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Special Report: Ties that Bind
2/1/2007
Get a crash course in genealogy companies' intertwined family tree — and how their connections affect your research bottom line.
 
You thought you were getting something special when you paid $79.99 for Genealogy.com's <genealogy.com> Family and Local Histories collection of digitized books. Then you noticed a same-named collection in your library's HeritageQuest Online <heritagequestonline.com> service. Your genealogy buddy can search it, too, with his $155.40-per-year US Deluxe Collection subscription to Ancestry.com <Ancestry.com >.

These three nearly identical databases (Ancestry.com's has more books) are just one example of what Dick Eastman, author of Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter <eogn.com> since 1998, calls “coopetition” between genealogy's largest for-profit players. The relationship has allowed Provo, Utah-based MyFamily.com (parent of Ancestry.com and Genealogy.com) and Ann Arbor, Mich.-based ProQuest (owner of HeritageQuest Online) to split the market: MyFamily.com has the corner on home users. ProQuest dominates the library audience. Everybody wins, right? Well, maybe except for you. Here's a look at the industry's twisted ties and what they mean for your research.

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