The Cost of Research


Contributing Writer
Janet Wahlberg

It’s time to talk money, as everything seems to have a price tag these days. The cost of research can vary greatly from zero to rather pricey. I will take you through a list of the more common sites and other resources that you may not have thought of.

There are many repositories right here in Chautauqua County. The Hall House at the Fenton has an extensive selection of resources including and it is open 6 days a week. It is free to members and $10/day for non-members. The Prendergast has many newspapers on microfilm. The County courthouse has land records, etc. Check with your local library, historical societies, SUNY Fredonia, your local churches, the McClurg Museum, and cemeteries. The best part is almost all are FREE.

The Mormon Church is very active in genealogical research and they have a website at family Their on-line records are extensive and free. For a modest fee you can have microfilm sent to the local church on Forest Ave. for your use. They are open Wednesday evenings from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Thursday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. In addition, you are able to use their Ancestry site for free.

Ancestry is one of the best known sites and comes at various levels of cost. If you have never used it, you can try out their 14 day free trial. Then if you still are not ready for a full membership, you can get a 30 day membership. If you chose this option, do so when you can devote a lot of time to research in order to get your best value. Their most expensive package includes Ancestry World, Fold 3, and It is $199/6 months. So, as you can see, the cost is widely variable and can be accessed at no cost at the Mormon Church or for members of the Fenton at the Hall House.

Find A Grave is used by many folks and many times includes a brief biography of the person and it is free. Fulton Postcards is an extensive collection of newspaper articles from New York State. The National Archives and Research Administration (NARA) site has many military and immigration records. You will need to order the documents for a per page fee. Ellis Island and Castle Garden are free resources for immigration and passenger lists. Fold 3 is an extensive collection of Military Records going back to the Revolutionary War with a free membership that covers all the records that most people would use. Additional options are available for a fee. Find My Past is a vast collection of records for the US, the UK, and Ireland at a cost of $35.00 per year and also offers a 14 day free trial.

And finally, I would add Cyndi’s List, a compilation of sites that have a variety of costs associated. This list of sites is just the tip of the iceberg. There are hundreds of sites available at a wide variety of costs. As you begin or continue your search for ancestors, take advantage of free trials, local resources, libraries and free access to databases at your library or church. Also, be sure that you take advantage of the tutorials that virtually every web site offers for their program as this will maximize your investment.

To read Janet Walberg’s previous genealogy columns or to delve deeper into her writings and insights for searching out and recording your own family’s genealogy, please go to and visit Janet’s own web page.