Research Your Scottish Ancestry

Online Subscription Resources

Robert Wilbanksby Robert M. Wilbanks IV, B.A.
Chief Genealogist & Historian, C.S.A.

Up to this point, I have discussed beginning genealogy research techniques and sources. But, by now, you are probably wondering, “Where do I go to find these records and information?”

Traditionally, I would send you to archives, official records centers, specialty genealogy libraries, and local history collections in libraries in the localities of your ancestors, and many more physical facilities. There are a variety of places around the United States, Canada, and around the British Isles, where a genealogist would go to research family history.

However, the ability to travel to these localities isn’t always feasible economically. And even if traveling to the ancestral homeland is possible, the last thing you want to do is spend most of the time inside libraries and dark basement archives.

In today’s high-tech age, the internet has become a rich extensive research tool for genealogists any time, with access day or night, from home or anywhere else. Many libraries, records centers, and archives are making historic records more freely accessible on the internet. Additionally, many free websites have been created by genealogists, and genealogical organizations, as well as local history societies, heritage groups, and more.

Additionally, with the growing interest worldwide, genealogy has also become big business on the internet, with many fee-based subscription commercial genealogy sites on the internet. While for a long time I have generally always been opposed to these big fee-based websites, the reality is they are here and here to stay, and have become the standard beginner’s resource and an integral part of genealogy research in general.

Many of these sites have an extensive wealth of records and original documents and resources Worldwide. They include the ability to build a family tree, based upon research findings, with the ability to share the tree with others, as well as print or download the trees.

A newer aspect of these fee-based sites are subscription fee levels limiting then increasing research and records access based upon fee level chosen. If you are a beginner, or in the early stages of your research, or your research is initially specific to United States records, I would highly recommend beginning at the lowest monthly subscription level until your research reaches a point that requires upgrading.

The following is a brief listing and description of the most notable fee based genealogy websites:

Ancestry  The most prominent of subscription based genealogy sites, Ancestry originally began as a genealogy publishing company based out of Provo, Utah. It slowly acquired smaller genealogy companies and databases, and created a strong online presence with the ability to build genealogy trees. They have over 16 billion records and additional user-generated content of 70 million family trees, 200 photographs and user scanned in documents and written stories. Levels of subscription begin at about $20 per month for U.S. records only, and increases at least three more levels which include international records. A limited Library Edition of Ancestry is provided to most public libraries and is only accessible on-site at the library. You can take your laptop to the library and access the program through the library wifi and access records for research only.

FindMyPast    A London based genealogy research service, that changed directions by making resources available online. They were the first company in the world to make the complete birth, marriage, and death indexes for England and Wales available online. Now has over 4 billion searchable records worldwide. In 2007 it was awarded The Queen’s Award for Inovation. The user has the ability build multiple family trees. There is a Starter level for $35 for one year of limited records access, with upgrading for more records access.

MyHeritage   An Israel based genealogy research service, that changed directions by making resources available online. Members can build an extensive family tree. Now one of the largest in the worlds has 7 billion searchable records worldwide. Supporting 42 languages with 88 million users worldwide who you can connect with. Supports a mobile phone app.   A smaller lesser known British family history website strictly with access to records of England and Wales and other British Isles locales. They have four subscription levels.

GenealogyBank  A genealogy website housing a database that contains over one billion digitized records from U.S. newspapers and historical documents for researching family history online. GenealogyBank’s digitized records collection includes more than 100,000 books and other historical publications, the U.S. Congressional Serial Set, the complete American State Papers, over 6,500 U.S. newspaper titles and a variety of other U.S. government and civilian documents published in all 50 states. This commercial site does not incorporate the building of family trees.   A commercial genealogy website housing a database specializing in historical military records primarily from the United States. It also has a large collection of United States documents, city directories, newspapers, and some UK military records.

This is another of a series of articles in which I show you the basics of searching for your family history, discussing the use of family records, public records, and online resources nationally and internationally, etc. The previous articles are now available on the new Genealogy Section of this website.   See “Genealogy” in the menu options at the top of the web page.