Find My Past Review

If you’re on a quest to unearth your family’s roots, there’s a good chance that well-meaning folks have pointed you in the direction of global search sites like Ancestry and Family Search. While both have fantastic resources, the breadth of their coverage can make them less-than-ideal if you’re looking for in-depth regional results focused on one area of the world.

For researchers in search of records from England, Scotland, Wales, and Ireland, Find My Past is unrivaled. Wondering what the site has on offer?

Pros

  • Partnered with top names to deliver optimal results when searching for records
  • Many records exclusive to findmypast.com
  • Free family tree building tool that features hints and allows GEDCOM upload
  • Biggest source of genealogical records for the British Isles
  • Periodicals collections encompassing over 20 countries
  • Excellent records source for AUS, Papua New Guinea, New Zealand, and Pacific Islanders
  • Census and military records from America also included

Cons

  • Not the best genealogy website for searching United States records
  • There’s no online forum, so users will need to connect with other family historians off-site
  • You’ll need to always double check hints provided by the family tree builder, applying an incorrect record can throw you way off track; the builder also won’t automatically generate hints for uploaded GEDCOM trees, you’ll have to edit individual listings to trigger hints
  • There’s DNA testing service or way to integrate DNA test results from other sites

Find My Past: All You Need to Know

How can I benefit from choosing Find My Past?

As you certainly know, there are many sites out there that focus broadly on family history research. There are a few features which set Find My Past apart from other research websites:

  • Their collection of British Isles genealogical records is the largest on offer anywhere
  • This is also true of their collection of newspapers from England and Ireland
  • The site is also a leading source of genealogical records for those in Australia, the Pacific Islands, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea
  • Their in-depth concentration on British Isles records rivals Ancestry’s focus on North American records

Not sure if you have any British Isles ancestry? Though geographically small, the British Empire spread culturally and ethnically throughout the world. You may have heard the saying “the sun never sets on the British Empire” — indeed, at one time, the British Empire had varying degrees of control over many areas of both the English and non-English speaking world, including parts of South America, the Middle East, India, Asia, Africa, and the Americas.

Do I need expert knowledge or a big investment to use Find My Past?

No! Find My Past provides a search feature and results interface that are both intuitive and user friendly. Sorting and interpreting your results isn’t difficult, and the quality of their scanned records is superior to much of what’s available online. They also provide a variety of free records that are about on par with what Family Search has to offer.

Just beginning your genealogy journey? Start here with our ultimate guide to genealogy.

What record collections does Find My Past feature?

With a massive collection exceeding two billion records, there’s plenty of data to search through when using Find My Past. Over a billion of the records in their database are from the British Isles alone, and they have two times more of Ireland’s records than their closest competitor.

Ready to search back more than a millennia? Some of the records in Find My Past’s database hearken all the way back to 850 AD! They’ve also got historical newspaper pages in their collection from more than 20 countries, including the US and the British Isles — some of these date as far back as 1710.

There’s plenty of military records to be found here as well — both British Army documents ranging from the 1700s to the early 1900s as well as U.S. records spanning from WWII back to the Revolutionary War. US census records can also be found here reaching back to 1790. Censuses can reveal where and when families lived, their relationships, jobs, and more.

Church records can be a revelatory source when performing genealogical research, and findmypast.com features more than 40 million records from England and Wales spanning the past 500 years. This can provide insight into dates and locations of births, baptisms, marriages, and interments.

You’ll also be able to find more difficult-to-locate documents, such as records of apprenticeships, registration sheets from neighborhood workhouses, and admissions documents from academic institutions as well as a healthy collection of documents from the Irish court and many manifests of ships which departed the British Isles for America, Canada, or Australia.

Notably, more than 1,000 of the collections that the site offers are unique to Find My Past, so you’ll never find them on Ancestry or Family Search. They also prioritize site growth, and tens of millions of new records are added to their database each year. The benefits also don’t stop with records access; you can learn more about your research through their learning materials and video seminars, and can even contact an expert for help with your queries.

Is there a way to connect to other users of Find My Past online?

