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View Full Version : Genealogy .... Why assume it is free ?



Peter_uk_can
20-03-2008, 4:15 PM
I was going to reply in the following vein to a couple of recent postings but decided to start a new thread as I am interested in the views of the masses.

Over the years and after being connected with several genealogy groups I have noticed what seems to be a growing trend that the hobby of genealogy should be free.

If gardening was a hobby, would I expect by gardening centre to keep me supplied with plants ?

If my hobby was sewing, where would I go for free material and threads ?

So, now having made my point, why is it sometimes assumed that Genealogy should be free. ?

I pay for my "Amnestry.com" world subscription because it provides me with tools for my hobby. I pay to visit various archives, because I choose to do so. I pay for my genealogy software because it is the one I want to use.

Just as an example of voisinage, if my neighbour, friend, family want to borrow my nail-gun or need a lift into town or seek to ask my advice on something that I may be better equipped to answer, then I will do it willingly and freely. I do it because I know that the chances are that when I want similar help I will also receive it.

I did consider putting this into the "Moans & Groans" section, but it isn't as much a moan or a groan but a enquiry as to how others view what may seem a reluctance to pay for one's hobby.

Mutley
20-03-2008, 4:30 PM
I did consider putting this into the "Moans & Groans" section, but it isn't as much a moan or a groan but a enquiry as to how others view what may seem a reluctance to pay for one's hobby.

Bl***dy Annoying.
I can understand the reluctance to pay for a certificate for branches, that cost can add up considerably but when it is the direct line....

How can one not feel that it is absolutely necessary to verify the line with the evidence. I don't understand http://www.smileys4me.com/getsmiley.php?show=1235

elyam
20-03-2008, 4:53 PM
I have to agree for my own trees I have bought the certs and the tree I am working on at the moment which is a gift for my Godfather (almost 90 bless him) I have bough a couple of the certs just to check that I am heading in the right direction.
elyam|angel|

Alan Welsford
20-03-2008, 5:53 PM
A difficult one, I think.

Arguably just about all hobbies cost something - even if you are an ardent walker, you probably need to buy more shoes and boots than if you stayed at home.

But I don't think this has to be an expensive hobby, and people shouldn't be penalised if they attempt it without having a heap of money to spend on it.

My greatest regular investment is my A******y subscription, which, despite it's detractors, and all the shortcomings, I still think is pretty good value for money.

Some parish register transcripts have also been invaluable, and fantastic value. Plus a good book or three, and a fairly ancient family tree program.

But when it gets to GRO certificates at £7 a pop, I start to think quite hard before investing. If I know where my ancestor is buried, and on what day, then more often than not, all I'm adding with a certificate is the exact day of death and a cause.

And why buy a marriage certificate to complete the collection, if I've already read the original church register, which is likely to avoid the transcription errors that may be on the GRO copy certificate.

Over time I will no doubt build up most available certificates for most direct ancestors, but I'd argue it's often not essential. Obviously sometime they are invaluable, (e.g. a birth certificate for a younger sibling born within civil registration, for someone who was not), and I'd similarly expect to continue to collect some for side branches for very valid reasons.

But can I realistically justify £14 each to know exact birth date and death date of every great aunt, great uncle, great great aunt, etc.... Well I can't. If others have more money to spend then that's their prerogative, but they shouldn't criticise my research because some dates read "May 1851", (or even "Apr-Jun 1851"), rather than "15th May 1851".

I think if I accurately record where I know things to the nearest day, and where it's only to the nearest year, then that's reasonable enough.

Alan

v.wells
20-03-2008, 5:54 PM
Bl***dy Annoying.
I can understand the reluctance to pay for a certificate for branches, that cost can add up considerably but when it is the direct line....

How can one not feel that it is absolutely necessary to verify the line with the evidence. I don't understand http://www.smileys4me.com/getsmiley.php?show=1235

I can ill afford my sub to A* but I do as it allows me to search on my own and not rely on others to do it for me - unless I hit a |banghead|.

I purchase certs to prove/disprove my tree leaves - can not visit parish or county record offices from where I live.

I object to people not even trying to search, but continually rely on others who have the "ways and means" to look for them. I do try to help when I can and if it is a wrong answer - well blame me for brain clutter :confused:

Besides - Nothing is free anyway.

I guess I just don't like to be a pest that might end up by being |jedi|

Better stop or I'll go on a rant!

