By KaLeigh Underwood
Ancestry.com is a website that has always intrigued me. But I was very hesitant to subscribe for a variety of reasons.
I was afraid the user interface would be too difficult for me to understand and master to use the program to its best ability. And I figured that my family tree would fall short, and there wouldn’t be much information for me.
It just so happened one day I was sitting at home, bored, and saw an advertisement for the site. So I clicked on, and saw that I could afford their most basic membership of $20 per month. So I signed up.
My addiction stemmed from there. Now all free time I have goes to extending my family tree. As of recently I have the Underwood side of my family all the way back to my 18th great-grandfather, William Underwood, who was born in 1360.
When you first begin building a tree, you start out with yourself. Then you can add your grandparents, their parents, etc., and keep working your way up. When it gets to the point that you don’t know anymore of the names or information, the website helps you out and gives you little green leaf hints. Once you click on the leaf, the hints bring up a variety of records. These records can be anything from birth/death certificates, census records, marriage/divorce certificates, passenger lists during immigration, passports, etc. , as well as other family trees other site users have put together where your particular relative was used. Some of the documents even include pictures of your family member, though those are harder to come by.
These records get fascinating. At one point I was reading minutes from a Quaker meeting where one of my very great-grandfathers were asking permission from the church to get married. While it was hard to read because it was the original scanned document, I couldn’t tear my eyes from the computer.
In another instance, I was reading through an oral history, passed down through the generations, about a particular branch of the tree including one of my many great-grandfathers and his siblings.
I think it is interesting to look into the genealogy and imagine who these people were and wonder if I get any of my traits from them.
The one problem I’m running into, however, is that on both of the trees I’m working on, my family is overseas, in England, not yet crossed over into America. So there are a lot of documents to which I do not have access, because I only have the basic membership. In order to view the international collection of documents I have to upgrade my membership. I wish that all the information was included so it could be more affordable to people, especially college students like me.
I would advise anyone interested in genealogy to subscribe to ancestry.com. As I said, I had my doubts too, but I have been very pleased with my overall experience.