Monday, September 9, 2013

Inquiring Minds Want to Know More About the FamilySearch and Ancestry Partnership

You can read the press release about the joint agreement between FamilySearch and at

The FamilySearch blog answered some questions about the announcement of the FamilySearch and Ancestry joint agreement to digitize and index over 1 billion global historical records over the next five years.  The FamilySearch blog post with Questions and Answers is at

I have more Questions, and would appreciate Answers, about this agreement and partnership, including:

*  Does this cover only digitized images and indexed records that have not been digitized or indexed and are not available now?

*  Will both Ancestry and FamilySearch provide the historical records to be digitized and indexed?

*  Are these new to-be-digitized and indexed historical record collections only on FHL microfilm now?

*  Will Ancestry provide digital images for new record collections to be indexed by FamilySearch Indexing volunteers?

*  Will FamilySearch users be able to freely view historical record images, indexed by FamilySearch Indexer volunteers, on

*  Will the record collections to be digitized and indexed by Ancestry be available in index and image format on FamilySearch?

*  Will the collections to be digitized and indexed from FHL microfilms be housed on FamilySearch or Ancestry servers, or both?

*  Will the new record collections to be digitized and indexed include United States records, or just "International" records?  If so, what percentage will be USA records?

*  Will the new record collections to be digitized and indexed include collections from countries for which does not have much coverage?  For example, Mexico, Philippines, Central and South America, Spain, eastern Europe, etc.  

*  Will new collections covered by this agreement impact the current digitizing and indexing schedule at FamilySearch?

*  What will the $60 million committed by Ancestry for five years be used for?  Will it cover record collection acquisition and digitizing by Ancestry, and/or will it cover adding content to Ancestry that was digitized and indexed by FamilySearch?

*  Will continue to use paid indexing services to index new record collections?

If any readers have additional questions, please put them in Comments to this post and I'll add them to this list.

I will submit the list as a Comment to the FamilySearch blog post noted above and to the FamilySearch public relations office (unless they see it first!) later today, and update them if I receive more questions.

I've already had one email about this partnership from someone suspicious of the agreement, which said:

"Won't just put the FamilySearch records behind their pay wall so we can't see them without subscribing to Ancestry?  If I index FamilySearch records, I will be mad if Ancestry steals that index and won't let me see the images I indexed."  

I don't know the answer to my correspondent's questions, but they are good ones (but I think I captured their essence in my list above...).

My own views on this joint agreement and partnership include:

*  This is a good thing for the genealogy community as long as all records digitized and indexed in this project by FamilySearch are available to FamilySearch users for free on the FamilySearch site (both images and indexes).

*  This is a good thing for the genealogy community if records digitized and indexed by Ancestry are available to FamilySearch users for free (both images and indexes).

*  If is going to fund accelerating FamilySearch digitizing and indexing, that will be a good thing.

*  Cooperation is good for the genealogy industry, and so is competition.

What are your views?  Please comment on this post.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2013, Randall J. Seaver


Geolover said...

Randy, you asked:

* Will the record collections to be digitized and indexed by Ancestry be available in index and image format on FamilySearch?

* Will continue to use paid indexing services to index new record collections?

My reading of the available material does not say anything about indexing through/by (whether by paid contract or by volunteers).

It is possible that the microfilm databases to be digitized have not been firmly decided upon yet.

Anonymous said...

I hope you get some answers. Many of these questions are very similar, and I hope that if they are answered, they are answered individually and carefully, as the nuance of this deal is very interesting.

One issue I have that keeps me from indexing more is that I am more interested in indexing things that are not and likely will not soon be indexed by ancestry. This might be selfish, but much of what ancestry has can be accessed either in libraries or during special weeks, so I don't feel it is too selfish. It would be nice if the indexing that the two groups do is nicely coordinated so that this is clear.

Barb said...

The 1915 and 1925 NY State Census is indexed on FamilySearch, however, you have to view the image on Ancestry and you have to have a subscription to view the images. At the very least you have to start a free trial. I am not sure if Ancestry created this index and made it available on FamiySearch or if this index was part of the FamilySearch Indexing Project but this may be a good example of the partnership if we could figure who created the index.

Geolover said...

Barbara, some of the databases (including microfilm images) acquired by and other sites were already indexed by the original owner of the database, and the new host acquired the index as well as the images. Then the new host of the images may share the index with other parties, if their agreement with the original owner allows it.

So learning what entity prepared a particular index can be difficult if it is not referred to in the description of a database.

Anonymous said...

Actually, the FAQs clearly state that anything indexed by FamilySearch indexers will be accessible at no charge through FamilySearch, but they will also be accessible from Ancestry.

That said, I hope we don't see any more indexes on FamilySearch that are available only with a paid subscription to Ancestry. My idea of what should be available when an index is posted is a little too complex to post here, but it does include links being under the terms of the site on which they're found.

Dave L