Thursday, July 10, 2008

READER'S FEEDBACK: Comparing websites

RE: Comparisons WVR &

From: Kathi
I have been a fan of your podcast; I believe it was the first one I discovered. I was a little disappointed in your response to Linda. However, my question is about more than the above references services. I would like to see someone compare the services of the major subscription services for newcomers, or folks like me who have been out of the researching loop for many years and getting back into it.

Several genea-bloggers have lamented the high cost of gasoline impacting travel, and speculate that subscription services may find more folks willing to pay to search from home.

We are all looking for the best value for our hard earned dollars.

  • How do we determine which services have what records?
  • Is there overlap?
  • Are the subscription services making available the same type of records, duplicating efforts?
It is sometimes difficult to unsubscribe from a service-they don’t make that as easy as joining, in some cases. I have done as you suggest, subscribing to newsletters for the services, but it is still daunting to sort it all out. It would be wonderful if long-term researchers, professional or not, would elaborate on what they use and why.

My personal situation is not unique, I’m sure. I live in an area that is isolated, rural and not wealthy. My local library has no subscription services-they can’t afford it. I am about 30-35 miles away from the nearest FHC or out-of-town (next parish/county) library, which is wealthy enough to offer subscription services to its patrons, free for in-library use.

As a matter of convenience, I do have a personal subscription to

As mentioned by another columnist, I joined that out-of-town library system to have remote access to Heritage Quest and additional databases from our State Library that our poor local library does not offer. I know that census records are available at both Ancestry and Heritage Quest. One benefit of the duplication is that one may have a better, clearer copy of a census film than the other.

Resources are changing and progressing at a pace that I’m sure confounds more experienced users. Mergers and acquisitions happen everyday. The out-of-town library is looking into additional subscriptions, and I may wait for more information on their offerings before making my decision. I’ve heard you mention the Godfrey Memorial Library collection (I think it was on your podcast; I’m over 50 and my memory fails me!). I read that WVR is adding some of the collection. NARA has an agreement with Footnote and FamilySearch. Will they be offering the same content or unique things?

Won’t you and some of the other geneabloggers talk about/compare the major databases used in research (Ancestry, WVR, Genealogy Bank, Footnote, Godfrey, Heritage Quest; and free ones FamilySearch, GENWEB, RootsWeb, too). I know it would be a help to many people, not only me.

What you are asking would require about 60-90 hours of research time. Since each website adds millions of documents monthly, the unpaid work would become immediately out-of-date.

Hence the free GLOBAL search option on individual websites is still one’s best bet.

I agree that images may be clearer here or there throughout the net. Another benefit of supposedly duplicate indexes is that they were compiled by different indexers, and one may find an ancestor in one index and not in another.

Happy family tree climbing!
Myrt :)

Your friend in genealogy.

© 2008 Pat Richley All Rights Reserved.This and previous blog entries are fully searchable by going to Myrt welcomes queries and research challenges, but regrets she is unable to answer each personally.