Best Big Genealogy Websites

By David A. Fryxell Premium

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Begin your family history research with some of these comprehensive genealogy heavyweights.

In addition to buying up a bevy of other sites and launching, has continued to beef up its own content. The subscription site ($149 for six months’ global access) now numbers more than 32,000 searchable databases, including complete US census coverage. Apps let you view your uploaded trees on the go, and the AncestryDNA autosomal testing service ($99) makes an easy introduction to genetic genealogy. 
Touting itself as a research bargain at just $7.95 a month, (now owned by has been working hard to make that price tag seen even more like a steal, now offering more than 2.6 billion digital records. New reasons to give it a try include nearly 4.1 million Evangelical Luther Church in America birth, marriage and death records plus US vital records from many states. In addition, you can still search the 1940 US census images for free here.
This free site from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been in a genealogical arms race with, adding databases and online extensions at a feverish pace. Just recently, FamilySearch added more than 10 million indexed records and images from the US, England, Germany, Hungary, Mexico, the Netherlands, Russia and Ukraine. The benefits of uploading your family tree to keep growing, too, with new “hinting” for possible record matches and photo uploading. (Be sure to check this 191 list for sites that do tricks with your FamilySearch tree.)
Since expanding to this side of the Atlantic from its home in Britain, has grown in value beyond its comprehensive collections of UK censuses, vital and church records and UK and Irish newspapers. It now boasts all US censuses as well, and recently added the Periodical Source Index (PERSI) to genealogy publications, which it’s working to link to the original journal articles. New mobile apps will soon make this subscription site even more worthy of your $16.66 a month.
Originally known for its family tree hosting and matching technology, MyHeritage has expanded to become a major player in research resources, too, with partnerships, acquisitions and its own databases. If you have Scandinavian roots, take note of its recent addition of millions of records from Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Finland. Family treebuilding is free for pedigrees up to 250 names. A separate data subscription costs $119.40 annually. 
Being owned by MyHeritage, combined with a content partnership with findmpast, has enabled this site to expand far beyond its “vital records” moniker. It covers more than 4 billion names from more than 40 countries. Subscribers ($89.99 a year) enjoy many of the best UK records from findmypast, family trees from MyHeritage, a 2.1-billion-name Newspaper Archive Collection and more.

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From the September 2014 issue of Family Tree Magazine