As part of the changing face of family history centers and the presence of genealogy in the homes of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch made the following announcement at RootsTech in early February 2014.
As new historical record collections are published under the latest agreements with FamilySearch’s affiliates, they will be available on FamilySearch.org and for free on Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, or MyHeritage.com to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch offers free public access to Ancestry.com and findmypast.com through 4,715 local FamilySearch-owned family history centers worldwide. Additional details regarding expanded records access will be announced sometime in 2014, when they are available.
First, what does the announcement mean? The access you have to premium websites through the portal at your family history center will not be changing. All the collections you are accustomed to finding on FamilySearch will still be available.
When you access Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com, you will begin seeing FamilySearch collections on their websites. Anyone who comes into your family history center will have full access to all of these websites and the many other websites available through the family history center portal.
The change you will see is that all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have access to Ancestry.com, findmypast.com, and MyHeritage.com in their homes. Member access will be very much like access for any other person with a paying subscription: through a login and password. To give online systems time to accommodate to increased traffic, not all members will receive access at the same time. There will be a gradual rollout. Some members of your wards and stakes may get their access information before other members. Please assure anyone who is concerned that they do not yet have access to the websites that their access will be granted in a timely manner.
What does this mean to your family history center? If you mainly have members who are using your family history center for access to the portal, you may see a decline in visitors to your center. However, you may find that as members have more access at home, new visitors may come into the family history center for these and other reasons:
- Help in getting their username and password set up.
- Research assistance to help with search results.
- Guidance in how to search websites new to them.
- Support for members who are new to family history.
- Training on adding new information to Family Tree.
- Temple submission processes for newly found ancestors.
The vision of FamilySearch is that family history centers are central to the success of members finding their ancestors and taking those ancestors’ names to the temple. We can look at these website partnerships as adding upon, not taking away from, what family history centers can do to support ward and stake members. Directors, consultants, and members alike can make 2014 the year they submit and take at least one ancestor name to the temple. Be ready!