This article is my personal opinion and an answer the question above, which has been asked many times by people interested in researching their ancestors. The question usually arises from interest generated by the Ancestry.com sponsored television series, “Who Do You Think You Are”, or the well produced television ads. If you haven’t already heard, Ancestry has extended its relationship with NBC for a second season of the program.
During the course of the past couple of years I’ve subscribed to several online databases and you’ll see from the Java Script graphic on my blog that I’m an affiliate of ancestry.com, so my answer to the question is “yes”. Please understand that I believe the role of affiliate is a responsibility, so I’m a sponsor because I do think it’s the best and most comprehensive subscription service in the world. If I find another one that’s better, you can be sure that I’ll write about it. Feel free to challenge me if you don’t agree.
It would be fair to say that every online subscription database has something good to offer. I’ve found one site to be excellent for up-to-date census information, while another is better for births, marriages and deaths (BMDs). Yet another is the place to go for non-conformist records. Does Ancestry have it all? I’m tempted to give another affirmative answer, but even Ancestry wouldn’t make such a claim.
Right from the start, the goal of Ancestry.com was and still is to build the largest online genealogy database and subscription service in the world. They’re constantly adding to their records to improve and add to what they offer in a very competitive environment. In fact, they’ve recently added 1.8 million new records.
On November 5 of this year, Ancestry announced that an agreement had been reached with the British National Archives to publish the 1911 England and Wales Census. This effort will be executed in collaboration with the major UK Web site, TheGenealogist.co.uk. The intention is to create a “searchable database, which enables users to type in a name and go directly to the full color digital image of the actual census document, handwritten in their ancestor’s home a century ago.”
Ancestry offers a free 14-day trial period where you’ll have ample opportunity to decide if you want to continue. Is it a tease? Maybe just a little, because I can personally say I found an immense amount of information during my free trial and exercised the need to continue onwards that first year by going with the monthly subscription (just to make sure I had the option to opt out if necessary). By the time the second year rolled around I decided that annual renewal was best way to go. In terms of price, when compared to how much it would cost to travel, overseas in many cases, to perform time-consuming research on your ancestors, it’s cheap at the price.
It has been said that popular free social networking sites like Facebook, which has more than 300 million users, is a growing threat to Ancestry. Balderdash! I don’t believe that this could be true because Facebook and others of that ilk are focused on living people.
Ancestry makes it very easy for you to collaborate with other members and still maintain your privacy. There’s a message board where you can leave a query and receive a surprisingly quick answer from just about anywhere in the world.
There are many public trees published on the site, where you often find people looking for the same ancestor. There’s also an option to make your tree private. People with private trees are usually very willing to help out if you discover that you might share a common ancestor. Let me add a word of caution here. You should always verify that the person you find on someone else’s tree is actually the person you are looking for. Just as it is in traditional genealogy, it’s a good rule of thumb to cite your sources and verify the information.
If you like the idea of being your own detective and love to solve mysteries, you’ll enjoy finding your ancestors. It will give you, amongst many other things, a great sense of accomplishment. There is, however, usually a time when you hit a brick wall and, although it’s exhilarating to knock them down yourself, you might decide you want someone else to help you. All you need to do is to click on the “Hire and Expert” button on the site to get help from one of Ancestry’s expert genealogists.