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Want to Make a Family Tree? These 3 Sites Can Help Discover Your Roots

By Margaret Manning February 26, 2014 Family

Everyone is naturally curious about their family history. But, what exactly does it take to make a family tree? Some of us are able to trace our ancestors directly, through our own family records. Others are not quite so lucky. The good news is that there are plenty of new websites that can help you to make a family tree. Let’s examine a few of the best.

Why Make a Family Tree?

When it comes to our ancestors, we all have questions. We want to know if we are related to royalty or where our children got their red hair. We are curious if anyone in our family was famous, or simply discover when and where our grandmother was born.

The wonderful thing is that technology is now making it a lot easier to make a family tree and uncover our family history. There are now billions of records online and most old newspapers and documents are digitized. Online genealogy research can also serve as a great activity to share with your family.

As one stone after another is turned, discovering new facts about your family brings you closer together with distant relatives. You might even find out about relatives who are still living who you might never have met before! Also, uncovering your family history can give you a deeper understanding of yourself – because after all, your ancestors are the people who are responsible for you being here.

We are all connected in a complex web of human stories, and discovering your roots is a great way to have a new appreciation for your own family story, as well as for the struggles and hopes of the ones who came before.

So how do you go about finding your ancestors? There are many different websites offering genealogy services. Most charge a fee and a few are free. It is a matter of personal choice, but there are four basic things for you to consider when finding the right genealogy service.

First, look at the size of the database of information that the site offers.

Second, look at the amount of geographical reach the site has, since when you’re looking for information about long-ago ancestors, most searches will need to extend beyond the country where you live.

The actual user interface is important along with the help features like frequently asked questions and other resources that are offered. So if you are interested in tracing your family history, here are 3 sites to consider when looking to make a family tree online.


Ancestry.com is probably the largest and most respected website for discovering your family history. It is also the most expensive option, even with its 14-day free trial. It has a super large database of information, including immigration records and census data in addition to basic information you would expect, like birth records, death certificates and so on.

In fact, ancestry.com has millions of records for births, marriages, deaths, and military service in U.S. and around the world. It is the gold standard of genealogy sites.


Archives.com is a little less expensive and offers a week-long free trial. It has all the basic information you would expect, and it claims to offer more than 2 billion records. This includes newspaper clippings of obituaries, which is a good feature. Ancestry.com stands out with its Facebook integration and a strong search engine capability that suggests possible matches.

Roots Web

Roots Web is the free community site of Ancestry.com. It is a great way to get started on the journey of finding your ancestors. The big plus is of course that it is totally free of charge and it has many advantages other than just cost. Because it is free, the number of people who sign up is significant, and the free learning communities and forums that are offered lead to lots of great collaboration and connection.

Roots Web has all the basic birth, death, marriage records and the number of people actively engaged on the site can provide other information. From reviews, it appears that it is not the best user interface, but forums and help guides are unique. Did I mention it is free?

If you want to dig deeper into this fascinating hobby there are many other genealogy research services you can explore. There is even a great website comparing top 10 genealogy offerings. When you are done creating your family tree you can plant it online and share your detective work with others around the world.

Have you researched your family tree? Did you make any surprising discoveries? If you would like to share your experiences, please leave comments below.

Let's Have a Conversation!


The Author

Margaret Manning is the founder of Sixty and Me. She is an entrepreneur, author and speaker. Margaret is passionate about building dynamic and engaged communities that improve lives and change perceptions. Margaret can be contacted at margaret@sixtyandme.com

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