Thursday, January 23, 2014

Ancestry's Acquisition of FamilySearch Records

Ancestry announced two days ago a partnership with FamilySearch, that would add an additional 1 billion records to Ancestry's holdings via FamilySearch. Here is the press release:

PROVO, Utah, Jan. 21, 2014 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) -- Ancestry.com announced today an extension of their collaborative efforts with FamilySearch International that will make more than 1 billion additional records from 67 countries available on Ancestry.com. These already digitized records, provided by FamilySearch, are in addition to the agreement the two largest providers of family history resources announced a few months ago that will help digitize, index and publish an expected 1 billion global historical records never before published online from the FamilySearch vault over the next five years. 
These additional records, which are already digitized collections, represent a significant expansion to Ancestry.com, which hosts the largest collection of global records available online. The records also add to the aggressive international digitization efforts already in place by Ancestry.com. 
As stated previously by the company, Ancestry.com has a long-term content strategy, which is committed to investing $100 million to digitize and index new content over the next five years. The company is focused on providing access to a global collection of records and expand family history interest in its current markets and worldwide. 
The additional collections include more than 1 billion digitized and indexed records and over 200 million images containing birth, marriage, death, census and church records from Europe, Latin America, South Africa, South America, Asia and more. These collections will provide Ancestry.com customers with rich details that will help them discover new information about their ancestors from around the world. 
"We are excited to be expanding our exclusive, groundbreaking agreement with FamilySearch. In addition to the previously announced plan to together digitize 1 billion records never before published online, we're thrilled to be able to provide our members with access to this additional 1 billion records from 67 countries," said Tim Sullivan, CEO of Ancestry.com. "These new global records will mean even more discoveries for our members." 
A focus on adding global content isn't new to Ancestry.com, who has offices around the world and 12 billion global records already on the website. The site currently hosts record collections dating back to the 1300's that include records around the census, immigration and naturalizations and military, just to name a few. In fact, hundreds of millions of records from Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Eastern Europe have been added in recent years to the billions of records from the company's primary operating markets and record digitization projects are underway for collections from many more countries. These 1 billion additional records are expected to be available on Ancestry.com starting in January and fully published over the next few months. To search records from around the world currently available on Ancestry.com visit www.ancestry.com.

This press release leaves much to be desired and opens up questions. Since the data being acquired is international information and access to any international databases on Ancestry requires a World Explorer subscription, does this mean that you'll need to pay for this subscription to view these new databases? As far as the three new Hungarian databases are concerned (Hungary, Select Baptisms, 1734-1895; Hungary, Select Catholic Church Records, 1636-1895; Hungary, Select Reformed Church Christenings, 1624-1895), yes, you do need an Ancestry World Explorer subscription to view records from these new databases.

So my ultimate questions are: How is Ancestry getting away with charging for this information, when you can access it for free on FamilySearch? What exactly is FamilySearch benefiting from all of this, considering they charge absolutely nothing for patrons to use their website and access their information? It only seems logical that they received something in return, since Ancestry is going to be making an increased profit because of these new databases.

Another thing that's bothering me: is any of this new information on Ancestry that's coming from FamilySearch, being indexed and transcribed by their FamilySearch Indexing volunteers? In my honest opinion, records that are being indexed by the FamilySearch Indexing volunteers should remain on FamilySearch, and it should remain free. Always. The countless amount of hours that these volunteers, including myself, have put into indexing these records.. and now Ancestry is making money off of it?

I will no longer be devoting any of my valuable time to FamilySearch Indexing, when it means I may be putting money into Ancestry's deep pockets. No, thank you.

2 comments:

  1. I echo your sentiments. It doesn't seem fair that what is now free at Family search will cost us at ancestry.com. Is there anything we can do to show our displeasure?

    I am an ancestry.com member but I do not have the international membership. I didn't see a reason as it appears they advertise records for England, or the U.K., Scotland, Ireland etc but I don't see advertised Hungary. Are we getting the short end of the stick? What a shame if we are. I am quite disappointed by this news.

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  2. Agreed! Why index "free" records which people will eventually be charged to view on another site? Unless of course the databases are made free...
    Lots of questions remain unanswered here.

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