Recently, I decided to venture back into researching my family history. I had been quite a few years since I did any serious research. A lot of things changed since those days; Rootsweb has gone through a complete revamping where the personal genealogy websites have disappeared (inlcuding mine) and the maillists have undergone a total revision (they have migrated to a different platform). What I had to go through to reclaim my old genealogy maillists is for another post at another time.
There were a few changes that the genre has gone through, also. Although I wasn’t actively conducting research I still kept my fingers in the genre. I was still getting a few daily digests from certain maillists on other platforms. The last thing I remember doing was getting a new family tree software from Legacy Family Tree. Seems that there are now more new companies that cater to the genealogist and each one charges a price. Before you could find a few online services that helped the genealogist at no cost. FamilySearch.org and Cyndi’s List come to mind. Even the old Ancestry.com allowed you some basic access to information before they required a payment from you. No more. Ancestry.com won’t even allow you to access the submitted family trees without payment. THAT is annoying because Ancestry.com didn’t pay for that data…users freely submitted it. I don’t and I deleted whatever info I had there before. Unfortunaely, that information was already monetized and sold via their Family Tree CDs.
Now, you’ve got everybody pushing their services onto the genealogist. They allow you to seach their database but only give you a summary of what was found. To get details you have to pay for the subscription service. These are, again, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, GenealogyBank, MyTrees, etc. And the prices they’re charging are exhorbitant. I would prefer to know the source and go there directly and pay their fee for the single record.
It seems to me that, thanks to the venture capitalists that bought Ancestry.com, genealogy research has gone mainstream but for the wrong reasons. It’s a lot of hyperbole but little in truth or promoting doing research correctly. That, also, is for another post.
The sticker shock for me is how everyone has increased their fees three-to-fivefold from where it was. I can see increasing prices to keep up with the costs but many seem to be taking advantage of genealogists. Especially with today’s technology the costs should be going down not up. The cost of a copy of a parent’s or grandparent’s SS-5 from the Social Security Admin went from $7.50 to $28.00??