NOTE: Originally published in The Godfrey Update, Winter 2005 pp 16-19.
MEMBERSHIP FEES SOMETIMES REQUIRED – In 1998 I stated, "In my opinion, certain websites are justified in charging for the presentation of genealogical material, especially where there are acquisition, programmer and royalty fees that must be paid. However, this is not to discount the incredible amount of valuable free information out on the Net."
I still agree with this, and to every genealogist’s delight, we’ve had an incredible influx of reliable index databases and scanned image web sites. If we walked into an ancestor’s distant courthouse, we’d be paying for gas (currently over $2 per gallon,) food, and lodging in addition to photocopies, so why not speed up the process using online resources?"
Using major credit cards over secure servers removes the once cumbersome process of making payments via snail mail with fluctuating foreign currency exchange rates.
I still recommend subscribing to www.Ancestry.com and www.genealogy.com. Newcomers of note since 1998 (in no particular order) include:
• www.1837online.com solves the difficult search of quarterly indexes of birth, marriage and deaths for England & Wales 1837-2002, British Nationals overseas 1761-1994. Using codes listed by an ancestor’s name in the index, one may order certificates over the Internet for immediate processing. (NOTE: I received 2 death records and a marriage record within 2 weeks of ordering online, from the Public Record Office England to my home in Florida.)
• HeritageQuestOnline. HQ wobbled back and forth with various owners, but has settled with ProQuest, known for its extensive UMI archives. Since the service is sold to libraries, individual researchers must arrange a method for access. I chose to use the venerable Godfrey Library’s brand new Genealogy Portal www.Godfrey.org where I may search HQO and hundreds of other genealogy databases with the click of a mouse.
• Census View at www.Ancestry.com. Scanned images of 1790-1930 US Federal Census [ages to be browsed or searched via independent indexing projects. Yes, ol’ Myrt here uses both HQO and Ancestry census pages, checking for an ancestor in each index and deciding which census page looks best for a printout. Ancestry also has hundreds of maps and databases for most parts of the US and the UK.
• www.ScotlandsPeople.gov.uk is one of the best examples of how a national government can make public vital records available online, for a small fee. Particularly useful is the ability to search for an ancestor by name.
• www.NewEnglandAncestors.org is the online home of the New England Historic Genealogical Society, founded in 1847.
[Continued in the next posting.]
Happy family tree climbing!
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