Though there’s a lot to love about Find My Past, one minor downside is a lack of forums. It can make it tough to connect to other users of the site, which can be problematic in a hobby where networking can make a significant difference in your ability to find information. Wondering how Find My Past users can connect with one another?

  • Facebook: Like so many websites without their own social media component, Find My Past has an active member group on Facebook. There, those connected can see interesting history facts, announcements about new additions to the site’s records collections, and have the opportunity to access certain selected collections without payment. They’ll also be able to interact with other users of the site conversationally.
  • Twitter: The site maintains a Twitter feed using the handle @FindMyPast. They regularly tweet interesting facts about their collections, prompt discussion by asking questions, and retweet fun or useful genealogy information.
  • YouTube: If you like to learn by watching, Find My Past has a fairly robust YouTube channel which features over 100 clips including fun historical facts and educational guides that can be helpful to amateur researchers.
  • Find My Past website: While it’s true that there’s no forum, that doesn’t mean there’s no one to contact on Find My Past. If you’re finding yourself with a question best suited to an expert, you can contact one through the site for a reply.

Can I build a family tree on Find My Past? Is GEDCOM upload available?

Building a family tree is one of the most desirable features in a genealogy site. A good family tree builder tool makes it quite a bit easier, but some top names like Ancestry keep theirs behind a paywall. That’s not true of Find My Past, who’ve made their family tree building tool free for anyone to access.

Anyone who has ever used Ancestry’s tree-building tool will find some amount of familiarity in the “hints” system, which uses provided information to link the ancestors you input with records that may be germane to their history. You’ll need to review each record individually, as a name match doesn’t guarantee that a document is related to your ancestors. This is especially true in British Isles records, where some very common surnames like Jones and Smith may see significant overlap in records with same-named individuals.

If you’ve been using a different family tree building tool or software, you may have a GEDCOM file for your family tree. You’ll be happy to know that it’s possible to upload your GEDCOM to Find My Past rather than individually entering your family members into the system. One point of note, however; while the hints system will work with these listings, you’ll need to go in and edit them after adding in order to trigger the system to search for hints.

Where does Find My Past obtain the records in their collections?

In order to provide a superlative collection of records for your review, Find My Past aligns with a variety of other record keeping organizations in partnership. Among them are notable institutions National Archives of the United Kingdom, the British Library, renowned LDS-powered free search site FamilySearch, Navy and Military Press, and a variety of historical and genealogical societies.

Is a subscription required to join Find My Past?

Technically speaking, a subscription is not ever required to access Find My Past’s content, including premium contact. Several options are available to you depending on the level of use you’ll require.

If you choose to subscribe, you’ll be able to choose from the Essential Package, which is lower cost and offers access to a large number of the site’s collections, or the Ultimate Package, which adds extra collections and learning opportunities for an extra cost.

If you’re just dabbling in research, you might instead prefer the site’s pay-as-you-go token feature. This is quite unique to Find My Past — we haven’t seen anything like it on any other site. You may simply buy tokens, redeeming as desired in order to be able to access a collection. This can significantly cut back on your cost of use if you won’t need the site frequently, so it’s something to consider.

Furthermore, the site also houses a rather large amount of free records, so it may be worth perusing without a subscription to see what information you might find at no cost. If you’re interested but hesitating, you might consider buying into the site’s generous free trial, which will allow you use of their paid collections for two full weeks.

The Bottom Line

While no genealogy site is perfect, when it comes to finding a truly massive collection of British Isles records, Find My Past takes the cake. They’re also incredible at providing records for former colonies like Australia, New Zealand, and Papua New Guinea. Admittedly, they’re not as expert at churning out US records as other sites, but there are plenty of other resources available for finding those. If you’re having a tough time sussing out family records from across the pond, Find My Past might just be the site you need — and if you’re not sure, their handy free trial will give you a couple of weeks to find out.

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Hannah H.

Hannah H.

Hannah is both a parent and a freelance journalist and author. You go, girl! She is an impeccable wordsmith and her warm and witty outlook on life makes her pieces a joy to read.

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