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We have awarded Ancestry.com our prestigious Gold Award in this category, having reviewed 36 Genealogy Sites. Read our review below to find out why...
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Ancestry.com is our highest rated genealogy website. It offers top notch searching features to help you hunt through billions of online documents and reports, plus user-friendly family tree building tools. You can upload photos, write stories and notes, collaborate on projects with site members or professional researchers. It also trains you to become a better researcher, offering a selection of affordable membership options for amateur and professional researchers alike.
If you’ve ever wanted to know more about your family history, we feel that Ancestry.com is probably the best place to do it. The reason for this is that it combines family tree building tools with extensive research capabilities. You can also seek assistance when you need it, making sure that your information is as accurate as possible. What’s more, there are even DNA testing options, so you can find out more about who your ancestors were and where they came from.
Let’s take a look at some of the features available on Ancestry.com. The family tree builder is a simple but in depth tool for developing your unique family tree. You start off by creating a profile for yourself, and then your parents and siblings, grandparents and more. If you don’t know every detail, that’s okay. You can read the site’s tips on how to find relevant information even when you’re missing information.
Once the basic profiles have been created, you can add your own photos, write up stories and more. The further back in time you go, the more likely you are to find relevant information through the online archives (within reason. Data is best prior to 1960, but stops around the 16th century).
Searching the archives is simple but you can also include a range of filters and search parameters to help find what you’re looking for. You can view scans of genuine documents, reading them for yourself or accessing transcriptions where available. Those details can then be extracted and added to your family tree or other files, allowing you to slowly but gradually build up a more and more intricate understanding of your ancestors’ lives.
The Ancestry database includes health records, military records, vital statistics (birth, marriage and death), census information and more.
If you want to go even further back, or just want to know about your ethnic origins, you can request a DNA test. These are quick and painless, with results turned around much faster than you might imagine. The results will explain the migration of your ancestors and the proportions of various ethnicities which you’re made up of.
If you’ve already done some research elsewhere, you can upload your GEDCOM files easily and add to them. The Ancestry database includes health records, military records, vital statistics (birth, marriage and death), census information and more. Rather than simply offering a history lesson or information which is too vague to pin down specifics, you’re presented with factual data, much of which you can see firsthand.
The Ancestry Shoe Box is a relatively new feature which allows you to scan photos and documents using your camera phone. This is a great addition if you find old photos or visit a family member with albums you’d like to keep extracts from. You can then upload these instantly, and store them on your family tree indefinitely.
Alternatively, the Ancestry app allows you full access to your account. You can view timelines for your family, look at hints, comment on other people’s research or add notes to your documents, as well as a range of other activities. It means you’ll never miss a story, and it’s also free to download.
This particular site has the USA in its sights, but the World Explorer membership package allows you to access international data. This is particularly important in the US, where the vast majority of families have come from abroad at one point or another. If you wish to trace your lineage back, upgrading to the World Explorer package may be a necessity.
Unlike the various incarnations of Ancestry (such as the Australian, Canadian, French, UK or Swedish Ancestry sites), you can opt for a full access package. This is a new option, opening up records on Ancestry, Newspapers.com, AncestryAcademy and Fold3.com. All combined, this is pretty unbeatable in terms of the number of features and the range of records available.
The site offers a free 14 day trial for all users, giving you ample opportunity to test out what’s on offer. Whether you want access to US records on Ancestry, are interested in international records or want to access an even larger archive of documents across a range of sites, Ancestry.com probably has a package to suit you.
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