Ancestry might be the most well-known family history research site, but it can also be expensive. These 7 alternatives offer things such as free service or improved functionality.
Having a tough time tracing your lineage on Ancestry.com? Tired of paying too much to find the information you need? Modern technology has improved the type of information we can get from at-home DNA testing, and the results are surprising many people. There’s even a chance your genetic history can be substantially different from your siblings, which is something you can’t learn from family research on Ancestry alone. If you want to try some other websites like Ancestry to see how they compare (or because they’re free!), we have a list of the 7 most popular Ancestry alternatives.
You might not be able to build the world’s largest family tree, but if you want to start learning about your heritage, we’ve got you covered. We’ll break them all down for you, and give you the information you need if you jump down to our table below, or you can get started with our detailed breakdown of the best 7 sites like Ancestry for family history research below.
Best 7 sites like Ancestry for family history research
FindMyPast.com is a popular Ancestry alternative from the United Kingdom. Started in 2003, it now houses over 4 billion historical records (including 11 million newspaper articles), with thousands more – particularly from the U.S. and Canada – being released every week. Some of these records can’t be found anywhere else, including some Irish records, British military records, and the 1939 British Register. Like on Ancestry, using the “Family Tree Builder” application on FindMyPast doesn’t cost any money, but viewing most of the records requires purchasing a paid subscription. You can get a two-week free trial, though.
Cost: $19.95/month or $14.92/month if you pay annually
23andMe.com takes the journey of tracing your ancestry even deeper – right down to the genetic material that makes you who you are! Start by ordering a D.N.A. testing kit from the website’s online store. Once you receive the kit, use the bar code on it to register it on 23andMe (so they know it’s from you), and follow the instructions to collect a saliva sample. Then, simply mail your sample back to 23andMe, and in a few weeks, your report will be ready. You can see where your genetic ancestors likely came from, as well as who else on 23andMe you might be related to. Advanced kits can even tell you what your gene patterns predict about your health and wellness!
23andMe can tell you so much about your genetic history, and is certain to be a company of the genetic future. They were recently the first company authorized by the FDA to report cancer risks based on genetic samples directly to their customers. If you’re interested in your genetic makeup, 23andMe is the website for you. However, you might also consider the privacy concerns associated with modern consumer home DNA testing.
Cost: $99 (Basic) or $199 (Comprehensive reporting)
FamilySearch.org is the largest genealogical organization in the world. You can create an account for free and use it to search through over 4 billion historical records, including photos, videos, sound clips, stories, letters, and more. FamilySearch also includes a “Family Tree” function, though it is much more geared towards facilitating connections with other users than the more personal, private approach that Ancestry takes. FamilySearch also offers other support services, including tutorials for performing genealogical research, forums in which you can ask other people questions, and a “wiki” (i.e. an online, free-to-edit encyclopedia about the website). It’s one of the best free sites like Ancestry.
Another of the best free websites like Ancestry, WeRelate.org is like the Wikipedia version of genealogy websites. It is the largest genealogy website with a free license, meaning that anybody can contribute to and help anyone else’s research by adding more information or editing out incorrect information. It allows people to upload genealogy records and then match them against people already in WeRelate’s databases.
It also allows people to upload other pieces of information as primary sources, such as photos, birth/marriage/death certificates, and more. Oh, and this can all be done free of charge! Like FamilySearch, WeRelate focuses much more on a single, unified database of family history with minimal duplicate information. And like Ancestry, WeRelate has privacy protections for people who are still alive.
This website similar to Ancestry, AfriGeneas.com, focuses on African ancestored genealogy, and is devoted to researching African ancestry in the Americas. It claims to get its name from the term: “African American Genealogy Buddies” – as it helps connect people searching for their ancestors and trying to trace where they came from so they can help one another. As a member, you become part of a mailing list, and can access the message boards for daily and weekly genealogy chats.
Mocavo.com is the American derivative of FindMyPast. It allows you to search billions of historical records, including records from England and Wales, historical American city directories, and even school yearbooks – all for free! Like Ancestry, Mocavo has a “learning center” section where you can get tutorials, advice, and extra resources for performing genealogical research. You can also consult other users for help if you have any questions. An upgraded paid account allows you to use advanced search tools and search multiple record databases at once, view digital copies of records, participate in live question-and-answer sessions with professional genealogists, and more!
Cost: $19.95/month or $14.92/month (when paid annually)
Want to create your own genealogy website? MyHeritage.com can help you do it, in a sense; it helps you build a personal website that is genealogy-focused. Build family trees, upload historical records as evidence of your lineage, and share your creations with family and friends for free! You can also search a few of MyHeritage’s databases of historical records, including the world’s largest historical newspaper collection. Upgrading to a paid account allows you to include more family members and records on your website’s family trees, compare your information with similar information from other MyHeritage users’ family trees, and access all records in MyHeritage’s databases.
My Heritage also offers at-home DNA testing, though you should be careful of these at home tests, which have recently come under some scrutiny for offering false results.
Cost: $9.95/month (when paid annually)
Ancestry alternatives compared: cost, best features, and what you get
|Website||Best Feature||Cost||What You Get|
|Unrivaled archive of United Kingdom history|
|$14.92/month (annual)||More in-depth records, but only for UK ancestry|
|Industry leader in DNA testing|
|$99||DNA testing of your ancestry tells you where you came from|
|Offers online support for free|
|Free||4 billion + name records and 4745 FamilySearch centers|
|Add our records to contribute to the wiki|
|Free||Access to all information added by users|
|Best resource for current updates on African historical revelations|
|Free||Message boards, user interaction, and access to records related to African American ancestry|
|Combined with FindMyPast to get you more information|
|$14.92/month (annual)||More in-depth records, but only for US ancestry|
|Offers both historical research and DNA testing|
|$9.95/month (annual)||8.9 billion historical record|
Those are 7 other sites like Ancestry that we recommend for trying to trace your lineage, whether you want to search through records, meet others on the same quest, or have your DNA tested.
Other helpful family history research resources
- Best Family History Research Sites and Apps – our comprehensive list of the best sites out there for family history research
- Best Sites for Preserving Your Family Photos Online – these sites and apps can store and share your precious family photos
- How to Delete Your Ancestry Account – if you’re already signed up but want to try one of these alternatives we’ve mentioned, here’s what you need to do to delete your account
- com Coupons – if you’re looking to save some money, check out these coupons for Ancestry
- How to Get a Free Trial on Ancestry – if the reason you’re straying from Ancestry is because it’s too expensive, get a free trial to save some money!