Diane Grant-Salmon
20-03-2008, 5:55 PM
I daren't add up the cost! :(

1. I have purchased certificates of course.
2. I have an annual subscription to Ancestry, (ongoing yearly birthday present from my husband.)
3. I have purchased CD's from Parish Chest for my Cornish lot.
4. I have purchased Birstall & Emley Parishes booklets via Parish Chest (also pay sub to Huddersfield FHS via them.)
5. I have purchased booklets for 4 Parishes from Wakefield FHS - wish they were with Parish Chest too!
6. My husband bought me a brand new microfiche reader, the Christmas before last ....... couldn't find a second hand one anywhere.
6. I have purchased microfiche direct from Wakefield Archives ..... still ongoing, as and when funds allow.

Phew ....... when I list it, it does look a lot doesn't it? ;)

v.wells
20-03-2008, 5:59 PM
I daren't add up the cost! :(

1. I have purchased certificates of course.
2. I have an annual subscription to Ancestry, (ongoing yearly birthday present from my husband.)
3. I have purchased CD's from Parish Chest for my Cornish lot.
4. I have purchased Birstall & Emley Parishes booklets via Parish Chest (also pay sub to Huddersfield FHS via them.)
5. I have purchased booklets for 4 Parishes from Wakefield FHS - wish they were with Parish Chest too!
6. My husband bought me a brand new microfiche reader, the Christmas before last ....... couldn't find a second hand one anywhere.
6. I have purchased microfiche direct from Wakefield Archives ..... still ongoing, as and when funds allow.

Phew ....... when I list it, it does look a lot doesn't it? ;)

I don't dare add up the cost either - it is worth it to me only!

Diane Grant-Salmon
20-03-2008, 6:03 PM
Hi Vanessa,

At least I don't spend too much money at Garden Centres for plants, as I take cuttings from my own plants, and *pinch* cuttings from other people!

Therefore, my way of thinking is:

The money I save on garden plants ...... I spend on genie stuff! |laugh1|

mfwebb
20-03-2008, 6:03 PM
I agree with Peter 100%.

Whatever hobby we choose to pursue comes at a cost of one sort or another.

I pay my sub to that site which everyone seems reluctant to mention here. I buy books, CD's, transcripts etc to help me in my research. I pay £7 a throw for certificates. I only object to paying this £7 if I get the wrong certificate -- 4 times in nearly 20 years, but 2 of them in the last 3 months.

Now we have the internet at our fingertips things are so much easier and cheaper.

Whatever I pay for my hobby and my research now I compare with the cost I incurred in 1996 when I had an extended stay at a hotel in Bedford visiting the records office there for a whole week. And so I regard my hobby costs now as nothing more than pocket money.

Back then I also had the pleasure of feeling and smelling and examining at first hand the old original documents. You don't get that with look-ups on the internet -- and I'm sure the internet has made us idle to the point where we may lose some of the original archive offices due to lack of use.

BUT -- if someone wants to start a petition to let us get certificates for free then let me know and I'll gladly sign up. I am looking for the death of my 2 x ggf, John Webb, in 1844 or 1845. The only safe bet was that he died in Rugby but the only Rugby certificate is not him (30 years too old). I don't know now where else to look. There are 98 others -- but if the certificates were free there wouldn't be a problem.

Mutley
20-03-2008, 6:05 PM
But can I realistically justify £14 each to know exact birth date and death date of every great aunt, great uncle, great great aunt, etc.... Well I can't. If others have more money to spend then that's their prerogative, but they shouldn't criticise my research because some dates read "May 1851", (or even "Apr-Jun 1851"), rather than "15th May 1851".

I think if I accurately record where I know things to the nearest day, and where it's only to the nearest year, then that's reasonable enough.

Alan

I did say Direct Line, I do not think anyone can reasonably be expected to pay out for all the branches.

However, sometimes you do get a surprise, the unexpected can quite throw you.

I had a George, son of Alfred, so the census, family records and his marriage certificate said but his birth certificate does not have a father and his mother is Susannah, Alfred's sister :confused:

Sue Mackay
20-03-2008, 6:06 PM
I daren't add up the cost! :(

1. I have purchased certificates of course.
2. I have an annual subscription to Ancestry, (ongoing yearly birthday present from my husband.)
3. I have purchased CD's from Parish Chest for my Cornish lot.
4. I have purchased Birstall & Emley Parishes booklets via Parish Chest (also pay sub to Huddersfield FHS via them.)
5. I have purchased booklets for 4 Parishes from Wakefield FHS - wish they were with Parish Chest too!
6. My husband bought me a brand new microfiche reader, the Christmas before last ....... couldn't find a second hand one anywhere.
6. I have purchased microfiche direct from Wakefield Archives ..... still ongoing, as and when funds allow.

