FamilySearch.org is one of the largest and most trusted websites for genealogical research for several reasons. As many may already know, this site is run by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. This site is completely free for all to use, whether they are members of the LDS Church or not.
With over 100 years of experience collecting and preserving records, the LDS Church created a website to digitize their vast collection, which grows daily due to worldwide digitization projects (indexing) manned by an international army of volunteer indexers working from home.
This site sets itself apart from the rest not only by its pricing, but the sheer volume of records one can access as well as the degree of assistance which is available in a variety of forms – anywhere from online self-instruction videos or step-by-step tutorials, to online chat (24/7) or honest to goodness live help at one of the 4,600 Family History Centers operated and manned by volunteers. In an industry where the customer service of other companies is concerned primarily with billing of technical support, having assistance from another genealogist is priceless.
The site is robust and filled with helpful hints and tips on the WIKI pages with topics for new genealogists and those whom are more seasoned.
- Free membership
- Mobile app
FamilySearch.org is a top-notch site which has many features integrated to make family research easier. These include:
- Access to census records (1790-1940)
- SSDI database
- Family tree building (with several layouts to view and print data - traditional pedigree, fan and dependency)
- Free membership (upon signing up with a membership, users can determine the level of privacy which they want as far as allowing other members to connect to them and contact them via email)
- Access to obituaries, newspapers and books
- Multiple language platforms
- Comprehensive blog with educational and informative articles on family history
- Helpful WIKI to guide research
- Ability to upload images, documents and create life sketches of family members to bring their records to life
- Data protection - when duplicates or errors are found, members email their notes through on onsite system with their information corrections and documentation to try and reduce duplicates and correct errors
- Puzilla.org (run by FamilySearch.org) gives additional opportunities to research dependency and find cousins (also free)
- Mobile app allows for quick additions on the run
- Volunteer opportunities for all to help digitize (index) records from home to increase the digital databases available
- Huge network of Family History Centers (worldwide) at which to receive free help from other genealogists
- Social Media presence with helpful tips - Facebook, Twitter and Google+
- YouTube Channel with instructional videos
Our review team noticed that when adding family members into their family trees (especially when importing them from another member's tree), the page can freeze up and needs to be reloaded by clicking another link and then going back into the tree page. This seems to happen during the times which internet traffic is higher. While not a full crash, this can become frustrating when working on building your trees.
The developers obviously worked hard to make the site user friendly. There is a learning curve to its use and it is not always intuitive.
The Bottom Line
Our review team is confident in recommending FamilySearch.org for anyone wanting to begin their family history research or to expand the branches of their family tree. This site is well-planned and offers access to records which other sites charge (sometimes hefty fees) to access. Having so many venues for personal help, not only with the functionality of the site (technical), but with the research itself make this site a real bargain - indeed a treasure even.