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Should Census Records be Free

#1 | Posted: 29 May 2015 09:01 | Edited by: adrian
How do you feel about this comment we received:

I VERY much appreciate that you have family information online for free because it's far too expensive for me to access some records to "check" if it's what I need. They should be FREE because the taxpayer even back then paid for these records to be compiled. Now Ancestry, Find My Past and others are making a huge profit on census records for instance which definitely SHOULD be free!

Virginia Shemeliuk, Canada
#2 | Posted: 29 May 2015 09:26
When any taxes were taken to compile these records, they did not include the costs of digitising every copy of every page of the available census ( 1841 - 1911 at present) so although these companies are making a profit, they do have costs to incur in running their sites plus all their software and hardware that enable us all to view the documents plus the cost of digitising everything. I do subscribe to one of these sites, I think the cost is a little higher than it should be, but I accept it.
#3 | Posted: 29 May 2015 09:34
I agree they should be in the Public domain but they had to be scanned, transcribed and added to a huge database to be searchable.

This would have to be paid for somewhere

#4 | Posted: 29 May 2015 09:43
Go to your local library, they usually have subscriptions to Ancestry or FindMyPast
#5 | Posted: 29 May 2015 09:55
The records are free if you are willing to scroll through a reel of microfilm at a library or other family history centre.
Another way to "check" for free is the FREECEN website. If the census piece you want has not been transcribed yet, you could offer to do it and I believe they will send you a CD of the images.
What you are paying for at Ancestry, FMP etc is the expense of digitising the records, indexing them, maintaining the website which hosts them, and accessing them from the comfort of your own home instead of incurring travel costs to where they are kept.
As someone who began researching family history many years ago by spending hours scrolling through blurry images on fiche and microfilm readers, I can tell you which method of access I prefer!
The fee also helps to fund the digitisation of other records such as parish registers.
Ann Milroy
#6 | Posted: 29 May 2015 10:47
The UK Census online project FreCen referred to by the last poster is working to provide free access to all UK census records. Started in 1999 it is still very much a work in progress but to date has some 28 million records.

Free BMD provides information on births, marriages and deaths.

They are both part of the Free UKGEN
#7 | Posted: 29 May 2015 16:50
I agree - public records, paid for be the taxpayer in the past, should be free to view now. I would save a fortune. Being a senior citizen I find it hard to pay but my family tree is my hobby. It helps to keep me and my brain active
#8 | Posted: 1 Jun 2015 10:26
Years ago, I used to catch buses and trains to get to London. A lot of time effort & energy just to get to St Catherines house, etc to look at info for my family history, now -an- days , I do most of my research via the computer, and I don't mind paying, however I think the more years you are a member of any site, your payment should decrease ,and ultimately after 10 years it should be free. Now that I am much older in years, I have more time on my hands ,yet less money to waste, but I so enjoy finding out about my ancestors, for the past 30 years.
My main worry is the reduction in visiting Record Offices, like Warwickshire, closed for the first week, somedays it only opens for a short time ,all these Council cuts will impact even more !!!!
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