Popular Genealogy Websites Part 1
The first in a three-part series where you can take a closer look at three popular genealogy websites. With a little more information, you can determine for yourself what you can do for free and from what you would benefit paying. There are hundreds of genealogy websites available to choose from on the internet. The amount of information on the web can be overwhelming. It can also be tough to decide exactly where to begin your search. In my experience, the majority of armchair genealogists that I have worked with over the years have started and maintained their family research on either Ancestry, FamilySearch or MyHeritage.
Ancestry.com At A Glance
Ancestry is the largest and most popular genealogy websites on the Internet with millions of subscribers. They are continually updating their records and services and adapting their platform to provide a user-friendly experience across the board.
- 16 Billion Historical Records
- Over 70 million family trees & more than 6 billion personal profiles
- Over 200 million scanned documents, photos, and stories uploaded
- More than 2 million subscribers around the world
As of June 2016, they have a total of 18 sites.
10 International Sites:
- The United States
- The United Kingdom
- Canada (English)
- Canada (French)
8 Additional Sites:
- Ancestry.com – Corporate site
- Ancestryeurope.ie – Corporate site
- FamilyTreeMaker.com – software program for purchase to help you build sync and preserve your family history
- Fold3.com – Military records – paid site that offers a free 7-day trial
- MyCanvas.com – Family history books and Family Tree posters for purchase
- Newspapers.com – More than 4000 newspapers from the 1700s to 2000s -paid site that offers a free 7-day trial
- Progenealogists.com – genealogists for hire
- Rootsweb.com – A search engine sponsored by Ancestry to connect people and share genealogical research.
Of course, this comes at a price. Keep in mind; you will incur costs if you are serious about genealogical research whether you choose a free site or a subscription site. There are three membership levels available with Ancestry, and each level offers a different range of services and documents. Below you can find the options for USA memberships.
U.S. Discovery – Access to all U.S. records on Ancestry.
World Explorer -Access to all U.S. and international records on Ancestry.
Ancestry offers a 14 day trial period and a six-month introductory price that you should take advantage of when you sign up.
All popular genealogy websites have a family tree builder. Building a family tree on Ancestry is quite simple once you get past the membership registration process.
- Enter the information you know about your family
- Enters guesses about your family history
- Hints are generated for you to review and continue building your tree
Remember that hints are not facts. Be sure and verify their accuracy before entering the information on your tree.
Search & Records
The foundation of all popular genealogy websites is an expansive collection of records. Ancestry has digitized and indexed billions of historical records. They have worldwide affiliations with government archives and private records collections. In combination with online tools and search engines, members can quickly build and expand their family histories.
AncestryDNA is the largest consumer database in the world. There are more than 1.5 million DNA samples in their database. You can purchase a DNA testing kit on Amazon. The results of the test can help you discover your ethnic mix within 26 ethnic regions. They also perform an automatic search of their AncestryDNA membership network to help you find people with the same DNA as you.
Ancestry is the most extensive genealogy community in the world. It helps you collaborate with other Ancestry members.
- You can contact and share information with people who are searching your ancestors.
- Message boards allow you to open or contribute to a discussion about surnames and locations.
- The World Archives Project allows anyone to contribute to public archives collections.
- The Member Directory allows you to search and message other researchers that have similar interests as you.
Social media is a great way for popular genealogy websites to connect with researchers. Ancestry has taken full advantage of a presence on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Glassdoor, and Linkedin. They also host two blogs.
- Ancestry Blog – Keep up with current events, product updates and go behind the scenes at Ancestry.
- Tech Roots Blog – An insight into the technology used to create the Ancestry experience.
The Ancestry Mobile App is the answer to members on the go. It allows you to upload photos and stories, respond to hints and update information no matter where you are.
- Ancestry Academy Free: There are a handful of basic videos available to help get you started on the site and with your research.
- Ancestry Academy Monthly or Yearly: Unlimited access to all courses with new courses added monthly.
- Ancestry Academy Unlimited: Unlimited access to all courses with new courses added monthly plus access to Ancestry, Fold3, Newspapers.com basic. Payable every six months.
To Pay or Not to Pay for popular genealogy websites
Can you put a price on your family history? As you can see, Ancestry has a lot to offer a researcher. Some of it is free, such as the 14-day trial, mobile app, and templates to help you keep track of your research. However, you must pay for most of the features on the site. Next week’s post will take a closer look at the free website FamilySearch. In the meantime, take a closer look at Ancestry for yourself and think about taking advantage of the Free Ancestry Academy.
Are you currently a member of Ancestry? If yes, share your experience in our comments section below.
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