Do you have military ancestors in your family tree? Do you want to find their records and uncover their story? Well if you answered yes to both these question then you need to check out this Fold3 Review.
This review will show you what you can expect from this site, what records are available, details about the membership packages, what help and support you can receive, the pros and cons as well as what other people are saying about this site.
|Packages||Annual Access – $79.95 – one payment (equals $6.67 per month)
Monthly – $7.95
|Records||500 Million + (many exclusive to Fold3)|
|Features||Image Viewer Tool, Share, Comment, Annotate, and more|
|Help & Support
||Training Center, Online Contact Form, Phone Support, Blog, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube|
|Where to buy||Fold3|
Topics discussed in this post:
- About Fold3!
- What Military Records Are Available To You
- Finding Your Ancestors Records
- Help & Support
- Membership and Free Access
- Pros and Cons
- Other People’s Fold3 Reviews
- Do I Recommend Fold3?
Before I tell you what you can expect from Fold3 I must tell you about the name. You are probably wondering why the site was named Fold3?
There must be a reason, right?
The Fold3 name comes from a traditional flag folding ceremony in which the third fold is made in honor and remembrance of veterans who served in defense of their country and to maintain peace throughout the world.
What can you expect?
If ever you wanted to know more about your military ancestors then Fold3 is a site that you need to check out. Whether your ancestor served in the American, British, Australian or New Zealand forces then you have come to the right place.
The site comprises a collection of records, personal documents, photos and other material that can help to tell their story.
All of this information comes in the form of digitized images and currently there are over 500 million images in the collection. No, that is not a typo.
Also, there are about 2 million images added every month to the site.
So if you do have a photo of your ancestor in their uniform or have any kind of memorabilia why not uncover their story at Fold3.
You can find collections covering many wars and conflicts which I will discuss below. But apart from that they also have records pertaining to military organizations, the US Bureau of Investigation and Project Blue Book (the study of UFOs).
Who is the site for?
Basically the site is suited for anyone who is interested in history, but also:
- Family Historians/Genealogists
- Veterans and their family
About the company
The company behind Fold 3, iArchives, began in 1999 and were involved in digitizing historical newspapers and other archive content. They soon realized the importance collecting these records and making them available online.
But before Fold3 came to be there was Footnote.com which was launched in January 2007. This site had over 5 million original documents and was the go-to site for historical documents, especially military related.
Then in October 2010 Ancestry purchased the company iArchives, and the following year in August 2011 the site was rebranded to Fold3 to signify what this site was about.
Credit: Ancestry (Fold3)
What Military Records Are Available To You
So far I have discussed how Fold3 came to be and the meaning about the name, together with who the site is for and a little bit about what you can expect from the site.
But you are probably wondering what records does Fold3 and whether the site can help you with your genealogy research. Before I do discuss that I first want to say how the information is displayed.
Military information about your ancestors!
Unlike other genealogy search websites you will not find a transcription of the record that you are searching for. This can be a good thing and a bad thing as well.
Let me explain.
It’s bad because YOU have to read the record yourself. Ineligible or fancy writing will slow down your research.
However, you won’t have to deal with transcription errors. So without these then you don’t have to worry about misinformation. You just look at the source.
As with many genealogy search websites you will probably find not only a transcript of a document but a scan of the original document as well.
Even though you don’t get a transcription of the record you do get some background information which can help you.
Once you have found a relevant record you can learn more about it by clicking on the “About Image” button. From here you can learn the source of the record/image, as well as make a correction if need be.
Military Records to be found at Fold3
This site covers various kinds of documentation from many wars and conflicts. You are probably wondering what wars are covered on this site and whether it can help you with your research.
Well, the records that you will find start from as early as 1775 with the beginning of The Revolutionary War of America right up to recent times with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
War records at Fold3:
- Revolutionary War (1775-1783)
- War of 1812
- Mexican, American and Early Indian Wars
- Civil War (1861-1865)
- Spanish-American War (April-August 1898)
- World War I (1914-1918)
- World War II (1939-1945)
- Korean War (1950-1953)
- Vietnam War (1955-1975)
- Recent Wars – Iraq and Afghanistan
I must point out one negative about this site at this stage. Unlike Forces War Records you won’t find details about the war or the conflicts that you are researching.
You will just find the records of your ancestors. And so you will have to piece together their story with facts that you can read about on Wikipedia.
When researching my military ancestors I would occasionally turn to Wikipedia to read about the war or conflict that they were in. By doing this this gave me a further insight into their military life.
Besides the wars
There are other kinds of records that you will find on this site. Some of them will not be war-related but can give you a glimpse into the life of your military ancestors, photographs for example.
