I read the press release Archives.com Adds Millions of Historical Records to Meet Surging Interest in Family History on Dick Eastman's site this morning and decided to take a look at what the site offers and how it is set up. The press release claims:
"In response to Americans' growing interest in family history and genealogy, Archives.com, which makes researching family history simple and affordable, has expanded its collection to include more than 1.2 billion historical records and has added a number of new features, including Free Internet Search. Now a single search on Archives.com can locate records from several popular online genealogy resources - for FREE."
Further down is:
"Thousands of people join Archives every day, creating a lively community of family historians, casual hobbyists, and experienced genealogists. Membership is $39.95 for an entire year, and users can try it for free for seven days with no obligation."
Let's take a look at the home page at www.Archives.com:
It has links for "Explore Your Family History" (which opens the home page - note that there is a search box here. We'll return to that a bit later), a "Browse Collections" page, a "Build Your Family Tree" page, and a "Learn from Experts" page.
There is also a link for "Start 7-Day Free Trial" on every page which opens this page and asks for your credit card number. There is a link to the Terms and Conditions and to a list of Member Benefits also (Flash links, not separate URLs) on this page.
Some of the collections are from FamilySearch Record Search (all free access), from Footnote.com (you may need a Footnote.com subscription), Interment.net (free access), FindAGrave.com (all free access), USGenWeb Archives (all free access), CousinConnect.com (all free access), and ImmigrantShips.net (all free access). There are other databases available for Vital Records - not on those sites - that are behind the membership fire wall.
The family tree application permits a GEDCOM upload. The features listed include a scrapbook (photos and documents), multiple trees, print and share, timeline, tree search and email notifications. That sounds pretty good - comparable to other online family trees (many of which are free to use).
Back to the home page - I was curious about the search engine. I put in the name "John Smith" (you have to enter both a first and last name) and left the area as "United States" (you can pick a state from a list):
I pressed the "Search" button and received this page:
There were 106,247 matches found in seven sources for "John Smith." 100,328 of them were in Vital Records and not in the seven sources listed above. I'm not sure where the Vital Records are, but they are all listed in the list of database Collections. The matches for FamilySearch were limited to 5,600, and for the other six listed databases to 64 (what are the odds that six databases will have the same number of matches for "John Smith"?). There are likely more matches in all seven of the listed external databases.
The page claims that searches are comprehensive, accurate and fast. Without a membership, it's impossible to judge those claims. There is an advanced search engine where the user can add a birth date, a death date and select from different record types. I had several questions about the search engine: