How many genealogy pay sites does one really need to subscribe to?
I wonder if any fellow researcher has determined how much it would cost per year to subscribe to ALL of the major annual-payment genealogy websites. What do you think that dollar amount would tally up to?
Just off the top of my head, I’d say $1,000 would be a good ballpark figure. Of course, only the (wealthy!) genealogist who needs access to EVERYTHING would ever dole out that $1k each year. So, we can probably agree that subscribing to ALL of them is not necessary.
So, how many and which ones should you cough up the dough for?
Not to sound all wishy-washy, but it depends on YOU and what kind of family research you are doing. Some of us are perfectly content in sticking with the multitude of free websites available, but others (such as myself) do realize that the information we glean from the pay sites is WELL worth the cost of admission.
Let’s take me, for example. To me, subscribing to Ancestry.com is a no-brainer. And I’m just talking the U.S. Discovery package here. I was a World Explorer once, but with going pro (again), I really only needed the States stuff – which is sufficient. The breadth and scope of Ancestry’s domestic offerings are just what the doctor ordered for researching successfully for myself as well as others.
When it comes to military records, Fold3 is tops in my book. They’ve got everything from enlistment records to actual pension FILES; and everything in between! And now, under the Ancestry umbrella, military searches on there may bring up results linking directly to Fold3. Pretty slick, I say!
As my research specialty is New England, NEHGS’s American Ancestors was another must-have. They’ve got the Barbour Collection (CT vitals), The Great Migration Begins 1620-1633 (earliest immigrants) and their NEHGS Register, with Volume One dating all the way back to 1847. Yes, there was genealogy back then. The major selling point for me, though, was the ability to access Deaths Reported in the Boston Recorder and Telegraph, 1827 & 1828! <–Joke. And a bad one at that.
Is that it? Of course not! Just today, I decided to sign up for WorldVitalRecords and GenealogyBank. Both offer trial periods (free and not), and I’ve had them on my to-check-out list for a few months now.
Why these two? Well, WVR because of their world vital records (duh) and Everton’s Genealogical Helper, an old favorite that I just enjoy flipping through. For you young folk, it was THE genealogy magazine, before this whole crazy interweb thing. Yes, a magazine. Kind of like a book, but more flexible and chrono-relevant.
GenealogyBank has newspapers, newspapers and MORE newspapers. But again, this was after finding that it had the best selection of New England newspapers, compared to all the other guys. Newspaper.com, NewspaperArchive.com and MORE newspaper-prefixed dot-coms. GB also appears to have top-of-the-line OCR (Occasionally Correct Reader) software. I was very impressed on a few of the items found, given the original papers’ condition and film quality.
Whenever I’m checking out any potential pay site, the very first thing I do is enter my name in the “free search” box. No first name; only the last. It’s uncommon enough so that I can tell what they have by what results come up for it. You may want to try one of your obscure family names to get the same idea.
Speaking of free searches, I use Mocavo only for the search results and then find the links on my own. As it’s a Google for genealogy, most things can be found easily enough once you know what they are. If that makes any sense. Sorry, Michael.
Bottom line: try before you buy. LOOK at what records they actually HAVE, which I know can be difficult to do with some of them at times. Do a few of those oddball searches, and if you go “Oooooooooooooooooooooo!” upon seeing the results; you’ve got your answer (heh).
And going back to the aforementioned Genealogical Helper, here’s a page from 25 years ago!
Pretty scary, eh?
And if YOU’RE looking “for a CHEAP estimate”, contact ME… The Online Genealogist!!! Replace “Brockton, MA” with “West Lebanon, NH” and “Southeastern Massachusetts” with “New England, New York and Eastern Townships (early Quebec)”, and we’re there!