FamilySearch | Educational And Historical
The assortment of paid and free genealogy websites creates a dilemma for individuals interested in learning about their ancestry. Most websites offer online access to databases containing collections of government documents, newspaper archives and other resources for people to gather information to create family trees. Some websites, such as FamilySearch.com, actually gathers and preserves records from around the world and offers them to researchers as a free service.
FamilySearch Services Available
FamilySearch.com has a history quite unlike the other popular genealogy websites. The Genealogical Society of Utah was founded more than 100 years ago to preserve ancestry records from around the world. FamilySearch.com was developed to allow people to access the information that has been gathered in order to conduct genealogy research and create family trees.
The website is operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The records collected by the church form the foundation for the collection of databases accessible by users of the website.
Users of the website can search more than four billion names. The scope of its database is augmented through a partnership between FamilySearch.com and Ancestry.com. Among the offerings is a large database of Native American records making it similar to FindMyPast.com, but FamilySearch.com offers free access while other websites require a paid subscription.
Many of the records available on FamilySearch.com are extensive. For example, census records are available all the way back to the census of 1790. Access is also available to the Social Security Death Index offering records starting in 1962.
Other services include a mobile application for iOS or Android devices and a family tree builder offering the ability to save a family tree to the FamilySearch website for easy access. One thing that it does not have is the ability to use the results of a DNA ancestry test to conduct searches using the website. Purchasing a genealogy DNA test kit at MyHeritage.com or Ancestry.com will provide helpful information to locate or verify relationships of family members, but the result of the genealogy test cannot be linked to FamilySearch.com.
Another drawback to this free service is its lack of obituary databases. Depending upon the needs of individual researchers, the inability to obtain or verify information using obituary records could be of critical importance. Individuals who need to access obituaries might need to find them on another paid or free website to supplement research done on FamilySearch.com
People who want to begin searching their family history might not know exactly how or where to begin. Lessons are available at FamilySearch.com covering the basics of genealogy research and the creation of family trees. The lessons are not only for novice researchers. Additional lessons focus on advanced research techniques and other information useful for experienced researchers.
Help is also available from a WIKI research guide on the website. There are also a YouTube channel featuring helpful how-to videos and tips available from FamilySearch on Twitter, Google+ and Facebook.
Family Search Pricing Plans
The services available at FamilySearch.com are free, including the family tree builder, records and database searches, the ability to add photos and a feature allowing researchers to collaborate with each other in conducting their searches.
Researchers might elect to combine free access to FamilySearch.com with a subscription to a paid service to give them all of the services and tools needed to conduct their research. For example, the ability to use ancestry DNA results can be achieved through a site requiring a paid subscription while having free access to all of the features and databases available on FamilySearch.com
Pros & Cons For Family Search
Archives.com and Genealogy.com are free genealogy websites that people might wish to look at in addition to FamilySearch.com. The inability to upload DNA ancestry test results to use in conjunction with searches is something that might make a researcher lean toward a different website, such as MyHeritage.com, even though other sites might charge for a subscription to their services.
The number of records available at FamilySearch.com distinguishes it from most other websites. New records are constantly being added from around the world as the work of the Genealogical Society of Utah continues.
Website users have access to more than 4,745 FamilySearch Centers located around the globe for help and collaboration in conducting genealogical research. Also offered to site users is around the clock access to experts who are available by telephone without charge.
Another feature making FamilySearch.com stand out from other similar websites is access to Puzilla.org, which allows users to conduct dependency searches and locate distant relatives. Access to Puzilla.org is also free to FamilySearch.com users.
There have been complaints noted by some reviewers about the website freezing when researchers were working with family trees. Users might be inclined to put up with minor technical issues at a website that does not charge for access to features and databases comparable to or surpassing those offered by some sites accessible only through paid subscriptions.