A Second Look

Filed in On The Hunt, Reviews by on 21 March 2014 41 Comments

If you’ve read me here or on Facebook for any length of time you’ll know I am a big fan of using newspapers to fill in both the factual and contextual gaps in your family tree. So when, in late 2012, announced the launch of their new website, you’d be forgiven for thinking I would have jumped at the chance to sign up. However, the limited number of papers and pages available left me cold. I was also among the many loyal users of who have felt frustrated by the extra subscription required to access once it became part of the family. If I’d signed up for, I’d be paying three separate subscriber fees to the same company. While I could justify that for because of the rich and relevant content available, I could find no similar incentive to sign up to

Fast forward to today. I’ve decided to take a look to see how has progressed. Originally claiming only some 800 papers in their collection, today their stats are a little more impressive:

For this exercise I signed up for the free 7 day trial offer. I did have to provide my credit card information to initiate the trial. You’ll have to keep reading to see if I cancelled or not!

For my first search I used the term “M F Beirn” and filtered by Pennsylvania. This particular ancestor of mine led a short (dead by 33) but colorful life. I’m always on the hunt for any news tidbit about him. I’ve had good luck with on this ancestor so I was anxious to see if could uncover anything new. Sadly, of the 426 matches listed, it quickly became clear only the first 22 hits included any recognizable version of the name “Beirn”. Of those, only one article was related to the “M F Beirn” in question. However, on the plus side, among those 22 hits were a few articles on related Beirns that warrant further review.

For my second test, I used only the surname “Cathcart” and filtered by South Carolina. The Cathcart males are often identified by their first and middle initials. This can play havoc with search engines returning every instance of only one initial, at times unattached to the surname. I’ve found, through trial and error, this is the best strategy even though it casts far too large a net. I followed this search with a sort by oldest date to newest date. I could also have narrowed the date range even more to cover only the years my target ancestor was alive. This search produced 1,646 matches. At first I was disappointed. The date range began well after the death of my most elusive Cathcart: George Hume. On closer inspection though, a real gem was found! An article mentioning George’s son W.R., in which the phrases “acknowledged humorist” and “several practical jokes” caught my eye. I’ll have to savor that article at a later date.

And that, my readers, is where finally got my attention. Oh, to be sure I was impressed with the search and load speeds. The viewing interface is also very user friendly. But the one area in which excels is the ability to do something with an article once you’ve found it. You may print or save an article to your desktop – either in whole or in part. This is true of other sites such as However, unlike, you are able to clip an article to save right on the site for later use. You also have to ability to save an article directly to your family tree. And finally, you truly have the ability to share these discoveries via email and social media. Did I also mention, you can save your searches as well! No more fruitless repetition of a search because you we unable to get through all the hits on the first look. For those folks who are fortunate enough to find the volume of content they need to justify the subscription, the save-share features make this a very enjoyable service to use.

So, will I be keeping or cancelling At $79.95 per year for a full priced subscription I will have to weigh my options carefully. Clearly the site has added significant content since it’s inception. I was excited by the user interface as well as the load speeds of the site. The ability to easily save and share content found on the site is one of my chief complaints about but is not it’s replacement. Rather it would be a supplemental subscription. I want to add to my subscription repertoire at the best possible price.

Ultimately, I did subscribe. I have found the site useful to both my personal research and as a idea generator for client work. I encourage you to use the free trial option to explore the site before you sign up [but be sure to read the cancelation directions]. Like any other newspaper site, they are a fabulous investment…if they have the papers your looking for.

Happy Hunting!

by Rorey Cathcart

Copyright (c) 20 March 2014

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Citation for this post:

Rorey Cathcart, “ A Second Look” posted 21 March 2014, The Who Hunter ( : accessed [DD Month YYYY])

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About the Author ()

Professional genealogist and lecturer. Located in Charleston County, SC. Special research interests in South Carolina, Southern States, Irish Heritage and Migratory Patterns. Researcher for Genealogy Roadshow on PBS seasons two and three.

Comments (41)

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  1. Ike says:

    Ancestry subscribers get a discount on If you use the same email address on both sites, when you get to the billing page you should see the discount. Right now it’s half price or $39.95 for a year.

