How to Use Ancestry.Com

by Ann Johnson

Genealogy enthusiasts can find a wealth of information at Ancestry.com. Although Ancestry.com does require a membership fee, new users can sign up for a free 14-day trial period by clicking on the free trial link when first going to the Web site. Be prepared to give a credit card number. Once you enter your Ancestry.com account, you will be immediately taken to your Ancestry.com home page. This page displays an overview of the member’s activities, such as online family trees, favorite links, records the member saved, recent searches and a search form.At the top of the Web page are tabs to other pages. ‘Search’ will take you to a search page, allowing you to search through specific records. ‘Publish’ will take you to Ancestry’s publishing service, which will allow you to easily publish family tree posters and books, by using data contained in the family trees you've added to your account. ‘Community’ will take you to a page where you can exchange information with other members. ‘DNA’ will provide information on genealogical DNA testing, ‘Learning Center’ will teach you to use Ancestry.com and ‘Shop’ will be a place to purchase items.To get the maximum benefit of Ancestry.com, it is advisable to include your family tree data on the Web site. This will allow the program to automatically give you hints where to search for new information.To set up your own family tree, follow the following steps.

On your Ancestry.com home page click on the link ‘My Trees’.

A drop down menu will display ‘Create a new tree’ and ‘Upload a GEDCOM file’. If you are starting your family tree from scratch, click the ‘Create a new tree’. If you already have a family tree on a GEDCOM file, and you wish to use data from this file, you will click the upload option.

When you choose the ‘Create a new tree’ option, a new screen will open. You must decide which person will begin your tree. If you begin with yourself, check the box that says 'I am starting with myself', and then indicate your gender in the drop down box, and insert your first, middle and last names, birth date and place, and click 'next'.

The next screen will ask you to provide information on your father. Complete the form, filling in the requested data. If you do not have all the information, leave blank. At a later date you can add any information you find. Click 'next'.

The next screen is identical to the previous screen, yet this time you are being asked for information on your mother. Complete the form in the same manner as the previous screen, and click 'next'.

The next screen is asking you to name your family tree. It is possible to have many family trees on your Ancestry.com account. You may want to start one for a friend, or the birth family of an adopted child. After you type in the name for this tree, you have the option to keep your tree private, or allow other members of Ancestry.com to view your tree. Click or unclick this option depending on your choice. Information on living members of your tree will not be displayed publicly.

The next screen will give you the option to invite other family members to view your tree. Complete the form or click 'skip for now'. You have started your tree, now you can make it grow!

Tip

  • check If you do not want family members to edit the family tree data when viewing, set permissions to ‘Guest'.

Warnings

  • close If you do not want your credit card to be billed for membership, cancel within the 14-Day Trial period.
  • close Normally memberships automatically renew. If you do not wish to renew, take appropriate steps to cancel or your credit card will be billed.

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About the Author

Ann Johnson has been a freelance writer since 1995. She previously served as the editor of a community magazine in Southern California and was also an active real-estate agent, specializing in commercial and residential properties. She has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from California State University, Fullerton.