Here’s a quick look at some Fee and Free Family Tree offerings.
Fee Family Trees and Limited-free Family Trees
I have a premium family tree on MyHeritage and with their premium offering I have multiple separate trees (one I uploaded for my family, one I uploaded for my husband’s family, and one I uploaded for my cousin’s take on our shared ancestry). I love the Smart Matches (tree to tree matching of ancestors), Record Matches (tree to record matches of ancestors), Record Detective II matches (the hints they send when someone from one record you’ve sourced to an ancestor matches info on that ancestor from another source at MyHeritage), and the Book Matching (tree to book matches-they constantly search online books collections for you). I have hundreds of potential tree matches at MyHeritage and thousands of potential Records Matches. I also have DNA matches at MyHeritage.
MyHeritage’s tree only has the “ancestral view” which goes from the bottom (you or your children) upward through your ancestors and all their family. This allows you to see your direct line with all their siblings & spouses & children which is amazing, but sometimes more than you’re needing to see depending on what you’re researching.
Here’s the MyHeritage free family tree offering:
MyHeritage provides excellent free family tree products. On MyHeritage, you can:
� Create a free family tree
� Print a free family tree chart
� Perform a free family tree search
� Use it as a blank family tree, family tree template, or free printable family tree chart
� Learn how to make a family tree online
My understanding is a free family tree limits you to 250 people in your tree, so choose them wisely! If you’re considering getting an account at a fee site, I’d absolutely recommend trying them out first with their free offerings.
I have a premium family tree at Ancestry and I’ve also created a free account. With my premium account I like the leaf hints I get from Ancestry that match my ancestors to other trees and records. Ancestry has great US records and some Canadian records I love. As with MyHeritage, I have multiple trees at Ancestry.com. I have hundreds of potential tree matches at Ancestry and thousands of potential Records Matches at Ancestry. I haven’t submitted my AncestryDNA test yet, but I have one and I’m sure I’ll get some matches here too. With my free account I can build a tree and I really like the tree-building set-up but in order to see any matches to records or matches to trees I have to sign up for a trial account with a credit card. If you’d like to use Ancestry for just the ability to create a free tree online-it’s great!
I like Ancestry’s option to look at my family tree as a pedigree chart (left to right) or an ancestral chart (bottom to top). I usually choose to look at the pedigree chart when I’m focused on my direct-line ancestors and the ancestral chart when I’m working on siblings of ancestors.
Here’s the Ancestry free family tree offering:
“One name is all it takes to start your family tree. But the more you add, the better we can help you—every name is another piece of the story. Look for the leaf. Very soon, leaves will begin to appear on your family tree—these are Ancestry Hints. And each one is a potential discovery. Follow the leaves and watch your family tree grow. Billions of records. Millions of fellow family history seekers. You could find an infamous relative. Or perhaps a photo of your great-grandma as a little girl. But whatever you find, it’s sure to change the whole way you look at your family history, and yourself. After all, the story of your family is the story of you.” The only thing I’d add is once you see the leaf and try to connect to records and other trees, you’ll have to start a trial subscription account. So it’s no longer “free”.
Again, if you’re considering getting an account at a fee site, I’d recommend trying them out first with their free offerings.
I have a family tree at FindMyPast, and like MyHeritage and Ancestry, I use the premium product and it’s hard for me to assess the limitations of their “free” offerings. If you have a lot of British/Irish/Welsh ancestry FindMyPast is pretty amazing. FMP has more images of these original records than any other site. Finding your ancestor can be a pain because of naming patterns and they have to tighten the year range you’re searching to limit results, but it’s a very useful site, especially for this type of UK research and they also have offerings throughout the world, I just think they excel in the UK.
FindMyPast allows you to view your tree with both the pedigree chart and ancestral chart (they call it the family view) and they show a family group limited to just one immediate couple with their parents.
Here’s the FindMyPast free family tree offering:
“Keep track of your family history discoveries with an online family tree. It’s free to use and you’ll be able to access your research from any computer or tablet with an internet connection.” I’m sure as with other subscription sites, as you build a free family tree you’ll get offers to subscribe to a premium account for access to more services at FindMyPast. If you’re considering getting a subscription account at FindMyPast, I’d absolutely recommend trying them out first with their free offerings.
