RootsWeb.com isn't a typical ancestry resource. It's more of a forum, where people can connect and help each other with their research, comparing data, tips, and discoveries with each other. The site is more of a curator and organizer of genealogy topics that you can draw upon, for free, while you use any of the best genealogy sites (opens in new tab) for more in-depth research. Those heading to RootsWeb.com are usually there for any of the following three things:
- User-contributed databases
- WorldConnect Project
- RootsWeb surname List
RootsWeb is unique in that it allows you to add your information directly to their databases. You can also be directed to Ancestry.com (opens in new tab), RootsWeb’s parent company, for access to other databases, but you will then have to pay a subscription fee. This site itself is free to access, but it does have limited resources.
You can research your ancestors through RootsWeb.com in two different ways. First, you can search WorldConnect Project, a set of tools that allow clients to upload, modify, link and display their family trees. There are currently more than 385 million names on file and this number is growing daily. All of this information is free. We predict as this database grows, it will become increasingly popular because of the free access.
The second search option will direct you to Ancestry.com. To use this option you will have to pay Ancestry.com's annual subscription fee, but you will have access to a database of over 3 billion names. The data on RootsWeb.com is a result of millions of online genealogists sharing research. You can submit your own records for inclusion in the user-contributed databases, your family tree to the WorldConnect Project as well your family surnames on the RootsWeb Surname List.
RootsWeb.com is free to everyone all over the world so there is a chance that people of all nationalities could find information on this site. In addition, if you decide to access their host site, Ancestry.com, you'll have a number of international partner sites at your fingertips. It isn't as expansive as FamilySearch (opens in new tab), which is also free, so you should consider combining the two.
RootsWeb.com has links to other genealogy sites and to client's’ sites that contain their own personal genealogical information. As more and more people around the world contribute information to RootsWeb.com, it will become a greater resource to genealogists. You can also build your own genealogy website on RootsWeb.com where you can share your research with others.
The biggest downfall to this site is there is no guarantee that all of the information is right. We recommend that you verify all information gathered from others to ensure accuracy. RootsWeb.com provides access to more than 29,591 genealogy-related mailing lists covering surnames, US counties and states, other countries and regions, ethnic groups and other topics. This is a priceless resource - connecting with other genealogists who are further along with their research or are more experienced can expedite your own learning curve and provide valuable information.
Don't judge this site by its homepage. It isn't appealing with so many links to other pages, but the links are well organized and accurate. Despite the lists of links, everything is labeled, and the site is easy to navigate.
Should you use RootsWeeb.com?
RootsWeb.com is a great place for budding genealogists to get started and doesn't require a monetary investment - only your time. From that perspective, you should absolutely use it if you are combining several genealogy services to build a full picture of your family tree. If you are a more serious genealogist, you will probably want to sign up for other services, so you have access to all of the information and resources available.