Review: Genealogy Sites

Genealogy Sites
Bottom Line:
Decent database for an affordable price; accuracy of search results vary; not as comprehensive as other genealogy services
Full Review:
3 2015-05-06 12:06:52 Archives' slogan, "family history made simple & affordable," perfectly describes its service. It is very simple, but not necessarily in a good way. Its 4.8 billion records yield numerous results when you perform a search, but we found that most weren't the results we were looking for.


If you'd like to test out Archives' service before deciding if you want to commit to it or not, you can do so with its free seven-day trial. If you do not cancel before this time is up, you will automatically be charged $9.99/month, after which you can cancel at any time with no penalties.

Getting Started

To sign up with Archives, simply enter your name and email address, then you will be taken to the billing page. Archives offers a free seven-day trial, but you still must enter your payment information before using its service. If you cancel before the trial is up, your card will not be charged. If you decide to keep using the service, you will be billed $9/month; you can cancel at any time. After checkout, you have the option to try for free for seven days as well; this service searches newspaper archives, and costs $4.16/month after the free trial. Once your billing information has been processed, you are asked to finish creating your account by again entering your name, email address, password and selecting a reason for joining (i.e. "I'm looking for a hard copy certificate").

Upon completing the information for your account, you are taken to the welcome page, which displays random results found associated with the name and birth date you entered for yourself; none of these record results were accurate for us. On this page, you also have options to build your family tree or search historical records. Both of these options have video tutorials that can help you with tips before you start with either.

Building Your Family Tree

For your family tree, you can upload a GEDCOM file if you have one saved or begin creating a new one. As with other genealogy services we review, you start your family tree with yourself on Archives. The five initial steps it walks you through will ask for the names, birth dates, places of birth and genders for yourself, your parents, your sibling(s), your spouse(s) and both your maternal and paternal grandparents. After entering this information, you will be directed to the My Tree page, which displays your family tree in a pedigree chart format. You can use tools to zoom in and out and grab and move your chart as it expands.

When you hover your mouse over the boxes of individual family members, you can add relative(s), view and edit details for this person, share the entry and family tree via email and add photos to their profile; the limit is up to 20 per family member. When editing details of individual family members, you can select which type of event you are adding, with things such as births, deaths, marriages, Christenings, immigration and more. The top right-hand corner of a family member's box will sometimes display a red tree icon. This is an indicator that Archives has found a record, and you then have the option to click to view what it has found.

Records and Other Features

The record hints results allow you to review what has been found. Here, you have three options: "found it," "maybe" or "not it." If you select "found it," you can choose whether or not you'd like to add this record to your family tree. Selecting "maybe" will save the record to your Saved Records page, which you can view at a later time. "Not it" will keep that particular record off your results page. The records Archives found when we tested the service with our family name were not accurate at all. We entered a family member's exact name, birth date and place of birth, yet it brought up birth indexes from other various states in the United States. We also tried to enter estimates for birth dates and had less luck with this method, as zero record results were found.

You can do a few other things with Archives outside of your family tree. On your home page, you have options to perform a search on an individual, search county records, order official copies of certificates, read tips and watch video tutorials and shop for premium reports, such as full background reports. When searching records, you can filter it by the type of record you wish to search, including vital records (birth, death, marriage and divorce), living people search, yearbooks, cemetery listings, military records, immigration and passenger lists, surname histories and public records. The county records search allows you to request official court records, even if they're not available online yet. The search costs $24.95/search, which covers all court access fees, and a researcher will email you the results, which you can view, print and save. It searches for both criminal and civil records. However, it's important to note that even if your request doesn't return any records, you will still be charged the fee, and New York, South Dakota and North Dakota are not available for this search.

Customer Support

Archives hosts a fairly detailed Help Center, which has a FAQ page, video tutorials as well as tips and resources from research experts. If the answer you're looking for isn't online, your only option to contact customer support is by opening a ticket via its email service, which is available Monday through Saturday from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET. We received a response within just a few hours of submitting a question, and found the agent to be friendly and helpful in addressing our question.


Archives has a large database of various records that may not be available with other genealogy services, but it doesn't seem to have a good way of filtering results to give you accurate records for your family history. The family tree creator is fairly user-friendly. However, it's not as intuitive as we'd hoped. If you know exactly what you are searching for, and have some experience with genealogy, Archives may be a decent option for you. Otherwise, is a better route to choose.

Compare to Other Genealogy Services

Service Details:

Price:Free 7-Day trial; $9.99/mo
Features:Ancestor search; records archive; family tree builder
Resources:Census records; birth, death, marriage & divorce records; military and immigration records; court records; full background check
Customer Support:Email

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