Family Tree, Ancestry, etc web services

Good afternoon,

Looking to get a gift for my partner that traces their family tree and history back as far as is practicable.

Can anyone recommend a good site they have used? There is a myriad of them from a google search and it's difficult to establish the full differences.

My partner is early 40s born in South America, family history from Grandparents goes back to Italy, Spain and possibly German (WW2 jokes notwithstanding).

So ideally one of these sites can deal with this.

Many thanks for any pointers or guidance for those who have done this in similar circs.

With thanks


  • p00hsticks
    p00hsticks Posts: 12,765 Forumite
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    The two main ones used in the UK that you have to pay for are and

    I'm not sure how useful they would be for someone with the sort of background you describe, as the majority of their reference data is from UK sources (censuses, parish records, General Register Office etc). Ancestry is based in America and there is an American version, but I don't know whether it's possible to subscribe to that one from the UK and whether it would have more info on the countries you mention.  

    The most expensive upgrade (which I don't have experience of) is the Worldwide Premium service which apparently offers 'Access to more than 3 billion international birth, marriage, death, census, military, church & other records' and lets you 'Learn about your ancestors in over 80 countries outside the UK & Ireland     but quite what countries those are and what level of records they have I'm not sure. 

    You can sign up for short trials of both (I think you need to give your credit card details upfront and then remember to cancel within the time frame given). If your partner has expressed an interest in tracing their own family tree then it might be worth getting them to have a look at each. It can be fascinating and very rewarding, but the subscription's quite expensive. You do need to question all the information you get to ensure it is dealing with the right person, and it can be very frustrating. I have hit a number of dead-ends, and that is for a family that, as far as I'm currently aware,  has never left these shores apart from to go to war!

    How far your partner would realistically get with such a multi-national background I'm not sure....
  • marcia_
    marcia_ Posts: 1,767 Forumite
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     I use ancestry but find my heritage better for finding overseas relatives on my hubbies side 
  • Tommo2448
    Tommo2448 Posts: 46 Forumite
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    edited 27 July 2023 at 7:34PM
    Hi, sounds like a fun project !  However, as others say, probably not easy via the main sites folks use in the UK.    I have used Findmypast extensively for several years (both for my own family and researching stuff to sell on Ebay) - it is excellent for UK sources, and to some extent for the old Empire, but not for the countries you mention.    Findmypast used to have a forum, but it seems to have migrated to Facebook, which I'm not on, so I am not sure what that might offer.

    If your relatives did ever have any contact with British officialdom, of course, you might hit something.   And Findmypast includes a lot of digitised British newspapers. 

    I do not have any experience of Ancestry or MyHeritage.

    Another thought is Family Search, which is a free site  I have used it for some digging about on China.   They seem to have pages on most countries, e.g. the German one is here -   Seem to be similar pages on Spain and Italy, and presumably the relevant South American countries.   They seem to have a forum as well, but no idea how busy it is.  However, I have generally found the genealogy community to be very friendly and keen to help others, so might not do any harm to post a few questions and see what happens.

    Finally, a simple web search with the relevant names might throw up some leads, you never know - maybe someone else is already researching the family and has a personal web page, or they are mentioned in some other forum, or whatever.  As ever with family history, the less common the name the better !

    And I guess you could also try and find whether there are actually any family history resources in the relevant South American country as well ?

    Good luck, but be aware it can be very addictive !  :)

  • Farway
    Farway Posts: 13,190 Forumite
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    edited 28 July 2023 at 11:22AM
    I would also recommend keeping the family tree on a computer under their control and not relying on the web ones, use the web for backups by all means but ensure their results are held by them
    There are free tree programs, none are best, just which they find easiest to use and navigate
    I'd try free first, then upgrade if feeling the need - the Essentials package

    I second trying Family Search, there is a page here which may help
    And have a look at Cyndis List, full of links been running for years as a prime source

    And, you never know, bung a name into wikitree, maybe lucky and find a hit

    PS, just in case they are not aware, start with them and the parents and go back in time. That way, they're starting with known facts and have a reference point to return to

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  • Cs9ja17
    Cs9ja17 Posts: 24 Forumite
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    Thank you to everyone who replied, it is much appreciated. Plenty of into to get stuck in into!

    All the best!
  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,510 Forumite
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    You can try them out quickly and easily.
    Type a known name (not uk) and when the links come up click on them and see if there really is information or they are blagging. It may give you an idea.

    By using Ancestry free at the library I've gathered European, Australian, Us and Canada and some records from exotic places.
    I've been able to see wills, legacies and all sorts of other data

    One thing to be aware of is that it's an automatic renewal unless you contact them. Very easy to forget.

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  • SteveJW
    SteveJW Posts: 706 Forumite
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    Farway said:
    PS, just in case they are not aware, start with them and the parents and go back in time. That way, they're starting with known facts and have a reference point to return to

    I would second the above
    Do not jump to conclusions on what people remember, they can take you down the wrong path and waste a lot of time.
    For example I have a friend who had one sister, they were brought up by their mother, he found out in later life that his sister was actually his mother.
    It wasn't until my mother was in her late 70s that she told me she was adopted, complete branch of my family tree wrong

    Family Search can provide useful information, but it can also be wrong, so treat with caution.
    Almost anyone can edit relationships and people follow them blindly without carrying out their own research

    Hope they have fun

  • donny-gal
    donny-gal Posts: 4,654 Forumite
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    I've been doing research since the start of records on the internet, I have to admit I find Ancestry the best, I have got used to building on their tree format, but I have RootsMagic9 which you can link to your Ancestry tree, and download both the tree data, and the media you have attached to it.  A normal GEDCOM just gives the tree data.  Everybody has their own method, but mine is to delete everything in Roots Magic, and re-sync it about once a month.  Trying to maintain a tree in more than one place is not easy.
    DNA has now brought a new dimension to the research, no it is not a quick and easy fix, it takes research and time, but in my case it has proven that my paper research, was good.  Don't forget that folks lie, so listen to what the "oldies" tell you (I can say that as I am one) but back it up with the paper records.   Also going back in time, who is shown as a parent, may or not be one, and DNA can bring up some serious questions.  Look on FB for a Ancestry UK group, you do get a free period with buying DNA, but once expired (make sure you cut it off before it auto renews), there is a 50% off worldwide records at the moment.
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  • frugalmacdugal
    frugalmacdugal Posts: 10,077 Forumite
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    maybe try THIS.
  • twopenny
    twopenny Posts: 5,510 Forumite
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    Agree with Donnygal whichever be very careful as a search will throw up any connection with the criteria you put in.
    Been down a number of rabbit holes when I'm not concentrating or over enthusiastic.

    I'd also recommend the forums on sites other than the one you are using. Like here, there are people who specialise in decoding wills terminology, who know how to find other stuff.

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