Family History Mega-Marts

By David A. Fryxell Premium $
Still the premiere genealogy subscription site ($155.40 annually for US databases, $299.40 for all world data), keeps getting bigger and better. Its search was recently overhauled, and Swedish researchers can now tap 26 million pages of church records added as part of’s acquisition of Genline. $
This growing site recently added more than 40 million vital records and 110 million scanned newspaper pages dating to 1753. But you already know that if you’re a subscriber ($39.95 a year), because monitors additions to its collection and emails you an “ancestor alert” if it finds matches to your kin. Besides data, offers easy-to-use online family trees you can build from scratch or upload a GEDCOM to, and will hook you up with local researchers who will do county-record legwork for a flat fee.

The promise of this genealogy giant’s pilot site experiment has at last been fulfilled in the new FamilySearch, which has a streamlined interface and oodles of new records from around the world. The Family History Library catalog has a new look, too, with auto-suggestions as you begin to type search terms. $
Thanks in part to its partnership with the National Archives and the Library of Congress, this subscription site ($79.95 per year) has burgeoned to more than 72 million records, all searchable and linked to images of the originals. It’s strongest on military records, especially from the Civil War.

GenealogyBank $
The go-to site for historical newspapers, GenealogyBank now offers more than 5,000 periodicals totaling 793 million articles, including a collection of African-American newspapers from 1827 to 1999. Your $69.95 annual subscription also buys access to a variety of historical books and documents, military pension records and land grants.

HeritageQuest Online
Images of all US federal censuses, 28,000 family and local histories, the PERSI index to genealogical publications, Revolutionary War pension and bounty applications, Freedman’s Bank records, and the US Serial Set make this institutional site well worth a trip to the library (or ask if your library offers remote access).

This pioneering volunteer site is showing its age, but still makes the list for its WorldConnect pedigree files, records transcriptions, mailing lists, message boards and help files.

World Vital Records  $
Much more than just vital records, this site from FamilyLink now offers much of what you might subscribe to for—including the complete US census collection and lots of historical newspapers—at just $39.96 per year for US data and $99.96 for all world data. It’s also pioneering Web 2.0 technologies such as geocoding, allowing you to see information about an ancestor’s neighbors once you’ve found somebody in the Social Security Death Index.

Browse Family Tree Magazine‘s 2011 Best Websites for genealogy research:

 From the September 2011 Family Tree Magazine

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