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Mon Sep 02, 2013 2:21 pm
I have been working through my family tree for some time now using the search facilities on each of the websites and using archive records at my local archive office.
I feel that now I might benefit from subscribing to one of the websites on offer but am not sure which to choose. I feel the basic subscription offers might be too limited but given the prices of the other subscription offers need to ensure that I choose the right one. To date my research is UK based, though it is possible that one relative went to America though I have not yet managed to ascertain whether the person I have found is one of my relatives.
No doubt there are many of your out there who subscribe to each of the websites, have any of you and advice or words of wisdom on which you consider the best and best value for money.
Mon Sep 02, 2013 4:06 pm
It depends where your ancestors were based and what you want to get from the websites (eg transcriptions or scanned copies of records). I’m lucky enough in London to be able to access a number of websites without paying for a subscription myself by visiting National Archives or the British Library. Overall, I would say Ancestry has the best search function and has also started “joining” up records, eg if you have found your ancestor in the 1861 census, it will make educated suggestions for the 1871 census. It also has the London Metropolitan Archives parish records, amongst others, and is adding other locations on a frequent basis. It is not as good as FindMyPast on transcribing beyond the basic details, so you’re left to figure out the handwriting for exact address, occupation etc. FindMyPast also has the British Newspapers Archives which can be useful for the BMD announcements, as well as any criminal convictions – not all newspapers have been scanned in yet but more are being added all the time. But I do find the search function on FindMyPast frustrating, less user friendly. I’m lucky enough to be able to flit between the 2 but if I had to pay, I would probably go for Ancestry.
Don’t forget any free websites. FamilySearch is pretty useful for basic transcripts of parish records (although not very good for deaths) and also has some scanned parish records, although most have to be searched manually. UK census is not quite as good as, for some years, it only shows you the individual you’ve searched for, not who else is in the household, and it doesn’t hold the electronic version directly. I’ve found it very useful to trace several relatives who moved to America, the US census records are up to 1940 and it has BMD records for several States which can include helpful information on names/place of birth of parents, year of emigration, etc which allow you to join up the dots. Several Local Authorities also provide free access to parish records (eg Lincs to the Past for Lincolnshire, Kingston Council has burial records) but I don’t think there’s a central list so it’s a bit hit and miss.
I hope this helps, good luck with your search.
Mon Sep 02, 2013 8:26 pm
Thanks for your comments. I am Bath based and most of my relatives come from the immediate area though I have found one relative which I think moved to Yorkshire. I don't mind looking at transcriptions to start with but I do prefer seeing the original documents just in case there is an error.
I have used Family Search but I didn't realise there were scanned parish records, I'll have to take a closer look.
Thanks for your advice.
Tue Sep 03, 2013 4:02 am
The point about the scanned parish registers on Familysearch is that a large proportion of these have not yet been indexed or searchable. One way to discover what is available is to scroll down on the main search page to the "Browse by Location" and click on e.g. 'United Kingdom and Ireland' . On the page which then comes up you can scroll through the full list or use the filters in the left hand column to reduce the list.
Wed Sep 04, 2013 5:20 pm
Many thanks for this tip on Familysearch, I had no idea and will give this a go.
Fri Nov 29, 2013 4:26 am
Hi Bath Bun
Do you have an LDS family history centre near you? If so it is possible to borrow films of the parishes that have been filmed. I am lucky enough to be able to hire through my local family history centre and I have found many hidden gems by looking at the original parish registers.Film numbers are listed for each entry and often other family members are found on the one film and here you will also find burials.for example I have been able to research my English ancestors in Owslebury and Winchester through these films.
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Fri Nov 29, 2013 5:36 pm
Have you made contact with a local Family History Society yet? I imagine Bristol and Avon would be your nearest and they have a branch in Bath. Members of FHSs are a very useful group of people to know, they are always interested in your research as well as their own and will give you all the help and encouragement you need. Personally I don't know what is available at their centre but try contacting them through their web site, they may have free/cheap access to one or more subscription sites. I have subscriptions to both Ancestry and FMP and tend to switch between both, depending on what I'm looking for. If one relative went to America you can bet others followed and anyway, there will be rellies over there!
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