That's a phrase that I keep hearing over and over again with regard to genealogy. It's well intended and true, but it's a bit frustrating. Here's why.
Perhaps I'm cheap or very familiar with computers, but I don't like visiting the Family History Center. I don't live in Utah where the Salt Lake City center has a variety of hours and access to numerous films. I don't even live near a major city that would be a back-up storage facility for the microfilm of other states. To say going to the Family History Center is convenient and relatively inexpensive is to tell a lie, from my perspective.
You see, I live in a small city in Iowa. The hours for the Family History Center don't readily fit into my schedule (i.e. I'd LOVE Friday hours). I have to get a babysitter or use an evening when my hubby is home. My children are young, so time away from them is nice I'll admit. However, there are so many things I need to do when I'm “away” from them (i.e. grocery shopping and errands), that it's a challenge to make time for the Family History Center.
When I do get to the Family History Center, I have to have ordered films from Salt Lake City. The current rate is $5.50 a film. While that fee is reasonable for what you receive and pales in comparison to the cost of actually going to where the records are located, it's a challenge on a small budget. It's pretty tough to justify (on a tight budget) spending $5.50 to potentially locate one name on an index and need to spend another fee to actually get to the record. As mentioned in my previous posts, to discover what you ordered doesn't have all the records you expected it to have is also very tough to swallow after expending time, energy, and resources.
Now, before you're ready to shoot the blogger, here's the contrast. With FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com, I can access documents whenever it's convenient for me. If I'm up with a sick child in the middle of the night, I can search for records rather than play games. If my home schooling schedule has down time for momma, I can quickly investigate more records. Plus, I can investigate records that might only have one name pertaining to my family and the cost is non-existent or so small (when considered with the other finds I made that month). In short, I don't have to take time away from my family to research and I don't have to justify the costs because they pale in comparison to ordering films.
Having exhausted all the records currently available to me online, I do have to go the next step of ordering films to my local Family History Center. I do request the time from the family schedule to go to the library when it is open around here. I do enjoy the frustration and the exhilaration of finding names knowing that microfilm was a huge leap forward to digging in County Probate Records of some far away place.
The process over ordering film is fairly simple, thanks to online catalog ordering, and relatively inexpensive overall. The microfilm readers are easy to use. The Family History Center staff is friendly and fairly knowledgeable. I don't really mind the process. What I do mind is the comment, “Not everything is online you know.”
My response, given the perspective that is above, “You're right. It currently is not online. But, I can't wait for it to be.”