Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, September 9, 2013

Let me be perfectly clear...

I got the following comment from my blog posts about the agreement between FamilySearch and

I've been reading James Tanner's genealogy blog, and I am under the impression that your "partnering" with will lead to FamilySearch become a paid site. Is that true? If so, I do not want to continue donating my FREE time to indexing. Will you please clarify this matter?
I am amazed that anyone would draw that conclusion from what I wrote. Apparently, this person (and others who made similar comments) did not read what I said and certainly did not read the announcement linked above. I quote from my recent post: "In both cases, you can use the records for "free" if you want to go to a library or in the case of, anyone can use the records for "free."

Let me emphasize so there is no misunderstanding. FamilySearch will always provide the records for free access on the Web. But there are some things that are not "free" for example, there is a charge for ordering a microfilm from FamilySearch. The agreement between FamilySearch and will not change the way either company does business. will still charge for a subscription and FamilySearch will still offer its records free online. The benefit to the community is that both organizations are able to provide more records.

What connection is there between donating time to Indexing and the fact, as it exists now, that charges a subscription? I fail to see a connection. The indexed records are freely available on FamilySearch either in an index or in actual copies of the records. Where is the problem?

I suggest that anyone who is still in doubt read both of my last posts on the subject.


  1. Will the indexing done by the volunteers benefit ancestry. Eg. will the index for free for ancestry.

    1. The index will benefit everyone. The point is that absent the agreement between FamilySearch and, the records would likely not be available at all.

  2. FamilySearch have partnered directly or indirectly with commercial sites already.

    For instance, FS digitised and indexed a collection of parish registers, probate records, electoral registers, etc, for the county of Cheshire, England. They did this, presumably using volunteers, for Chester Record Office, who hold the originals. The indexes (but not the images) went up on FamilySearch and remain there.

    Chester then went out to tender for someone to host the digitised images and a copy of the indexes. That contract was won by FindMyPast, who host images and index on their pay-site.

    I *think* that FS can show the digitised images from their work at Family History Centres - but only there. I hope the volunteer indexers understood what would happen to the images.

    There are numerous other instances of record collections whose images are not accessible through the FS web-site - presumably the commercial contracts are similar. I have absolutely no issue with this sort of work. FS have access to the images, albeit only within FHCs. The rest of us have free access to the indexes (only) online on the FS web-site. And we can save ourselves the expense of a trip the the Record Office, if we like, by buying access to the subscription site.

    The only issue I have is when the FS blog announces X thousand index entries and Y thousand images without bothering to tell the rest of the world that the images are not online through FS but only (we presume) at FHCs. Not admitting the limits smacks of either ignorance or sharp practice.

    1. The issue is with the idea of what is available online. None of the online databases distinguish between the number of records they have in indexes vs. the number for which they have available images. I have been pointing out this issue for years.

    2. Kent is another example. The images of the Parish Registers are on but only available for viewing at FHC's. At least some of them are available on FindMyPast.

      All the counties are in desperate need of funds. They are doing what they must to make the best use of their assets.

  3. I think the confusion stems from the fact that many documents that are currently indexed at Family Search are only available from ancestry, Fold3 or other source so if you want to see the actual document (which a genealogy researcher would want to do), you need to pay to access them from these sites or go to a Family History Center.