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.orgnow 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? Heres 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.