    • Ike, Thanks for the heads up on the discount opportunity for users. Love the ability to save and link to my tree. Some of the research work I’ve been doing in Philadelphia this week is based on hits! Love the site. Hope others will too.

      Thank you so very much for stopping by.
      Rorey Cathcart

  2. Jana Last says:


    Thanks for your thoughts on I’m also an subscriber and have been reluctant to subscribe to I already am a subscriber to GenealogyBank and Fold3. Now, I may have to give another look.

    I want to let you know that your blog post is listed in today’s Fab Finds post at

    Have a wonderful weekend!

    • Jana,

      Like all newspaper sites, if they’ve got what you need they are great. I’ve been very fortunate to have both ancestors and client research in the realm of holdings.

      Much as I love – I’m an affiliate advertiser for them – the inability to do something with their content or even save a search is a strike against them. is a great secondary newsprint source if you can get in on Ike’s discounted subscription!

      Thanks again for your support and the mention of Friday’s Fab Finds!


  3. Cap says: seems to be down since early this morning.

  4. Duff says:

    Is their a complete listing of what newspapers are in their inventory? I’m not going to subscribe unless I know what newspapers they have.

    • SortingHat says:

      No there isn’t. You have to search hard and hope you come across the one you want. It would be nice if the site had a *free view* where you can view the page online for free but pay $$ if you want the page offline or print it out.

      Not allowing you to even see the page to make sure it’s what you want is beyond morally wrong. It’s a good example of how capitalism has lead to greed and monopolies. This site is pretty much the only site left doing anything where others have pretty much stopped.

      Treasure Trove has had the same set from 5 years ago.

  5. Chuck Curtis says:

    Great article. I was deliberating whether or not was worth the money. You’ve convinced me to give it a try.

  6. SortingHat says:

    Would someone please send a memo to the planning department to allow *freeviews* where you can view it for free online but pay subscription to save/print it? That would prove that if you like the site enough you will subscribe to save your search results.

    The current way is monoplism which is a natural result of uncontrolled capitalism that’s going to make the next big bust cycle which we still haven’t recovered from the previous 2008 one despite media lies and cooing.

  7. Chat says:

    I subscribed to but concluded it is not worth the price — not enough coverage. I also was put off by their recent bit of gamesmanship regarding an “upgraded” subscription. When I purchased my subscription they advertised that they constantly added papers. But the last time I logged on and attempted to open results on certain papers I was informed that they were not available unless I upgraded to a new “publishers extra.” I went back and forth with them about this to no satisfaction — seems to me they changed the rules in mid-game. In any event, from what I can tell the new papers don’t add much. I will stick to free sites such as the Brooklyn Eagle and selected individual archives available for pay.

  8. J Chak says:

    I have a year subscription to; but I cannot use it, because the pages will not load. I have made clippings; but I cannot access them, because the pages will not load. If does not have adequate bandwidth available, then the value of their service is called into question.

    • Have you tried another browser? The site is loading for me on both Safari and Chrome.

      • Will Wright says:

        In your article praising, you meant “you’re” not “your.” I have found their support service to be useless. They never respond to subscriber questions, much less resolve the issue in question. The clipping sharing feature does not work. May I respectfully ask if paid or rewarded you in other ways for the favorable article you wrote?

        • Will,

          I did not in 2014, and do not now, receive compensation from or their parent company for this article. I pay full price for my subscriptions. Additionally, it is my policy to always include a disclaimer clearly stating any potential compensation I may receive, directly or indirectly, from a company I mention. You can see an example at the bottom of this post:

  9. M. Barwick says:

    I am absolutely disappointed with customer service! The site is wonderful, however, I purchased a subscription for my sister, using her email address & created a password for her. Now neither she, nor I, are able to access the account and I have been trying to reach the site via email & phone (you only get a recording to leave your info- no humans to talk to) for 19 days! I have received one auto response to my email saying someone would get back to me…still waiting. Meanwhile, they have my money and the clock is ticking on my subscription. BUYER BEWARE!

