A Great Genealogical Research Tool
If you’re seriously interested in delving deeply into your British genealogy, TheGenealogist is an option you should probably keep in mind. What it does is literally in its name. Offering access to millions of historical records from the UK, this site provides you with the genealogical tools to thoroughly trace your ancestry and illuminate your genealogical story.
In many cases, conducting genealogical research means jumping from one website to another to gather information, all while struggling to understand the complicated search tools of each site. That’s not the case here, because TheGenealogist keeps its millions of records in one place and makes everything very user-friendly, which is great for growing a family tree.
Moreover, TheGenealogist has recently teamed up with FamilyTreeDNA (FTDNA), the oldest DNA testing company in the market for direct-to-consumer, DNA-based ancestry insights. This partnership gives you an additional, highly accurate tool to deepen the exploration of your genealogy.
But that’s only the surface of things, and there’s a lot more to say about this site. So keep reading to find out if TheGenealogist is really worth your investment.
Take the Test Through FamilyTreeDNA
If you order an at-home DNA test from TheGenealogist, you’ll receive a package from the company’s partner: FamilyTreeDNA.
The sample submission is essentially the same that you’d find anywhere else. All you need to do is swab your cheek, seal the swab in the provided bag, and put the return package in the mail. You can read more about the process in my review of FamilyTreeDNA.
TheGenealogist’s 5 Standout Features
1. Highly Accurate, DNA-Based Ancestry Test Results with FTDNA Partnership
TheGenealogist has partnered with FamilyTreeDNA, one of the best DNA-testing companies out there. FTDNA provides its DNA ancestry testing through TheGenealogist’s website, and it performs all the sequencing at its lab in the USA. Along with providing an autosomal test, it can also test your Y-DNA (paternal line) and mtDNA (maternal line), which not every company does – not even AncestryDNA.
I personally took an autosomal test from FTDNA (you can read about my full experience in my FamilyTreeDNA review). The test results broke down my ethnicity into accurate percentages, and allowed me to delve deeper for a more detailed breakdown.
I definitely think that these test results would be a great additional tool for anyone looking to investigate their genealogy to the fullest extent. After you get your results, you can use your access to The Genealogist’s database to build your family tree. It’s a very useful extra value.
2. Millions of Historical Records to Search Through
It’s very easy to search for a record connected to an ancestor in TheGenealogist’s database. All you have to do is enter the first and last name of the person you’re looking for, and then the approximate year for the event/document you want to see. The process is the same for every ancestor, and the amount of vital, British documents you can search through is staggering.
TheGenealogist has more than 20 different kinds of records you can explore, including:
- Immigration, Emigration, and Travel
- Insolvency and Bankruptcy
- Birth and Baptisms
- Census Records
- Polls and Electoral Rolls
- Deaths and Burials
- Newspapers and Magazines
Again, though, keep in mind that your search will primarily be limited to UK-based records.
3. An Excellent Family Tree Builder
There are plenty of genealogical sites providing the ability to grow an expansive family tree (take a look at our article on the best family tree builders). However, TheGenealogist also has a recommendable family tree builder called “TreeView,” and it offers broad customizability, convenient editing tools, the ability to add photographs, and much more.
Since all of TheGenealogist’s historical records are located on its site, you can instantly add your genealogical findings to your tree. FamilyTreeDNA (TheGenealogist’s partner for DNA testing) also has a family tree builder, but TheGenealogist’s is definitely better in general, especially if you’re from the UK.
However, while I do recommend this feature overall, it seems to pale in comparison to what you get with MyHeritage’s family tree builder. Not only will MyHeritage offer more customization, but it automatically discovers records of your ancestors for you.
4. An Effective and User-Friendly Search Tool
Honestly, I haven’t taken a test drive with any online, genealogical search tools that are possibly better than what TheGenealogist offers on its website. You really won’t need any technical expertise in order to dive into your ancestry when you use this resource. It’s like driving an automatic as opposed to a stick shift.
- Search using keywords
- Find a family member in a census
- Search by using an address of just a street name
- Easily hop from one record to another with “Smart Search” technology
And more importantly, the accuracy of your discoveries won’t be lacking either.
5. New Map Explorer Feature
This recently-rolled-out, innovative tool allows you to delve deeper into your ancestry by giving you added visual context to the historical records you uncover. You’ll be able to look at historic maps on top of modern-day equivalents. Plus, you can precisely see where an ancestor’s property was located, as well as how the surrounding landscape has changed over time.
But thankfully it’s not just about displaying maps. TheGenealogist uses “georeference pins” that link directly to its historical records. That means that you can search an area or address, whether modern or historical, click a pin and find which ancestor lived in that locale.
This is such an appealing feature that even though I could’ve included it in the blurb just above, I decided to give it its own section.
Your Ancestry Report Comes from FamilyTreeDNA
As previously mentioned, if you order a DNA test from TheGenealogist, it will come from FamilyTreeDNA. The reports include an ethnic breakdown and interactive maps. Plus, you’ll get historical context about the areas that your ancestors lived, and a list of potentially matching living relatives. All of this information can be incredibly helpful for building out your family tree with TheGenealogist, especially if you have ancestors from the UK.
For a more detailed look about what’s included in your report, check out my review of FamilyTreeDNA.
A Bit Confusing When It Comes to the DNA Tests
There are basically four subscription packages that you can choose between:
- BMD Index
Each subscription package offers something and has a different duration, so you have plenty of options. The options can be a little pricey – albeit more or less comparable to what you’d be paying with AncestryDNA and MyHeritage.
The most basic subscription package from TheGenealogist is very affordable and offers 90-day access to the services of the site, which is considerably wide-reaching for what you pay. The prices for other packages steadily increase in proportion to the more access you’re given and whether you want to pay for six months at a time or annually.
