Pros / Materials in this database are categorized geographically, so it’s easy to begin research into the places significant to your family history.
Cons / The Genealogical Research Library is all about solo research, so it doesn’t have extra features like family tree builders, DNA tests or a community.
Verdict / There is some valuable genealogical information from around the world on GRL, but without the extra features and community of other sites, it may just be a starting point for your family history journey.
Editor’s Note: This product has been removed from our side-by-side comparison because it has been replaced by another product. You can still read our original review below, but Top Ten Reviews is no longer updating this product’s information.
The Genealogical Research Library, or GRL, has a truly worldwide focus compared to most of the genealogy websites we tried. It offers some unique resources, including antique maps, historical books and a collection of family trees. While you won’t find extensive information on smaller places like Tuvalu, we were impressed to see it listed at all. We like the fact that the service maintains pages for some of the smaller corners of the globe. This isn't a comprehensive genealogy site, though, as it's missing the social aspects and other valuable features of the best family history websites. If you're looking for the best overall family search website, Ancestry.com features the most records and even sells DNA testing kits.
When you log in to GRL, the listings section leads to a menu of existing and former countries to search. This is helpful, since many early records may be listed in an area that has changed hands, dissolved or been renamed. Further options allow you to narrow the research scope by state or province if records are available. This focus on geography makes GRL a good place to start if you’re trying to fill in information about a place significant to your ancestry. This kind of search yields data such as maps and sketches of locations. We used this search option to locate information on ancestors that the bigger family history websites were unable to find. We were then able to take this information and plug it into the more comprehensive search sites and search additional family records not available through GRL.
Even if you don’t need info about locations, you can search GRL via biography, genealogy or history. All sources on this site get a star rating from one of the site’s staff members to ensure quality. With 40 million resources to search, this genealogy search site is bound to help you unearth authenticated information about your ancestors. You can even find modern documents about archeological studies on ancient history of places like Mesopotamia or Abyssinia. If you're looking for more recent original source documents, consider signing up for Archives.com. It's our top pick for original documents and features hundreds of years of English-language records.
Outside of research links, GRL doesn’t have many features. There is no interaction with other members for collaboration or research help. You won’t find any message board, social media or other extension of the website. Communities add to the body of the genealogy search website’s database, but even a community wouldn’t be any help without a site-wide media uploader or family tree builder on the page to facilitate collaboration. Although you can find plenty of information through local and external links, GRL doesn’t have much to offer outside of research, so you can't build a family tree or test your DNA through this site.
One of the best things about The Genealogical Research Library is the truly impressive number of locations for which it maintains records. This might be a good place to start if you need extra information about where your family is from. Whether you have roots in Ireland or Iceland, you are likely to find rare bits of information here. This also might be an excellent resource for people who already have family records essentials but want more details. However, you won’t find much of a community or other features outside of source searching.