What to Look for When Choosing a Genealogy Website

With so many genealogy research choices now available on the internet, starting family tree research can feel like a daunting endeavor. Researchers can reduce their options by making sure the genealogical website they choose fits five primary requirements. 

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The most user-friendly genealogy websites will provide the following features:

1. Large genealogy database.

2. An intuitive user interface

3. Tools for creating a family tree

4. Record hinting that is automated

5. Tutorials and assistance for users

Other Considerations for Genealogy Websites

Aside from the basic five elements described above, there are a few other things to consider while choosing the finest websites for genealogy research:

1. Cost

2. The size of the genealogy database that the site hosts

3. Types of records

4. The site’s privacy, cooperation, and security 

5. Geographical coverage

6. Testing and research on DNA

7. Subscription vs. no-cost alternatives

8. Search versatility 

9. Supported languages

10. Design that is mobile-friendly.

Family historians should evaluate which aspects are critical to the project’s parameters and then experiment with a few to see which genealogy websites will perform best.

Paid Genealogy Websites vs. Genealogy Websites that are Free

A search for “best family tree sites” or “top genealogy websites” yields a plethora of results. Sifting through all of the alternatives requires some understanding of the differences between a paid and a free genealogical website.

A price is charged for services on paid genealogical websites. If a project necessitates contacting churches, libraries, repositories, or other agencies for information, having access to a subscription database can save time.

Subscription genealogy websites, on the other hand, are not necessary to create a family tree. There are numerous free websites that will accomplish the job well without requiring any financial investment.

Before deciding on paid or free genealogy websites, consulting with an ancestor research agency about the breadth and range of a family history project will help you make a more informed decision.

Best Genealogy Websites for Free

Many resources for family historians to build a family tree are available for free on genealogy websites, which do not need paid subscriptions or fees for services. However, free services have limitations.

If at all possible, get a professional genealogist to assist you in your search. Professional genealogists have spent a significant amount of time investigating the greatest genealogy websites that do not charge a fee for service and are familiar with all of them.

Below, we go over the five most popular free family history websites, as well as the benefits and drawbacks of each.

FamilySearch

One of the best genealogical websites available is this family tree website. This genealogical service, run by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has over three billion names and millions of documents in its database, all of which are available for free.

Automated hinting, family tree construction, family tree sharing, and photo uploading are all available on this genealogical website. FamilySearch is linked to Ancestry, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage, making discovering records much easier.

The disadvantages of FamilySearch are that, although having millions of documents, it does not provide a researcher with as many as premium subscription services.

There is only one family tree per account, and there are no DNA testing/kits accessible. A researcher is also unable to build or export a GEDCOM file.

Access Genealogy

The tribal history pages, articles, and rolls of Native American records, treaties, trade, and land claims are helpful for researchers who need to trace Native American lineage.

The databases in Access Genealogy are insufficient for many family history projects, which is its main flaw. Despite this, we included it in our list of the best genealogy websites because its advantages exceed its disadvantages.

Access Genealogy has the most comprehensive collection of free genealogy for US study. It’s very valuable for family historians who are researching Native Americans.

HeritageQuest Online 

HeritageQuest Online posesses one of the largest online data sets for genealogy research, and it was created exclusively for library users. It includes the following:

  • Censuses in the United States from 1790 to 1930.
  • About 26,000 local history books.
  • Pension files from the Revolutionary War.
  • PERSI, a database of over 2.1 million articles from genealogy and history publications.
  • Former slaves’ records from 1865 to 1874 at the Freedman’s Bank.
  • Petitions to Congress date all the way back to 1789.

HeritageQuest has a user-friendly interface, yet it has a steep learning curve for many people. It’s also worth noting that HeritageQuest Online is only available for free through libraries that have subscribed. Individual subscriptions are not available. Users also claim that no Soundex or wildcard search options are available, and that only head-of-household indexes are available.

Olive Tree Genealogy

For good reason, Olive Tree Genealogical is regarded as one of the greatest genealogy websites. A big genealogy database, free tutorials, books and resource guides, and a free genealogy newsletter are all available on this family tree website.

This genealogical site is notable for its extensive collection of passenger records, information on Palatine immigrant forebears, American Indians, and orphans and almshouse inhabitants.

The site’s organization is one of the most common complaints regarding Olive Tree Genealogy. Users complained that navigating the interface was difficult.

RootsWeb

Beginner genealogists think that RootsWeb is a good place to start, but it shouldn’t be utilized as a stand-alone genealogical resource to complete a family tree. How-to articles, message boards for making connections, mailing lists, family trees, and surname research are all available on RootsWeb for family historians.

RootsWeb was purchased by Ancestry.com in 2000 and continues to give useful information, although it pales in comparison to some of the other free family history sites available.

How to Conduct Genealogical Research at the Library

Don’t overlook your local library as a source for valuable genealogy records. Libraries are an excellent place to go for free access to paid genealogical records. Many libraries provide free access to huge paid databases to library cardholders.

Websites for Genealogy Research That Aren’t Free

Researchers who have the resources and finances to pay for a subscription to a paid genealogy website gain access to larger databases and are able to cast a wider net in their genealogical research. The websites listed below are regarded the top five best paid genealogy websites.

Ancestry.com

One of the top genealogical websites accessible is Ancestry.com. The interface is not only user-friendly and appealing, but it also provides researchers with hands-on coaching, collaboration capabilities, and the opportunity to share family trees with subscribers and non-subscribers across various platforms.

AncestryDNA® is its own DNA testing service that you may use to search its huge database for DNA matches. Ancestry’s DNA matching program is a terrific place to start if you’re looking for your birth mother, biological father, or wondering where your distant relatives came from.

The most significant disadvantage of using Ancestry.com is that the monthly subscription charge can become prohibitively expensive. The plans are divided into categories based on the types of records that a family historian need.

MyHeritage

MyHeritage, like Ancestry.com, has a vast database, appealing features, family tree building capability, and DNA testing, however it is slightly less expensive. MyHeritage has an annual subscription price rather than a monthly fee, and it lacks the database breadth and coverage of Ancestry.

Users appreciate the ability to search data, as well as the ability to animate/colorize old family images and collaborate with other users.

Archives

Archives is the family history site of choice for researchers that need to go deep into a subject, as the name suggests. It’s no wonder that this is one of the most popular genealogy websites, with over 1.3 billion digital documents and 50,000 new digitized entries added every day.

Archives is an excellent resource for the more skilled family historian who has made substantial work in establishing a family tree but needs assistance filling in some difficult gaps.

The lack of relative suggestions and the difficulty to acquire a DNA kit/testing are two things that users detest about Archives.

FindMyPast.com

For investigating forebears, family historians interested in British and Irish genealogy come to FindMyPast.

FindMyPast has nearly two billion digitized genealogical documents, including British census records from 1841 to 1911, British military records from World Wars One and Two, parish records from 1538 to the present, and millions of migrant records.

FindMyPast allows users to create various family trees and offers DNA testing. Unfortunately, there is no support for the app, and the site may be limited to individuals who do not require access to British and Irish ancestry data.

World Vital Records

World Vital Records has almost six billion historical records from all over the world, although the majority are from the United States. 0