Is it acceptable to use a pay site like Ancestry.com as a reference?

+3 votes
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 If a pay site is used as a reference how can references be checked without paying for membership?

in Genealogy Help by Michael Fields G2G Rookie (250 points)
I wrote a long answer to this question before realizing it really didn't answer the question. So I am deleting the body of the original comment because I don't know how to delete the comment itself.

I did upload my ancestry GEDCOM and it was at least a month before I realized that no one would be able to see my photos without a subscription. I was advised not to delete them because there were enough people on WikiTree who are also on Ancestry.  I am sorry for those others.  The only thing I could do is to screenshot all of the photos and add them to Wikitree. I don't know if they are copyrighted though. Maybe someday I will check into it and do that, but there is so much I have to do first to clean up my Ancestry profiles.

1 Answer

+7 votes
 
Best answer

It depends on which type of records you are referencing. Citing any of Ancestry's collections derived from original records or indexes produced by genealogical societies makes it easy for anyone coming across the profile to search for the document in other ways if they wish. For example, this is a source citation for a death record found in Ancestry's "Ontario Deaths 1879-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947" collection:

Archives of Ontario; Series: MS935; Reel 44. Accessed on Ancestry.com. Ontario, Canada, Deaths 1879-1938 and Deaths Overseas, 1939-1947 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: Ancestry.com Operations Inc, 2010.

It provides information for the original record so it can be verified that way. Also, some libraries in North America and most of the LDS family history centers have a version of Ancestry called "Ancestry Library" that includes most of the record collections, but not member trees, and it is free to access at those places.

As for citing member trees, there is no way to verify them without membership. Since they are effectively "closed to the public" it really isn't the right type of source for the open spirit of WikiTree.

 

by Erin Breen G2G6 Pilot (222k points)
selected by anonymous
Another argument against using Ancestry member trees is that the information in them could have come from anywhere. They are not generally reliable sources.

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