  10. Ralph Corry says:

    Lots of free newspapers on …The Portal to Texas History…the only drawbacks are that you cannot clip articles real well……however papers such as Galveston, Houston etc….

  11. Paul kellogg says:

    I was very disappointed in their schemes to maximize revenue. I was just interested in one month for 7.95 but called to get help in avoiding getting billed again after the 1 month period. The help lady stepped me thru the menus to show me how to sign up for only 1 month with no automatic renewal. Then when I went to do searches, most articles were blocked – to see them I had to pay for their premium service, another 12 dollars. Ok, so I used it for the month And payed the $20 but guess what. They keep billing me for $20/mons for 2 extra months. When I contact them the recording says they are busy and ask me to leave a message but they don’t get back to me. This is not an ethical operation. If you use this service, by all means use a credit card not PayPal so that you have a means to contest the follow on charges and watch your cc billing closely.

  12. Marilyn Sliva says:

    I never was very keen on because they have very little content for New Jersey (along with everyone else), especially Newark, where most of my ancestors resided. Recently I found a large # of cousins that moved to the Ocean County area and since they had the Asbury Park Press I decided to try the 7 day trial – and found over 15 articles (with obits, engagements, etc). Since I am an member and also found that some of these same relatives served in the military I decided to upgrade my subscription to All Access so I got Fold3 and I have had the subscription for over 2 months – and found a number of new articles, HOWEVER, I can’t view a single one of them without upgrading to their publishers edition. I called today to see what was included in the basic service (that is what you get with All Access) and they told me to call – and, of course, I get the recording. I sat on hold for 20 minutes for someone at Ancestry to not even be able to explain what is covered in the service they offer. Needless to say, I am extremely disappointed. There is no email listed for Ancestry – only their address in Utah. I did send an email to support @ to see if I can get any information, but I’m not very optimistic based on the experience today. VERY VERY FRUSTRATING – and seems like misrepresentation from Ancestry. I’ve even tried to google “ basic edition content” and it just keeps bringing me to my subscriber page and offering me to upgrade.

    • SortingHat says:

      Capitalism at it’s best! Exploit and remove competition! 😉 They are part of the crowd that believes the future is all smartphones.

      Google has recently made it a few years ago where you can’t even have a webpage unless it’s dumbed down to phone level only so you have to have the touch friendly crap added to it or Google won’t even list you and they are like AT&T before the big breakup controlling a large share of the web.

      Other search engines are (enhanced) by Google so you can’t go to company B or C anymore either.Ether.

  13. Joyce says:

    Here is the issue I forwarded to after just starting to use it and their poor response:
    After clipping an article and saving it to my Ancestry site the article is not legible. Any suggestions?
    Reply: Thank you for contacting The images saved to are only meant to be place holders referencing the original content on You will always get the best quality by viewing the original source on
    Seth Support’s Online Help Page:

    So does this mean you loose all your research when I unsubscribe?

    —–Original Message—–

  14. SortingHat says:

    I can’t stand how the site has gone the *Phone look* on their site. It works great and is flashy if you have a touch pad but for those of us who don’t it’s an awkward experience with a bunch of click scroll. Click scroll to get to each paper and date requiring multiple tabs to remember where you are or your stuck back at the beginning.

    I feel the site is a rip off of NewsPaper

    The majority of phone users don’t have or have never used a computer beyond spreadsheets and CAD simulation so don’t understand these touch friendly websites translates to a god awful desktop/laptop experience then they later join the ranks of Microsoft and expects us to use an OS designed only for such devices believing in the mass marketing hype.

    For failure they pat themselves on the back and call it a *good failure*. There is no such thing as a good failure.

  15. Nate says:

    I signed up for this service thinking the price was much less than $80/year. When I saw the charge of $74 on my CC account I went to the website and it said that was “semiannual”! When I tried to call them, the voice said that their representatives were helping other people. I called my bank and disputed the charge. To my knowledge, sent me no receipt so I can only conclude that they were deceptive. It can only be worth $80/year, much less $150/year, if you are using it on a daily basis. I did find some useful info, but not enough to justify that much money.

