What genealogy sites do members like best?

+10 votes
236 views
I need to join a site that provides access to census, cemetary, military, etc. so I can do further research on my tree.  I do not mind paying for good, easy, access to the records I would like to use.   

Family Search disappointed me when I searched their hand transcribed census records because the names and ages of known ancestors (from actual census records and family history) were improperly recorded in their record.  I believe it was misinterpretation of handwriting and leaping to conclusions (inserting modern familiar names rather than working to read what was apparaent and bad math).

I look forward to hearing from anyone who has an opinion about the best site(s) to join. Or the worst, I suppose.
in The Tree House by Kristina Adams G2G6 Pilot (211k points)
Looking at the profiles in your family tree i think you could use a solid year 8 hours a day just using Family Search to apply records.  It´s a daunting task and very time consumming I realize but it is the reality.  It won´t be much different on other sites where you would need to pay.  The records I know are sometimes incorrect in spelling, ages, birthplaces, etc. but by finding enough records you can average your findings and you will have a fairly accurate record of the reality of your ancestors at least until 1850.  I would recommend exhausting that source and then it will be time to look for further information.  Also, Find a Grave is free and can yield very valuable information from often family members of your target.
Your suggestions are valid and I do realize I have a lot to do, but felt a bit insulted by your first sentence.  I have been trying to get the records and research compiled by a deceased aunt. I have been corresponding with an elderly cousin, on a diferent line, who is helpful but slow to respond.  I will forge on.
I have tried the link and it has failed to load.  I will blame my slow internet, and keep trying!!  Thank you.
Try searching on Top Genealogy Websites of 2015.
Pardon Kristina I didn't mean to sound rude.  I was just trying to say that with more records I think you'll see that they sort of average themselves out with the more and more records you compile as opposed to just looking at one or only a few.  If you try to give Family Search a few more tries I think you can find good information without having to pay.
Personally I like Family Search.  I do understand about the transcriptions but you have to use your imagination somewhat, probably mainly because it is free. However, I have yet to find a perfect site (guess they just let too many humans get involved!).  This is all part of genealogy and one of the reasons the emphasis is to rely on primary documents, transcriptions are secondary and so subject to errors. Just beware that even primary documents can contain errors, probably why the rule of thumb is to find 3 documents / sources / references for each event. If you do find a perfect site, let us all know!

5 Answers

+18 votes
 
Best answer
Hi Kristina,

Every major Genealogy site has its flaws.  Family Search does have a very good database set of records but they do contain errors.  Ancestry.com is by far, the largest set of Databases but these range from wonderful to horrible and confusing.  Fold3 has a very good set of Military records and includes many Census records.  

If you are doing serious genealogy you are going to have to use them all and be aware of the potential for errors and poor transcriptions.  You need to understand where the databases come from and how they were created. Always try to look for the original record when possible.  

If I had to go with only one site it would be Ancestry.com because of the shear volume of records. But I would be missing out on a lot of good info elsewhere.

I have used rotating memberships to paid sites so I could work each site and I have learned where many of the standard suite of records can be found for free.  But consideration has be given for what your after.  Which Records, profiles, communities, etc.

I have also joined many of the Genealogy Societies in the area's of my ancestors to gain access to their records and knowlege.  Often these are not online but reaching out to them can yield the info you are seeking.

I hope this helps.
by Michael Stills G2G6 Pilot (397k points)
selected by Anonymous Barnett
Oh, and everytime I find a poorly transcribed record, I try and leave a comment to get them changed or to have the correct info associated with the record for others.  Depending on how their feedback system works.
Great answer Michael ! I couldn't have said it better. I've used Ancestry off and on for a long time and have a love / hate relationship with them. That being said they do have an abundance of Information. I find that i can get most everything I want from familysearch and Ancestry, but also belong to a few social groups in areas where Ancestors live that helps also.
I'm adding a strong second to Michael's note on the usefulness of genealogy societies and online groups devoted to specific areas. I was able to dig much more deeply into my Donauschwaben ancestry thanks to the hard work of people who transcribed Croatian and Hungarian parish records of the 1700s and 1800s and put their transcriptions online, on funky little websites they run themselves. Because of their generosity I have film numbers to request from the FHL to view the actual documents (well, their images) directly.

When I was starting out in genealogy seven or eight years ago, I had no idea how useful these kinds of resources were -- I'd seen them, but let my initial confusion keep me from investigating further. Precious time lost!
I love Ancestry's "14 days free intro" all you have to do is give them your credit card info first. That's where I stop. The credit card request should not appear until the last day of the free time period. Stick with FamilySearch and if you want to do some serious genealogy head to your local library or archives and get out the microfilm.
All great points!
+4 votes
Oddily enough, http//:www.googlegenealogy.com and http//:www.genfam.com/freepages got most of my information using these sites
by Michelle LaChapelle G2G Crew (320 points)
These sound intriguing, but I can't seem to make either of those links work, even when I strip out the http//: part (should be http://, for the record). They both go to sites peddling domain names.
I get the same results as Rose, Michelle.
+4 votes
I second Michael Stills' recommendation re Ancestry.com and would add that if you have colonial New England ancestors, membership in NEHGS (americanancestors.org) will be highly beneficial. It provides access to the best genealogical journals in the US which contain vetted, well-researched analyses of ancestral families not only in colonial New England.  Also has vital records for most New England states and a growing number of other US states. And much more.
by Jillaine Smith G2G6 Pilot (775k points)
Oh yes! for me NEHGS is invaluable.  I have 18 ancestors with Revolutionary War experience and many of their ancestors come from the New England area.  I have been reworking the lower branches of my trees to solidify source information and I am struggling with the idea of renewing my membership because of cost.  But it seems like every day I have a reason to go there.  Hmm...how far can I push my wife....oh the anguish and sacrifices we make in Genealogy! (First world problems eh?)
+6 votes
Just one additional point:  I don't think the issue of incorrect names and ages is necessarily unique to Family Search, and you will probably encounter that on pay sites as well.  The misspelling of names in census records, for example, often does appear to be attributable to census enumerator penmanship or spelling prowess.  But an incorrect spelling in the indexed records can be useful data to retain, because when someone else wants to search for the record (or if you want to look again a few years from now), it can be much easier to find the record if you know exactly how the name was indexed.
by Dennis Barton G2G6 Pilot (409k points)
Great point Dennis.  First the person of whom the questions were asked may not have known the correct answer or how to properly spell a name. Then the person asking the question may hear something different and not know how to spell the name.  Then the Transcriber of the Enumerators work may not be able to read what was written.

Ancestor can't spell

Enumerator can't spell and hears wrong

Transcriber can't read

Genealogist fails to retain or check all possible spellings and mispellings.

It is a wonder we find anything at all!

I found my Mom and her family in the 1940 Census.  Her maiden name is CULP it was transcribed as ADK.  I had to search by location and then scan each page.  When you look at it, it looks like ADK but as script, you can see that it really is CULP.
And that is why I add corrections to these sites when possible.
+2 votes
I like family search and ancestry sites.
by Anonymous Barnett G2G6 Pilot (465k points)

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