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Which Family History Websites Do You Use?

(56 Posts)
mischief Sat 18-Jun-11 16:56:10

I am a member of, Genesreunited, The Genealogist and use as and when I need to.

Which websites do you use and what do you think of them?

Have you been successful in finding ancestors through them?

Do you find them user friendly (the one I can't get round easily is Origins) and do you think they are value for money.

I'd also be interested to know if anyone contributes information to a website by downloading data and typing it up to the site.

I find most sites user-friendly (except Origins) and the information on them is incredible. I normally wouldn't have access to most of it, even through the library system. I personally think they are value for money for me, because I do my family history as a continual interest so it's cheaper than paying as I go.

Part of the websites which is very useful is the member side. To share your family history with someone who's also part of the fabric of your family is really great and I now have several cousins that I keep in touch with by computer and one that I meet up with regularly.

Magsie Sat 18-Jun-11 17:34:26

I like Ancestry best and mainly use Find My Past for the 1911 census. I don't really like Genes Reunited because the family tree you produce is so hard to follow.
I have found relatives through Ancestry, the most useful being a second cousin who now lives in Australia. She told me a lot about my grandmother's family that I didn't know. Another very kind lady sent me documents and photos through the post and refused any payment for postage.
I found my uncle's WWII service record and wrote to his Squadron Association. Their historian sent me a record of his time in the RAF with photos. I only wish my mother could have seen it.
I have been surprised at how many people will go out of their way to help.

mischief Sat 18-Jun-11 18:04:02

It's sad isn't it when you find something you know your Mum or Dad would have been really interested in - and it's too late.

I found the WW1 records of my Mum's eldest brother who was killed in that war. When she was 8 years old he came home on leave and when the day came that he was to go back to war she stole his toothbrush head that he polished his buttons with, thinking he couldn't go without it, and ran away. When she came back he'd gone and she never saw him again. So sad. It always made her cry when she remembered it. He was 19.

When I looked at his records he was quite a lad. He had a couple of detentions for being cheeky to his superiors but did get a promotion before he died.

I'm always amazed what's on the internet. Have you tried Google Books. There are a lot of history books on there. If you put a name in the book search engine you might come up with something unusual.

pinkprincess Sat 18-Jun-11 22:38:26

I am on Ancestry and have found a lot about my family I did not know about.On my father's side I discovered that his father was born to a single mother in 1889 and brought up by his mother's parents as one of their own.
I also discovered that my husband's uncle and my grandmother's cousin were both killed in WWI within a few weeks of each other and both were aged only 18.
You get all sorts of things.One of my GGgrandfathers was born in a place called Dancing Hall.I have never discovered if this was an actual town or village or wether his mother was dancing at the time.

Oxon70 Mon 20-Jun-11 17:26:53

For about 15 months I have been researching my family, with my sister's help - she got the subs and was too busy, so I do the research!
I'm still on Ancestry, was on findmypast but the sub has run out (expensive), however there are still things on that site and available.

It's amazing how much there is which is FREE, though. The Irish censuses and genealogy site. The British Library - invaluable for Dublin and Glasgow newspapers, for me. A lot of local BMD info. Even the South African NAAIRS site, which is awkward to use but has produced some info.

I did have a head start, though. My mum wrote a little booklet about her childhood in Wales. And my dad and my uncle made family trees, useful as a basis if not all accurate. They would have loved the things I have found now.
I too have made contact with family relatives all over the world, and even met one of them, my distant cousin Malcolm from France.
Yes, it's wonderful how much people help. I received a photo of my ggrandfather from South Africa, and a long 'drop-down' chart of my father's ancestors from Scotland going back to 1793.
A cousin in Canada sent information and pictures of the family members who emigrated there.
I want to keep in touch with all of them!

Oxon70 Tue 21-Jun-11 06:52:31

pinkprincess, I got curious and looked up Dancing Hall, and found a house to let at 2, Dancing Hall, Callaly, Whittingham, Alnwick, Northumberland.
Have a look at Callaly on Wikipedia? Interesting history!

pinkprincess Thu 23-Jun-11 01:29:59

Hello Oxon70.Thanks for the information!.My greatgreat grandfather did come from Whittingham, so your details are right.
I will look up Callaly on Wickipedia, again many thanks.