  16. Liza says:

    I am not happy either and cannot figure out how to cancel. Very unhappy…

  17. John M says:

    I have subscribed to it and feel I have gotten my monies worth for my ancestry research. It was very user friendly and fast on the searches. It got hung up a few times but it wasnt intolerable. Some of the issues I read above may be related to OCR or poor scans. I tried multiple search methods and found different information each time – ie – full name, full name with middle initial, last name only, and searching day by day for a time period.
    But now, having dug as far as I can into my history, I have started digging into my wife’s. saved me a lot of driving looking for obits and wedding announcements, etc, but the newspapers I need for my wife’s tree simply arent available. I didnt realize how lucky I was having 5 newspapers on there for my background while my wife has none!
    I will not likely renew my subscription until more papers get added that are of importance to me. It is unfortunate that they dont list the papers and dates they do have available, but I suspect they would not get as many subscribers.
    Overall, it is worth the money, but probably only needed for one subscription length and you’ll have found everything available.

  18. Beth says:

    Is there a way to cancel? I have searched the site for any info on how to do so and don’t see any mention of it. Anyone have a answer as to how to do so?

  19. J.D. says:

    Yeah, I’ve dealt with this crappy, deceptive website as well. I needed the info they have a monopoly on for my entertainment research. This price raising business just continually shows their greed, even upping the price of their basic subscription. Thankfully, at least SOME info is available outside of their tentacled grasp on certain New York and California archive sites. Who knows how long before these jerks try to put THEM out of business as well. Hopefully, a better, fairer competitor will come along and put these shysters out of commission. By the way, they choose to waive their little “ancestry” fee to fellow Mormon cultists.

  20. Bonnie Rae says:

    I’m glad I read this before taking the plunge and subscribing. Has anybody else noticed that dropped many of the newspapers that were available with a regular subscription as soon as they started And since starting it, they have not added a single new newspaper. Seems unethical. Or worse. subscriptions are pricey enough without longtime subscribers having to pay more for information they were getting with a regular subscription in years past.

  21. j.d. says:

    Now, if THAT wasn’t enough, these jerks have just hijacked The Chicago Trubune archives as well!

  22. John G says:

    I’ve been thinking about subscribing to for quite some time now, but after reading the reviews here, the majority are very negative. So, for now I will wait until I can verify that many of their problems are resolved, to viewers satisfaction. They seem to have very poor customer service, and try to price gouge or trick you into a higher priced service.
    Now, when I tried using search function before signing up, kind of a example page, did show some results from a small local paper that I would be interested in viewing. But, all the negative comments make me too leary right now. Thanks, John G

  23. John Moran says:

    There is NO way on the website to UNSUBSRIBE….. VERY UNFAIR. I just noticed a $64.90 charge on my credit card following a free 7 day trial. I somehow was put on a re-curring auto pay withour my knowledge.
    No notice was ever given to me that my free trial was ending…. they simply charged me the $64.90 charge.
    I immediately called my CC company to dispute the charge. There is NO WAY I’m going to pay this unfair billing charge!!!!
    The option of CANCELLATION does not exist on their website…. beware.

    • John,

      I’m sorry to hear you and so many others have found customer service at disappointing. However, the details and terms of the trial were there when you signed up (see linked image below.) Essentially, it was up to you within the 7 day period to switch off auto-renew to prevent the subscription going forward. I would certainly agree with you though, they could do a better job of labeling an option as “Cancel Free Trial” or add instructions to turn auto-renew off as a means of cancellation.

      • Valerie Coleman says:

        I am suppose to switch off the free 7 day trial today, but everytime I go to site, it does not give me the option to “Cancel,” only sign up, and start my 7 day trial. How do you cancel if they don’t give you that option? I will probably be paying if I can’t figure this out, so I consider that a “rip-off.” I didn’t find anything worth 50.00 some dollars…disappointing for sure!

  24. Rory Dudley says:

    I upgraded to Ancestry all access, because they were running a deal. At this point Newspapers has been completely useless. Everything that looks like it might be interesting will pop up a window. Give us more money and we will show you something useful. We really mean it this time….really.

