Selecting Subscription Database Plans
Making the Most of Your Genealogy Budget
Not a week goes by that we don't get at least one email asking "where should I subscribe to for my genealogy?" Well, there's no easy answer, because everyones' family tree offers unique challenges, and every genealogist is typically at a different place in their research when they ask.
Most will have already heard of Ancestry.com - of which some have developed a less than stellar perception. This perception has little to do with the vast amounts of data they offer, but their business practices as represented by a few who have had a bad experience with their call center. With over 1.5 million subscribers [source: MyFamily press release Jan. 12, 2004], it is difficult to believe some of the things you read on mailing lists. Our position is that (as with any commercial business) you need to assess the value of the information they offer and compare that to the amount of time (if it is even possible) to get that same information yourself.
Others have complained to us about the price of an Ancestry.com subscription, which we always find curious because even their most expensive package costs less than 50 cents a day! That's right, just 50 cents a day to have unlimited access to more than two billion names, a variety of databases and thousands of new records added daily.
But, if you are on a tight genealogy budget, and still want to get some help with your research, we recommend their U.S. Federal Census Collection, which gives you access to images and indexes for the years 1790-1930. Find obscure family facts like age, residence, occupation and more. For about 25 cents a day you can trace up to six generations of your family with 140 years of American history. We have seen more family history projects (including our own) substantially accelerated by subscribing to this collection at Ancestry.com.
Are there alternatives to Ancestry.com? Not really. At least none with as much data.
But there are some other databases that you should also check out. Remember, the only databases worth subscribing to are the ones that include information on YOUR ANCESTORS.
Many researchers have told us they found missing links by subscribing to OneGreatFamily, a powerful genealogy database that is shared and built by people like from all over the world. After you enter what you already know about your ancestors, they begin searching for more of your ancestors. Once their search process starts, it never stops. Best of all, you can try it with 7-Day FREE Trial! Sign up for one of their plans and gain full access risk-free for the first seven days. You may cancel anytime during the free trial period.
Others have shared with us their success with using the services of MyTrees.com where you can search the world's largest genealogy, pedigree-linked database of over 1 billion names. You can build your family history with a search from birth records, marriage records, death records, and - of course - family trees in their Ancestry Archive Search. And for just a few bucks you can signup for a 10 day subscription to try it out.
And Genealogy Today also offers a variety of subscription databases to supplement these great sources.
We started a project in 2003 to transcribe these small and medium-sized items into a subscription database called Family Tree Connection. Now with over 100,000 names, Family Tree Connection is an excellent resource to include in your research. Whether it is a school graduation souvenir, church membership list, insurance property claims or orphan school reports, these items can supplement the public records with additional facts about our ancestors' lives. You can search for your surnames and see what names are contained in the database before subscribing.
If you're researching ancestors from the New England area, be sure to check your surnames against the New England Early Genealogy Connections web site. This subscription database is the first effort to connect names from the early New England period. All of the names include any available basic data: birth, death, marriage dates, towns of residence, citations documenting sources.