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You can also search Ancestry's database of family trees and connect them to yours if you have a relative who has already done significant family history research and signed up for an account.


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And speaking of signing up, Ancestry is on the expensive side. We signed up for the most comprehensive and expensive options for our tests, but there are several levels of membership you can pick from if you're looking to save money. You also pay less per month if you sign up for a year at a time. Ancestry offers a free smartphone app and sells DNA test kits at an additional cost. These additional features paired with its easy-to-use interface and multitude of records make it the best genealogy website out there. Read the full review.

You don't have to be a member of the church to use this website successfully though. We entered the information for one person in our office and immediately started getting hints from the website about relatives going back hundreds of years. You can also use this website to send messages to other members, which is great for potentially connecting with someone you didn't know you're related to.

You get access to roughly 5 billion records, including scanned copies of old documents and old photos. Anyone can add photos and stories from their relatives and use the free mobile app as well. The app even shows your family's worldwide footprint with a feature called Map My Ancestors. Some websites require you to know a lot about your own family in order to use it successfully, but FamilySearch and the hints it gives you about relatives make it both easy and fun to use. Once you receive the kit in the mail, follow the included instructions and mail a sample of your spit back for testing.

MyHeritage uses microarray-based autosomal DNA testing to show you which ethnic groups and which of the 42 geographic areas you come from.

Getting Started

While other websites take a month or longer to send your results back, MyHeritage promises them in a mere three or four weeks. When your results are available you receive an email so you can view your results online. With about 11 billion resources at your disposal, you can look through birth, death, marriage, military and other records easily and quickly.

Archives has been a part of Ancestry. You have to pay for a membership, but it's a lot more reasonable than some of the other websites we tested, and you get access to more than 10 billion pages of records such as maps, photos and even architectural drawings. You can search for a person by name and then narrow that search by adding in more detail like their birthdate, residence and when they died, but we'll admit having all this information in front of you can be a little overwhelming.

If you have a very common last name like Johnson or Smith, you'll need as many details about family members as you can get to help narrow the search.

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While Archives is great for supplementary research, you can also use it to build a family tree. We didn't get any hints from the family tree function in our tests, so that means you'll need to search for data and then upload the information yourself. This website lacks an app or DNA kits, but it has a lot of searchable data and documents that are great for genealogy research.

FindMyPast is easy to use, pulling from a plethora of historical records to give even the most novice researcher results right away. While some websites require users manually enter all their own data, FindMyPast shows you hints with information about potential relatives as soon as you input information.

If you're unsure, there is a "maybe" option.

Book: Guide to Genealogical Research in the National Archives | National Archives

Even though this website requires a paid subscription, it's worth it to easily build your family tree when you're starting from scratch. We compared genealogy websites simply by using them. This meant 12 hours of research, several phone calls to our family members and a couple calls to customer service. If a subscription is required, we got the top-tier membership and used every feature of the website we could find.

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This meant entering in the names and birthdays of real people and seeing if these genealogy websites could give us any real information. All the websites with a family tree building feature are GEDCOM compatible, which is the file format for saving and exporting your family.

Almost every single genealogy website we tested requires a subscription to use every function but obviously we preferred the least expensive options that were still easy to use and give users a ton of resources.


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Most ancestry websites require you pay to use them, though we did find one free service. Finding out about your family history can be a lot of fun, but some websites use the data you provide. If you use the website's DNA testing services, they store your saliva sample so it can be available for future testing. You can request the sample be destroyed within 30 days of sending the sample in, but if you've already agreed to be a part of the company's research studies, they won't remove it from any active or completed research projects.

Getting Started with Genealogy – Everything You Need to Know

Although your results will probably vary depending on the documents available, FamilySearch is a great first step for those of you who want to dip your toe in the genealogy pool. Two of the other leading sites, Ancestry. These for-profit providers have massive name databases, family records and an impressive worldwide focus.

It is also known for being easy to navigate and for having excellent customer service. The most renowned of the genealogical cites, though, is Ancestry. While the amount of information can be intimidating for some, the overall process of starting a family tree on Ancestry. This is the beginning of your personal family tree. At that point, if the info you provided matches any of their records, Ancestry will provide hints.

Steps to Creating Your Genealogy

Joe Habib, a subscriber to Ancestry. At the very least, you can discover and better understand the hype. In an effort to keep your business, these sites have been known to lower the subscription price — but this only works if you call. So jump online and discover your own story. Your email address will not be published. Lending services provided by Quicken Loans Inc.

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Family History for Beginners - Video 01 - Getting Started

Call to get started! Do a Little Digging Before you begin, take a little time to talk with your family.


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  • Which Site Is Right for You? To Pay or Not to Pay Certain sites require their patrons to pay subscription fees to access all their genealogical wares, which may cause the casual genealogist, like yourself, to raise an eyebrow. Perks if You Pay Two of the other leading sites, Ancestry. Subscribe to Zing! Want to impress your friends and family with the knowledge we'll drop on ya? If so, subscribe now for tips on home, money, and life delivered straight to your inbox.