More than 170 million documents from 1668-2005 now available exclusively on Ancestry;
New collection provides a wealth of deeper stories about ancestors’ lives
(PROVO, Utah) – September 2, 2015 – More than 170 million pages from the largest collection of wills and probate records in the United States is now available online exclusively on Ancestry. With searchable records included from all 50 states spread over 337 years (1668-2005), this unprecedented collection launches a new category of records for family history research never before available online at this scale in the United States.
Until now, these records have only been available offline. Ancestry spent more than two years bringing this collection online, working with hundreds of different archives from individual state and local courts across the country and making a $10M investment to license and digitize the records. The documents cover well over 100 million people, including the deceased as well as their family, friends and others involved in the probate process. Ancestry expects to continue to grow the collection, with additional records available over the next several years.
“Ancestry has worked hard over the past decade, to make available a variety of collections that can help the most seasoned family history expert and novices alike learn more about their ancestors,” said Todd Godfrey, Vice President of Global Content. “Ancestry’s vast collection of billions of unique historic records makes it the only place online that can give people such a comprehensive view into their family’s unique history.”
Today, state and federal census records are the most commonly searched collections in family history research, offering a variety of information that is important for building out your family tree. Wills however are one of the most desired types of records, as they can be a treasure trove of information that provides insight into your ancestors’ lives, loves, land, and possessions.
“Wills can offer an incredible view into the lives of your ancestors, going beyond names and dates, and providing insight into their personality, character, achievements, relationships, and more,” said Godfrey. “Reading these records you will find a deeper level of understanding about who your ancestors were, who they cared about, what they treasured, and how they lived.”
There is something for everyone in the new U.S. Wills and Probate collection on Ancestry, whether you are an experienced family historian or new to the pursuit. Some examples of what can be found in the collection include:
- Rich Stories – A deeper level of understanding is possible when you learn about the more intricate details of your ancestors’ lives through their eyes; details that can tell new or more compelling stories of their everyday existence, and perhaps, shed light on their character and personality, as well as important subtext that can reflect the type of lifestyle, education, and status an ancestor may have had through language or possessions.
- New Discoveries – Whether valuable heirlooms, sizable estates, or meager but treasured belongings to pass down, the riches of your ancestor’s lives can be found in a will. Family research can be fun when you “follow the money” and see who wound up with what or even, to which charities or organizations a person’s estate was entrusted.
- Friends and Family Members – Many additional names can be found in a will in addition to the deceased. Wills can reveal new family members you didn’t know about, and identify new connections, and tell more about the relationships between people mentioned in the will. Intriguing controversies can be seen as you read about those close to them who were included in the will, and those who were cut out.
With a collection that begins with wills from the mid 17th century running through the early 21st, last wishes and estates of notables citizens that helped shape the nation over the past three hundred years can be found in this new collection of Wills and Probates, including past Presidents, businessmen, entrepreneurs, sports legends, famous entertainers, artists and writers, scientists, and much, much more.
To celebrate the launch of the new U.S. Wills and Probates collection on Ancestry,, the collection along with all U.S. birth, marriage and death records, will be available to explore for FREE, September 2 (12pm MT) through September 7 (10pm MT).
Ancestry is the world’s leading family history brand. Ancestry.com is the world’s largest online family history resource with more than 2 million paying subscribers across all its websites. More than 16 billion records have been added, and users have created more than 70 million family trees on the core Ancestry websites, including the flagship site www.ancestry.com and its affiliated international websites. Ancestry offers a suite of online family history brands, including Archives.com, Fold3.com, Newspapers.com, as well as the AncestryDNA product, sold by its subsidiary, Ancestry.com DNA, LLC, all of which along with its core Ancestry websites, are designed to empower people to discover, preserve and share their family history.