Pros / This genealogy website is free for anyone to use.
Cons / It does not provide DNA testing services.
Verdict / FamilySearch lacks a few features, such as DNA testing and an obituary collection, but is otherwise one of the best family history search sites.
FamilySearch is one of the biggest genealogy websites in the world, hosting billions of resources online and hundreds of physical locations with volunteers to help you with your family history search. Sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch is free to everyone and connects you to other online genealogy searches such as Ancestry.com, increasing the amount of information available to you. These are all reasons FamilySearch is our Top Ten Reviews Bronze Award winner and one of the best genealogy websites.
- Countries Documented
FamilySearch itself has over 24 million resources online. However, it has partnered with Ancestry and other online genealogy search engines to widen its reach, and it provides these resources at no cost, increasing the number of total resources to billions. These resources, both within and outside of the United States, include vital records, immigration records, census records and the Social Security Death Index. FamilySearch has a surname index that lets you learn about where your family’s name came from and possible variations on it to help you with your search.
One hard-to-find collection that FamilySearch taps into is Native American records, including records of individuals on the Dawes Rolls and those of the Five Civilized Tribes. Other Native American databases are also available, along with several articles that talk about specific research of these ancestors.
The only collection we looked for that FamilySearch does not include on its website is one for obituaries. Much of this information is included in vital records and other sources, but obituaries are still a valuable resource for family connections. However, because FamilySearch gives you access to other genealogy websites, you may be able to find obituaries through that connection.
After you find all of this information about your family, FamilySearch gives you a family tree builder so you can save and organize your ancestors. The pedigree chart is interactive, and you can view family connections to see how you are related to each one. When you save this information, FamilySearch has a hint feature that looks through both online resources and others’ family trees to find and alert you to possible connections.
If you have a GEDCOM file of a family tree you created with another program, FamilySearch lets you upload it into your family tree online. However, if you wish to import FamilySearch files into a desktop genealogy program, you will need to ensure the software is FamilySearch certified, since FamilySearch doesn’t create or export GEDCOM files.
One unique feature of the best genealogy searches is the mobile apps that let you research and add information on the go. FamilySearch has both an Android and an iOS app available, which work on both tablets and smartphones.
The FamilySearch family tree builder has a few extra data fields for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These fields are primarily for recording religious ceremonies specific to this organization. All other tools and research databases are available to all users.
FamilySearch used to provide information for DNA testing, but it no longer offers this service. You can, however, save any DNA markers you receive from a third-party DNA testing service into your family tree.
FamilySearch has a healthy community of genealogists with varying levels of experience to help you. There is an online member directory that you can use to see if someone with common ancestors is also working on your family line. You can also connect with other family history researchers through the FamilySearch Facebook and Twitter pages. The site has an active YouTube account that provides hints and ideas for searching the FamilySearch databases. The only connection missing is a user forum for discussions.
Help & Support
FamilySearch makes all the site help available to every user. Telephone, live chat and email support are all there. FamilySearch can give you local numbers for genealogy specialists and directions to the closest physical FamilySearch location so you can get personalized help. Volunteers are readily available to help with the actual process of researching your family so you don’t have to do it alone.
FamilySearch is a free genealogy database that lets you search billions of records from around the world. Its online family tree maker gives you a place to store and organize information in a format that is easy to build upon and share. While it has extensive collections, including genealogy for Native Americans, FamilySearch doesn’t have obituaries to search.