When it comes to the genealogical search tools and family tree building, I think you really do get what you pay for with this site. Whether you opt for more limited access or the full range of what TheGenealogist has to offer, the pricing is definitely fair. You’ll save money if you go with a 12-month package.
But it’s a different story when it comes to the DNA testing you can purchase through the site. As stated, all the DNA tests displayed on TheGenealogist’s website are actually provided by FamilyTreeDNA. However, for some reason the prices on TheGenealogist’s website are consistently more expensive than they are on FTDNA’s website (starting price: 79,00 US$). So if you are only really interested in taking an ancestry DNA test, you should buy it directly from FTDNA.
You can also take advantage of a 14-day free trial! All you have to do is provide your personal info (full name and email address), and then choose the subscription package you’d like. After which, you’ll have full access to everything that comes with that package on the website.
If you want to cancel your account before the end of the 14 days, you’ll need to do so on TheGenealogist’s website. Otherwise, you’ll be charged for the subscription package you selected.
As far as payment methods go, TheGenealogist allows you to pay on the website with:
- American Express
The Self Help Options Are Okay, but Email Support Could Be Improved
As far as self-help options go, TheGenealogist website seems standardly equipped. If you’re a little lost but want to handle it on your own, here’s what you can take advantage of:
- Exhaustive FAQ section
- Research guide for the site
- Community forum
- Video tutorials
The only thing that’s missing is a live chat option, which I always find useful if I want the swiftest possible answer.
In the absence of that feature, however, you can contact TheGenealogist by phone Monday through Friday (GMT+1), posted mail, and through email. I chose to reach out to customer support by email on several occasions, and I’ve got to say that the replies were very quick, even if a little generic.
My issue with the emailed responses is that they never directly answered my question about the difference in prices for the DNA test on its website and on FTDNA’s site. Before I did some digging on my own, I was initially confused about this point. Since TheGenealogist is essentially outsourcing the ancestry testing to the latter, you’d think that the prices would be the same on both sites. However, TheGenealogist’s listed prices are more expensive, and it doesn’t say exactly why online.
I reached out to customer support a couple of times to clarify this seeming disparity. However, all I got was a generic reply the first time, and then no reply whatsoever when I pressed the issue.
However, as I alluded to above, you definitely are getting added value for the higher costs of the DNA tests. While FTDNA does provide highly accurate and detailed ancestry insights, it doesn’t really offer capabilities for genealogical research – but TheGenealogist does!
So when you couple the DNA-based ancestry test results from FTDNA with TheGenealogist’s search tools, you have a dynamic, empowered way of exploring your genealogy.
The problem, though, is that I had to find this answer on my own. No one from TheGenealogist really clarified the confusion for me.
A Useful Resource for Your Genealogical Search and Family Tree
I honestly find TheGenealogist to be a valuable resource worth considering if you want to seriously explore the history of your family – if you have UK ancestry. Whatever subscription package you opt for, you’ll have access to a massive wealth of historical data to fill in the black of your ancestry, all while being able to instantly add that info to a customizable family tree.
The site enables you to search through millions of records (many of which are totally exclusive to TheGenealogist), the interface seems particularly user-friendly, the prices are reasonable, and the support is adequate.
And on top of all of that, you’re given the added advantage of coupling very precise DNA ancestry test results from FTDNA with all the genealogical findings you’ll make on TheGenealogist. That’s an exciting prospect!
TheGenealogist is limited by the fact that it’s primarily best suited for the exploration of ancestry from the British Isles. So, if you’re pretty certain you don’t have that, you’re probably better off with signing up with AncestryDNA or MyHeritage. These companies can help you with both an ancestry DNA test as well as building your family tree.
How accurate are the tests from TheGenealogist?
The DNA ancestry tests that you order through TheGenealogist are provided by FamilyTreeDNA, which has over 20 years of experience processing DNA on-site in its CLIA-certified labs. While no DNA test can boast 100% accuracy, I can say – based on my personal experience – that my results were very much in-line with what I received from 23andMe and MyHeritage.
How do the tests from TheGenealogist work?
Once you order your test through TheGenealogist, the test should arrive within a week or two. However, if you’re ordering outside the US, it might take longer. The contains two cheek swabs and two vials, a bag to place the vials in, a return envelope, an instruction booklet, and a registration form.
Following the instructions, simply swab the inside of your cheeks, swirl the swabs in the vials, seal them in the bag, then post back in the envelope provided. You can check the progress of your test – that your sample has been received, that it’s being analyzed, and that your results are available – on the FamilyTreeDNA website.
How does TheGenealogist compare to more well-known competitors?
At first glance, you might be confused by the fact that The Genealogist’s pricing is more expensive than what you see on FamilyTreeDNA’s website; but that’s because TheGenealogist couples its access to historical records with FamilyTreeDNA ancestry results. So you get highly accurate DNA results PLUS the ability to do in-depth genealogical research, which makes TheGenealogist comparable to vendors like MyHeritage and AncestryDNA, which do the same.
How much does a test from TheGenealogist cost?
The prices for the DNA tests listed on TheGenealogist’s website are consistently more expensive than what you’ll see on FamilyTreeDNA’s site (79,00 US$), but that’s because of the added value that the former provides – when it comes to the genealogical search tools and family tree building offered by the site, you definitely get good value for your money.
Who should consider taking a test from TheGenealogist?
TheGenealogist is a site that you definitely consider if you want to conduct in-depth, genealogical research into your British ancestry, while still having the ability to couple all your findings with highly detailed, DNA-based insights about where you come from. If you want a user-friendly, fairly-priced resource with access to billions of records and good customer support, you should keep this site in mind.