Amy Coffin of the We Tree blog, in conjunction with Geneabloggers, has kicked off 2012 with a new series of weekly blogging prompts themed as 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy. Week 2’s topic is Paid Online Genealogy Tools: Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? What special features put it at the top of your list? How can it help others with their genealogy research?
Which paid genealogy tool do you appreciate the most? For me this is indisputably the ScotlandsPeople web site. I can’t begin to count how many times I’ve used it for myself or my friends. With an efficient search you can get that certificate for the cost of a cup of coffee and you have to admit that’s good value. Sure you can also get the wrong answer to your search ie not the one you were looking for, or hoping for. However the site lets you search using wildcards which can limit the risk so my trick is to use wildcards as much as possible within my requirements, but narrow the search parameters where necessary to ensure I don’t get too many pages of indexes. One year for my friend’s birthday I was able to do a family tree for her for less than $100 (she’s a long-standing, generous friend) and all of it in less than two days. Admittedly I was lucky that her families were in parishes with good stretches of records and that they didn’t move too much. Still it shows what’s possible.
What special features put it at the top of your list? The accuracy of the indexing (mostly) and the ability to see primary records electronically are my top reasons. I may use my Ancestry subscription or FreeCen, for example, to narrow the margins and search for names in the census until I know I probably have the right one then I will go to ScotlandsPeople to see the actual record. That way I can also see the header page for the enumeration district. I also LOVE that the Scots retain the woman’s maiden name and so you are even more likely to be able to find her.
How can it help others with their genealogy research? I’ve heard many people say they’ve looked at it but never paid to use it because it’s expensive. Of course we all have different economic resources, but for me, in terms of bang for your buck, I strongly recommend using ScotlandsPeople. It’s accurate, efficient and you’re seeing a primary record “immediately”…all for the price of that coffee, remember. You are not reliant on what some indexer has decided the document says. You also get to look at who is on the same page and you may even find another relative lurking there. Give it a go, you won’t regret it!