Product & Website Evaluations
By Molly Kalafut
I'm fascinated with genealogy software because it is so useful for keeping track of relationships and events. This is my evaluation of the various genealogy and people-finding related websites.
GenBox - My favorite genealogy software program. It's so flexible and amazing I use it for everything! I use it for family genealogy, but the contact information it stores (addresses, phone numbers, websites) is so flexible that I also use it for a friend contact database, authors, taxonomy relationships for opossums, etc.
Ancestry.com - Awesome resource for census searching, plus the "OneWorldTree" feature is pretty nice. There are different pay levels for access to US, UK & Ireland records, historical newspapers, and current address/phone number searches. Out of HeritageQuest, Genealogy.com and Ancestry.com census search capabilities, I think Ancestry has the most flexible and easy to use interface.
Genealogy Bank: This is my latest (2007) favorite find! It offers Historical Newspaper Records (1690 and 1977), Obituaries (1977-present), and Social Security Death Index. The historical newspaper records are reported as PDF files, easy to search and excellent preview of results. I haven't been too impressed with the newspaper results so far and haven't been able to figure out what their collections cover. But the obituaries search is fantastic! For $90/year, it provides millions of obituaries in one place that otherwise you have to search for (and pay) in dozens of different other newspaper archives. The wealth of obituary data that I've found has reinvigorated my genealogy research and provided much sorely needed information about maiden names, married names, birth and death information. Also, because the results are in text they don't need transcription like from PDF results.
World Vital Records: I purchased a 2-year subscription in 2006 and have been sadly disappointed with it. Most of the non-newspaper resources are available either for free elsewhere (SSDI, Ellis Island, FamilySearch, Google Books), or through the infinitely better Ancestry.com. The newspaper resources that are unique are very, very niche and most likely won't be useful to many people -- unless you're interested in Askov, Minnesota. Seriously, I'm not sure what the deal is, but almost any surname search results in newspaper articles from Askov, Minnesota. Added to all that, the search mechanisms are clumsy (only name, place and year) and it's hard to refine searches. The cost is currently $50/2 years.
Intelius - Amazing wealth of current names, middle names, addresses, phone numbers and birthdates. The pay structure is per report, or various amounts for 1 day of access, 3 days of access, etc. As a note, ThePublicRecords website redirects to Intelius.
PrivateEye - This resource is very helpful for current names, historical addresses, phone numbers, birthdates and other possible relatives. There are also very useful property record searches. The marriage and death records can be useful, but can just as easily be found through searching the Social Securitydeath records and other public records sites. It offers advanced searching capability, to help narrow down byname, address, city, state, phone and even birth date. Oddly, some of the features available in the free report (possible relatives) seem unavailable with the pay version. The cost seems a bit more reasonable than Intelius. As of early2006 the price is $14.95/1 day or $39.95/1 month.
Peoplefinders.com - Appears very similar, almost identical, to PrivateEye. The searching and pricing are the same, just different logos. The marriage/divorce section covers more states - 13 instead of 7. The opt-out address is "Opt-Out/Peoplefinders.com 1821 Q Street Sacramento, CA 95814"
USA People Search - Similar to PrivateEye, this resource is helpful for current contact information, birth estimates or birth dates. The search box is fairly simple, just name and state. As of early 2006, the cost is about $19.95/1 week.
Zabasearch - A quasi-useful site, it offers contact information like address, phone number and birth information. It helpfully offers birth month and year while searching for free. Background reports can be purchased for a cheap price, but you get what you pay for - they're just basic scrapes of public records by name and address. Out of 3 background searches I tried, 2 were completely useless - 1 grabbed the records for the Sr. instead of Jr. despite specifying the Jr.'s birth date, and the 2nd collected random records for other people dwelling in the apartment building. Customer service was quick to refund my money, but it's still frustrating.
USSearch - Search requires last name and approximate age, which can be irritating. It appears to have the same information as Intelius, but more difficult to use and more confusing results. Similar costs of $19.95/1 day, $39.95/3 days, $150/1 month. It is the same as 1800ussearch.com . I wouldn't bother with it.
KnowX - Searching is relatively irritating because it wants to charge $2.95 for normal address and hone number information you can search for free anywhere else on the internet. It does allow for free marriage record searching in 3 states that reveal the full names of the brides and grooms.
Anybirthday.com - Oh no! In July 2005 this site went dead. The yearly pay version was great for listing the birthday of just about everyone in the United States - if they were over age 18 around the mid-to-late 1990s. While the addresses and phone numbers were definitely out of date, it's not like people's birthdays can go out of date. The free version wass also pretty useful.
Locateme.com - Oh no! In July2005 this site went dead. The pay version was great for searching for current names, addresses, phone numbers and birthdates - and it lists all the members of the household for each address.
Copyright 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008 and beyond! By Molly Kalafut