Database Dilemma

By Diane Haddad Premium

A. When people ask which genealogy data site is best, our answer is “the one that has the records you need.” Think about the records you’d use most, then see which sites have them. Also check coverage of places your ancestors lived (particularly for international research) and ethnic groups they belonged to.

If you need only one or two collections from a site, maybe you can get the data free. Many libraries offer HeritageQuest Online or Ancestry Library Edition (a version of ) free to patrons. Local Family History Centers offer Footnote, World Vital Records and other sites. Here’s an overview of major genealogy subscription sites. At $155.40 per year or $19.95 per month, this site is pricey but has the broadest collection. Databases include the US census, US passenger and border-crossing lists, WWI and WWII draft registration cards, passport applications, newspapers, and family and local histories.
Footnote: The focus here is on US records. Civil War content is strong, including Southern Claims Commission records and ongoing scanning of Civil War soldiers’ service records and widows’ pension records. You’ll also find Revolutionary War records, naturalizations, small-town newspapers and more. Subscriptions run $69.95 per year or $11.95 per month. In most cases, you can purchase a single record for $1.95.
World Vital Records: Great at aggregating content through partnerships, this site has Ellis Island passenger lists, small-town newspapers, family histories and UK censuses. The US subscription costs $39.96 per year or $5.95 a month. The World subscription is $119.40 per year or $14.95 a month.
GenealogyBank: This site has a huge collection of searchable historical newspapers, books and documents. A subscription is $69.95 per year or $19.95 per month.
NewEnglandAncestors: Here, find immigration, town and court records for the New England region. A $75-per-year membership gets you database access. Major collections at this UK site include British censuses, military records and outbound passenger lists. Subscriptions range from $21.50 for 30 days to $129 per year, or pay as you go. This UK site has Irish records, British military records, British parish records and more. Subscriptions cost about $50 per year, or pay as you go.
Genline: Search virtually all Swedish church records here. Flexible subscription options range from one day ($9) to a year ($245).