Phew ....... when I list it, it does look a lot doesn't it? ;)

It's probably still less than the annual subscription to some golf clubs

v.wells
20-03-2008, 6:08 PM
It's probably still less than the annual subscription to some golf clubs

And cheaper than gardening!

georgeyone
20-03-2008, 6:26 PM
Hi All
I don't mind paying but the thing that gets up my nose is my second cousin who has been doing research for many years and then finds out about me and sends me hundreds of relatives and because of my nature of needing to make sure will cost a load in certificates I think he should be shot for not finding me erlier so I could spread the cost, being in my sixtys I havent got much time left now.

Some people are thoughtless.

Paul |jumphappy

Peter_uk_can
20-03-2008, 6:35 PM
being in my sixtys I havent got much time left now.

Some people are thoughtless.

Paul

Being of a similar age, may I suggest that you accurately record your precise date of birth, marriage/s, spouse/s and any children's details, plus full addressess, postcodes and occupations.


It will save follk in years to come a heck of a lot of time and money |laugh1|

georgeyone
20-03-2008, 6:56 PM
Now that's what I call good thinking and good Geneology I gave all the relatives I know personally a different Christmas present this year I gave them a file containing their own family tree with all the relavant information and copies of certificates along with a kinship report all were over the moon and most said they wish they had thought of reseaching the family, since then a couple have been in touch to say they have started and asked for advice.

Paul

busyglen
20-03-2008, 7:36 PM
Up until about a year ago, (for reasons I wont go into here) this hobby of mine was very difficult to pursue. I had very little money to spare, and what I had went on a few certificates when I needed clarification. I could not afford to pay an annual subscription to any of the usual sites, but occasionally, bought a few units to check on BMD's on FMP. I was over the moon when I found that A******y was doing free searches on BMD (a while ago now) and my searching went on in leaps and bounds.

The rest of my searching went on checking out Census records wherever I could, purchasing a few CD's, and support from all of my friends on this forum, who have helped me no end in checking records for me now and again.

My situation is a little better these days, and I can afford to buy certs. or pay for a download from the NA, when necessary, but I have spent money on a short term looking through various records, only to find I have wasted my time. I have had a subscription (not A........y but find that a lot of the records I want, aren't available at the moment, so not really money well spent.

I guess it's a question of `each to their own' not everyone has the funds to pay out for a lot of the information, so we do what we can within our limitations.

I don't naturally assume that everything is free...we all have to pay somewhere down the line, but I object to something that starts off free, then being charged for. That's exploitation. Or, I suppose on the other hand...business!

Glenys

Charles Rignall
20-03-2008, 10:11 PM
Hi all --

Once upon a time I spent money like a drunken sailor, collecting certificates and having professional research done in order to rule alternatives out, as well as in. The well has recently run dry, unfortunately.

I suppose some of it had to do with the passion for proof. And proof I believe is often found in the notes to parish records, and who was present at a christening or a death. Further, I have always tried to get a copy of the original census entry, because sometimes I have found relatives on the same page of a census who lived next door to each other, and I would otherwise not have known.

I have one advantage in that my local library has a subscription to Ancestry which I can access as a library card holder - but the savings on Ancestry don't even begin to make up for the money I shoveled out. Do I wish I had the money back? Yes, so I could spend it again. Too many brick walls, maybe...

Regards,

Charlie Rignall
Connecticut

Alan Welsford
20-03-2008, 10:19 PM
As I have previously said, when I first subscribed to A******y, it didn't offer a great deal more in UK terms than the 1891 census.

Even so, having unlimited access to that seemed pretty good compared to the high "pay per view" charged for the original 1901 census site.

In fairness to A******y, whilst they try a few marketing stunts, the price has changed little, (fallen possibly), whilst the amount of data I have access to has risen somewhere between 5 and 10 fold, (and continues to rise).

I think I'd give up the hobby if pay per view was the only alternative - I don't want to feel constrained that every lookup will hit my wallet further.

I don't think GRO certificates represent good value. You've done all the work for them, apart from actually hauling out the volume, photocopying it, and sticking it in an envelope.

It will be interesting to know what the position is when everything is digitised. Obviously it could then be possible to consult fully indexed information, and to download copy certificates. No doubt a high charge would be associated with that, to help repay the costs of the digitisation project.

Wouldn't it be lovely to have a subscription site where you could pay an annual sum, but then download all you wanted, at no incremental cost.

Yes, I wish!

