Sadly, more and more genealogical websites are pay-per-view.
When I began working in genealogy in the 1980s and on into the 1990s, as we opened up genealogical websites, they were free to anyone desired to use them.
Here is a photo I am sharing. These are my seven aunts, daughters of John Ficke and Harriet "Bess" McBee Ficke. The back row shows Silva, Marguerite, Ferrol, and Lois. The front row shows Leona, Fay, and Bessie Mae. My father was the only boy.
Rootsweb was one of the first free to the public genealogical sites, and I was an early contributor to Rootsweb. Now, as you can see by the web address, http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/ , they are associated with Ancestry. com which is anything but free. They are a good source, and I do use them, but they are expensive.
After Rootsweb had been going for a while and was being quite successful, and, even though we had all pledged to keep this genealogical source free and open to everyone, some of the "powers that were" decided to cash in on our success and turn the Rootsweb information into a commercial site...and so they did.
To me that was a sorry thing to, but they did it anyway, and they took a lot of our carefully sought out research with them when they went.
Now there are not many free genealogical websites. And Rootsweb ain't what it used to be because it is not-for-profit and unable to get the information that was free to begin with.
Don't get me wrong. I am certainly not against free enterprise, but we had a sort of "hand shake" understanding that we would keep our information open to everyone.
This is right up there with the families, who, when one relative has genealogical information such as a birth certificate, a marriage license, the family Bible, or whatever, and they refuse to share the information with the rest of the family. How does that help anyone?
That's keeping history from, not only the family but, anyone who might benefit by it or be interested in it.
Reminds me of the kid who says, "I know something you don't know!"
How childish is that, anyway?
So, I urge everyone reading this to
a. research your family
b. write up your research
c. give everyone in your family a copy
d. post it on the web for those people you don't even know who might be interested