheets that can be downloaded and/or printed out, including an ancestral chart, research calendar, research extract sheets, a correspondence record, family group sheet, and a source summary sheet. All worksheets are in PDF (Portable Document Format).

Explore Your Family's Past

Ancestry Library Edition is an invaluable tool for any library customer looking for a genealogy service. It offers a robust collection of census data, directories, and photos from countries all over the world to help you find the records you’re looking for. Their online guide can help you learn how to use the service, and you can contact a CRRL librarian to give you extra help so you can take a journey of discovery into your family’s history.