Pal of mine is sort of taking over the role of family historian. She’s just asked me if it’s worth it to subscribe to I told her I didn’t know as both sides of my family paid pros to do the work for us.

Anyone have any experience with it? If so, what was it like?

My father uses it in researching our family tree.

Isn’t helping us get past a direct ancestor who appears out of nowhere with no record of birth or family. It may be possible those records were lost long ago, but I think it’s also possible that he simply changed his identity at some point.

I have had a lot of success getting a roughed out tree via for original sources and WorldConnect for compilations from others. Both free.

Occasionally I will join Ancestry for a few months to confirm and do or research as I get bored with winter. You can register for free and they will send you endless offers but once you take one, that is it. You pay full price from then on. Occasionally they will offer a free weekend so you can get a taste.

I have yet to upload my tree to Ancestry (and get locked into their software). I used to use the free PAF and now that it is discontinued, I will probably use RootsMagic but others here may have suggestions.

Here is an older, but recent thread.

I always wondered if A.C was overstating what they were actually capable of- like the commercials where people are surrounded by big clouds of ancient documents and photographs. What do they really give you?

I have a copy of my grandpa’s draft registration card, dated June 5, 1917, and pages from the 1900 and 1910 census with other family names. Nothing farther back than that, but I wasn’t trying very hard.

But the best luck I had came from simply Googling a grandparent’s name and stumbling on research done by someone on another branch of the family, who had researched the family back to 1758.

Amazon sells software called Family Tree Maker, two versions, including a 3 or 6 month subscription to I think the 6-month one is $100.

They provide searchable indexes to an amazing number (and ever growing) of both printed and handwritten historical documents, census and military records, state and city documents of marriages, deaths, births, property records, newspapers and so on. (Primary sources)

They also encourage users to up upload family histories, photos and trees. (Secondary sources)

FamilySearch has similar stuff - pretty much crowd sourced transcriptions and indices done by volunteers.

The answer to that is generally a metric shit-ton of stuff you probably never would have found out about otherwise. is the real deal but you have to understand what it is. It is probably the best genealogy library on earth at least for Americans with European ancestry (it is probably good for others too but I don’t know anything about that personally).

The resources are amazing. You can get scans of draft cards and handwritten census records from great-parents you never met. You can find dark family secrets including missing family branches and where they went plus narratives about why and that is just a start but you have to put in the time to do it well.

However, there are a few problems with it that some people may not anticipate:

  1. It is expensive if you keep a paid subscription all the time. I never found that much of a problem because they keep your records even if you cancel and you can resubscribe any time you want. You can also export your records to a standard genealogy file to use in any other genealogy software you wish.

  2. is just a commercial platform that provides access to hundreds of other serious genological and historical databases. It doesn’t do that much on its own except provide you the tools to build, share and publish your own genealogy. I don’t want to minimize that aspect however. To do now what you can do in front of your computer would take decades of going through courthouse records, landmarks and personal accounts if you did it the old way. The only drawback is that it invites too many raw amateurs with bad information.

Many of the contents are user driven just like Wikipedia or Facebook. That can be good or very bad. The good is that it makes it very easy to build on your own family tree just by linking into someone related to you who has already done the research. You also get pictures and personal accounts of things you may have never known about otherwise. The bad is that many people don’t have good genealogy or research skills and even one bad branch can lead you far, far astray. This isn’t a point and click exercise to find your way to European royalty. It is more like a CSI investigation that takes countless hours and as much supporting evidence as possible to find the real answers. I have spent several thousand hours on my family tree so far using as the primary tool and I am just scratching the surface.

It is a very legitimate and valuable tool but you have also have to have good research skills on your own to get worthwhile information out of it.

If you’re serious about doing your own research, it’s an extremely valuable tool, and it grows daily. Combine it with other free engines (like Google Books) and you’ve got access to an astounding amount of information. Just make sure you use caution when looking at other peoples’ family trees. If the information is not sourced with reliable cites, be very suspicious of its veracity.

Lots of libraries have subscriptions. That’s a good way to see what’s available, or a few nights’ access may be all you need.

I checked out, people may want to note that it is run by the Mormons. I was trying to add my same-sex spouse and the specifically do not allow that and discovered that.

I got a deal last January where I got a 6 month subscription for something like $99. I had a blast with it. I was able to go back several generations on both sides of my family, found pictures and things like wedding licenses, and even found records of the Norwegian side of my family from before they came to the US. It was well worth the money, and pretty fun to mess with on cold, dark winter nights.

I didn’t keep it up after the 6 months as it got pretty expensive, but if they do that offer again this coming January, there’s a good chance I’ll jump on it. It was nifty.

Much of the genealogical data found online, software and research in the US is a result of the LDS church and its members.

I know they do a lot of the research, I was just pointing out that this site is directly owned and run by them. Not that it’s a good or bad thing, just that some people might want to know.

Why not do the fourteen day free trial to see how you like it?

I don’t have an ongoing subscription, but a few times I’ve subscribed for a month to do a bunch of genealogy research.

Keep in mind that if you subscribe to Ancestry, or even take their free offer, you will be required to give them your credit card number. For a regular subscription, it’s a recurring charge, which means that after the month, or six, or twelve that you purchase, it will be automatically renewed and charged to your card. There is NO option on the website to stop this from happening.

The best way to opt out of it is to cancel your subscription right after you purchase it. Yes, you read that correctly. Your subscription will then continue through to the expiration date, but will not renew. You’ll get a ‘gee whiz’ email from Ancestry, which you can just ignore.

This. 14 days is a VERY generous trial offer, and my wife got nearly hooked within that time period. It’s plenty of time to get in there, dig around, scratch out the basics of a family tree, and see what the engine can do. It’s really impressive how powerful it is, and how much information people before you have already filled in.

The best deal, assuming your local library doesn’t have it for free, is to go to Sam’s Club and purchase Family tree maker by Ancestry. $49.95 I think. With it comes a 6-month subscription to You only get the US database, not the world, but that’s quite the deal.

I do this every year. If I need to search back to Europe,etc, I go to the library.

I have a subscription, its been fun to play with:

found out my aunt had another previous husband that “nobody talks about”.

Found out my maternal grandfather managed to join the navy at 16…with visions of hot sexy island babes lined up to meet him. Found himself at this nifty tropical paradise of an assignment at a place called pearl harbor…in October of 1941.

A few months later he regretted his deception.