Family History Center Portal Subscription Databases

There are lots of free Internet resources available, which allow people to do family history research from the comfort of their own home.  There are also lots of pay sites for general genealogy, or specific to certain areas or eras.  There is also a place to use several pay sites for free – your local Family History Center.  Every FHC has the following subscription databases available.

  • 19th Century British Library Newspapers digital archive –  This searchable database has a complete run of 48 national and regional newspapers from 1800-1900.
  • Access Newspaper Archives –  This site claims to be the largest online newspaper archive, and the articles are searchable.
  • Alexander Street Press – American Civil War  This site contains searchable information on soldiers, battles, and photographs, plus diaries, letters, and memoirs.
  • Ancestry –  Ancestry has some free databases, but a paid subscription gives access to immigration, census, newspapers, vital records, photos, city directories, and user-posted family trees.
  • Find My Past – Find My Past specializes in United Kingdom research, and includes the 1911 census of England and Wales.
  • Fold3 – formerly known as Footnote – This site has original historic documents and photos.  It was purchased by Ancestry but requires a separate subscription.  They are starting to focus on military records.
  • The Genealogist is a British genealogy website, apparently a competitor of “Find My Past”.
  • Genline Family Launcher is for searching your Swedish genealogy.
  • Godfrey Memorial Library has US and international resources, city directories, vital records, and other information of interest to researchers.
  • Heritage Quest Online is not at every FHC, but check with your town library – I can access it at home using my library card.  It has Revolutionary War pension records, census records, digitized books, and other records of interest.
  • Historic Map Works Library Edition is also not at every FHC, but check yours.  They have extensive digital maps available including property ownership maps. 
  • Paper Trail – This site specializes in 19th century westward migration documents.  Unfortunately, the site doesn’t have images, but rather will tell you where to find the originals (libraries, museums, etc).
  • World Vital Records –  Advertises that they have vital records, immigration, land, military, newspapers, gravestones, maps, ship manifests. 

So, I went to the local FHC to check out these subscription databases.  I was disappointed in how little new I found.  I have my own Ancestry subscription, so I pretty much have every census record for every person of interest in my family. I have Heritage Quest at home so don’t need to go to the FHC for that. I don’t have a lot of interest in UK research, as I didn’t find much from Ireland for the era of the Hodges immigration.  I love the old maps, but found very few for my locations of interest.  I’m not looking for anyone from Sweden.  I used to have a subscription to Godfrey but let it lapse.  I don’t know how much they have added since then.  I was not impressed with World Vital Records.  I didn’t find much as far as actual Civil War pension records on the military sites.

I spent the most time with the newspapers.  Their papers are different from the ones at the New England Historic Genealogy Society site, and different from the Chronicling of America (free) site. 

My friend who is just starting out on her research was happy to find things that were part of the subscriptions.  Did I not find much new stuff because I have already seen it elsewhere?  Well, I’ll go back again and look through more of the information.  I certainly suggest that other researchers try out the free databases at your FHC.  If one of them happens to have records or newspapers from your area of interest, you may well find some great treasures.   I put the links in this posting so that you can look at them in more detail, but if you want them for free, go to the FHC.

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