21 April 2011

Let's Keep All Genealogy Free...

I see this "genealogy free" thing all over, some days more than others.  Who in the world ever said it was ever free to begin with?   Who came up with this idea anyway? 

With the economy being in a major slump, many people have turned to a more frugal lifestyle, one of debt free living, one based on being very careful where/how their money is spent.  I don't have a problem with that.  I can be pretty frugal with my money as well, BUT there are somethings that just can't be free and personally I think genealogy is one of them.  Yes, you can do genealogy on a shoe string budget, it can be done!  But the idea that all things genealogy should be free is just pure nonsense!  Allow me to explain.

You want to view those documents that your ancestor signed 200 years ago, you want them safe, protected and there waiting when you walk in the door. You want the lights on, you want heat/airconditioning?  You want a paved parking lot so you don't have to walk thru the mud, you want free wi-fi, free copies, and lest we forget you'd rather they were all scanned & indexed on line so you can view them free there instead? 

Not asking much are you?  Oh wait... and you don't want to pay any taxes either, REALLY?  So how do we pay to protect those documents?  Who will pay the electric bill so you can have heat/air while you visit to look at your protected documents?  Who will pay for the electric to run the scanner & copier, what about the salary of the persons doing the scanning, or the librarian who helps you find the papers you want?  Forget the cleaning staff, the paper delivery guy, or the alarm company that moniters for fire etc. Do you really think that some elves are coming in to do it all at no cost to anyone? 

Do you have any idea what you are asking?  Do you have any clue how much work goes into just keeping the lights on and the library/archives operating?  Keeping genealogy free is a joke - genealogy is not, will not ever be totally free.  People complain about the cost of different paid sites but do you know how much it takes to get all those data bases indexed and images scanned and on line?  Better yet, how can you expect ALL those persons working there to work for free?  Would you like to work for free?  Most societies today can't get enough volunteers to staff the four or five major offices - let alone enough staff to do what the paid sites do. 

I don't have a problem with people being frugal, don't get me wrong. BUT life is about choices, we make them every day.  People say I can't afford to do this, I can't afford to do that.  Sorry, I don't buy it.  Budgets are tough, times are tough. I get it.  But lets put things in perspective here, as I said life is about choices.

One of the more popular sites offers 12 mos for $159 or 6 mos for $89.   Here's some things to consider -
  • When you stop and look at things, that's actually less money than if you pay for cable television.  Seriously we have friends who pay more in a month for cable tv than it costs for a year of paid genealogy online service. 
  • How much pop do you drink - at the price of  12 pack being 3 for $11 - save the pop money for two months and you can have six months of paid genealogy online instead. 
  • How about opening the windows for a few months instead of running the air conditioning? (I lived in Florida most of my life - it IS doable!)
  • How many times a month do you go out to dinner?  Maybe eat out a few less times and pay for six months of online services.   
  • Need more room for your genealogy - declutter & clean your house, have a garage sale and put the money towards a membership to one of the paid sites. 
  • Ask for contributions toward a membership for your birthday/mothers day/Christmas. 
I know there are some out there who just can't financially handle it, that's okay, it happens.  We need to support our libraries so they can keep their doors open and their resources available to all of us.  You've all heard this stuff before - I'm not telling you anything you didn't know, and you'll probably continue to insist that it should be free.  Dreaming is a good thing!


Chuck said...


I completely agree!!

You have expressed my thoughts clearly and exactly!

Tracy said...

Dreaming and reality are two entirely different things! The reality is that absolutely nothing in life is free. You have said it well.

Nancy said...

So well said. Thanks so much for your thoughts.

Judy Webster said...

Bravo - especially for the bit about 'Do you know how much it takes to get all those data bases indexed?' I have personally indexed over 51,000 names from archival sources - the names are on my Web site - and it takes FOREVER. The 'fun, profit, career' discussions have been interesting and in many cases quite helpful. My point of view is on Genealogy Leftovers.

Liz said...

Kudos! You said what need to be said perfectly!