Best Online Genealogy Tools and Trees of 2013

By David A. Fryxell Premium

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Users of genealogy software for Windows (but not Mac, alas) need never again fear losing the fruits of their labor. This free backup service, which runs automatically (if you install special software) or can be activated manually, not only preserves your current family file “in the cloud” but keeps up to 25 previous versions. If you just deleted Great-aunt Agatha’s entire line by accident, no worries—BackupMyTree still has it.

Just as you would with paper, you can highlight your online family history finds, share with fellow researchers, sort and add virtual sticky notes with this free tool. Unlike paper, Diigo (“DEE-go”) then lets you view those highlights and notes on a PC or Mac with any browser, or on mobile devices including iOS and Android. The new Diigo 5.0 can even handle audio, photos and document files.

Slick, simple and cross-platform, this free digital scrapbook keeps getting better. Clip web pages, scans, photos, audio or anything else you can digitize, then Evernote magically syncs your content for access on Mac or PC, iOS or Android, and even Blackberry phones. The latest twist is that it works with Penultimate for iPad, so you can hand write notes or save your digital sketches.

Family Tree DNA
Now partnered with National Geographic for its video explaining genetic genealogy, Family Tree DNA’s paid testing services begin with a bargain $49 YDNA-12 test. Its DNA-matching database now boasts over 635,000 records.

This slick site sells customizable printed charts and PDFs that you create simply by uploading your data, importing from FamilySearch or entering manually. But you can get a free 8½x11-inch sample in JPG format to try before you buy.

This leading online family tree site recently was acquired by MyHeritage, which plans to enable two-way information sharing between the sites. Basic trees are free, or upgrade to the $75 per year Plus membership or $119.40-per-year Pro package, which lets you seek out matches and merge with the “Big Tree” of 69.9 million individuals.

From the search capability that’s made “Google” a verb, to translation tools, Gmail, and Google Books, Maps and Earth, this site may not seem like a “family history” destination. But if it’s not part of your ancestry arsenal, you’re missing out.

No longer just “Google for genealogy,” this search site has added a yearbooks collection and made its online trees more visually pleasing and easier to edit. To get the most from Mocavo—including automatic searching and email alerts—upgrade from the free basic service to a $59.95 a year account.

Tribal Pages
Now home to more than 350,000 trees with 50 million ancestors, Tribal Pages generates charts, maps and printable reports from your trees. Getting started is free, or pay ($24 to $48 annually) for extra storage and advanced features.

The “world’s largest genealogy wiki” keeps growing, with pages on more than 2.4 million individuals. Improved watch lists and surname searches make it easier to find your ancestors in that crowd.

Another “wiki,” this collection of 5.2 million profiles from 80,000 contributors has a new “Surname Following” feature that lets you get updates when other users post content related to names you’re interested in.

FamilySearch and the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) have reached an agreement to list the holdings of the FamilySearch genealogy catalog in WorldCat, the OCLC’s online search portal to 1.5 billion books and other items in 10,000 repositories worldwide.