The process of beginning research on your family history can be an intimidating process. Whether you are a novice or a seasoned veteran, Ancestry.com has something to offer everyone. Not only does it include access to databases of census information, migration patterns, and ship manifests, it also provides a whole section of nothing but articles containing tips on furthering your search. Even the seasoned family researcher will find them helpful.
Personally, I’ve found the census information the most useful. If you know some basic information on you ancestors, you have a good chance of finding them in the census information. My biggest frustration, however, has been that they only go back to 1930. Quite simply, this is due to privacy laws. It is nothing that Ancestry.com has done to frustrate people; they have no choice. As a result, additional access is provided every 10 years. Personally, I’m looking forward to the release of both the 1940 and 1950 census information.
While the census information provides people with a solid foundation, many other tools and information found on Ancestry.com help fill in the missing pieces of information. For example, it is always interesting to look up your surname – or surnames in your family – in order to gather general information regarding the root of your surname or surnames, as well as general migration patterns across the world. You might be surprised at what you find.
Another aspect of the website that can yield unexpected results is a simple search that includes as much information as possible. When you do that, not only does it provide census information, it also digs up items from its newspaper collection, its obituary collection, as well as service record collections. By using the broad search to flesh out the census information, you can’t only flesh out the story of your family; you can flesh out the lives of individuals.
As wonderful as Ancestry.com is, it is by no means an end all be all for your family research. Many times, census information is incomplete or missing, especially around the turn of the 20th century. However, Ancestry.com can help point you in the right direction. When you then use other sources to find pieces of missing information, Ancestry.com can usually help you make the most of it. For example, I had to do extensive research in order to discover the name of a Great-Great Grandmother. However, once I had that one vital piece of information, I was able to research this woman’s ancestry thoroughly. By using Ancestry.com in conjunction with county records and one-on-one interviews with older relatives, you can’t go wrong. You can then truly begin to compile a family history that you can pass down to your own children.
If you are considering a subscription to Ancestry.com at all, I advise that you join. It is worth the money – IF you plan on conducting extensive family research. It can be an invaluable tool to learn more about our nation’s history as well. There is a lot of basic information that will help you better understand the circumstances that you ancestors faced in helping to create a nation.