I am a budget-conscious family historian on a budget. Paid genealogy sites don't fit into our budget, but they do fit into the budgets of our local library and our local Family History Center (FHC). (Click the link to find a location near you.) These organizations offer one or more paid online genealogy tools at no cost to their patrons.
When I began working on my family history in earnest I learned that our local FHC offered Ancestry.com. At the time, it was the only paid site the FHC offered and all Ancestry.com databases were available. For a time Ancestry.com was not available at any FHCs and now the Library Edition only is available.
Ancestry.com was my go-to site (as a beginner) for census records. Some newspapers, particularly several years of The Steubenville Herald-Star, were available and very helpful. The director of the FHC encouraged me to download the images I found. When I wondered aloud about the necessity of doing so he responded that things change and they might not always be available for free. He was right because it wasn't two years until Ancestry.com was gone.
Now the FHCs offer many paid databases free of charge to their patrons. They include Access Newspaper Archives; Alexander Street Press, American Civil War; Ancestry.com Library Edition; Find My Past; Fold3; Godfrey Memorial Library; World Vital Records; and others. Some larger FHCs which are open more hours offer access to more databases.
If you hesitate to go to a Family History Center because you're afraid you'll be bombarded with people trying to persuade you to join their church, not to worry. There is no proselyting at the FHCs.
. . . . . . . . . .
This post was written to participate in Amy Coffin's 52 Weeks of Abundant Genealogy which is hosted on Geneabloggers. The theme will change weekly and may be posted any day of the week. This week's theme was paid online genealogy tools. I invite you to join in if you'd like.