Ancestry.com is the largest genealogy website in the world and has been in business since 1983 and online since 1996. They have over 20,000 public record databases from numerous countries that members can search for their family history. Combining all of these databases together would give you over 20 billion records, with millions of new records being added each week.
Ancestry is constantly adding new content for users who are interested in discovering their family history. They have a digitizing system that can handle historical hand written documents and they have many relationships with all levels of government archives, religious institutions and historical societies to gain access to these documents. Plus, Ancestry.com has the largest online community of people interested in family histories. This community generates much content, from creating public family trees, to uploading documents and photos. In the last 4 years alone more that 24 million family trees have been create that contain 2.4 billion profiles. Over 60 million uploaded documents and pictures have been attached to these trees along with 940 million records from Ancestry.com databases.
All this information available to members may seem daunting but Ancestry.com provides easy to use tools that makes finding other family members simple. Once you have entered all the information you know about your family there is also a simple search option that Ancestry.com provides which fills in any missing information that Ancestry.com has stored in their databases about your family.
Ancestry.com has lots of data, in fact they have over 20 billion records of information. There records are grouped into Collections, then by Category and then, organized into Card Catalogs. Collections can usually be filter by location, language and date and are broken up into broad categories. Popular Collections include "Census & Voter Lists", "Birth, Marriage & Death", "Family Trees", "Immigration & Travel" and "Military". Categories within collections depend on what the actually Collection is about. For example the "Birth, Marriage & Death" Collection has the following Categories "Birth, Baptism & Christening", "Marriage & Divorce", and "Death, Burial, Cemetery & Obituaries". Within each Category you will find the Card Catalog. The Card Catalog contains the actual records. The name of the Card Catalog usually contains the source of the material, location and the date range of the records included with it.
Most of the records on Ancestry.com range in date from the 1790s to the 1940s. The reason for this is most governments like the United States and Canada hold the records of their citizens (like the ones collected in the Census) confidential for a number of years before they are made public. The U.S. Census is kept private for 72 years making the 1940 Census the most current one available to the public. The U.S. 1950 Census will be available to the public in April 2022. In Canada they hold their Census data confidential for 90 years making the 1921 Canadian Census the most recent one available for viewing. For this reason when you start a family tree on Ancestry.com it will make things easier if you know the name of a family member who was born before the last publicly available census (this is true for all genealogy services).
Since your family history is all about information, it is important that the ability to perform searches is easy to understand and returns the desired results. There are a number of ways to search for your family history on Ancestry.com. One of the easiest ways is to start to fill out your family tree with your parent and grandparent information. Every person you add Ancestry will perform automated searches on their Collections to provide you with additional information about that family member and suggest new members that look like they may belong to your family.
You are also able to search the Collections and Card Catelogs directly as well via a basic search form, an advanced form and by location through maps of countries. Depending on the Collection you are searching and the information you are looking for, will determine the type of criteria that is available on the search forms. For example military information is not going to be available from the "Birth, Marriage & Death" Collection.
The best search tool we found was the "Search all Records" form since as the name suggests it will search all Collections at once for information on your ancestors. On the basic form, first and last name, estimated birth year and a location is required. Unless your ancestor had a fairly unique name the search results returned will probably be large. To narrow these results down you can add one or more life events to the search that you may know about the person. Life events of the person includes their birth, death, marriage, etc. and require the year it happened along with the location. You may also add known family members to the search request to help narrow the search results. This includes the first and last name of their mother, father, children, spouse and siblings. The advanced search form goes into more details allowing you to specify ranges on names (i.e. Soundex and Phonetic matching) to adding a year range for events. Gender and race can also be specified along with a list of keywords.
The Ancestry.com online community is 3 distinct parts. The first part called "Member Connect" allows you to stay in touch with other Ancestry members who also happen to be researching family members who may be related to you. To find these members Ancestry.com will scan the publicly available family trees (some members keep their family trees private) to find people who are also researching ancestors who may be related to you. Once the scan is complete you can decide whether or not you wish to connect. Once connected you will receive updates on any new information the person may add about your ancestor. At this point you also have the option to add to your tree this new information. Member Connect also allow you to communicate with the member to exchange stories and facts or even to plan research projects.
The online community also contains very active message boards. These boards are categorized by location as well as topics. There are over 17 million posts across 161,000 message boards at Ancestry.
The World Archives Project is also a big part of the online community. Ancestry.com setup this project so members get a chance to help save the world's historic records which are fast being destroyed. How it works is participants access digital record images from Ancestry.com. The participant then reads over the image of the record and adds any names, dates and other relevant information to the database so the record can then become searchable online. Any record that is part of the World Archives Project will remain free to the public and Ancestry.com will make sure to donate copies to partner archives (government, societies, etc.). In the future Ancestry.com also plans to allow contributors free access to the original images, and for those who subscribe, they are eligible for 10 to 15 percent of renewals of memberships at Ancestry.com.
Over 5 million people have ordered AncestryDNA kits (an extra cost of $99 USD) and sent in DNA samples to have their DNA analyzed. Ancestry labs will look at more than 700,000 genetic markers to determine your ethnic mix from 26 different ethnic regions (including those from America, Europe, Africa, West Asia, Asia, and Pacific Islander). Within 6 to 8 weeks after you have mailed in your sample you can expect an email with a link to your online results. Your results will also allow you to connect with relatives you may never known you had, since Ancestry will scan their database and identify the people who share your DNA.
Ancestry.com also offer a suite of other related services:
- You can get DNA testing done with AncestryDNA to help find out where you came from (26 ethnic regions) and your genetic markers
- Creative gifts from MyCanvas. Get your family tree or other family records and photos on books, posters and calendars
- Buy software and books online to learn about and create family trees
- Genealogy Research Service. Hire an expert to research your family history for you
- 14 day free trial
- Tools to build and grow your online family tree
- When you subscribe you get connected with the world’s largest online family history community
- Upload photos and documents for your online family tree
- Share your family tree with other family members online
- Free Account
- A great place to start to get a feel on how to use the site and to add information. You are also able to see the types of records available and that could be helpful to you
- Allows you access to the tools to build your family tree, upload photos and documents and to share access
- You have no access to any of the record collections
- You have no access to the online community
- Costs in US dollars:
- U.S. Discovery Subscription
- Unlimited access to all U.S. record collections
- Costs in US dollars:
- $19.99 per month
- 6 months for $99 ($16.95 per month)
- World Explorer Subscription
- Unlimited access to all international records from the UK, Ireland, Canada and more
- Costs in US dollars:
- $34.95 per month
- 6 months for $149 ($24.83 per month)
- All Access Subscription
- Get full membership to:
- A collection of more than 80+ million pages from more than 3300 newspapers across the United States
- View, print, save, and share findings on your family tree from billions of articles, announcements, and obituaries
- A collection of more than 436 million military records
- See actual scanned documents
- Access to professionally produced, self-paced video courses taught by family history experts. New courses are added every month
- Content mastery exams to help you get the most out of every course
- Costs in US dollars:
- $44.99 per month
- 6 months for $199 ($33.17 per month)
- Get full membership to:
- Other Details:
- Cancel at any time by visiting the My Account section or by calling Ancestry.com customer service
* Prices usually based on monthly subscription. Prices may increase/decrease depending on subscription length. All prices in USD unless specified other wise. Costs and features offered last checked April 06, 2017.
Disclaimer: While we make every effort to ensure the accuracy and reliability of our information at Review Chatter we shall not be held responsible for any discrepancy. There is a possibility that the information provided here is outdated or wrong, please check with the companies website directly for the most recent information. As always you should read your terms of service before purchasing any product online or signing up to any online service.