Tuesday, March 24, 2009

An Ancestry Subscription - Is It Worth the Money?

I've mentioned several free genealogy websites up to this point in my previous posts, but I get asked this particular question quite often about Ancestry.com and whether it is worth it to pay for a subscription. Many of you probably already use Ancestry.com and know the answer to this question. However, the truth is, whether or not it is worth the cost is entirely dependent upon your situation.

As of today, Ancestry has four different subscription options. You can subscribe to their World Deluxe Membership on an annual basis. You can get the World Deluxe Membership billed monthly. For those users who really only need to focus on United States records, the annual US Deluxe Membership is the best value, but you can also get the US Deluxe Membership on a monthly basis.

Let me be clear in saying that Ancestry.com offers a remarkable amount of value in exchange for their subscription costs. Ancestry does offer some free databases. However, when you have a subscription account with them, you have access to literally billions of names and thousands of databases. You can see original, scanned-in census images; passport applications with photos; emigration and immigration passenger ship rosters; military draft cards; and seemingly endless vital record databases and indexes. In addition to the exhaustive records available at your fingertips, Ancestry offers great ways of sharing and collaborating with other researchers. They also offer a new, customizable home page that allows you to track things such as what databases you last searched and which ancestors are on the top of your research list.

When I first started using Ancestry.com several years ago, I found that the United States records were much more abundant than the world offerings. However, in the past couple of years particularly, they have done a great job of adding much more world content than they previously had.

If you cannot afford a subscription or want to check it out first to see if it can be helpful to you in your particular areas of research, I highly recommend that you check with your local library. Here in Johnson County, Kansas, the regional library system offers access to all areas of Ancestry for free to residents with library cards. A local or regional genealogical society might also have purchased multi-user access to Ancestry for its members. In addition, the Free Trial - Ancestry.com US Deluxe Membership can allow you to test out a subscription for a week or two. During the trial, you have access to everything so it's easy to determine whether you'll get your value out of it.

For me, I find that the yearly cost is more than worth the trade-off of being able to search for my great-great-grandfather's lost twin brother, in my flannel pajamas, and with a pint of Moose Tracks in front of me. Either way, Ancestry.com is definitely a website that should be at the top of your bookmarks list in your research efforts.


Joy said...

I will be teaching a genealogy class November 7 and wondered if it would be possible to get your permission to quote portions of your article: Tuesday, March 24, 2009, An Ancestry Subscription - Is It Worth the Money?


Jessica Hall Grayless said...


That would be fine to use portions of the article, and it would be wonderful if you could mention the blog when sharing the quotes.

Good luck with your class!