home page enter a name of interest in the search box at the top of the page (last name first), and a hit list of databases will display. At the right of that display page is the link for a free trial. Also as with Ancestry, you will need to provide an e-mail address and credit card information. They indicate in fine print that you will not be billed until the 7-day period ends, so remember to cancel your trial before the full seven days is up if you don't wish to subscribe.
Without the free trial, there are still some databases that you can access for free. Among some of the larger ones are:
- Papers of the Continental Congress
- South Carolina Estate Inventories, 1732-1872
- Social Security Death Index (SSDI)
- WWII Army Enlistment Records
- Civil War Widows Pensions
- Select Photo Collections
- Select Town Records
- New England Ancestors magazines
- New York Wills, 1626-1836
- Index of Revolutionary War Pensioners
- Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850
World Vital Records (WVR) and I asked the question about free content. First of all, WVR works a little differently in that they work with "affiliates" that allow their users to make searches and link to their sites. So, some of the search results link to outside websites that may be free access. Another tip that the rep shared with me is to periodically check their list of Recently Added Databases. Oftentimes when a new database is first added, they will have free access for up to seven days. And, as with the others, WVR offers a 7-day free trial.
The other thing that applies to some free trials to any site is that once you sign up for one, you may be offered a special new subscription rate at a lesser cost than the normal one, to entice you to join.
There are lots of other subscription sites around that aren't addressed here, but with any of them explore the possibility of free trials, free content, special subscription rates, or access at your local library. Don't be afraid to e-mail them and ask "What can you offer me that will make me want to try your subscription?" You might stumble into a special unadvertised offer. No need to mortgage the house yet...