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Thursday’s Tips – Which subscription site should you choose?

I have covered the free websites I use for Australian research, which I have found is enough to build my family tree with the basic birth, death and marriage information. I get birth, death and marriage certificates when I feel I need to.  But there will come a time when I need to use a subscription site.  Which one should I use?

Last December, I took up their offer for 75% off, so I currently have a subscription to My Heritage. I have found too little unique content to bother about a subscription ordinarily – most of what they have is already available online for free, and of what else they have, it is often also available on Find My Past and/or Ancestry.  There are only a couple of unique collections on My Heritage. Also, in my opinion, My Heritage charge too much to have an online tree and the free one only allows up to 250 people.  The other sites allow you to have a tree of any size for free.

I do use Find My Past, but I find that I only need a month at a time or pay as you go subscription, or I wait until one of their free weekends, as they don’t have all the collections I need to complete my research in Australia. I prefer either to subscribe a month at a time, or use one of the free weekends, as I can download as many records as I want in that time, while with a pay as you go, you’re restricted to a certain number of records.

The subscription site I recommend is Ancestry.  For Australia, some of the unique collections they have for Australia include Police Gazettes, Electoral rolls, Rate Books and Directories.  Electoral rolls allow you to see where your ancestor or relative was living over time.  The rate books show if they owned or rented the property, and how much it was worth.  In the street section in the directories (for the major cities, such as Melbourne), it lists the houses by street, whether it was on the north, south, east or west side of the road, and which cross roads that the house was in between, so you can pinpoint exactly where the house was, and you can therefore see if the house number changed over the time your ancestor lived there.

Ancestry also have parish registers from Sydney Anglican Churches, and St Peter’s Church in Melbourne. They also have the images of Victorian passenger lists.  I have used the Public Record Office Victoria for the index, but the only place I know of with the images is Ancestry.

Although most of my research has been in Australia, I am currently researching my 2x great grandparents, and all but one of them was born overseas.  I have therefore compiled a list of where these ancestors were born, and which site I would use.

Ancestor Where born Website Comments
Joseph Whimpey Frome, Somerset, England Ancestry  
Margaret Price Merthyr Cynog (Kinnock), Breconshire (Breckonshire), Wales FindMyPast  
Henry Sharp Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England Ancestry  
Jane Elizabeth Oldroyd Wakefield, West Yorkshire, England Ancestry  
Robert Harley Longforgan, Perthshire, Scotland ScotlandsPeople Pay as you go. I also use FamilySearch and Ancestry until I can afford the images
Euphemia Dandie Ferry Port on Craig, Fifeshire, Scotland ScotlandsPeople  
Thomas Henry Russell Cork, Ireland Irish Genealogy Free site
Maria Louisa Doyle Birmingham, Warwickshire, England Ancestry  
James Marr Dundee, Angus, Scotland ScotlandsPeople  
Martha Richardson Cupar, Fifesire, Scotland ScotlandsPeople  
William John Reeves East Stonehouse, Devon, England FindMyPast Bishops Transcripts are on FamilySearch
Mary Gill Torpenhow, Cumberland, England FamilySearch  
Alfred Docwra Bassingbourn, Cambridgeshire, England Cambridgeshire Family History Society FamilySearch has transcripts, but they don’t have as much detail
Mary Scott Steeple Morden, Cambridgeshire, England Cambridgeshire Family History Society  
George Oliver Melbourn, Cambridgeshire, England Cambridgeshire Family History Society  
Elizabeth Ann Ball – born in Australia. Her father, William Edward Ball Gottenburgh, Sweden Ancestry ArkivDigital – subscription site
Elizabeth’s mother Ann Slawson Brigstock, Northamptonshire, England Ancestry  

That’s just my side. I’m also researching my ex-husband’s family, so for his side:

George Willis Allington, Wiltshire, England Ancestry  
Ann Marshall Old Leighlin, Carlow, Ireland Irish Genealogy  
Hans Hansen Lumby, Lunde, Odense, Denmark FamilySearch Danish Family Search for censuses
Catherine Marshall Dublin, Ireland Irish Genealogy  
James Smith Stevenston, Ayr, Scotland ScotlandsPeople  
Dora Mansfield Tralee, Kerry, Ireland Irish Genealogy  
David Clyne Bower, Caithness, Scotland ScotlandsPeople  
Isabella Kerr Berwickshire, Scotland ScotlandsPeople  
Thomas Laver Kingsbury Episcopi, Somerset, England Ancestry  
Elizabeth Male South Petherton, Somerset, England Ancestry  
Jacob Thomas Alexander Mulder Amsterdam, Netherlands FamilySearch  
Louisa House Stepney, London, England Ancestry  
Jacob Theisinger Bavaria, Germany Ancestry FamilySearch
Catherine Lepper Konigsberg, Germany (now Kaliningrad, Russia) I haven’t found any records online yet  

This is a summary:

Ancestry 10
Cambridgeshire Family History Society 3
FamilySearch 4
FindMyPast 2
I haven’t found any records online yet 1
Irish Genealogy 4
ScotlandsPeople 7

Ancestry is the winner, with ScotlandsPeople coming second. I only have 2 from FindMyPast.  Of course, it depends where your family came from.  While for me Ancestry is the winner, that might not be the case for you.  Each site has a list of their collections, so you can go in and see what they have.

Before using a subscription site, check what’s available on FamilySearch –  You can also use the FamilySearch Wiki to find out what’s available for the area you are researching.  I also have my page Free websites for family history research, which I will be expanding as I come across more sites.

If you decide on Ancestry, most libraries have currently made their Ancestry Library Edition available for home use, if you have a library card.