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Archives.com specializes in US history and family history, providing family-tree building tools and list of external resources. With more than 4 billion photos, vital records, newspapers and other documents, it has a lot to explore, and yet finding what you need isn’t always as easy as it should be. Its key focus is to help you find information on your ancestors within the US, although its data could be used more widely to learn about the history of the United States.
Searching on Archives.com is too basic, especially given how many records they hold. When you’re dealing with such large numbers you need a really in depth search engine which can help you weed through the irrelevant files to offer the ones you’re really interested in. The limited search options available mean that it can sometimes be hard to find what you're looking for.
The site contains a lot of scanned images and includes rarer vital records which go back to the 1700s, meaning you can theoretically work your way back several hundred years. You can also search existing family trees and see whether your research has already been done for you. A benefit of this system is that you can update records and leave notes on documents, essentially updating your tree as you continue to find out more.
Signing up is a bit tricky because you are required to include your credit card details, even to try the site out. Browsing around is very restricted without having signed up, and you’ll constantly be referred to the credit details pages. This is quite annoying because it means you don’t get a decent opportunity to see what the site can offer, unless you start the 7 day trial.
The free 7 day trial will allow you full access, although be careful to cancel before the time is up, if you don’t wish to continue to use the website and be charged. After this period, you will be charged around $10 per month to use the services. Upgrading to a longer contract may reduce this fee, but further charges may apply to access particular documents, particularly if you require a hard copy to be sent out.
Archives shows a lot of promise. Its database is large, it offers some free tools and some useful external links. However, we found that we were sometimes sent to other websites (which charge a separate fee) or simply couldn’t pin down what we wanted. We recommend using the 7 day trial to find out if it has what you want, or as a back-up in case you cannot find a record elsewhere.
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