If you have ancestors/relatives in Australia, the range of databases Ancestry offers that aren’t available for free elsewhere is greater than that of FindMyPast.
I decided to test this out by seeing what records were available on FindMyPast and on Ancestry for my maiden name: Whimpey.
FindMyPast, in their Census, Land & Surveys section, only had two of the Victorian Electoral rolls, 1939 and 1946, and one for Western Australia, 1943, with a total of 27 results, Ancestry, in their Census & Voter lists section, has a number of them, from 1856 through to 1980, with a total of 783 results.
FindMyPast and Ancestry tend to categorize their record collections differently, so it was hard to make a comparison between them when it came to Directories, Government gazettes, and Rate books.
I decided to compare the total results for the surname Whimpey (exact spelling). There were 309 results in all collections on FindMyPast, and 1,250 results on Ancestry.
In Ancestry, these were the collections and the total for each collection:
117Australia, Birth Index, 1788-1922 Skip – use relevant state website, or FindMyPast
81Australia, Death Index, 1787-1985 Skip – use relevant state website, or FindMyPast
43Australia, Marriage Index, 1788-1950 Skip – use relevant state website, or FindMyPast
10Web: Victoria, Australia, Outward Passenger Index, 1852-1915 – skip, use Public Record Office, Victoria website
5Australia, WWI Service Records, 1914-1920 – skip, use Australian War Memorial, National Archives Australia, Commonwealth War Graves Commission websites
3Australia and New Zealand, Find A Grave Index, 1800s-Current – skip, use FindAGrave
I have indicated the collections I would skip, since these records are available for free all the time on other sites.
Although the immigration indexes are free at the Public Record Office Victoria, Ancestry also offers the original immigration record images. FindMyPast only appears to have transcriptions.
Both sites have the Australian Birth, Death and Marriage indexes, but I wouldn’t bother using these databases on either site, as these indexes are available for free on the relevant state’s Birth, death, marriage website:
Tasmania. This website not only has the indexes, but images of the original certificates.
The one exception is South Australia. There is an index at Genealogy SA and although the index is free, further details are only available to members – the transcriptions on FindMyPast include these additional details. When checking what information was available at Ancestry, I discovered there is a limit to the “Free Access” to the Australian Collections.
When I tried to view one of the results from South Australia, I was still prompted to use a credit (I currently have a pay-per-view subscription) to view the record. I then checked entries from Victoria, and found that this applies to all the Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages collections. Since FindMyPast includes additional information to the free index for South Australia at Genealogy SA, then I would use FindMyPast this weekend for the South Australian Birth, Death and Marriage records. As previously mentioned, I wouldn’t bother using either site for the other states.
When it comes to War records, you don’t need either subscription site – these records are available free at the National Archives Australia, Australian War Memorial, and Commonweath War Graves Commission websites.
Then there’s the FindAGrave collections at Ancestry, and BillionGraves at FindMyPast – since you can access these records for free on the BillionGraves and FindAGrave websites, you can skip these results as well.
These were total results on FindMyPast per Category
- Armed Forces & Conflict(9)
- Census, Land & Surveys(27)
- Churches & Religion(0)
- Directories & Social History(106)
- Education & Work(1)
- Institutions & Organisations(0)
- Life Events (BDMs)(151)
- Travel & Migration(15)
Since this doesn’t specify the collections, you would have to view each individual result to determine whether the information is available elsewhere. There was only one collection that I determined I hadn’t been able to find elsewhere: Victorian funeral notices, but this only had one result. I decided to view the details of this collection:
“This index, built from funeral notices from the Melbourne Herald Sun, contains over 119,000 records for the period 1981-1997.”
So, overall, the coverage for Australian records is better at Ancestry, but there may be additional records for Australian ancestors, and relatives, on the FindMyPast site. To make the most of the free weekend, I would use Ancestry for Australian records, and FindMyPast for other countries, and for South Australian Births, Deaths and Marriages.