How easy to use is

I keep hearing that is a great place to do genealogical research and that it’s very easy to use. I’m in a “trial period” with the site, but poking around leads me to believe that it’s extremely complex and that with all the options and threads to follow, I’ll never be able to find anything out about my family. Is it really pretty easy to embark on a search for your roots? Actually, I just want to be a guest on *Finding Your Roots *and let Skippy Gates do the work for me. Any help would be appreciated. xo,

It’s not that difficult, if you can apply some logic and thought process to what you see. A lot of the trees on Ancestry are kinda full of crap, people just attach people with out really looking to see if it makes sense or not.

You’re best off looking for someone in your family that you knew and was born in the 1920s or so, that way you can find them in the 1930 and 1940 censuses. So if your grandparents grew up in that time period you should have a good idea of where they grew up and start from there. Then slowly work back generation by generation.

Not everything you need will be on Ancestry. If you can, going to local historical societies will have a lot more information that you just can’t get anywhere else.

Depends on where you are in your research. If you’re just starting, then you need to do the legwork of interviewing family members and working up family sheets with all that information on dates, places and events, getting as much documentation on all of it as you can either from family members or from records keepers in the places where the events took place (birth, death, marriage, etc.). Then get a decent family tree program and enter all your data with the documentation.

Then try websites like Ancestry, but there are free sites out there as well, such as Rootsweb, and Family Search (the Mormons) and USGenWeb for state and county searches. There are a shitload of links on Cyndi’s List that can connect you with people researching the same surnames.

A really good search engine is Google Books. Go there and type in a known ancestor.

As mentioned, there is a lot of bad information on Ancestry (and other sites) that has been uploaded by people who are either not interested in verifying anything, or who just want to be able to claim the most ancestors (like post padding). Ancestor research is iffy enough without that sort of bullshit going on, so accept nothing unless it has citations.

Hmmm. What types of information do people upload there? All I’ve seen is official documents of one sort or another. I guess I don’t really know what Ancestry is/does.

People upload pictures, newspaper clippings, and stories about family members.

They also have their family trees on there, which you can look at and copy to yours, if you wish. Some are well-researched, and some are no more than fan fiction, so you have to be careful.

I subscribe and use it regularly. Being really motivated, I’ve picked all the low hanging fruit from Ancestry by now. It does take dedication and organization. You ALWAYS need to double check the facts there, for sure.

I never messed with their genealogy software, but instead did it all myself with MS Word and MS Excel.

People upload what they believe is their family tree along with supporting documents (or not). It’s very easy to use, but you must expect that you are looking at thousands of people copying each other’s homework and therefore take it with an appropriate grain of salt. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve seen an error copied over dozens or hundreds of times. But it’s absolutely useful at least for a year or so.

Be careful of the information you find. I viewed it at the library, where I can see basic information but can’t add or change anything. I found data about my family that was incorrect, wrong names and dates. How they got that way I don’t know, but without being a member, and paying, I can’t change it.

I could only go back one generation on Ancestry – ditto with Family Search. If your relatives came over “on the boat” at the turn of the 20th century like mine did, a lot of their information isn’t available online anywhere. You actually have to know what village in what country they came from and search from church records there. Immigration records are only going to show what ship they were on, what year they came through Ellis Island, and what port/country they left from.

OTOH if your family’s been here for a few generations, those sites are much easier to use.

My father’s parents came over from Ireland–so there’s not much available on Basic Ancestry; also, many Irish archives were burnt up in the Civil War. Ancestry showed my maternal grandfather sprang from Famine-era immigrants.

I found a bunch of stuff on my maternal grandmother’s family–some of her lines go way back. With specific links to a certain Indiana town, I’m pretty sure of the data for a few generations. I found a photo of my maternal grandparents I’d never seen & a Masonic document for my grandfather–which included the name of the gunship from his naval years in China. And I found the name & picture of my grandmother’s “half-uncle”—an engineer who died in a train collision; yes, there is a song. This grandmother helped raise me, so I remembered her stories. (There’s a shortage of living links on both sides of my family.)

There are some mysterious dead ends–even not so far back. And the Ancestry family trees do get dicey after a few generations. One GG? Grandmother’s maiden name was Calvert, which some sources link to the aristocratic Calverts of Maryland. Pretty damn unlikely, given the context.

So, I got a fair beginning on Ancestry but need to spend some of my next staycation at the local genealogy library. See if your town has one. Also, Amazon has a bunch of cheap Kindlebooks with info on Ancestry & other online sources–worth checking out.

From my limited research, it doesn’t seem all that useful for families that came to the U.S. from Europe more recently. Mine come over in the 1950s, for example.

I have the same problem with my Irish ancestors. They came over from Ireland sometime in the 1840s. One was a Murphy, and one was a Sweeney. And I don’t know where in Ireland they came from. I keep hoping that some death certificate somewhere will pop up with a place of birth for them, but so far no luck, and going to Ireland saying, “I’m looking for someone named Murphy.” won’t get me too far.

As stated above, start with what you know and work back from there.

I’m going to point and laugh now, and then you’re free to point and laugh when you find out I have a couple of Smiths in my lines. :smiley:

I’ve found the family “trees” on Ancestry are pretty worthless. Way too many people just say that sounds about right and attach people to their trees, then bad information just gets worse. I had to search for my great grandmother’s birth and death dates, and when I first put them in my tree on Ancestry people started copying them. When I found out they were wrong I changed mine, but no one else did. The trees might be ok for a start, but do all the research yourself.

And since you’re just starting out, make sure to cite everything, and I mean everything, otherwise you might look back in a few years and go, where the hell did I find THAT? I don’t give the really long source citations that’s suggested, but I do enough to know where I got the info at.

One of my nieces actually went to Ireland a few years ago and did research on my MIL’s family. Just based on what my MIL had told her, my niece uncovered several generations. She had to track down a number of churches to find the records – the trip itself took her around most of the country :slight_smile:

I have a friend who did the same. She went to Scotland to do research a number of years ago. She found living relatives there she didn’t even know existed! Those relatives led my friend to another branch which is/was either in Ireland or England.