Want to find records about your ancestors to help with your research? Well, there are several genealogy search websites online that can help you. With them you can start building your tree straight away, find information about your family’s past and maybe connect you with a distant cousin.
These kinds of websites can offer many different options that can help you. So what can you at least expect from them? I’ll cover the basics of the tools, features and everything else within this helpful guide.
Some of the popular genealogy search websites are:
- Ancestry – By far the most well known and popular genealogy search website that you can visit and learn about your ancestors. I have personally learned a lot about my ancestry through this site.
- FamilySearch – Another impressive site that offers millions of records. The best thing about this site compared to Ancestry is that it is completely free to access.
- FindMyPast – In my mind this site is on a par with Ancestry. I have also used this site to learn about my ancestors and I have learned a lot from this valuable resource.
- Genes Reunited – This is a U.K. resource where you can discover your British roots. There is a ton of useful records that you can access from this site.
- MyHeritage – Not far behind Ancestry and FindMyPast is MyHeritage where again you can access vital records. This resource offers so much, so it is a site that you will have to check out.
- RootsWeb – This site is brought to you by Ancestry. It offers a platform where you can get advice and support about everything genealogy. At the moment though it is currently offline.
Please note: You will need to pay a subscription to join these sites to get the most from their services, (exception FamilySearch). They will though offer a trial version so that you can try it out first.
Once you have got a taste as to what they have to offer then you may be able to select from a number of packages. Most of them offer you the option to pay monthly, or you can go for the yearly option. Going for yearly will be cheaper for you in the long run. So it is worth considering.
In this article I will discuss what records are available to you and the many services that you can benefit from. When considering joining a genealogy site it is best to consider the following features.
When you have finished checking this guide why not check out my The Best Sites For Your Family History Research. And then after that you can head on over to Top Ten Reviews, where they showcase the top ten genealogy search websites that you can use.
Searching for Records
All of the top genealogy search websites will allow you to search for birth, marriage and death certificates. These certificates will include useful information such as your ancestor’s full name, place of birth and their parents names.
By obtaining these records you will be able to trace your family tree further back. The clues that are contained on these documents can give you vital information that you can use.
For example, locating a birth or marriage certificate will give your ancestor’s parents name. So you now can trace your ancestry a generation further back.
Accessing an image or index!
When you are searching for your ancestors you maybe confronted with an actual image of the record. From this you will be able to get vital information which can be instrumental to tracing your ancestry further back.
You may though instead be presented with an index which will give you details on how to obtain the full record. At a fee of course! But before you do go ahead and purchase a document make sure that you have found your ancestor.
There is nothing worse than spending money on a certificate only to find out that it is not even your ancestor at all. It just just someone with the same name. What a waste of money!
Worst still if you do not realize this mistake then you might act upon the information that the certificate/record contains. You are therefore compounding on errors on your family tree.
Tips to use when searching for your ancestors:
- Use an estimated birth year. You can use a date from a Census or any other record that you may have. Adjusting a tolerance between 1 and 40 years is also possible This will mean you can search for records that maybe before or after 40 years of the estimated birth year you have entered.
- Finding marriage records. To find the marriage record for your ancestors try searching a year or two before the birth of the first child. If you are not successful with this method then try checking further back.
- When did your ancestor die? If you are unsure about when your ancestor died you can first check the Censuses. From these you can see whether your ancestor was listed as a widow or widower. After this you can check directories year by year to sseen when and where the death took place.
- Enter what you have found. When you have found a record that matches then add this information to your family tree. You will need to cite your information to make sure you are thorough and check details again in the future.
So what genealogy records are available?
Besides the usual birth, marriage and death certificates there are other records that you maybe able to find for your ancestors. These records are divided into six other categories:
- Census and voter lists
- Immigration and travel
- Schools, directories and church histories
- Convict, criminal, land and wills
- Reference, directories and almanacs
Finding your ancestor listed within any of these records will surely add more depth to your genealogy research. You will be able to expand on your ancestor’s story through these records.
When I first started my own research I looked at the usual certificates and censuses as well. But there are other types of records that you can use for your genealogy research.
So once you have learned the basics of your family and also know around these sites then why not dig a little deeper. Look at other records that will help you fill in the gaps in your knowledge about your ancestors. It will give you a bigger picture about their life.
Take the Hint!
The advantage of using an online genealogy site that stores your genealogy research is that they can show you hints. The hints feature will go by a different name on varying sites, but they will all act in the same way.
A hint is actually a link between your family tree and records within a genealogy site’s database. This feature makes the user’s site experience more interactive. These records will match your ancestor’s name and details that you have entered.
This type of research though is hit and miss but it may prove successful for you. You can trace your family tree with this feature or use the search option that is provided on the respected site.
You can look at records and the information that they contain. This as I have said before can help you backtrack further through your family tree. But sometimes the signs are not there for you to see
Sometimes you do not know where to look. So having this feature is a great advantage for you. It will show you upfront where you can look next for clues about your ancestors.
A Community of Members
Another useful feature of these genealogy sites is that you have access to other members family trees that they have built. Here you may be able to find a connection between you and another member.
You can then compare their family tree that they have uploaded. You can also look at their sources of information, and you can also contact members as well.
Please be careful though when you are referring to these trees. Some of them will contain errors. This is due to poor researching skills by the member. I know because I have seen plenty of these while researching my own family tree.
By joining a genealogy search website and its’ community you can meet newly discovered cousins. You can then share information and stories which will obviously help you further your research.
It is a great feeling when you make these unexpected connections. This is something that I myself found most rewarding. Not only have you met someone you did not know even existed but you can fill in gaps in your knowledge from your cousin.
Another feature of genealogy search websites is the included forum or messageboards. Here you can interact with other members and help your fellow researchers.
Advice gained by this method may either be tips on searching for your ancestors or how to navigate the website and get the most out of it. So it can be a great tool for you to use when you join such a site.
Help and Support
If you have a query about finding your ancestors or if you are struggling with the site then you will be offered support through a number of forms. This can be through online guides covering various topics. Videos may also be provided that can also help you.
The best genealogy sites offer the services of a professional genealogist. They will be able to give you tips, chase up leads or even carry out research and build you family tree.
Sometimes you may want to take a back seat. You may have become tired by all the researching that you have done so far. You may have hit a brick wall and want some help. Or you may not have any time to carry on your research and want a professional to help you continue your genealogy research.
Requesting for help maybe carried out through a number of different methods. These can include an online form, email address, telephone or even a live chat. So if you do get stuck please use this service. There is no point suffering in silence. Your research will only stall as a result.
So What Do The Best Genealogy Search Websites Offer?
The best website will obviously be the one where you CAN find your ancestors records. Genealogy websites these days will offer millions of records to you which you can easily search. You should be able to also easily and quickly create your family tree on their website.
Support through members and staff is a must for you to get the most out of your online experience. From research tips to making connections with living relatives are the main benefits of any genealogy search website.
So when you have exhausted all avenues of research then why not take the next step and join such a site. Or you maybe starting on your family history journey and are contemplating joining.
Either way, by becoming a member to one of these sites will further your research. And as I have mentioned before you may even meet a distant cousin that you didn’t even know existed.
I just want to finish off this guide by offering my personal recommendation. I would definitely have to say that Ancestry is the best site that you can use. Well, it was in my case.
It was he first genealogy search site that I was introduced to, probably thanks to the many TV ads that I saw. But there was good reason for using this site as it had billions of records for me to sift through.
Thank You and Please Leave A Comment
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