Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Maximize Genealogical Subscriptions

We put a considerable investment of time and money into genealogy. It's important to make the most of your subscriptions, especially if you find them expensive or even cost prohibitive, and think you probably won't be able to renew. Here are some ideas:

1. Download every document relevant to your family. 

That's a lot of work, I know, but it might be for the best. As much as I would love to maintain my Ancestry World subscription, it's expensive and my income fluctuates from month to month. So when it comes time to renew, that might just be something I don't keep. When I come across pertinent records from Canada and England, I make sure to download them to my computer, so I always have access.

2. Focus only on the paid sites for as long as your subscription lasts.

We can get so much for free elsewhere, but if the records you want/need are behind a paywall, then put your time and energy into researching only on that site until the subscription lapses.

3. Before subscribing, make a list of the items you think you'll find on the site.

We often discover information free online or for a more reasonable price by getting it directly from the source (i.e. a birth, marriage, or death record from a town hall). Be sure you need access to that site for what you need before investing in the subscription.

4. Don't just research for yourself.

You might get more out of the site if you are also research for a spouse, partner, in-law, cousin, aunt, uncle, or other family member. I know I have family members interested in genealogy who don't have the same time for it or interest level as I do. So I happily work on their ancestry as well, while I'm at it.

5. Consider the amount of time you spend on the site.

If you find you're spending more time on the website than you thought, it might be worth continuing to invest in it. In fact, when you look at what you spend overall in a year on genealogy, it may be a relatively small percentage compared to other expenditures. If you feel any regret at cancelling a subscription, maybe it's a good idea to hold onto it.

If, however, you find all the site has to offer are repetitive records that already confirm the work you've done by traditional means, it makes perfect sense not to waste your money.

6. Set goals and have a research plan.

Finally, keep in mind there is no magic online solution to most genealogical mysteries. So many records remain offline and not digitized. You can often find what you're looking for with a well-defined goal, and a detailed research plan. This could keep you from sinking hundreds of dollars into sites that promise to find your ancestors, only to turn up the same information you already know or have rejected in the past.

Sometimes, the time spent in a library, cranking through a microfilm, is going to be far more worthwhile than what a night at home searching a subscription site might yield.

Copyright (c) 2017 Wendy L. Callahan

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