Ancestry.com has dominated the field of genealogy search websites for years, and our TopTenREVIEWS Gold Award winner is still the very best place online to research your roots. The collection of documents that Ancestry.com offers is so diverse and easy to search. With more than 4 billion names and 29,000 searchable databases you are more likely than ever to find information on even the ancestors that have been difficult to research before.
This site is far from free but for many genealogy enthusiasts it will be worth it because of its vast array of documents – many of which have been scanned into Ancestry.com so you can see the original. With one search term Ancestry.com will look through its many birth, marriage, death, census, immigration, military, court, school and other documents from the U.S., U.K., Europe, Canada, Australia or New Zealand.
Their collection also is updated constantly so even if you hit a wall in your research today a new document may be added to Ancestry.com tomorrow that will solve a mystery.
Because of the large number of databases on Ancestry.com, accessing all of them can seem daunting, but this site provides a card catalog and database list. These tools assists in quickly locating the information needed. The databases are sorted by popularity but you can also sort the list alphabetically by database title, by the date updated, the date the database was added, or by the record count. Here are just a few of the databases found on Ancestry.com: United States Obituary Collection:
There are thousands more records that can be accessed through Ancestry.com. One unique genealogy search feature is the ability to not only find your ancestors on this site, but also view their personal documents and pictures.
Ancestry.com's database includes thousands of collections from a multitude of countries. You can access these collections through the card catalog. You can then refine the search by country. Once you choose a country, you can narrow your search even more by choosing a specific location. For example, you would select Canada as the country and then New Brunswick as the location. The card catalog would then pull all collections within the database that contained information about New Brunswick.
The following are a few examples of international collections found on Ancestry.com:
Ancestry.com has many other resources to aid you in your genealogy search. For example, a "find solutions" tab links to other members in the community. This allows you share research and helpful tips. The site also offers supportive webinars, video tutorials, and links to other genealogy resources. Within the search support menu you can find a list of helpful websites with a description of what the site specializes in.
We found Ancestry.com easy to navigate. Ancestry offers several methods of searching to make things easy and efficient. The most popular search method is the record group tabs. All you have to do is hover your curser over the search tab and a drop down menu will appear. The record groups are:
This is the most convenient way to search for records, but you can also perform a basic search, an exact search, or search the card catalog. The card catalog allows you to research specific databases and collections. You can filter databases by record type, location, date, and language. All of these features help to narrow down your research. Once you have completed your search in one tab, and decide to choose another tab to search, your criteria will automatically be used for searching within the new group. This makes browsing simple, especially if you want to change the process of your search.
You can also perform what is called a ranked search. You first click on the search tab, and then enter in as much information that you can, like names, dates, and places. You then click search. The results that display first will be the best possible matches in your list of search results. Results are ranked with a system of one to five stars; five stars being the best match, and one star being the least likely match. You can the view more details of a record by clicking on the record title. Once the record opens, you can also view a scanned copy of the image. This site has an enhanced image viewer, which lets you view the record image and the index on the same page.
The exact search method is one that gives very specific results. This search works best when you search with a broad topic such as a surname or location. The results are usually more limited, and are categorized by record type. If you get too many results, you would want to add more information to narrow your search. If you get too few choices then you would want to drop some information. This will show you close matches when no exact matches can be found.
If you are looking for a specific type of a record for an ancestor like a birth certificate, you can search the database directly for that document. You would do this type of search through the card catalog. It is as simple as filtering the search by collection. You can either scroll through the displayed collections or search for a collection by keyword or title.
Ancestry allows you to search for records from a specific location. For example, if you know your ancestors came from Ohio, you may search for specific records form that location. This search is also found in the card catalog. You would again filter your search by location, region, state, and county. You can also filter by date and language.
Ancestry.com offers an extensive FAQs database with hundreds of questions clients have asked, this is great place to begin if you have a question. You simply click on the help icon on the home page, and it will take you to a search support screen where you can type in a question or keyword. The system will then generate possible articles that contain the answer to your question. We found this feature very useful in learning how to use the website. You can also email customer service with queries, and chat live online with a customer service representative. The site does not offer phone support.
Ancestry.com sets the standard for online genealogy search websites with their enormous and diverse databases. The one thing that sets this site above all others is the digitalized documents available for viewing. We have also found that many of the other online genealogy search sites link to Ancestry.com because of its remarkable databases.
The service offers three plans ranging from $49.95 to $195.95 a year—each plan comes with a 14-day trial period. This is a more expensive genealogy service but definitely worth the investment.
Ancestry.com offers a vast amount of information and scans of original documents.
After the free trial runs out you have to pay to see files attached to your family tree.
An impressive collection makes this the best genealogy search site and well worth the subscription fee.