From major record and digital collections access to multi-branch family trees, our picks for this year’s best “big” genealogy websites cover all the bases.
Websites new to our list for 2021 are indicated by an asterisk (*). Sites marked with a dollar sign ($) require a subscription or other payment to fully take advantage of their content; otherwise free sites that have some sort of premium tier to paid add-on have this noted in the write-ups.
Everything’s on the menu at this megasite, from censuses to vital records to AncestryDNA ($99). Recent additions include tens of millions of US draft cards from World War II (scanned in color), plus obituary names, relationships and other facts extracted from sister site and fellow honoree Newspapers.com. Full access runs $298 per year.
From the 1915 New York state census to Mexican civil registrations to 35 million obituaries from GenealogyBank, this free site just keeps growing. Constant improvements are also making its online family trees friendlier and easier to search.
This UK-centric site has added 125 million records from British electoral registers, but has also expanded its Australian, New Zealander, and US collections. Full access costs $179 annually; its DNA test (a partnership with Living DNA) costs $89.
Tap decades of the Genealogical Publishing Company’s expertise at this site, which sells books ranging from how-to advice to transcriptions of old records not available anywhere else. The $99.95/year ePub subscription offers digital access to more than 740 titles, including The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy by Val D. Greenwood and Evidence! by Elizabeth Shown Mills.
If your local library subscribes to this site, you’re in luck. A partnership with Ancestry.com has turned this institutional offering into a sort of Ancestry.com Lite, bolstering its original databases.
MyHeritage offers online trees, DNA testing ($79), email alerts and even automated photo-colorization. Recent additions include French civil records, Norwegian church and census records, and 1.3 billion entries from US city directories, aggregated to show a family’s multiyear listings. Full record access with unlimited tree size costs $299 a year, with a special introductory price of $199 for the first year.
Though increasingly being subsumed by Ancestry.com, this long-running volunteer site remains a must-check for its hosted sites, transcribed records, how-to pages and the WorldConnect project that hosts GEDCOM family trees. The upside of the Ancestry.com umbrella? Content from the former Ancestry Wiki, including foundational resources The Source and Red Book.