Ancestry; plus a great alternative

I’ve been on Ancestry to check out the “free” access weekend. Once you find a “carrot” that looks tempting/promising and click on it to find out more, you are shown a window to sign up for a free 14-day trial. I guess it’s still worth doing, but the free trial is available 365/year anyway.

So once again, Ancestry disappoints me. I guess what upsets me the most is that whatever information users enter into that site becomes the “property” of Ancestry, and they can then sell that freely acquired information to other people for a profit. Perhaps those entering information should be getting a cut of the action? Not likely to happen. Personally I would not want all my data sucked into their databases just so they can take it and sell it to others. And, let’s be honest, many of us have benefited from the work many other have done, and those folks aren’t getting any credit either. And then there are the fees… to me, they are far too high. I’ve gotten plenty of information elsewhere and rarely have I ever had to pay for it. When I have paid, it’s been through or, and it’s usually after I’ve been on the free site,, and have already fairly well confirmed my suspicions that I have the right person. Ancestry ads on TV make it look like it’s as simple as putting in a name and a date, and voila — all is revealed. I suppose it can work that way on occasion, but in my experience usually you have to go through a bit of chaff before you get to the wheat. My little exploratory foray on Ancestry this morning proved that to me yet again. The carrots offered on this occasion were all irrelevant.

As an aside, I just discovered that Ancestry now owns (purchased 4/25/12 for $100 million). I was disappointed to find that out since I LOVED the idea of Ancestry having competition, but on the plus side, membership in Archives is still only $39.95 annually. According to their website, you get: over 2.5 billion records including the entire US Federal Census from 1790-1940. For anyone who is loath to pay for a subscription to Ancestry, Archives seems like a truly fabulous alternative even though your money ends up in Ancestry’s clutches. Seems there is no escaping them!

Categories: Census Records, Miscellaneous | 3 Comments

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3 thoughts on “Ancestry; plus a great alternative

  1. Thanks for the information. I agree, this should all be public knowledge and it’s great that someone has taken the time to compile it for us. However, it’s expensive if you want to get any subscription to Ancestry and you’re right, most of it isn’t relevant to what you’re looking for.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I appreciate it, and good luck with yours:)

  2. Su Leslie

    I’m very grateful that my public library has a subscription to Ancestry and FindmyPast. As I’m doing more research, I’m learning how to juggle “free” and paid information sources so I can narrow down my searching before I part with any $$s. But having said that, virtually 100% of my ancestors are Scottish – so I end up paying at Scotland’s People anyway. Thanks for your post on this; though-provoking and useful.

    • Thanks for your comment, Su. You’re fortunate so many ancestors are Scottish even if it does mean having to pay at Scottish People. I actually bit the bullet a couple of months ago and subscribed to Ancestry after finding a promo code; and now that I’ve accessed it, I do see the value of it; yes, lots of the info can be found elsewhere, but it does come up with some gold nuggets now and then. However, I am very leery of the family trees which is not saying they don’t have value, but one does need to be careful especially as, more often than not, no sources are cited. I’ve had the most fun on Genealogy Bank (paid), Fulton History (free), and the British Newspaper Archive (pay for credits; I tried it for a few days). I’ve been amazed at how much of life’s minutiae I’ve been able to dig up. Of course, the simple search on Family Search, Google, or Find a Grave can also yield terrific stuff. I guess we’ll always be on that paid/unpaid see-saw, which is not a bad thing. We’re fortunate to have so many options. PS: Funnily, this Ancestry post has gotten more hits than any other post on my blog.

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