Pandad
21-03-2008, 12:04 AM
I do object to the cost and the system used to obtain English certificates. England should adopt the Scottish system. Scottish certificates also contain more information, get a birth certificate in Scotland and it has the marriage information recorded on it.

Although you pay to go into the search room, all certificates are available on microfiche which you can either hand copy or purchase a copy. If itís the wrong one, put it back, and find the right one. On one visit I came away with data from 30 plus BMD certificates that would have cost me in excess of £210 via the English system. The full days visit to New Register House cost me £12/£15, I canít remember the actual cost.

silvery
21-03-2008, 1:24 AM
I believe it's a legal thing. We can only have a 'certified copy' of a birth marriage or death certificate. Law is different in Scotland.

anndot
21-03-2008, 8:42 AM
what a good idea for christmas and special birthdays.
my sister is 60 in 2010,could start now couldnt i.
thanks for the idea
anndot

Wilkes_ml
21-03-2008, 1:23 PM
The advantage of using the Scottish system, is that most births, marriages and deaths post 1855, and baptisms, marriages pre 1855 is also available online - and in most cases the search facility is reasonable enough to make the cost of each entry about £1. However, Non-conformist entries are not online - and there are those odd ones who are still elusive! The down-side is if you have a common name and the area was a city like Edinburgh or Aberdeen - but overall it is cheaper than English certificates.

However, I also agree that family history is a hobby (obsession!) and most people pay a fortune for other hobbies ( e.g. all the tools for card making/scrapbooking).

I just paid out £135 for a skip and nearly £300 for a new shed - why? because I want to create a haven in my garden for my 2 rescue house rabbits and a couple of ex battery hens that I want to aquire and give a good home to! That's before I start on my new veg patch!

So to me, £7 for a bit of paper is not much difference to £5 for a container of parrafin for the greenhouse heater that is consumed in 4 days! A certificate should last forever (unless you have kids like mine who can not differentiate between a certificate and a piece of drawing paper|banghead|)

But I am all for trying to make information freely available if possible, which is why I transcribe the parish registers I buy ( very slowly I must add) for Freereg-

OK, there are some people who will take advantage of us that do try to provide free indexes ( I think maybe we should only make the indexes freely available to those that have transcribed a minimum of one parish:D)

suedent
21-03-2008, 1:33 PM
This thread made me chuckle.

A while back, a lady asked me to transcribe a particular Cornish parish. I duly obliged and when the CD was ready, it went on sale for the princely sum of £3.50.

I notified the lady that the CD was available but heard nothing. About four months after completing the transcription, I happened to see the lady at a Fair. She asked if I had finished the CD and when I said I had, she asked me to look up the data on my lap top.

I explained the CD was very cheap but her comment was, "You have the information available on your computer and can easily give it to me. Why should I buy the CD"?

It is not the first time this has happened and I doubt it will be the last.

Obviously that same lady thought that you flew to Truro, thus avoiding petrol & parking costs & your laptop is powered by Solar energy!

I for one wouldn't be without your CDs. If I added up what it would cost to order the films from the LDS & the time it would take to plough through them (sometimes for just one baptism) I would probably scare myself. I certainly wouldn't have got half as far as I have with my research, all in the comfort of my own home.

Jan1954
21-03-2008, 1:39 PM
I explained the CD was very cheap but her comment was, "You have the information available on your computer and can easily give it to me. Why should I buy the CD"?


Tell 'em it's on a different computer... (snarl...)

suedent
21-03-2008, 1:49 PM
But I am all for trying to make information freely available if possible, which is why I transcribe the parish registers I buy ( very slowly I must add) for Freereg-

OK, there are some people who will take advantage of us that do try to provide free indexes ( I think maybe we should only make the indexes freely available to those that have transcribed a minimum of one parish:D)

I think we all come across those that take the mickey, those that don't so much want a look up, more that we give them a full family tree. There have been a couple that I've had to leave a day or two before I can bring myself to reply to their email politely! On the whole though I have come across some lovely people by offering my transcriptions & have even found a couple that are related.

Jan1954
21-03-2008, 1:57 PM
The woman came back just as we were packing up to leave and bought the CD.

http://i228.photobucket.com/albums/ee187/Jan_07/chuckle.gif

Geoffers
21-03-2008, 2:06 PM
You pay your money and take your choice.

Some people like to spend several thousand pounds on a flash car; or buy a large house with a ludicrous mortgage, the repayments for which look very similar to my telephone number. Some go on lots of holidays, others just go down the pub.

I have a simple house, simple car, don't travel abroad and visit a pub once in a blue moon.

