Archives.com

Archives.com Review: Genealogy Sites

Genealogy Sites
 
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Rating:
Bottom Line:
Well-priced with good family tree builder though archive search could be better, more comprehensive
Full Review:
4 2013-01-15 11:15:15 Archives.com's slogan is "Family history made simple and affordable." And mostly this bears out, in good and bad ways. Affordable it is: after a seven-day free trial, an annual plan is only $39.95 per year. A substantial savings over its better-known competition, Ancestry.com, which runs about four times that. And yes, it's also simple. But will that simplicity satisfy your genealogical curiosity?



As with nearly all genealogy services, you start with your family tree. There's also a rather uninspiring video tutorial to get you going. The service is pretty intuitive though, and you should be building your family tree in no time. First add yourself, then your parents, grand parents, etc. You can supplement the data you enter with searches of birth, death, military, and other records—the archives for which the the site is named. Though there's something rather clinical about how it's presented, and you have to pay extra to view scans of the actual records (curiously this service is actually provided by Footnote.com).

Archives.com sits somewhere between OneGreatFamily and Ancestry.com in terms of functionality. It has more archives than OneGreatFamily (and looks a lot better), but seems to lack the ability to connect to other family trees. Its records search puts it closer to Ancestry.com, but there are a number of differences.

First, the interface is cleaner and easier to navigate. Unfortunately, the system is not quite as smart; instead of being automatically alerted to suggested record matches, you have to initiate a clunky multi-step search. And while it searches historical sources for more information, it doesn't seem to have the sheer number of records that Ancestry.com has, particularly for more recent generations. The search itself is a bit frustrating because it does not seem to order results by relevance. Once you find a relevant record, you can add it to an individual but it's not as easy as it should be to really integrate the information back into your family tree. In short, we felt more like we were filling in data we learned from other genealogy sites, more than we were uncovering anything new.



Archives.com is adding records all the time, and you can set up alerts when records are added that match specific relatives. There's also a community discussion board (which is sadly filled with a lot of unanswered questions about specific individuals and family lines).

We feel somewhat badly about the relentless comparison to Ancestry.com. Archives.com will be fine for those who are either on a budget or already have a lot of genealogical data and just need a place to keep track of it. Those hoping to discover more, will probably be left wanting. Despite the site's emphasis on archives, for our purposes those archives just aren't substantial enough.

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Service Details:

Price:Free 7-Day trial; $39.95/yr
Features:Ancestor search; records and image archive; family tree builder; annotate and add photos
Resources:Census records; birth, marriage & death records; military & immigration records
Customer Support:Email

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