  25. revmadison says:

    I’m canceling if I can figure out how. I assumed when they said “All Access” that I would have All Access. I now have “no access” if I don’t up grade. That’s called “Bait and switch and it’s illegal. Someone smarter than me needs to sue.

  26. catherine says:

    my credit card was charged for my 30 day “free” trial after one week. and the part about it being “easy” to cancel anytime, is not so easy after all. is FRAUD, and a scam at best. i hope people will read the comments before falling victim to this site. as the author of any article about them i would at the very least edit your post about them to include their less than stellar business practices.

    • I’m sorry you’ve had a disappointing experience, but as this 2014 article and the site states, the free trial is for 7 Days not 30. Hence why your credit card was charged after one week. While we might wish sites like would give us more advanced warning a free trial is about to end, they are neither a fraud nor a scam. The cancelation information was available to you when you signed up for the trial (see the grey box on the right side of this image.)

  27. sandra dorsey says:

    I tried ancestry years ago for 6 months. I got tired of watching folks change/manipulate the transcribed info into something they wanted (which in my family line, made the info, inaccurate when folks kept changing her name on there). When I complained to ancestry management about that, they said they knew it was going on, couldn’t do anything about it though. SO..I dumped ancestry on that. I mean who wants to read information that was correct, changed into bogus info to create an entirely different line of folks who dont even exist? ON top of that, Fold3, and Genealogy bank from all reports are with extremely bad ratings. Therefore Im afraid to even give them a chance. THE fear of being ripped off on just the billing process alone, is enough to frighten folks away if they aren’t satisfied and want to cancel. Since Im originally from upstate NY State..I was using website..which helped me alot on folks out of onondaga county. BUT moving into chemung county, hardly anything is found in obits, etc. Since Im scared to take a chance on genealogy bank, as well as the rest of the sites that offer up obits with bad ratings and good possibilities of being ripped off..I tend to drop everything right there. Let things be as they are w/o obits. Frankly folks, I think ALOT of the ancestral information offered up on ancestry, family search, etc are either bogus, or seriously incomplete. Best way to do your research, is the old way. GO to the cemeteries, and from there, the county and/or state level and apply for birth, death and marriage certificates. THE rest can be manipulated.

    • Sandra,

      I love! I also use which has some papers that may help you and is free like Fulton. (

      With any newspaper site, before you sign up for a free trial or subscription it is important to review the site’s available titles to see if they have papers of interest to you. Neither GenealogyBank nor Newspapers appear to have anything relevant for your search. Newspaperarchive has a very limited collection of Elmira papers and nothing from Havana.

      I understand your frustration with Ancestry’s user-generated correction system. I have also been dismayed by the obvious false corrections made only to shoehorn a family into someone’s tree. On the other hand, I have made many corrections to equally obvious mis-indexed names. The only solution I see to the proliferation of bad genealogy out there is to dedicate ourselves to producing, and most importantly publishing, well sourced genealogy on our families. That said, the records sites like Ancestry and FamilySearch have on offer are invaluable to me in my work.

      The push by FamilySearch to transition their microfilm collection to digital accessibility is a boon for all serious genealogists willing to research in original records. For your Chemung County, NY example, probate and deed records are now available for browsing online as are some other court records.

      As a professional researcher and lecturer I maintain most of the major subscription services available to assist me in my work. In my experience the disappointment customers express with these sites breaks down into three categories: those who sign up for free trials then fail to follow the opt out instructions before they are charged, those who pay but then don’t find anything of value to their research and those who sign up only to discover genealogy is a lot harder than the TV ads and Genealogy TV shows make it seem. I have been very happy with each of the sites you mentioned as well as several others.

  28. EW says:

    I don’t see what all the complaints are about; I LOVE In fact, since they’ve beefed up their stockpile, I’ve been searching for facts there more than Ancestry. I’ve actually experienced mental overload playing Obituary Mathematics and Wedding Announcement Calculus–I can sometimes just lock on one small town newspaper and pull in names that fill in so many blanks. I love it. I’ve given several chances but they always fall short–every state that I need only has papers in cities that I don’t have any connections to. Fold3 did nothing for me–I found not much more for my military relatives than I could have with what Ancestry already has.

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