But I love books and old documents, so I spend a lot of money on them - the several hundred books, several hundred certificates, several hundred CDs and couple of thousand fiches have been bought over 35 years - on average over that time, it hasn't been too expensive per year. In fact I spend more on my boys playing cricket per year at £85 per bat (two each), £30 pads, £50 helmets, gloves, cricket balls, holdalls, transport, club membership, etc - then the elder lad is also into athletics, which is more cost.

Do I begrudge any of the expenditure? NO - not even the cost of purchasing certificates - I'm only here once, I may as well enjoy myself. I like to see my sons enjoying themselves and what I do for my hobby doesn't harm anyone.

If something costs too much, I have to save up until I can afford it, as much as I may want to know the answer now, I just have to be patient.

AnnB
21-03-2008, 3:12 PM
I'm with Geoffers on this one.

I do have other hobbies, but family history (with some local history thrown in) is the one I spend the most time (and money) on. I don't begrudge the money I spend on it, but I do prefer to spend any money on subscriptions etc., to companies based in the UK. I object to paying American companies for information collected and preserved in the UK.

And Pam, I wonder if you could transcribe a few parishes for me - they aren't in Cornwall, but that shouldn't be a problem should it? (I'm getting prepared to duck as an unidentifiable object is lobbed over the border.......;))

Best wishes
Ann

suedent
21-03-2008, 3:23 PM
And Pam, I wonder if you could transcribe a few parishes for me - they aren't in Cornwall, but that shouldn't be a problem should it? (I'm getting prepared to duck as an unidentifiable object is lobbed over the border.......;))

Best wishes
Ann

I've probably got interests in some of those parishes Ann, so I second your suggestion.:D

(Hides behind Ann)

MythicalMarian
21-03-2008, 3:59 PM
Well, speaking personally, if anyone on here has followed a Premiership football team home and away - just for one season - let alone over 20 like me - the cost of Family History research is a mere drop in the ocean.

I have always tended to have expensive hobbies. For instance, I love opera - and in the past have saved up to visit Covent Garden and The Metropolitan in New York. At about £130 per ticket - the cost of family history certificates pales into insignificance. I recently discovered that to see an entire Ring Cycle at Bayreuth would cost me a cool £6,500 in tickets alone! Way beyond even the nuttiest Wagnerian's budget. As for football - season tickets at about £600, travel for the season at around £1,000; travel to, and purchase of, away match tickets about £2,000! Family history is a breeze. And I'm only a normal working mum... Needless to say, however, I have had to give up following my beloved lads for season after season.

I have a subscription with two sites, which saves travelling costs to further counties for the spade work. I am very fortunate in that my closest main lines are local. If I see a marriage in the Cheshire or Lancashire BMD - I can always check out the 'original' at Manchester Library on the microfilm. Since I started my research in 1985 I have purchased only two GRO certificates. I always write to the local offices, and certificates are turned around much quicker, and staff will often let you know by e-mail or a quick phone call if your base information is incorrect. I tend to only apply for certificates when I need absolute proof of something on a direct line - although I have lately come up against the very real possibility that one of my father's line have married one of my mother's line - and will therefore consider the £7 worth it to establish or disprove this.

I suppose my very first computer was bought for family history - as I wanted to get everything into a database as far back as 1989, and I have spent quite a bit on books, software and certificates over the years. But I can certainly say that I have not spent one sixth of what I have spent on football or the operas of Wagner!

I really don't object to what I spend on my family history - and there does seem to be a lot more that's free than not.

sandiep
21-03-2008, 4:32 PM
I still think its one of the cheapest hobbies............I do have ancestry and use other pay sites buy certificates they are esential I find if a bit pricy.........I buy cd,s etc but I still keep saying to people

I am just amazed at how much free information there is available.........

I have had so much pleasure from this hobbie its priceless

sandie

AnnB
21-03-2008, 6:15 PM
No need to duck, you two. I have already asked if I can transcribe some Devonshire parishes but the archivist wasn't too keen on the idea.

Ah, But I wasn't talking about Devonshire parishes......the ones I have in mind are a bit further afield :D

And there's no point ducking behind me Sue, don't forget I'm 5' nothing ;)

Best wishes
Ann

Jack Richards
21-03-2008, 7:17 PM
Oh dear, Mythicalmarion, you had me worried for a moment until I saw your sky blue hat in your profile.

Better to be blue mooning than being close to the devil (red).

At least your family history and football tastes are similar, in trying to break down that brick wall.

Pity about your "local" team, but the owner, manager, trainer and every other job that he does, will keep the club afloat.

Regards Jack