By Bill Buchanan (who has also kindly shared his opinions on some of these sites and software).
Why go to the Family History Centre? Accessing the following for free is a good reason!
Here is a list of the subscription websites that are available for free at FHCs and my current impressions … always subject to change.
19th Century British Library Newspapers site, maybe I needed to look for
more prominent people.
FamilyHistoryLink seems similar to free online forums such as RootsWeb or GenForum or sites that allow you to upload gedcoms.
FindMyPast.com I especially love the 1841-1911 census for England and Wales. I usually save the digital images of the pages that have my people. Their passenger information is wonderful too!
Footnote.com had few census records (1860 & 1930). Their historic newspapers show a lot of promise. Ordinary people may be mentioned in Canada and US newspapers.
TheGenealogist.co.uk has a BMD (births-marriages-deaths) index for England and Wales that is inferior to the FreeBMD index for 1837 – 1983, at least up to the 1920s. But its strength is that it covers years that FreeBMD does not cover, and for 1984-2005 it is excellent! It also has an incomplete version of the census.
Genline.com allows you to search digitized images of church books in Sweden. Knowing Swedish would be a big help!
Godfrey Memorial Library – not always a lot of depth, but the breadth is almost overwhelming.
HeritageQuest – The US census index and images is the big thing here! Books and periodicals (PERSI) has some potential. Also Revolutionary War and Freedman’s Bank, and U.S. Serial Set.
Historic Map Works – Coverage seems to be hit-or-miss, but can be excellent.
World Vital Records has potential, but I haven’t found anything specific yet.
Alexander Street Press – American Civil War records – seems to have potential.
Ancestry Institution version for the 1916 Canada Census
The list of software that can be used for free in a FHC includes:
Ancestral Quest 12.1 – which can replace PAF or be used as a PAF utility. This is full-blown software that can synchronize your data with new FamilySearch. There is very little learning curve for PAF users. Some little things are missing but more has been added.
RootsMagic 4 impresses me as very nice genealogy software that can synch your database with nFS. You can import PAF files directly.
MagiKey is genealogy software that can synch with nFS. It uses GEDCOM as its native file format. The census tracker and the timeline looked interesting, but AQ and RM impressed me more.
Charting Companion for nFS. Very similar to PAF Companion and the other Charting Companion software, from the same company.
FamilyInsight can be thought of as the nFS version of PAF Insight, but with the ability to synch your PAF data with nFS. It includes these programs which can also be useed as stand-alone programs:
Get My Ancestors – allows you to download family trees from nFS (less the ordinances, notes and sources).
Ordinance Tracker – a more visual way of managing your temple submissions.
Genline can be accessed via the software or via the website.
Map My Family Tree puts pins on an outline map in every location referenced in your database.
NOTE: The software that can synch with nFS can also reserve and manage ordinances. See the link in the bottom right hand corner of the sign in page for nFS for more information.
(pd comments – please let us know if you see any of your favourites that are available for free and are missing from this list – use the comments. If you are not sure how to access any of the above then ask your FH Centre Director or their staff or call 1-866-406-1830 and ask for FH Centre support. Thank you, Bill)