Geni is now owned by MyHeritage (as of 2012) and offers a free family tree service as well as a subscription service. I just built a free family tree on Geni up to the ancestor where I’ve hit a brick wall. It gives me a record match with another family tree at Geni that appears to have that same person but I’ll have to subscribe to their site ($119.40 US) for access to other members’ trees. Here’s the message I received: “Match profiles from other family trees to your tree instantly with a Geni Pro account. Start your 14-day free trial to merge duplicate profiles and add new branches to your family tree.” And even though they’re owned by MyHeritage, the owner of this tree doesn’t appear to have their tree on MyHeritage (where I could access it with my premium account) so I’ll have to decide how much I’m willing to pay to connect with this lead. If you’re using Geni just to have your own free tree online and not to have access to other people’s trees-I like their tree building capabilities. If you want to pay for a subscription they appear to have a set of users/trees that are unique to their parent company, MyHeritage.
Geni uses the ancestral/portrait (bottom to top ancestry) view for ancestry.
Here’s what Geni says about their free family tree offerings:
“Your free family tree includes photo and video sharing, birthday reminders, events and timelines, and more!” “Geni is solving the problem of genealogy by inviting the world to build the definitive online family tree. Using the basic free service at Geni.com, users add and invite their close relatives to join their family tree. All Geni users can share photos, videos, and documents with their families. Geni’s Pro subscription service allows users to find matching trees and merge those into the single world family tree, which currently contains over 100 million living users and their ancestors. Additional pay services include enhanced research tools and premium support.”
If you’re considering getting a subscription account at Geni.com, I’d recommend trying them out first with their free offerings.
Totally Free Family Trees
I have an account with WikiTree but haven’t added my family tree here yet. WikiTree is a completely free family tree; they don’t have subscription offerings. They also have a “one-tree” model that is a shared, collaborative tree but they allow you to upload your genealogy and retain privacy and editing rights.
WikiTree uses the pedigree chart (left to right).
Here’s what WikiTree’s site offers:
“Our community’s mission is to grow an accurate single family tree that connects us all and is freely available to us all.”
“WikiTree is 100% Free – All the genealogy on WikiTree has been contributed by members like you. It doesn’t cost money to contribute to WikiTree, and it doesn’t cost money to access what you and others have contributed.
1.) All the tools are free. All the benefits of membership, every feature and tool, is available to all members who sign the Honor Code. There are no “premium” memberships.
2.) All the content is free. Although some content is privacy-restricted and some content may be copyrighted by members, such as family photos, nobody pays to access anything on WikiTree. Ever. We also encourage open source developers to make use of the tree in other free applications and projects.
The costs of operation are covered by modest ads on public pages.”
FamilySearch has two offerings. A one tree model that allows everyone to edit the group tree and a private “genealogy” that allows you to upload your private family tree that no one can edit. I use FamilySearch’s free family tree all the time. I haven’t added my private “genealogy” that no one else can touch because I keep a private tree on my home computer. As my tree goes back 5 or more generations at FamilySearch there are some unsourced/uncited ancestors I don’t agree with (others have added) but I don’t try to correct them and get into disputes.
I love using the FamilySearch free family tree because there are some sites (Relative Finder, TreeSeek, etc) that pull data from the FamilySearch family tree and offer you other fun services. For an idea which sites use the FamilySearch tree for their products, visit FamilySearch.org/apps and you can see which ones are free and which ones cost money.
FamilySearch allows you to look at your tree 4 ways: the typical pedigree chart (they call it landscape), the ancestral chart (they call it portrait), a fan chart, and a descendency chart (top to bottom from a single ancestor through the lineage to you).
So, all that said, many sites allow you to build a tree for free, but if your purpose in building a tree is to connect with other genealogies and family trees, WikiTree and FamilySearch are the only options that remain free and will never charge anything.
Have fun with your family tree building, whether you choose fee or free!