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In the kingdom of commercial roots research, rules. Start exploring Internet genealogy's crowning glory, and you'll find the royal road to your family tree.
Among the genealogy giants, < > reigns as king of commercial rootsdom. Billed as the largest collection of family history records on the Web, the site boasts more than 800,000 paid subscribers — a number that's sure to rise. Ancestry's parent company,, acquired the free grassroots Web site RootsWeb <> in 2001, and <>, producer of the popular Family Tree Maker software, in April 2003. Already, these three sites receive more than 10 million unique visits each month, and their union undoubtedly will grow Ancestry's business.

While Ancestry offers plenty of freebies, it's known for its subscription collections. Together, the US Records Collection, US Census Images & Indexes, Historical Newspapers Collection and UK & Ireland Records Collection contain more man 2 billion names.

Subscriptions to the records cost $155.40 per year for US databases and $299.40 annually for the World Deluxe collection (monthly and quarterly options are also available). Unless your primary focus is researching in Britain, Ireland or another country, the US Records Collection may be your best starting point. Here's a rundown of each collection's offerings:

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