The last couple of months have been a virtual paradise for those of us who are into immigration records. First came a massive update to Ancestry.com's Immigration Collection with the addition of millions of records from 1820 to 1960.
And then came the addition of Hamburg Emigration and other German records, announced by Ancestry.com yesterday. I amused myself by going here and searching for "Hasselhoff" records.
I took the opportunity to play with this site this morning, and find it very promising. It offers not only the expected British records, but many records for Irish and even mainland Europeans who traveled to other locations via the U.K. I also like the prospect it provides of being able to tie together families that emigrated to different countries. For instance, I belong to a branch of Nelligans who came to the U.S., but have always heard of a branch that went to Australia, so I intend to experiment with Find My Past to see if I might be able to pick up a trail.
The search functionality of the site is fine, and when you get cursory results, you can opt for either a transcript or a digital image (see below for an example of a transcript that includes passenger name, place of departure, destination port, and a few other details, such as others traveling with that passenger). I also snagged a digital image and found it to be very legible and fairly easy to maneuver around.
I do have a couple of minor gripes, though. Unfortunately, I find that the site doesn't play well with Firefox when it comes to viewing transcripts and images (not without some effort anyway), so it's probably best to use Explorer. That's not a huge deal, but what I really don't care for is the credits/time approach to searching. Mind you, Find My Past is not the only site to use this approach, but it still irritates me.
Basically, you have a series of options for buying packets of credits -- and the more you buy, the lower the price-per-credit goes. You then use these credits to view either transcripts (10 credits) or digital images (25 credits). This pricing approach drives me nuts because it forces the user to be overly strategic in their searching. Unless you want to over-spend, you have to carefully consider each and every view, and that's a challenging way to research. I like to get in there and really "work" a database, so I much prefer to pay one flat annual fee (I'd even be willing to pay a premium for this) and be done with it. When I search, I want to focus on the search and not the ticking meter.
Also, it's important to be aware that each packet comes with an expiration date (perhaps a month or a year). So if you purchase a packet, do some searching, and still have some leftover credits, you had better make a mental note or you could lose those credits down the road a bit -- if, like many, you periodically dive in for some research, leave it for a bit, and then dive in again.
Again, I prefer subscription options that don't require me to monitor them so closely. That may be a personal problem because I have so many online subscriptions that it's a hassle to keep these kinds of details straight. And I want to emphasize that Find My Past is far from the only site that uses this approach. In general, it's pretty popular with European genealogical websites.
So please don't let my venting on this particular issue scare you off from Find My Past. I am a customer and intend to remain one, and I'm excited at the prospect of what I might be able to find. I'm just hoping that they'll consider offering a flat-fee pricing option at some point!