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# Tuesday, July 29, 2008
FamilySearch Answers Questions about Free Census Indexes
Posted by Diane

Since announcing joint US and English census projects with Ancestry.com and FindMyPast, FamilySearch has gotten questions from its record indexing volunteers, who want to know if the indexes they’re creating will continue to be free to the public.

FamilySearch released a statement today saying that “The answer is a resounding YES!”
 
“All data indexed by FamilySearch volunteers will continue to be made available for free to the public through FamilySearch.org—now and in the future,” says the statement sent by FamilySearch spokesperson Paul Nauta.  “Access to related digital images may not always be free to everyone.”

Why's that? Here’s the bottom line:
  • FamilySearch works within the needs of historical record custodians (such as governments, local and national archives, and historical societies) around the world.
  • Indexes will always be free at FamilySearch, even if the index costs elsewhere.
  • If FamilySearch is able negotiate with record custodians to get free access to record images for everyone online via the FamilySearch site, it will.
  • For some records, FamilySearch may only be able to negotiate free image access for visitors to the 4,500 worldwide Family History Centers (which are open to anyone), along with limited home access to FamilySearch members.
  • Those FamilySearch members eligible for limited home access to the restricted record images would include volunteer indexers who contribute a certain amount of work, and members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (whose tithes help keep FamilySearch operating).
Web developers are coming up with a way to verify the identity of FamilySearch members and expect to have it ready next year.
  • You also often can get free access to the record images by visiting the custodial repository.

census records | FamilySearch
Tuesday, July 29, 2008 1:31:09 PM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)  #  Comments [1]
Friday, August 01, 2008 8:48:45 AM (Eastern Daylight Time, UTC-04:00)
"IF" and "MAY" and a lot of indefinate information was released in this statement. Something is wrong with indexing and imaging being done by volunteers and then multiple for profit companies being able to add to their collections to ultimately justify higher subscription prices.

I understand there are costs to maintaining the databases but like NARA's partnerships it seems like the commercial companies are the primary beneficiary of these efforts. As the coordinator of these volunteer efforts, it seems like the LDS church should be the prime beneficiary and should maintain ownership of both the indexes and the images. I'd feel more comfortable with the limitation of the image availability if I knew that the LDS Church had ownership and the flexibility to determine the access to the images. I would also not have any problem with the LDS Church receiving a huge donation from the commercial companies for their efforts in coordinating the indexing and imaging of records. I'm not a member of the LDS church but have benefited and appreciate all their effort in providing access to information to both members and non-members. I just hate to see the church and all the volunteers getting the raw end of this deal.
Linda
Comments are closed.