I guess if I am going to review websites and records I should review the website I use the most for genealogy research – Ancestry.com. I have used this site for years and they are continually adding new repositories. It is very easy to get started you just enter what you know then flashing leaves let you know that there are hints for your ancestor. As I am slightly OCD the flashing leaves drive me a little crazy and seem to be never ending. Every time I click on a leaf and add a record I end up with at least 3 more hints.
One of my favorite things about building my tree on Ancestry is being able to upload pictures and connect them to ancestors. This allows other people to find pictures that connect to their ancestors, ancestors they have never seen before. I have found several pictures this way and have had people thank me for posting pictures of their ancestors. Which leads me to another of my favorite things – connecting with others. There are so many trees on Ancestry sooner or later you will connect with other researchers who are researching some of the same people. I have found several relatives this way and it is neat to share sources and family stories.
You can make your tree public or private – mine is public but the living people are hidden. My tree has over 6100 people in it and is therefore rather unwieldy. I am considering breaking it up into several trees. I have one big problem with Ancestry.com. One type of hint that comes up are links to other peoples trees. You are able to merge whole branches, but many times parts of these branches are wrong or unsourced. I now have alot of side branches that are riddled with error, unsourced, and/or are duplicates. The only way to get rid of them is to go through one by one and delete them. I have learned the hard way to only merge one person at a time and make sure the tree I merge with is well documented.
Another drawback to Ancestry for some researcher is the cost. I have found it to be a great value. I do not live close to where my ancestors lived and therefore I rarely get to do any research “on the ground”. Most of my research is done online and Ancestry has the most sources and records in one site that I have found. When immersed in Ancestry it is sometimes hard to remember there are alot of other, smaller genealogy and records websites which are very useful. You will need to use these and even non-internet related resources to make sure your research is well rounded. But Ancestry.com gives you a great place to plant your tree and get it well rooted and growing strong.