To be honest, I don’t know if I’d be as interested in genealogy & finding my family’s history if it weren’t for the online tools.
I know many people who have spent hours looking at microfiche trying to find the answers, and that isn’t all that appealing to me.
I would definitely not be where I’m at in regards to my research if it weren’t for the online databases and indices of things that are available online.
If you had asked me years ago about how much I would come to rely on census information, I would have never believed you. I recently used census records from both here and in Canada to sort out a big puzzle that had resulted in some conflicting information. Turns out, that in the mid-1800s, two men named Peter McGregor immigrated from roughly the same area in Scotland to the Quebec area. Both had wives named Elizabeth and both were married about the same time.
One of the Peter McGregors had a son named Robert and a daughter named Jane and moved from Quebec to the United States and settled in Wisconsin. This Peter McGregor is my 3rd great grandfather. (Jane is my 2nd great grandmother.) The other is not directly related to me (as far as I know so far).
But, some online “trees” had these two men all mixed up.
It wasn’t until I was able to take a closer look at census records, specifically the 1860 US Census and the 1861 census (and a few others like that) and determine that these really were two different individuals.
I wish more of the census images were available free online. Thankfully, a lot of the indices are now available, but many of the images are still behind subscription paywalls.