Week 2 – Paid Genealogy Tools: Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? What special features put it at the top of your list? How can it help others with their genealogy research? This week’s prompt runs from Sunday, January 8 through Saturday, January 14, 2012.
First of all, I want to point out that I haven't yet tried many of the paid genealogy tools available so I have little experience in that area. I can, however, relate my experience with Ancestry.com. I signed on with a paid subscription to Ancestry.com a few months ago so I could view other family trees and census records, hoping to fill in some gaps in my own family history. I'm so thankful now that I made the choice to do that!
Some of the features I like about Ancestry.com:
Census records online: No more going to the library and straining my eyes trying to view census records on microfilm, oh how that tired me out! I can easily view the census records on my own personal computer now and most of them have been clear and easy to read. However, it is not totally fool-proof! It is easy to overlook names in the index because of misspellings of the names. The index usually (but not always) reflects the spelling of the names as listed on census records. So, just as I did when I used to look through census records on microfilm, I imagine the possibilities of how the surname could be spelled.
Home Page: My home page at Ancestry.com informs me of-
- Recent family tree activity: Informs me how many people are in my family tree, Photos section that I can click on to view those I've saved, and the name of the person that I last viewed.
- Recent historical records and name searches I've done
- My "Shoebox" records which contains items I've saved for later viewing
- New records added to Ancestry.com
- "Quick links" for research
- Recent member connect activity which shows who is saving what records to their files
Transfer of information: I like being able to transfer information from my tree on Ancestry.com to my Family Tree Maker program via GEDCOM
Collaberating with others: Ancestry.com allows members to collaberate with others online through their inbox and a direct link to the message boards
Individual profiles and family group sheets: I like the layout of the individual profiles listing demographic information, media gallery, and timeline. The profile sidebar features information about the individual's family, including parents, spouses and children.
Some of the features that need improvement:
Printing of family group sheets: Maybe it's just my inexperience since I'm fairly new to Ancestry.com but the few family group sheets I've printed out on Ancestry.com have been difficult to read because the type is so small and the page looks crowded. I followed the instructions using the Help menu but the results were the same.
Merging specific individuals: Merging specific individuals is not currently an option
Recommendations: I recommend Ancestry.com to anyone seeking to expand their family tree. Overall it is easy to learn the program and easy to navigate. However, as thrilling and tempting it is to find new information on our ancestors, there is a LOT of incorrect information on family histories posted on Ancestry.com. A researcher must learn to wade through the erroneous information and decipher fact from fiction.