Other kinds of records:
- Non-military records – Various records including photos, Project Blue Book, Town Records, Vital Records, etc.
- International – Includes records from Australian, British and Irish, Canadian, and New Zealand Forces
Finding Your Ancestors Records
There are 4 options available for you to find your ancestors military records. I will cover them each in turn.
When you have found a record of relevance you can do a number of things.
- Add to Gallery – Add the image to your collection of images
- Share – Share what you have found with a friend via social media or email
- Download – Save the record to your computer
- Print – Print the image
- Connect – Attach the image to other images or people
- Comment or Annotate – Add your notes to the image
- Attach – Link the image to your Ancestry tr
Search by name!
The first option is real easy. On the homepage of the site you will be presented with simple search box.
All you need to do is type in your ancestor’s first and last name and then click on the “SEARCH” button.
The following screen will then present to you a list of possible records containing your ancestors. If you do not find what you are looking for you may want to try alternate spellings of their name.
When you first search for your ancestor by this method you may be confronted with many records, thousands even. So for that reason you may want to select the war that you are interested in. This will limit the amount of records.
To further cut down the number of records that you have to deal with you may then want to select which State that interests you.
From here you can then sift through the records until you find what you are looking for. Yes sometimes this process will take some time, but believe me when you do find your ancestor’s record you will feel the rush.
If you are unsure about a name then you can use a wildcard. What I mean by this is an asterisk *
For example, I could search for “Co*ch“. So by doing this records with the last name “Coach“, “Cooch” or “Couch” will show up.
You can though perform an advanced search where you can cut down on the records that you are presented with. From here you can enter keywords, places, a year range and when the record was added to the collection.
You may also wish to get the results based on whether they are indexed by Optical Character Recognition (OCR) software. This means that the image is scanned similarly to newspapers and city directories.
Browse military records by war
A second option that is available to you is to search through military records by war. From the homepage you are able to select the war that you are interested in.
The following page will possibly give you a number of ‘Publications‘ that you can choose from. These publications are then broken down into ‘Sections‘.
And then finally when you have chosen a section you will have a list of ‘Pages‘ that you can search through.
This is just one scenario. The subcategories will obviously depend on how the collection is organized.
Yes, this option is trickier, but is an option available to you if you haven’t found what you were looking for by searching by your ancestor’s name.
Honor veterans from any U.S. conflict
The third option that is available to you is search for your ancestor from the Honor Wall. Here you enter you ancestor’s name as before together with the war that you are interested in.
Then you will be presented with a list of people matching the name of your ancestor. Just search through them until you find your ancestor.
Search their stories
The final option is to search not the records of but the stories of your military ancestor. So, from here you can check out their stories, photos, and personal documents.
Most of what you will discover here will be from the U.S. National archives, The National Archives of the U.K. and other international records.
You will get the same kind of search box that is presented on the homepage, but you do have the option of performing an Advanced Search.
What this means is that you can type in keyword(s), a place of interest, a time frame of interest, as well as maybe when the record was added to the collection at Fold3.
Help & Support
Unlike other genealogy sites that you maybe familiar with there is no community, or rather forum/message board. You can though check out what others have contributed to a record, or collection of records, so in a sense that is the community at Fold3.
There are a number of ways that you can get help, which you will find by clicking on the Help option at the base of the homepage. That’s not quite front-and-center, but anyways.
Help and support provided:
- Fold3 basics – Learn how to get started, share research, manage your account and more from the Fold3 Training Center. All of this help is provided in easy to follow tutorials.
- Membership options – Check out what the differences are between the membership packages that are available – 7-day free trial, premium membership, and free membership.
- Something’s not working – Get help with logging in, search or viewing problems, issues with the site, and more.
- Contact us – Contact Fold3 for support using the online form. Or if this doesn’t suit you then you can leave a message on the phone number that is provided.
- Blog/Facebook/Twitter – The blog and social media platforms may help you with your queries.
- YouTube – A number of how-to videos are available on the Fold3 YouTube channel. Some that’s worth checking out.
Membership and Free Access
Do you want free Fold3 Records?
Unfortunately you cannot access everything on this site for free, but there are some collections that you can search through without costing you anything. When I say some, I actually mean over 2 million, but anyways.
In order to access the free stuff you will first need to register. You can simply do this by registering with Facebook, or by entering your email address followed by a password of your choosing.
After you have completed this step you will get access to the millions of documents as I said. But also you can upload, store and share historical documents and pictures that you have.
And also you can create memorial pages for people, places and topics. Although there are limitations to this membership it is still can give you a taster of what the site has to offer.
