Casefile Clues

05 April 2007

Free Genealogy

Like a sine curve which repeatedly rises and falls, there is always a discussion that genealogy should be free and that companies should not charge for what one can get for "free" elsewhere. Ever been to an airport? Right next to the drinking fountain they sell bottles of water for $2.50. I don't see any picket signs. I don't see any protestors. Where is the outcry? There is never discussion that they should not sell water when one can get it for free.

I can go down to the library and get census on microfilm. Free. Just gotta haul my butt down there when it is open and wait for a machine. And hope they have the census for that county 600 miles from here.

Frankly, I'm more concerned about the health care crisis and general literacy levels in this country than I am the "free genealogy crisis."

I choose to pay to have access to the indexed census in my home rather than go to the library. I love libraries, but I don't always have time to get there. Someone wants to index records, digitize them and charge for access. Getting paid for work, or should they work for free? Tell that to the company holding your mortgage.

Well, they charge for water to come into my home and heaven knows I NEED water a lot more than I need genealogy data. I can survive for years without an indexed census. I can't live very long without water. Of course, I can always go down the creek with my bucket. That's free...as long as I don't get caught trespassing.

And to be honest anyone who is on one of the many genealogy mailing lists might be surprised about how much help they will be able to get for free. More help and assistance right in their own home than we would have dreamed up twenty years ago.

Michael