Access to Ancestry.com dropped for FHCs
March 19, 2007
For the past seven years, Ancestry.com has provided free access to their databases to Family History Centers throughout the world. Recent negotiations between The Generations Network, Inc. and the LDS church have resulted in a termination of the free access.
The Generations Network, Inc. recently issued the following statement.
A STATEMENT FROM ANCESTRY.COM REGARDING THE RECENT ANNOUNCEMENT FROM THE FAMILY HISTORY CENTERS OF THE CHURCH OF JESUS CHRIST OF LATTER-DAY SAINTS
On March 16, 2007, a communication was sent to the Directors of Family History Centers from the Worldwide Support management of the Family History Department. Ancestry.com wishes to clarify a number of points not addressed by this communication.
For the past seven years, Ancestry.com has provided all Church family history centers free access to Ancestry.com without a formal licensing agreement in place or any compensation from the Church.
Over the past several months, Ancestry.com has been working actively to reach agreement with the Church on a formal licensing arrangement by which it could continue to make its service available to the public for free. Unfortunately, the two parties were unable to reach an agreement on this matter.
Ancestry.com strongly desires to have a licensing arrangement with the Church that would allow it to continue to provide free access to the public in Family History Centers. The company said it still hopes to create an acceptable agreement with the Church. The Ancestry Library Edition is available free to the public in over 1400 public libraries in the U.S. and U.K. via a similar licensing arrangement.
Ancestry.com and the Church have cooperated over the years on a number of projects to digitize and index some important online databases. The Generations Network values its relationship with the Church and is committed to working closely with the Church and all players in the genealogy world to advance interest in family history across the world.
Because of existing contractual agreements, a select number of Ancestry.com databases will continue to be accessible inside LDS Church family history centers. These include the 1880, 1900 and 1920 U.S. censuses, full name indices for the British 1841-1891 censuses (England and Wales), World War I draft cards, and a few additional smaller databases.
Dick Eastman, who was present at the BYU conference this week when this statement was issued, published interesting comments in his blog. Read his statement here.
I have been researching my and other family genealogical backgrounds for over 30 years. In this time frame, I have seen ancestry.com suck up many of the free genealogy sites. Furthermore, they are expensive. I have nothing against ancestry; however, my philosophical bent is that all of this data should be free to whomever wants it. Norway for instance, has probably the most free and most informative genealogical sites in the world and they are easily available online. I have researched my family and am back to the early 1700's using these websites. In addition to these sites, the LDS was a great help when I first began my research.
On the other hand, England is expensive and everything costs and it is a pain to do research there. The LDS parish registers are free and are the only ones to obtain definitive genealogical information on your English ancestors.
Finally, the Godfrey Memorial Library in Connecticut, and the Sutro Library in south San Francisco are two research gems in the USA. The Sutro specializes in New England, and all of the USA census records are available there. In addition, many city directories and vital records from all over the country are found at the Sutro. The Godfrey has minimal cost, and the Sutro is free.
My wish for the future is that these sites remain affordable to anyone who wishes to use them.
Posted by: Hans Waagen | April 06, 2007 at 07:13 PM
I agree entirely that our genealogy access should be free. Genealogy is a wonderful hobbie for people and researcher's sometimes have fixed income and are not able to have access to certain sites because the expense. This is also what humanity is all about. Most of the information did not cost our ancestor's so it should not cost us. There are too many people out there that want to make a 1.00. This is good in MODERATION.But those who are charging way too much are doing it with "our" ancestor's information. The world is getting too greedy,
Posted by: Marianne | April 07, 2007 at 10:11 PM
Although I agree that it is wonderful to have this info available free of charge, I have to say that it must take a tremendous amount of time and effort to get all this info entered into a database that makes it possible to view it online. Who is forking over the money to pay the ones who are doing all this work? Someone must have to copy or photograph all those records, etc. I realize the Church has done MUCH toward getting records copied, etc. but they aren't the only ones who have contributed to that end. I know I personally don't have the time nor money to travel all over the world looking up documents, and I'm glad the Church and Ancestry and anyone else involved has been making these things available for me to view online. I do agree that Ancestry is expensive, and I think they could afford to lower their access fees a bit, but I don't mind contributing my share if it helps those folks be able to keep doing what they're doing. Just my .02
Posted by: Gaileen White | April 08, 2007 at 03:12 PM
I also have been researching family histroy for many years. It has been harder & harder to access anything on ancestry.com & now I know why. I just don't understand what the big deal is. I thought Ancestry.com & LDS were partners. I guess not. Talk about taking a step bacwards.
Posted by: Rick Hidde | April 09, 2007 at 07:31 PM