PROS / Findmypast has all of the crucial records we looked for in its database.
CONS / This site doesn’t offer much support outside of research articles or a FAQs section.
VERDICT / With 1.6 billion records and an easy-to-use family tree builder, Findmypast is a valuable family history resource, though a bit basic in features and support.
Findmypast is a family history website that stores essential documents from around the world so you don’t have to travel far away or rummage through courthouse documents to do your family research. This genealogy search site has 1.6 billion records from around the world, some spanning back to the 1200s. While the global span is limited to English-speaking countries, this is still an impressive database.
You can conduct broad or specific searches when you start your research. Family history searches cover record categories like birth, marriage and death certificates, as well as newspapers and other periodicals. We were able to find Native American records and a surnames index on this site as well, which aren’t available on some comparable sites.
When you search, you can broaden the dates to search entire countries or states if you don't have precise information. Tighter searches for specific documents, like census or land records, have a longer list of search criteria with field options for information like addresses. These searches only hunt for records under the document category you need. We recommend this tool when you want to fill in the gaps in your research while building your family tree.
When you find documents linked to your ancestors, you can view the information on the webpage or as the original scanned document. For example, if you search for the 1940 census, you can find a scanned copy of the page featuring your family, in addition to the transcribed information entered onto the webpage. This makes it far easier to understand the content. Handwritten documents can be difficult to read because of penmanship, age or scanning issues.
Findmypast is missing some extra features you'd see in the best genealogy search engines, like DNA testing and message boards, but there is a quality family tree builder on the site. This feature integrates with your searches and lets you attach your documents to your family tree. If you already have a growing family tree, you can upload any media or GEDCOM files associated with the work you've already completed. Building a family tree only requires essential facts like locations and dates for ancestor names, births or deaths.
In general, genealogy software can be hard to use when you try to add new individuals. The family tree builder on this genealogy website makes adding siblings and spouses easy, with simple icons and scrolling lists. Any date you enter for birth, death, marriage or anything in between automatically formats to the standard DD/MM/YYYY format. You can link new children and siblings to one or both parents as your extended family tree grows.
In addition to mapping your pedigree, you can build a profile for each family member. This profile tracks relations, calculates kinship, shows a timeline of the individual's life and lists records to investigate. This section looks similar to many social media sites, and it is easy to navigate the profile tabs for facts and events, relations, media, and notes. The details list is large, providing information such as christening dates and military service.
This genealogy search's user support is geared more toward research help than site guidance. The Help & Advice tab includes several subsections with articles full of tips and methods to start growing your family tree. For the most part, these tabs contain the same articles, just sorted by experience level. You can also find a searchable FAQs section in this tab. Overall, this site lacks support options. You can only get help with the actual website via FAQs or email support.
Findmypast is an excellent genealogy site for searching and building an online family tree. You can use existing GEDCOM files or start your tree from scratch using the materials you find in the 1.6 billion records available to you on this site. Findmypast is a good place to start your research or build a family tree, but you won’t find extra features like DNA testing. This genealogy search gives you access to the essential types of records most genealogists search, but it doesn’t offer much in the way of member support beyond articles and a FAQs section.