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Which website should I subscribe to Ancestry or Find My Past?
Which website should I subscribe to ? That is a questions I am often asked. There are two major players in the genealogy world, Ancestry and FindMyPast so how can you choose which one is the right one for you ? Starting out on your genealogy journey you really don’t want to be spending money in the wrong direction which is why you need to ask yourself a few questions before you decide which subscription to buy.
Both Ancestry and FindMyPast have a number of databases and digitised records that are exactly the same. They both have the Civil Registration Indexes (these are the indexes to the Birth, Marriages and Death certificates for England and Wales) and date from 1837 – 2005 at Ancestry and 1837 – 2005 for marriages, 1837 – 2006 for births and 1837 – 2007 for deaths with FindMyPast. They both have the 10 yearly census for England and Wales for 1841 – 1911, but FindMyPast also has the 1939 Register which was a mini census taken in 1939 so that identity cards could be issued.
They both have the Probate Calendars for England and Wales, but FindMyPast has them for 1858 – 1959 and Ancestry has them for 1858 – 1966 & 1973 – 1995 (not sure why there is a gap, but hopefully it will get filled at some stage). They both have WW1 Army records (known as the burnt records as they suffered damage during WW2) and medal rolls. They both have parish registers, but for different counties. When making your decision if you know which counties your ancestors lived in that is a great help. However our ancestors moved a lot more than we may have thought especially once the industrial revolution started with many families leaving the country and moving into towns and cities.
Ancestry has an agreement with the London Metropolitan Archives to digitise their holdings which include parish registers, wills and many other documents, but FindMyPast has a licence to digitise the Westminster Archives material which also includes parish registers, wills and other documents that come under the stewardship of Westminster.
They both have some records for Scotland and Ireland, sometimes the same records sometimes different. Both are constantly adding to their collection often on a weekly basis. The rivalry between these two companies has been a blessing for family historians as they both have to keep adding material to make sure their subscribers don’t leave them at the end of their subscription and defect to the opposition!
Both Ancestry and FindMyPast offer the ability to create an online family tree on their websites. They both offer webinars and guides to sources, they both run blogs and I also write about them equally.
My advice on which company you should subscribe with would be to take out a free 14 day subscription with both. Explore them thoroughly and see what they have to offer especially in the area of parish registers. If your family come from Leicestershire then you should go with FindMyPast as they have the contract with Leicestershire Archives to digitise and place online all their parish registers. But if your ancestors came from Dorset then Ancestry is the one for you. If your families did what mine did then you may find that you need to subscribe to both !
Take advantage of the Free 14 Day Offers by clicking on these links
Remember to jot down in your diary when the 14 day free period finishes so that you can cancel if you wish prior to Ancestry or FindMyPast taking a payment from your bank account. If you decide you want to continue then you simply do nothing.
Which subscription level should I buy?
Having chosen which company is the right one for you the next question to ask yourself is which level of subscription should you opt for ? I strongly suggest that you don’t go for Ancestry’s Essentials subscription or FindMyPast’s Starter subscription as you will soon outgrown them and want to have access to more records. If your family, as far as you know, are strongly based in the UK then either Ancestry’s Premium UK or FindMyPast’s Plus UK subscription is the one best suited to you. However if you have ancestral families overseas then the top level subscriptions are the way to go. You may feel sure that you are very firmly UK based and then find, like I did, that during the mid 1800’s some of your ancestors decided to try their luck in America you can always upgrade, but first make sure that the overseas records you seek are available in the upgraded package before you commit.
I hope this has helped you with your decision which company best suits your genealogical needs. As you can see it all depends on where your ancestors live and who has the best records to research your families. I subscribe to both Ancestry and FindMyPast and have found them both good companies to deal with. I have to say that it is extremely rare that I have a problem with their websites, in fact I think the last time I encountered a problem was over 5 years ago when I got locked out of my subscription for some unknown reason, a quick call to their help centre put things right within minutes.
If you want to know if it is possible to research your family history completely online you might like to read the sister article to this one – Can I research my family history online?
Enjoy the start of your genealogy journey, it is fascinating to explore who our ancestors were and the lives they led. Creating a family tree is a legacy that you can leave to the generations to come.