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Archives review

Archives is a great family tree building site for delving deep, with billions of records available.

Archives Review
(Image: © Archives)

Our Verdict

Archives is a great resource for seasoned genealogy users that want to dig a little deeper.

For

  • Over 11 billion records
  • Affordable
  • Lots of government records

Against

  • No relative hints
  • No DNA kit
  • No app

The Archives platform has a huge database of over 11 billion records, which puts it right up there with the best genealogy websites. These are from official sources and can be searched visually as scan photos come up first. This makes Archives ideal for those looking to dig deep into genealogy.

However the lack of mobile app, DNA support and basic family tree building with no hints makes this more of a supplementary tool rather than a good platform for beginners to family tree building. 

Pricing is affordable with little commitment thanks to monthly charges and with a free trial, meaning you may find what you need without committing to spending a penny.

Archives review: What you need to know

  • Over eleven billion records
  • Photos, maps and architectural drawings available
  • GEDCOM compatible

Archives is, as the name suggests, as place with a wealth of historical records. It boats over 11 billion in total spanning photos, maps and even architectural drawings.  This really is a great place for anyone wishing to dig a little deeper into their family history. 

The family tree building function isn't the main part of this site which was bought by Ancestry.com in 2012. As such this can be used as supplementary to your family tree building research, since it's a more affordable alternative than much of the competition. A 14-day free trial is a nice addition for anyone unsure if this is the best option for them - or just anyone looking for one certain person that means they only need access for a short time.

Archives also lets you order physical copies of records for things like birth certificates or marriage certificates, for example, since this gets you direct access to government records.

Documents are displayed first in searches so it's easy to do a very visual search in your genealogy hunt. But this is definitely suited to more experienced users. 

 Archives review: Historical database

  • Huge historical database
  • Plenty of depth for research
  • Potential to gain new insights 

Archives has a huge historical database of 11.4 billion documents. That's a lot to search through but it also means enough depth to offer new insights even to those who have done lots of research into their family tree in the past. Resources include: 

  • Birth, marriage and death certificates
  • Census data
  • Military, immigration and legal records
  • Architectural drawings
  • Directories and guides
  • Family trees
  • Photos, video, document and maps

If you've already built up a family tree on another platform and have that as a GEDCOM file then it can be uploaded to Archives to help you build on it more easily. If you're more interested in local history, check out MyHeritage

Archives review: Build your family tree

  • Easy to get started with basic info
  • Once you starting paying, can add further info
  • No helpful tips for other potential links

Archives does let you build your family tree from very basic information. Once you're a paid up member you can enter names, birthdays and locations for parents and grandparents to start building. The downside to this, compared to the competition, is that you won't get helpful tips to point you in the right direction for potential links. As we said before this is a system for genealogy regulars that want to dig deep, as opposed to newbs looking to give it a whirl.

The good thing about this site is the extensive search function as it allows you to find out information you didn't know. So if you want to find a great great grandparent this will help you find details about locations and dates so you can narrow down the right person to add to your tree.

A nice feature is the ability to add second marriages to the tree so you can spread the family even wider. This isn't something many sites offer so it's impressive that you can find it here when this site isn't even all about the tree building part of the process. You can even build several family trees on one account if that's helpful to you.

Is Archives worth the cost?

  • 14-day free trial
  • Simple monthly fee of $9.99
  • Can cancel before trial ends

Archives gets you in initially with a free trial which last for 14 days. After that time you're then charged a monthly fee of $9.99. Simple. If you cancel before the trial ends you won't be billed at all. So if you want to dive deep into the records to get a certain person, say, you can do so without spending a penny. That being said, if you're looking for a free service from start to finish, check out FamilySearch

The huge number of resources make this very appealing. The fact that you often have to go off site to the records website, like a government site, can make the process longer. But it does mean you're getting the original documents that are reliable and well organised in these official databases.

Should you use Archives?

  • Great to deep dive into records
  • No DNA testing or mobile app
  • Non committal rolling membership

If you want to dive deep into records that are filled with images from scans then this is the place to be. If you're more after a simple family tree builder that does a lot of the work for you with hints and tips then this might not be the platform for you.

There is no sign of DNA testing as part of the Archives offering so if that's what you're after you'd be better elsewhere. The same can be said for a mobile app option as there's not one for Archives.

If you want to enjoy a non committal rolling monthly membership as a supplementary way of accessing billions of official records then Archives is one of the best places.

If you have a GEDCOM file that you're already using then Archives is helpful as it will let you upload that to help with your search.