Genie Fri 08-Jul-11 22:13:55

Really love finding out about the family, you are right my mum would have loved it, she never knew her father as he died when she was 3 and he came from Scotland and they lived in the east end of London so she never knew his family either, she always said that she would go on holiday to Scotland and see if she could find them but of course she never did, now i want to find out who her family are but although I know a little bit their name was Hunter and it is such a common name in Scotland, will have to join Scotlands people or is Ancestry a better bet, i belong to Find my Past but it only covers England and Wales, it is so expensive to belong to them now so have to pick what one is best, does anyone know which site is the best site to belong to which covers the most areas please?

Oxon70 Sun 10-Jul-11 16:30:49

Boooo....they have taken away the FamilySearch RecordSearch site. Anyone tried their new one like this that you have to register for?

Ancestry is the one I've found most useful, but it only has the Scottish censuses, basically, and no more.

Can someone tell me about using the ScottishPeople site? I keep thinking I need to look there, but I'm not sure how to start, and I hear things from others that they have used a lot of their credits looking at the wrong records, which is offputting.

springtime Tue 26-Jul-11 21:27:15

I use Ancestry but have learned to be careful about looking at other people's public trees on the site as they are not always very accurate about side shoots of their own family and I have found my own relatives put in with wrong information.

I have also used Scotlands People very successfully but it is pay as you go and can get very expensive so you have to be very clear about what you are looking for to try to avoid looking up the wrong relatives. However, having said that the death records have much more info than the English ones and they seem to include lots more names and addresses.

I have also used two professionals for one off research I couldn't do myself, one well known one was expensive and useless and one independent person was very good value indeed. Added to that a very nice Canadian person did some free of charge!

grannyactivist Wed 27-Jul-11 00:28:14

I use Ancestry and find it's good value as I am compiling family trees for both mine and my husband's families. Our local library hosts a genealogy/family history group meeting every now and again and I've found out one or two useful things at these.

Grandmama Sun 25-Sep-11 22:18:53

I have a full sub to Find my past. When I first started there was a month's free offer on Ancestry so I made full use of that.

Also - Curious Fox has been useful and I recently answered a query on there which linked me with someone in New Zealand who was the granddaughter of someone who painted a couple of plates in 1912 that hang in our dining room.

Lost Cousins has a monthly newsletter. On the site you can enter the names of relatives, neighbours etc for three (I think) of the Census' with the Census reference for the page they are on and the site automatically links you with other people who have entered people from that particular page. It works, too, I was automatically linked to a relative I was already in touch with so we both knew it worked.

I have messages posted on several message boards and I am now in touch with three fairly close relatives which is great plus a Canada branch.

Last year there was a re-union between one branch of the family - a large gathering in the area from which we originated.

Several surprises though - one set of great grandparents never married and there is one mysterious person whose parentage we suspect but will probably never be able to prove!

Elegran Mon 26-Sep-11 14:25:32

oxon70 My daughter works for the National Archives of Scotland, so I passed your question on to her.

She replied " I'm not sure what I can tell them above what's on the FAQ system for the site. There are discussion boards about genealogy - this one has a specific hints & tips for ScotlandsPeople thread - which it might be worth her while reading through before she makes a start."

Have not looked myself, but it sounds as though it could be helpful.

Oxon70 Thu 03-Nov-11 17:27:07

Sorry about the delay in answering - been busy.
I looked at the SP FAQ again and this is the bit that puzzles me:

"......7GBP. For this fee, you will receive 30 "page credits" which are valid for 1 full year. Viewing a page of index results costs 1 credit and each page will contain up to 25 search results. Viewing an image costs 5 credits (equivalent to 1.17GBP). Your session begins when payment has been authorised and additional credits may be purchased in 7GBP increments. The session will restart with each new credit purchase."

Is the "one year" the session? Am I being dim?