Featured free titles:
- US Milestone Documents
- War of 1812 Pension Files
- WWII US Air Force Photos
- Project Blue Book
- Pennsylvania Archives
- Papers of the Continental Congress
- Constitutional Convention Records
- Copy Books of George Washington’s Correspondence
There are more besides these but these are the featured ones. Despite being free you will not be able to use the image viewer that is available on the site. That means that you cannot zoom in to any area of the image.
7-Day Free Trial!
You can go one better than the Free Membership and opt for the 7-day free trial. This will give you unlimited access to everything within the collection at Fold3.
However, as the name of this package suggests there is a time frame and that’s seven days. So if you do want to check out every image and document, as well as all the tools and features then this is for you.
Please make sure that your calendar is free for the whole week. That way you can extensively explore the site for free, and if you like what you see then you can go for the Premium Membership.
When you sign up for the free trial you will need to enter your card details. Now you may think that this is a sneaky tactic, but I have seen this on every genealogy search site that I have reviewed so far.
Basically it is a way for Fold3 to obtain your details and hopefully for you to continue using the site.
If you do not cancel before the trial ends then you will be charged per month. So make sure you do cancel before the trial expires if you do not wish to use Fold3.
When it comes to the Premium Membership this will obviously give you access to everything at Fold3. There are though two durations that you can choose from.
- Annual Access – $79.95 per year (equals $6.67 per month)
- Monthly – $7.95
In my opinion if you are not entirely sure whether the site is right for you or how long your research will take then go for the Monthly package. That way if you are not entirely satisfied with the site or service then you can cancel it.
You can always upgrade to the Annual Access package if you choose to.
The Annual Access package though is value for money. As you can see from above that spending $79.95 each year equals $6.67 each month. Compare this to the Monthly package that is $7.95. You do the math.
Pros and Cons
✔ 500 Billion images (2 million added every week)
✔ Free membership (limitations apply)
✔ Monthly and Yearly packages available
✔ Share research
✔ Help and support offered
❌ Auto-renewed subscription
❌ Can find records freely on other sites
❌ Need to check images thoroughly, no relying on transcriptions
Other People’s Fold3 Reviews
So far I have shown you what you can expect from Fold3 as well as give my opinion on some features and what is available to you.
Rather than give a one-sided view of this site it is only fair if I share with you other people’s opinions and also complaints as well.
I couldn’t find many complaints or issues about Fold3 apart from checking out the Honest Reviews website. On this reviews site I saw the usual complaints that I have seen for any other genealogy search site.
Before I do continue I just want to address one complaint which relates to the speed of the site. This complaint was dated March 2013.
Whether this is because of server issues where the site is hosted, or maybe it’s the user’s computer. Either way this complaint is rather outdated and I don’t think that we should worry about it.
Can’t find what I am looking for!
A few people complained that they couldn’t find what they were looking for. It is true to say that not everything is yet available online.
So with that said with time maybe the required records will be available.
On a closing note I would advise to either sign up for the Free Membership or the 7-Day Free Trial to see what is available.
Can’t cancel my account!
This complaint I have seen for a number of other sites. People will sign up on a free trial and then subsequently be charged a monthly fee.
This is down to two factors:
- Not read the terms, allowed the trial to expire and been charged,
- Have had difficulty canceling it before the trial has expired.
What I would suggest is to try to cancel the trial at least 2 days prior. Yes this will cut your trial period by 2 days, but if you want to be cautious like me then you may want to do this.
Or you could try canceling on the seventh day. There weren’t many complaints about this so hopefully this is not really an issue.
Do I Recommend Fold3?
Firstly, I like how this site is predominately about digitized images of records, rather than featuring transcriptions as well.
Too many times have I seen errors in these transcriptions. So, this has spoilt my experience with other sites. However, it does mean that you will need to focus entirely on the image. Luckily you can zoom in on images.
But with that said this site does contain a quite impressive collection of images, 500 million. Like you I was quite surprised by this number. And also that about 2 million are added every month.
The other good thing about this site is that there is not only a 7-Day Free Trial but also a Free Membership package as well.
I haven’t seen many free memberships on genealogy sites so that was good to see. But I have seen 14-day free trials so it would be nice if Fold3 extended this period.
What I don’t like is that some of what you find is available for free on other sites. So, you may want to check out FamilySearch first before checking out this site.
Overall though the site does offer a lot of records, so there is a high chance of finding what you are looking for. But if you don’t there is the possibility that they will become available online.
Do I recommend Fold3?
Yes, I definitely do recommend Fold3.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
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