Researching your family history can be a fun and fulfilling experience. Not only are you able to discover more about your heritage, but you can view photos, read documents, and even learn about ancestors you never knew existed. One of the top places many often flock to for genealogy purposes is Ancestry.com. This site has been around for a few decades and offers visitors the ability to subscribe to their site to view numerous records and photos and even create their own family tree and connect with others.
However, while this is a helpful site, it can also be very challenging and pricey to use. There are certain rules you need to closely follow and you need to subscribe with a membership in order to view things. This article will explore more behind the intricacies of this site and some alternatives you can consider using for your genealogy searches.
What is Ancestry.com?
Ancestry.com was founded in 1983 and was designed to be a massive genealogy site that allows users to view various records, photos, and other similar documents. The site lets you create family trees and let others view and add to them as well. It also has an AncestryDNA kit available which helps you to learn more about your genetics and family history by letting you send in a DNA sample for them to study.
The Problems with Ancestry.com
While Ancestry.com contains many helpful documents and navigational tools, there are a few downsides about it.
It’s Not Free
On some areas of the site, you can view information for free. For instance, you can do a basic search and see some results. However, to actually get into the documents and view them, you need to sign up for an account which usually involves a payment of some sort.
Ancestry.com does offer different types of memberships you can choose from, such as U.S. only or World Explorer, but these prices are often very high and sometimes don’t even include all features unless you subscribe to their yearly membership.
Once You Unsubscribe You Can’t View Any Saved Records
Even if you’ve been a subscriber to the site for a while, once you unsubscribe to the site, any saved records you have on it will be gone and you won’t be able to view them again unless you re-subscribe. While you can export these records and save them to your computer, this can often be a little challenging and a time-consuming task.
Sometimes the Results Aren’t Very Accurate
While most of the time Ancestry.com does have accurate results, sometimes they don’t. While you might type in one thing, the results might bring you to an entirely different person or record which can make using the site a bit daunting.
Your Family Trees Can be Deleted
If you decide to export the family trees you make on Ancestry.com to a different software, Ancestry.com will delete the family trees you made on their site. This can happen for a few reasons, such as a change of email or you accidentally changing a setting that causes the tree to be deleted. Because of this technical problem, your hard work might just be gone forever.
The Benefits of Using a Genealogy Site
Using a genealogy site comes with plenty of benefits. Below are some of the top perks about them.
It Can Help You to Better Connect with Your Family
One of the best things about using a genealogy site is that it can help you to feel more connected with your family. Not only can you learn more about where your ancestors once lived, but you might even find photos and learn stories about them that would have otherwise been lost. You can also usually post photos and records of your ancestors on them which can invite other possible relations to interact with you. In fact, your family might just grow during your research.
You Can Learn More About Your Genetics
Another helpful thing about these sites is that you can learn more about your genetics. This way, you can discover your family’s medical history and even learn about some unique traits you share. You can also sometimes find photos of your ancestors which can be a fun way to see what type of traits and facial features you both might have in common.
It Helps You to Discover More About History
Genealogy is just one way we can time travel to the past. By using a genealogy site, you can learn more about different time periods your ancestors lived in and friends, jobs, and trips they might have once had or taken. You might even find that your ancestors contributed to certain events in time that helped advance society.
Genealogy Alternatives to Ancestry.com
This genealogy site began in 2003 and contains over 4 billion records for you to browse through, mainly for those that are looking for British and Irish records. This London-based company allows you to search many different types of records for your research, like church documents and newspapers. The site also has a helpful blog which has tips on how you can better search for your ancestors and navigate the site. When you find certain records and information, you can create and add it to a family tree. However, you do need to make an account to save and browse information.
If you’re looking for something a bit more intricate, you can also take a DNA test provided by them. This test kit will not only give you a broken-down record of the geographical information of your family, but it can even connect you with possible relatives. Keep in mind though that this site is intended only for those who have a strong British and Irish ancestry.
23andMe is rapidly growing in popularity thanks to its DNA testing kit. Started in 2006, this company offers an intricate DNA genetic testing that will look at your global ancestry and your genetics by researching your 23 chromosomes. This testing will involve you spitting into a tube, mailing this DNA sample to a CLIA-certified lab, and then waiting for your results to be emailed to you. These results will then show you a map of where your ancestors are from and even some interesting genetic information, like health/wellness and predispositions. The prices vary depending on the package you decide to use as some will involve both health and ancestry while others will only look at your ancestry. However, unlike Ancestry.com, 23andMe does not offer genealogy records and photos.
WikiTree allows users to create family trees and contribute to others. It is similar to Ancestry.com as it contains genealogy records, but it is more of a basic site. The only things you really need to know for this site is the person’s name, date of birth, and spouse information. The site also lets you upload and view photos of your ancestors and also has privacy controls so you can keep any information you want private.
This genealogy program began in 1894 and is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The site requires you to sign up for a free account to view information, but this just involves you filling in your name and email address. When you log in, you’ll find plenty of records you can browse, like family trees, immigration documents, and even online books. In addition to this, you can post memories of certain ancestors and tag them so other relations can see the information you provide. As one of the largest genealogy collections in the world, this site is ideal for those who want to do some in-depth research into their family history. It also lets you download an app so you can view information while on your phone.
This newly-created site contains software that lets you create family trees, view genealogy maps, and many other helpful records so you can research your family history. You can view and save information to your dashboard and even change languages. Because this site is new, the software isn’t the most intricate, so it’s a very basic and simple one to use. So, if you’re hoping to do some deep research, this might not be the best option.
MyHeritage began in 2003 and contains over 9 billion records you can view on the web, your phone, or with their software. This site allows you to create online trees and add dates and photos to the people in them. It also has community discussion boards where you can talk with others about your genealogy search, any tips you might have, and with possible relations. To view the information, you do need to make a free account.
In addition to genealogy searching, you can also use MyHeritage to order a DNA testing kit. The MyHeritage DNA kit lets you check your ancestry and genetics. You just need to send a DNA sample back to them (usually with a cheek swab) and you’ll be able to view your results online within a few weeks. While a little pricey, the DNA goes through various tests, such as the Illumina OmniExpress-24 chip, so you can be sure the results are accurate.
WeRelate is a Wiki genealogy site meaning it contains over 5 million pages of various genealogy records. Unlike Ancestry.com, the format involves you clicking on links and doing basic searches, rather than you typing in specific information. While it’s free to use, you do need to register to view records and information on it. When searching on it, you can find old documents and photos uploaded to it to help you with your search.
Olive Tree Genealogy is a free site designed for people to research more behind their American and Canadian ancestors. The site contains about 1,900 pages of records you can browse through and even books and records, like immigration cards. This site is also one of the only genealogy sites that have Native American records making it ideal for those who have Native American heritage to use.
In addition to this, the site offers helpful tutorials that will walk you step-by-step through the process of searching through genealogy records. It also links to some sister sites you can use which focus specifically on certain topics, like ship passenger and census records.
Lisa has a Bachelor’s of Science in Communication Arts. She is an experienced blogger who enjoys researching interesting facts, ideas, products, and other compelling concepts. In addition to writing, she likes photography and Photoshop.