Oxon70 Thu 03-Nov-11 17:28:29

Another question I forgot.
Has anyone tried the new findmypast Irish site? Any comments?

mrshat Thu 03-Nov-11 21:41:50

Oxon I did not know there was a Findmypast Irish Site. I will give it a whirl and see what comes up. I need information from 'way back when' tho'. Do you think they will be able to help from the early 1800's? hmm

Oxon70 Sat 05-Nov-11 12:23:14

Don't know yet. If I hear it is any good I will ask for a sub for 6mths for Xmas....
I have brick walls there still, in the same time era......

fieldwake Fri 11-Nov-11 09:48:37

I can't afford Ancestry but can access it in my local library for free. Check all info on Genes as many people put on before verified. I now have so many 'relatives' I have had to stop.

Elegran Fri 11-Nov-11 10:40:16

oxon70 If SP works like findmypast, then if you have any old vouchers you have not yet used but are still valid, they get re-dated to match new ones just bought. That way you can keep vouchers valid if you have no immediate use for them but they are approaching their use-by date. It costs you to buy the new ones, of course, but it means the old ones are not wasted.

michelleblane Fri 20-Jan-12 22:43:27

I have used the Scotland's People. The trouble is you use credits and that means you can use up a lot of money on wasted searches, especially if the names you are searching are quite common. I am a member of Ancestry, and Find My Past. Now that Ancestry has the Scottish census, I tend to use that as it doesn't matter how many wrong people you look up! However, Scotlands People is brilliant for deaths (whoops that sounds a bit off!) The death certificate details come up on line and have more details than the English ones. They give addresses, spouse names inc. maiden names, addresses and witnesses. Often good info. I am not a searching member on Genes Reunited but I do have my family tree on it which means quite a few people have contacted me and we have swapped trees.
Regarding subscriptions.....The cashback sites Quidco and Topcashbackuk (I use the latter) give good cash back on subscriptions. I delayed renewing Find my Past so they offered me a reduction, then I went through Topcashbackuk and got another 20% back!

glammanana Fri 20-Jan-12 23:40:08

I'm with Find my Past and I will use Top cashbackuk in future thanks for the info michelleblane

FlicketyB Sat 21-Jan-12 23:04:35

I use Ancestry but find a lot of the transcriptions of names very poor and almost every time I access it I end up filing corrections to it.

I do wish it had the facility to search the census by place as well as name as I have one generation of my family resident at the same address for over 40 years but they are entirely missing from one census year. I know they were still at the same address, or at least the same village because the next census records a child born just before the missing census in the same location.

The problem is probably a mistranscription of the name so I would like to be able to get the census return for the street and find them that way. I had a similar problem with another member of the family where I needed to know the name etc of an immediate neighbour. Fortunately it was a London adress and pre-war electoral rolls for London have now been published so I now have the information, but that is five years after I first started looking for it.

I have found the Irish sources poor and expensive, as with Scotland's people it works on credits and as the information they give you for you to make a decision on paying for the full record is so limited I have wasted a lot of money paying for records than when fully revealed are not for the people I am looking for.

chadsky Sat 04-Feb-12 07:23:51

I started with Genes reunited - and thought that found at least 9 cousins of my husband living in austraila which was great - but I want to do my side now - and the fees can be expensive - Its the adverts or link that say something is free - and when you get there they are not - it is so frustrating

Oxon70 Sat 04-Feb-12 07:41:40

Yes, so many sites lead you into something you have to pay for.
I was on findmypast for 6 months, and now miss it at times. But I have found that you can get some info off it even without a sub, which can be useful.
Not address searches though.

The wonderful thing about this genealogy is that I learn so much about all kinds of things. I've just been writing to a Glasgow history site man about the industrial past of one little area there, because I got curious about my gggrandfather's employer and his business and how he got started in Glasgow.

There are so many helpful people out there. This man got hold of a photograph from 1852 for me - of the bottleworks my gggf worked in.

I keep several files of copied links to sites I have found in about six countries.

trendygran Thu 06-Sep-12 17:33:51

I joined when they had a special offer.Since then have found out so much about my,and my late husband's family ,and ----BEWARE, -have become totally obsessed by my research. Had previously found out quite a lot for free, but definitely now getting value for money from Ancestry. Amazing how many connections can be made with others researching the same names. A very fulfilling hobby for anyone living alone as no complaints about time spent on the computer-----and beats watching TV on own in the evenings.