Before I decided whether I wanted to promote Ancestry.com, I wanted to really try it out myself so that I could give it an honest review. I’ve always been interested in my ancestry, but I never thought that I would have any luck tracing it. Here are just a few things that I was up against:
- No relationship with birth father
- No relationship with adopted father
- Live in a different state than my whole family
- No family records (bibles, newsclippings, etc) at my disposal
- Little chance of making it to cemeteries in other states to get information
- Family members with foreign last names that were changed
So as interested as I was in Ancestry.com, I had little hope that I would get anywhere with it. At the urging of my daughter (who was doing a genealogy project for school), I signed up for a trial account. Within 3 hours, I had traced part of my family tree back to the 1400s in Europe! How is that possible?
I started by entering the names of my parents and grandparents. I was able to call my grandmother to get just a couple more family names. As soon as I entered those, Ancestry.com started giving me “hints” of other family trees to which I might be connected or various documents that had been scanned in that might contain my relatives. As a result of following each of those hints, I was able to add generation upon generation until I found some really cool information, including that I can join the Daughters of the American Revolution through my grandmother’s family and that I am a descendant of not one but TWO famous pirate women.
In part I got lucky because I was able to tap into trees that are already on Ancestry.com. I wasn’t able to do this for every single branch of my family tree but about 80% of it between both me and my husband’s families. I was able to view original documents like the passenger manifesto of ships, census records, and military papers.
I know the image to the right is hard to see in the scan (old scanner!), but it is of an elderly woman sitting next to a spinning wheel with a dog jumping up on her lap. I’ve had this picture for years in a box of old stuff and knew only the name on the back was “Grandmother Brainerd.” I didn’t even know if I was related to her or if the picture got picked up at a garage sale! Thanks to Ancestry.com, I was able to figure out that her name is Charity Brainerd, she is my 5th great grandmother, she resided in Ohio, and she lived from 1785-1878. How amazing is that?
The only real negative to Ancestry.com are that it is a monthly subscription service and that there is so much information that you can spend hours and hours in there if you have common names in your family. But at the same time it is so fascinating that you WANT to spend the time there. And the reason to continue to pay the monthly fee is that they are always adding more documents. They range from official government documents to college yearbooks. True story, we found articles about my husband’s grandmother on there from her college yearbook.
I don’t want to quote you a price because Ancestry.com has different packages and options. But you CAN get an Ancestry.com free trial. You have nothing to lose and 30 days to figure out if you will be able to find enough information to make it worth your time and money. And if you are like me, you will be wondering why you didn’t start sooner!
Thanks to Maria Tsirikos-Poirier for fixing the picture for me!