It is no secret that genealogy research can be expensive. Vital records, memberships, journals, travel, and books all add up. However, there are ways to reduce expenses and still continue with research. Below are a few suggestions on how to save on genealogy costs.
Cut BackVital records (birth, marriage, and death) are a basic necessity in genealogy research and they should be obtained for each person in our family tree. These documents can cost anywhere from $20 to $35 each when ordered from a state vital records office. This cost is increased if you don't know the event date and indexes have to searched. There are five alternatives to this costly expense which are worth checking out:
Trade research time with a relative or another researcher who lives in the area where your ancestors lived. Use online message boards for specific localities to find someone willing to swap research time. You also can use these forums to find relatives who might have copies of the records you are seeking.
Request a free look up from volunteer organizations such as Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness (RAGK) http://www.raogk.org/. RAGK is a organization with volunteers in every state and many counties who will do things from courthouse record look-ups to photographing tombstones. The only cost is reimbursement of expenses incurred such as copying costs.
Books We Own is another organization similar to RAGK. It has lists of resources that are owned or can be accessed by volunteers who will do look-ups and send the information by email or post. The only cost is for copying and postage.
Free is Good
Genealogy software programs can cost up to $70. Try using the programs that have free versions (not free trial versions) such as Legacy Family Tree and Family Tree Builder. Two sites that are always free and contain a wealth of information is Rootsweb and GenWeb. Neither site has many original records, but they have lots of indexes. Some of the county GenWeb sites offer free look-ups.
Genealogy magazines and newsletters supply lots of useful information, but most cost $20 to $30 a year. Use the free online editions of newsletters and magazines. For instance, Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter has a free version, Ancestry 24-7 Family History Circle is free, and Family Tree Magazine has a free online weekly newsletter. Two Web sites with additional lists of free genealogy resources is Access Genealogy: A Free Genealogy Resource at http://www.accessgenealogy.com/ and Genealogy Freebies at www.searchforancestors.com/genealogyfreebies.html.
Copying costs have increased dramatically and some repositories charge more than $1 a page. Instead of making copies, ask if you can use a digital camera (no flash). This allows you to make copies at home and gives the added benefit of having an electronic copy. Many repositories are happy to let you use your camera as it is less harmful to fragile documents than copying.
There are some costs relating to genealogy research that are necessary. But, by watching your spending, you can avoid breaking the bank.