Which is better, Ancestry.com or FamilySearch?

Credit: Special

Credit: Special

A reader, who has a premium Ancestry.com subscription, recently asked me this: Is there any point in also searching for information on FamilySearch.org? Or can researchers assume Ancestry will give the same information as FamilySearch?

Here’s my answer: The two sites contain most of the same material, but Ancestry costs money, and FamilySearch is free. Always use both, I say. Still, I find Ancestry is easier. And, since I can do other things at that site — like check my DNA results, send messages to others and reply to any I get, or easily add to my secure family tree — I like it better.

But if you need to just do a deep dive into a particular courthouse book, find it on FamilySearch. The sites contain records copied up to only a certain year, so many still are not there. On both sites, we are at the mercy of the indexers, so search creatively.

I see no reason to do research on Ancestry.com or FamilySearch.org exclusively. If you are using Ancestry.com’s Library Edition, you may not have access to all the parts of Ancestry, which could be a drawback. FamilySearch has lots of records that are digitized and available, but may not be fully indexed and searchable. You can take classes or purchase a book on searching either site via FamilyTreeMagazine.com.

Which online newspaper archive is best?

Another reader asked “Which site do you use to research digitized newspapers to see if you can locate an ancestor? " Here, the site
definitely makes a difference. I use Newspapers.com, GenealogyBank.com and, for British newspapers, NewspaperArchive.com.

Newspapers.com contains the publications from Charlotte, North Carolina, my father’s hometown. It also has The Atlanta Constitution. GenealogyBank has The Atlanta Journal. For my hometown, Columbus, Georgia, I have to go through Columbus State University’s link to the papers because of various snafus when the papers were dropped from other sites. You must use the Digital Library of Georgia for its great Georgia Historic Newspapers collection.

Your memories

On the PBS program “Vera,” Vera Stanhope asked someone, “What is your best memory of your parents?” So, I’ll ask you. What is yours?

Contact Kenneth H. Thomas Jr., P.O. Box 901, Decatur, Ga., 30031 or www.kenthomasongenealogy.com.