In Genealogy on a Budget (Part 1), I referred to an online article showing that a person could easily spend $18,000 per year on genealogy, making it a rather expensive pursuit.
I decided to make a list of the more popular research sites, as well as other necessities, such as genealogy database software, a scanner and a printer, just to see if I could come up with an $18,000 tab.
The costs of the items on my must-have list totaled about $1500, considerably less than the total presented in the article. But $1500 is still a lot of money, money that some folks just can’t afford.
Let’s look at how I manage to do some valid research, without having to mortgage my socks!
As for me, I’m always on the lookout for bargains and discounts. It is something of a challenge to spend money on what’s important to me, yet still come away with something in my pocket. And I do love a challenge!
First off, my computer is a HP desktop model, running Windows 7, 3 years old. The printer is about 2 years old, and I use the camera on my iPhone 4s, also about 3 years old. My genealogy software is RootsMagic 6.
For backup, I use free accounts with Google Drive, Dropbox and OneDrive, along with an 8GB USB drive and an WD 150GB external hard drive (purchase several years ago.)
This blog is hosted by WordPress.com for free, although I do have a custom domain name and have recently purchased a premium theme. I also have a Freepages site at RootsWeb and maintain a database at RootsWeb’s WorldConnect Project. Both free.
Internet access (broadband) runs $25/mo.
Now, to research. I do not have subscriptions to any pay genealogy sites.
So, how in the world can I conduct research???
At Diigo, I have a large collection of links to free genealogy data sites, amassed over many years of research. And I am constantly on the lookout for more. I “keep my eyes on the prize.” Sites like FamilySearch, The USGenWeb Project and its affiliated state and county sites, Find-A-Grave, the Bureau of Land Management, Chronicling America… all offer free original documents and photographs or indexed data, and many are run by volunteers. And they are constantly receiving and presenting new data. Also, sites such as Ancestry.com maintain many free databases, such as World War I Civilian Draft Registrations and 1940 United States Census.
Many local libraries have wonderful genealogy and history departments, and all you need is a free library card. The downtown Fort Worth Library is excellent (and has free weekend parking) and the Hillsboro Library in Hill County, Texas, the home of so many of my ancestors, has an amazing genealogical collection.
And I follow other genealogists on Facebook and by RSS with Feedly. These folks are always willing to lend a helping hand with advice and frequently post about new databases and genealogical finds. Just a few days ago, a link to a free Tennessee database containing scanned Bible pages was posted and in it I found a Bible for my Vance/Brevard line, with entries dating back into the late 1700’s.
Finally, there are many folks out there who volunteer to do document look-ups or take photographs at far-away places, for free or simply for the cost of mileage or postage. I was a volunteer for Random Acts of Genealogical Kindness, and hope to be again when the new RAOGK gets under way. I volunteered to take cemetery photos and I never charged for my efforts. I see it as a way to “pay it forward”, to help someone else as a way to thank those who have helped me.
Oh, did I forget to mention that even those pay sites occasionally offer free access to databases normally behind a pay wall, such as WWI records from MyHeritage, available through the end of July. And Fold3 is providing free access to its Revolutionary War Collection, also thru the end of July.
So you see, genealogy can be an expensive hobby, but it truly doesn’t have to be!