Discover the Best Family Tree Websites!
What are Family Trees?
You may have had a school project in Elementary School where you had to build a family tree and bring it to class to show the rest of your peers. Usually, these family trees are quite simple and show immediate family members as well as grandparents. However, depending on the size of your family you may want to see if you have cousins you never knew about or second cousins, a great uncle or any other relation.
A family tree is a diagram that shows family relations, the reason it is called a tree is that it keeps branching out with each member that you add.
How to Begin a Family Tree Search
The first step of building a family tree is writing down what you know. It is important to include details such as date of birth, place of residence, date of death and more. This will come in handy when searching for records. If you have any old records from your family you should take a look and write down any important details.
It is usually best to speak with family members to get a sense of who is out there that you don’t know about as well as get a recount of important dates and places that will help you narrow down your search immensely. If you have older family members it can be helpful to ask specific questions and provide background as much as possible as this will help jog their memory.
The last step is to input all the information onto a program that will help you keep track of your family tree as well as expand it. The simplest and easiest way to keep track of your family tree is to use a family tree website. All the websites mentioned below use the GEDCOM format for family trees, so no matter where you start your search you can always export the file and import it onto another site very easily.
How do Family Tree Websites Work?
Some websites offer the use of your DNA to find lost relatives. The way these works is that the system identifies other people who share a large amount of DNA with you, this means that you most likely had a shared ancestor. You can then reach out to this person and discover how closely you are related.
Other websites build off of the data you supply to their database. When you input someone's name and details, the program correlates it with all other information in their database to find a match. Once a match is ascertained, you can connect your trees and it grows even bigger.
What are the Best Options for Me
Family Search is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and is a great place to start your search if you live in the US. They have been collecting records for the past 100 years and are always digitizing their files weekly. The church started the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1894 which eventually grew into what is now FamilySearch. You are limited to one family tree per account, so you won't be able to build several trees under the same user. FamilySearch also has a free smartphone app.
The family tree builder on Ancestry is free to use, but you will have to pay a monthly subscription fee to access all the data available. This data includes birth, marriage, divorce and death records as well as immigration records and censuses conducted by the government. You will also need a subscription to be able to message other users. The paid service is very intuitive and helpful, offering hints whenever there may be a match to another family tree or a record in their database.
Ancestry also provides a DNA test that will not only provide you with DNA matches but also tell you what your ethnicity is and where your origins are from as well as historical and geographical insights into your roots.
Similar to Ancestry is My Heritage, which offers a free tree building software. What separates MyHeritage from others is that they offer software to download to your computer as opposed to having it saved on an internet cloud. The software offered by MyHeritage employs Smartmatch technology which identifies matches in different people's family trees and connects them. They also offer a record matching technology, which will automatically find official records that match with your ancestor’s information.
For MyHeritage’s full programs you need to pay a monthly fee which starts at about 11 dollars per month for the cheaper subscription. The subscription gives you access to 9 billion records including yearbooks, maps, and other documents. The subscription also has interesting add ons including a show neighbors option of the person you are searching. This is particularly helpful if you have fond memories of a relative’s neighbor but have lost track of them.
Find My Past is a British online genealogy service. The site has over 4 billion records to search through to find lost relatives. This site has a mix of UK and US records, so if you have a family that emigrated from the UK to the US, this would be a great place to expand on your family tree.
A FindMyPast subscription starts at 10 dollars a month for the lowest plan, but the family tree building tool is free to use. They also offer DNA tests to help find matches in your ancestry line. It is the only DNA test focused on British and Irish history.
Family Tree Now is a simple and easy tool to use to build a family tree. The website is free to use, and it has limited capabilities. It can help you find records of family members, last known addresses and phone numbers. Family Tree Now also provides you with records to cross-reference and see if they are a match with your relative search.
There are many places to start your family tree, but these are the 5 best sites to begin researching your family history.