It's Saturday night, so it must be time for Saturday Night Genealogy Fun with Randy Seaver! Tonight he's gone in a direction I don't think I've seen before.
Here is your assignment if you choose to play along (cue the Mission: Impossible! music, please!):
Ah, so this is a third-hand challenge! Ken McKinlay wrote it, Linda Stufflebean saw and suggested it, and now Randy has posted it for the rest of us. It's a good thing we're all friends in genealogy.
This is an interesting question for me, because I don't actually pay for many sites. But here we go. I'm going to stick to a Top 5, and I will point out that this list is skewed toward American research.
1. Yup, Ancestry.com. It has to be. It's the 500-pound gorilla of the genealogy world. And for fee-based sites, I believe it does have the most records of anyone.
2. FindMyPast, I think. I still don't like the fact that it dumped the really good search forms that it used to have and dumbed everything down for the American market, but it's a great collection of records, including many not available on other sites, such as the British parish records. This is the one subscription site I pony up for every year (in fact, they just charged me my renewal recently).
3. Newspapers.com. It's a tough call which should be #3, this or NewspaperArchive.com, but I went with Newspapers.com for two reasons: its strength in mid-20th-century newspapers and the fact that you get a discount if you bundle it with Ancestry.com, which owns it. I was known as the "newspaper queen" in the San Francisco Bay area because I taught so many classes on using newspapers for genealogy, and I still think they're goldmines for research. For a lot of people who are still working on tracing their families back to the early 20th century, the mid-20th-century ones can be critical in bridging the gap backward from what relatives still remember.
4. NewspaperArchive.com. I find that NewspaperArchive has a broader collection than Newspapers.com, but its strength is in older periods. That won't help you so much if you haven't gotten your family lines back to the 19th century. So I made it #4.
5. Fold3.com, I guess? After my top four, I really had trouble deciding what would be the next most useful site. I decided on Fold3 because that's where Ancestry shifted a lot of its military records and where the new ones in that category have been added, plus it has a lot of city directories and some newspapers. In addition, as with Newspapers.com, if you subscribe to Ancestry also, you can get a discount.