There are lots of genealogy and family history resources out there that you can choose from, and I’ve tried many of them, but one of the resources that I keep coming back to is found at Ancestry.com. One reason is because Ancestry has both free and paid for products and I’ve found lots of information with both.
Hopefully, the quick review below will help you decide if giving Ancestry.com a try can help you in your research.
Free Services at Ancestry.com
First, lets get started with the free services provided by Ancestry.com.
Ancestry offers a membership through subscription to access much of it’s mult-billion genealogy records database. However, the site provides some awesome tools for free. They do hope that you’ll eventually sign up for a membership, but it’s not required to use the free tools.
The greatest free resource available through ancestry.com is the Online Family Tree Program. You can use this portion of their website to create your family tree record from scratch or to upload a Gedcom file with the information you’ve already collected.
Creating your family tree with the Ancestry service keeps your information private asking you to create a username and password to keep your information safe.
Returning to the site later, you can pick up where you left off.
What’s neat about the family tree tool:
- Collaborate with other family members – Share family history information with only those whom you want to see it. You can give free accounts to your family members across the world, and they’ll be able to upload information that they have about the ancestors in your tree. No more losing information in the mail or having to send lots of email attachments with records. Now, you can share all your research with the whole family. Leave a legacy of research that won’t be lost in a box in the attic!
- Easy to use – Export a Gedcom file from your computer and upload it to populate your tree. You can also enter information by hand as you go.
- Looks great compared to other programs – The tree has a very professional look to it and the colors used are easy on the eyes (compared to others out there I’ve used).
- You can upload rich multi-media content – Don’t be satisfied with just looking at dates and names on your tree, upload pictures, records, and stories. You can add oral histories over the phone. It couldn’t be easier.
- Researches your genealogy for you while you sleep – The family tree makes record searches in the background for each individual. That means that you can take a break while the system researches if your ancestors are included in certain censuses in the US or England, if they’re included in war records or old newspapers. A little green leaf will appear next to the persons in your family tree for whom the site has found possible records matches (to view/download many of the records, you’ll need a subscription to the site).
- Ability to make gifts – For a fee, you can have your tree and the stories you uploaded organized into a very classy looking book that you can give to family or friends.
Searching for records
If you’re ready to jump right in searching for records, then you’ll want to consider a trial membership of the Ancestry site.
The site generally offers two main memberships: US Deluxe and Worldwide Deluxe.
The US plan gives you access to US records while the Worldwide plan gives you access to US AND records from other countries such as the UK, Canada, Ireland and many other countries.
If you sign up for their annual plan, you’ll save $$ as opposed to going with the monthly plan.
The great thing about the site is that new information is added each week. Ancestry is obsessed with adding new databases to its collection on a weekly basis, so the chances of finding more matches to your family tree and ancestors increase each week.
Scope of records at Ancestry.com
Ancestry has over 5 billion records that you can search through (that’s a lot of records). You’ll find:
- Census records
- Newspaper articles
- Birth records
- Death records & obituaries
- Marriage records
- Immigration records
- Military records
- Criminal records
- Written histories
What’s great is that in most cases, you’ll be able to see a scan of the original record and download it for your own records. Information found in the censuses is extremely interesting. Depending on the census, you’ll see if your ancestors could read/write, what their occupation was, and the people living in their households.
Ancestry also offers services such as DNA testing to discover where your ancestral heritage hails from (different DNA experts may interpret the same results in different ways, but it is interesting stuff).
Is Ancestry.com right for you?
I’ve personally found Ancestry helpful in finding valuable census records for family members, and the family tree program online has proved very valuable. You can always try it to see if it works for you or use it for a defined time.
For a specific ancestor search, fill in the information into the ad below and click the search button. You never know what might turn up!