Ancestry.com is the largest genealogy subscription Web site. They have been around for ten years and most genealogists are familiar with the site.
Ancestry has a complete collection of U.S. Census indexes as well as many other indexes and digitized records. However, Ancestry is not the only paid subscription site with genealogy information. There are a number of smaller sites that have some unique collections of records and indexes that are not available elsewhere on the Web. A closer look at some of these sites may help you decide if subscribing would be useful for your genealogy research.
This site was just launched in January 2007. It has 55 titles in its collection and has chosen an impressive list of resources with which to start.
Footnote’s focus is on original documents and the indexes with which to access the documents. They have a partnership with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) and some of the resources come from NARA. A few of the major titles are Index to Civil War Pension Files (NARA T289); Revolutionary War Rolls (NARA, M246); Revolutionary War Service Records (NARA, M881); Revolutionary War Pensions (NARA, M804); Brady Civil War Photos; New York Nationalization Indexes, and the Lincoln Assassination Papers.
The site also has sharing features that allow making online scrapbooks, research notebooks, and the uploading and annotating of images. A free seven day trial subscription is available. The annual subscription costs $59.95, a monthly subscription is $7.95.
This site has a mixture of indexes and digital images. The strength of this site are the newspaper collections, although the other collections are very useful, as well. The resources include Historical Newspapers (dating back to 1690); American Obituaries (1977-present); Historical Books; Historical Documents, and the Social Security Death Index. A subscription costs $89.95 yearly or $19.95 monthly.
The library building is located in Connecticut but and they also have a subscription Web site. They are the owner and publisher of American Genealogical Biographical Index (AGBI), which is an index of local histories, church records, vital records, military lists, and more. A few of the resources included in the Godfrey online collection are19th Century U.S. Newspaper; London Times Archive; Marquis Who’s Who; and Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Godfrey’s also has partnerships with World Vital Records and NewspaperArchive.com. There is a variety of membership levels which range from $35 to $110. The higher levels of membership include access to World Vital Records and NewspaperArchive.com. The Godfrey Memorial Library online collection is available at Family History Centers at no cost to the patron.
The emphasis of this site is indexes, although they do have some digitized records such as newspapers. The major collections are Everton Online Library; Small Town Newspaper Collection; Quinton CDROM Library; International Parish Registers; World Gazetteers; and International Marriage Records. There is a free seven day trial subscription. The cost for membership is $49.95 for a 2 year subscription.
Are these sites worth the cost of membership? Genealogy subscription sites cater to those people who want to research in the comfort of their homes. If you are in the market for additional online resources that can be accessed from a home computer, I suggest visiting these sites. Examine the list of titles at each site and do a basic search. All of the sites mentioned have quality resources for genealogical research and they are adding content on a regular basis.
Only you can decide if they are worth the price, based on the information you are seeking and how you want to access that information.