Pros / You can comprehensively search public and government records.
Cons / You have to search for individual people manually and don’t get hints about possible relatives.
Verdict / Archives is a great supplementary genealogy research site with millions of historical documents, images and public records.
Archives is ideal if you’re trying to look up information about a person. It works better as a supplement to your genealogy research because the family tree building function isn’t the best we tested. You do get a 14-day free trial membership though, which is great if you’re unsure which genealogy service to try. If you stick with this service, the cost is relatively affordable with the most expensive membership costing far less than subscriptions at Ancestry.com or FindMyPast. This website even lets you know when other websites like Ancestry have come up with information that might pertain to your genealogy search. You can also search Newspapers.com, Find a Grave and the UK national archives, just to name a few.
Archives has been in the genealogy game since 2009 and became part of Ancestry.com's business in 2012. According to the website members have access to 10 billion pages of textual records including maps, charts, and architectural and engineering drawings, photographs and video. You can order certificates of marriage, death and divorce too but it does mean you’ll have to pay an additional cost on top of your subscription for each piece of paper you want.
The downside to having so much information at your fingertips is that it can be overwhelming. For example, we searched for the grandfather of one of our testers and got about 116,000 results. His name wasn’t even a common one, so we can’t imagine how rough it might be if your last name is Smith or Jones. With a total of roughly 11.4 billion records at your fingertips, this website is definitely aimed at more at experienced genealogists.
You can create a family tree if you know basic information about your parents and grandparents but unlike some websites, Archives doesn’t give you any hints to further extend your tree’s branches. This website is more useful if you already have a family tree in front of you and want to add even more details to it, like places of birth, residence, marriages and deaths. These facts are available through the website’s extensive search function. You can even add more than one spouse to a person to accommodate second marriages, which not many genealogy sites allow for. If you want to investigate more than one family, you can build several family trees.
Archives lacks some of the “en vogue” features some genealogy websites are touting now like DNA test kits or a mobile app. Even so, the sheer volume of information available makes this a great supplemental genealogy research too. You can view scanned copies of old documents easily because the website displays them first in search results. Take note though that in order to view some documents you have to follow an external link to government websites. Once you find a document or image that's applicable to your family you can save it to the tree you've created. You can also upload or save your family tree as a GEDCOM file, another thing that makes this website a great secondary genealogy research tool.