Family Tree Builder Review

Executive summary

Family Tree Builder is a valuable, free resource for documenting and researching your family tree.

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Family Tree Builder Highlights

  • Easy-to-navigate interface
  • Access to billions of historical records
  • Attach photos and historical records to your family tree

Pros

  • Easily create family tree posters, charts, and reports
  • Viewable family statistics
  • Smart-matches
  • Mobile app lets you add information from your phone
  • Many free features

Cons

  • Certain features can’t be accessed without a Premium account
  • Some search results are irrelevant
  • Overall graphic design could be nicer

Database Quality & Quantity 

With access to over 6 billion searchable records, Family Tree Builder gives you a massive amount of information. MyHeritage (Family Tree's parent site) alone contains 3.5 billion historical records.  Among these is the world’s largest collection of historical newspapers. The site also gives you access to over 6 billion historical records from sources across the web. These include birth records, censuses, military, and immigration records. Among other things, you also have access to yearbooks and online public family trees. Most of the records available through MyHeritage relate to the United States. But you can also view millions of records from Europe, Canada, Australia, Latin America, and many other locations. Altogether an impressive array of international historical records.

A simple search for a deceased ancestor returns censuses, family trees, birth, marriage and death records, photos, military records, passenger lists, addresses, and school indexes. Users also have access to 200 million photos and 28 million family trees. Those using the free basic version of Family Tree may find that many records are inaccessible. Users can only view these records by upgrading to a premium membership. Additionally, users should look closely at the information in public family trees, as some of it may be incorrect.

For those doing international research, Family Tree includes access to birth indexes from England and Germany, baptism records from Mexico, information from the Israel Genealogy Research Association, civil registrations from Jamaica, Chile, and Belgium, and church records from Hungary and Slovakia. And that only scratches the surface.

Search Results

Family Tree’s SuperSearch search engine is a valuable resource for doing genealogical research. Choosing the research option for one of your relatives from the Family Tree Builder launches SuperSearch. This turns up thousands of possible matches based on your relative’s information.

We tested the search engine with a well-known American citizen, John F. Kennedy. A search for John Fitzgerald Kennedy returned over 4,000,000 results. The first page of results showed twenty family tree results for the 35th U.S. President. These included detailed birth and death information. We also found many head-and-shoulder portraits of the President, a graduation photo, and several photos of the Kennedy family. Narrowing down the search results to censuses, we found the correct 1930 and 1940 U.S. census records for the President. Looking at newspaper articles, we found close to 147,000 results covering JFK’s presidency. Next, we tried searching for a personal, deceased relative. This search returned over 925,000 results. The first page of results returned correct family tree results, U.S. censuses, and Social Security Death Indexes.

With such a vast amount of available data, a search usually turns up many irrelevant results. But users will almost always find at least a few correct results from public member family trees. And these may have sources attached which will lead to other relevant records. 

One of Family Tree Builder’s most useful features is Record Match. Record Match automatically finds historical records for relatives in your family tree. This saves you from sifting through thousands of irrelevant search results. A Record Match for a personal relative yielded a correct family tree profile, U.S. Social Security Death Index, and 1940 U.S. Census. SuperSearch also gives you the option of filtering your results by collection. With this option, you can search specifically for records like censuses or newspaper articles.

Ease of Use

Family Tree Builder is so easy to use, it’s a pleasure. Users can view their personal family tree on the web via the MyHeritage interface, or download the free desktop version of the software. Attaching photos, DNA, and historical records is easier in the desktop version. From there, it's an easy step to sync your information with the website version. With a premium subscription, you can easily save historical records to individuals in your family tree. The online view has a nice design. And while the desktop version isn’t quite as seamless, its layout makes it easy to use. A first-time user will most likely have the whole program figured out in a matter of minutes. Large icons make the program easy to figure out, navigate, and use. The hassle-free nature of the program makes it easy to add information, photos, and even DNA results to members of your family tree.

Features

In its number and variety of options for viewing and using information in your family tree, Family Tree Builder is unmatched. One of these features is the option to view Family Statistics. Family Statistics lets you see how much people in your tree have in common. It shows you how many of your relatives share birth months, zodiac signs, home states, and more. Another feature lets you see upcoming events, such as birthdays, for people in your tree. Choosing the Maps option shows you a customized map that highlights the areas your family members have lived in. The Reports option creates book reports, family group sheets, timelines, and more based on your family tree. You can also produce automatic family tree charts. And you can order sophisticated, attractive posters composed of your personal family tree information.

A practical feature is the option to import information from MyHeritage and GEDCOM. Many genealogists who still keep family history information in GEDCOM will appreciate this option. Likewise, users who want to add family tree information on the go will appreciate Family Tree Builder's mobile app. The software also includes privacy settings. You can choose to make your family trees public or keep them private.

A Family Tree Builder download is free and many of the features operate free of charge. But certain features are unavailable unless you upgrade to a premium membership. Users wishing to access the complete range of features must buy a subscription.

Pricing

1 month subscription – $6.88, $10.95, $14.65

3 month subscription - $20.64, $32.85, $43.95

6 month subscription - $41.28, $197.10, $263.70

Family Tree Builder is inexpensive and designed to be affordable for all users. A Premium account ($6.88 per month) gives you complete access to Family Tree Builder. This includes the Smart Match feature and more formatting options for family tree charts. A Premium account allows you to add up to 2500 individuals to your family tree. A PremiumPlus account ($10.95 per month) lets you search other member’s family trees. It also includes a subscription to MyHeritage’s Instant Discovery program. With a PremiumPlus or Complete subscription, you can add as many people as you wish to your family tree. A Complete membership ($14.68 per month) includes full access to both Family Tree Builder and MyHeritage. This includes access to SuperSearch and Record Matches. MyHeritage offers a free 14-day trial so users can get a feel for the site before deciding to subscribe.

Conclusion

Genealogists wishing to record and view their family history in an accessible format won’t regret choosing Family Tree Builder‚Äč. With its easy navigation, variety of features, and access to billions of historical records, Family Tree Builder is a fun and easy way to upload, share, and research your family tree. Affordable membership options and a vast database make Family Tree Builder a viable choice for family history researchers. 

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