The January 2008 issue of Internet Genealogy has an article by Diane L. Richard on World Vital Records, the brainchild of Paul Allen, a co-founder of MyFamily.com, who left [MyFamily] in 2002. He is hopeful his new company will become number two in the online genealogy industry. World Vital Records has partnered with dozens of other databases, and while some are free or available other places, World Vital Records hopes to make it a one-stop place for genealogy research. They have had several promotions to bring the cost of the subscription down or to partner with other genealogical societies or magazines.
I signed up several months ago, mainly for the Small Town Newspaper Collection as they have several newspapers from the eastern Washington Area. I do a lot of research for queries for the local genealogical society. World Vital Records also has the Social Security Death Index and Find A Grave,. Their collection of books also seems to be a good resource. I was rather disappointed by my early searches, because if you had a common name you would get 100+ hits in the newspapers, and 99 seemed to be false hits. If the newspaper had the given name in the upper left of the page and the surname in the lower right it still counted as a hit. About a month ago World Vital Records had a survey and I complained about all the false hits on the newspapers, and a couple of weeks later they had changed the search so now the given name and surname have to be close to each other. While this cut down the number of hits, the hits are a lot more productive.
When I first signed up, I checked for several of my end-of-line people in my database. I found several obituaries, and quite a few newspaper articles on various family members. I tried a couple of my brick walls, and did come up with some hits, but I did not find anything that helped break through the brick walls. Since I have been using that source for queries, I have had mixed results, sometimes I have found quite a lot on those I have looked for and sometimes nothing, but then, that is true of research in the library also, sometimes I find nothing, or nothing that ties into the query, and other times I find a lot of information. Recently I was asked to find some information on an Alan Smith who worked for the local newspaper in the 1940s and 1950s. I was surprised that there were not very many Alan Smiths in the city directories for the 1940s and 1950s, and none of them were listed as working for the local newspaper. I checked obituaries and found a few that might fit and still no proof any of them had worked for the local newspaper.
World Vital Records seems to be expanding daily, adding new databases, new partnerships and new content. I, also, like the fact that they seem to be interested in the subscribers and ask the subscribers what they would like to see to improve the web site. What areas would the subscribers like to see more databases? They asked about a scanning service for old photos and the subscribers though that was a great idea. I think that is a good idea also, but I do not like having to send my valuable old photos to them to do the scanning. While I think they would do a great job and be careful with the photos, the shipping company may not be so careful. We have a great local photography shop that will make copies of our old prints and we get the negative
Is World Vital Records worth the subscription fee? You should decide for yourself, but for me it seems to be a good subscription.