Wednesday, 13 February 2008

Ulster Historical Foundation increases its prices

Well I guess you can never charge too much for a good thing...

Just discovered the following recent announcement from the AncestryIreland website:

"The Ulster Historical Foundation is an educational, not-for-profit charity that receives no public funding. We keep our costs down to a minimum, and rely upon the goodwill of our volunteers and your custom in order to provide our services.

We have conducted a review of our prices, and unfortunately have to announce an increase in our charge for accessing our online birth, marriage and death records.

From 1 February 2008, the price will be £7 (£5 for Guild members) to view up to 5 full records from a single search of a particular birth, marriage or death record database. This is only the first time we have had to raise our charges for these databases.

We believe that this remains good value, especially for those with partial information about their ancestor. We would encourage you to take advantage of current prices, and hope that you will continue to look upon us to service your ancestral research needs in the future. "

Unbelievable, in my humble and very personal opinion! It should be noted that to qualify to pay the £5 Guild rate per record, as opposed to the £7 rate, you need to pay an annual subscription of £30 to join the Guild (yes, that is in Sterling!). It should also be noted that the "five full records" literally means for five records with the same name. So if you search for William Smith, your £7 will allow you to see five birth records for a William Smith. If you find who you are looking for on your first attempt, the credits are not transferable. There is an advanced search facility that allows searches by name, date, father's name and parish. Typically however, you only gain access to this after you have already paid your £7 after a basic search involving only a name and a year. In other words, you won't know if your William Smith, son of Ebenezer from Belfast, is on the system until after you have paid up front. If he isn't there, you at least have the consolation of getting to know about five other completely unrelated Billy Smiths...

This month's Your Family Tree magazine (issue 61) carries an opinion piece that I have written on the high prices of Irish content suppliers, but you can probably see where I am going with this...!


Updated: Contrast this with the English Federation of Family History Societies online website at Family History Online. FFHS is also a non-profit making charitable company. I have just spent the last three hours doing research for a client using this site. Each index entry on the database costs in the order of pennies (eight pence for a baptism lookup, for example). So far, for the cost of £5, I have confirmed about ten events, and looked up many others that I have discounted, and I still have about £2.50 to go.

To put into context, the cost of one Irish record is a little just under a hundred times the cost of one English record accessed on a similar site.

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