Some researchers have voiced frustration with the new FamilySearch requirement to create a free account and be signed in before being permitted to freely search the records.
Change is annoying and so is having one more site where you need to remember your login and password. When I didn’t receive a response from FamilySearch in response to my question about the changes, I asked an insider. Okay, I asked my husband. He’s worked for Ancestry.com, FamilySearch.org, and now works for MyHeritage.com.
First, here’s the official line from FamilySearch:
“Beginning December 13, 2017, patrons visiting FamilySearch.org will see a prompt to register for a free FamilySearch account or to sign in to their existing account to continue enjoying all the free expanded benefits FamilySearch has to offer. Since its launch in 1999, FamilySearch has added millions of users, billions of various historical records, and many fun, new features like Family Tree, Memories, mobile apps, digital books, and dynamic help. In order to accommodate continued growth of these and future free services, FamilySearch must assure all its partners that its content is offered in a safe and secure online environment. Patrons creating a free account and signing in fulfills that need.”
Now, from my husband:
- FamilySearch displays content from archives and other organizations and some of these collections have contractual obligations requiring FamilySearch to control how they share the collection and control who can access the collection. There have always been free collections at FamilySearch you could only access by being signed in with a free account. As contracts are renewed, it’s possible more collections insist on these requirements. Or, it could be that FamilySearch has decided to make everyone meet the minimum requirements these select collections require.
- Many sites displaying content deal with computers trying to “crawl” their sites and take their content. FamilySearch has a legal obligation to the archives, etc. it contracts with to protect many of these collections and not permit “crawling” by third parties. Forcing everyone to login to their site before accessing the data may be one way FamilySearch monitors these abuses and abides by their contractual obligations.
I’m sorry if you’re one of the researchers who feels inconvenienced by this change.
If you’re bothered by needing to remember one more login and password–
FamilySearch allows you to stay signed in for up to two weeks. I always stay signed in for two weeks and I tell my computer it can remember my username and password.
If you’re annoyed you might get unwanted emails–
FamilySearch allows you to adjust your notifications & privacy settings.
Many people create one devoted email account they use to sign up for websites, etc. or a Gmail account will sort your emails by Promotions, Social Media sites, etc to keep your primary email feed brief. (My FamilySearch emails either go to an “Updates” folder or a “Forums” folder at Gmail and I only check these when the mood strikes.)
If you’re annoyed that you have to register at FamilySearch to see records that are freely searchable on other sites–
Many FamilySearch collections are available on multiple sites, so you can always visit the site with the lowest requirement for online searching (such as Library and Archives Canada or NARA). OnGenealogy will continue to add all sites where a collection can be visited. Our priority is to add free sites first, then subscription sites.
IMHO, it is completely worth it to have a free account at FamilySearch. You will have access to some great collections from MyHeritage, Ancestry, FindMyPast, and other subscription sites that have swapped collections with FamilySearch. Win-Win! And FamilySearch has incredible collections of its own. Not completely sold yet? A few other benefits include:
- FamilySearch Family Tree- build a free family tree online
- Free family tree art printables with data pulled from your FamilySearch tree
- Free printable family tree charts with data pulled from your FamilySearch tree
- FamilySearch Memories, record stories and upload photos for free
- FamilySearch Indexing projects, volunteer opportunities from your home
- FamilySearch partner apps–many are free to everyone and provide amazing helps w/data from your FamilySearch tree
What if I still don’t want to create a free account at FamilySearch?
- Visit one of almost 4,000 Family History Centers worldwide and search the records and the FamilySearch family tree without a personal account.
- Without creating an account at FamilySearch you can still scan their catalog, search the user-submitted genealogies & personal family trees, view user-submitted photos and stories, search their digitized book collection, and visit their Wiki.
- Or, as I said above, many FamilySearch collections are available on multiple sites, so you can always visit the site with the lowest requirement for online searching (such as Library and Archives Canada or NARA). OnGenealogy will continue to add all sites where a collection can be visited. Keep searching for collections at OnGenealogy and find alternative sources for the same material.