SALT LAKE CITY — The day many LDS Church members have been looking forward to has finally arrived.
Last February, FamilySearch International announced that members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints would soon receive free personal subscriptions to the top three commercial genealogy websites in the world — Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com and MyHeritage.com — accessible from any location.
As of Friday morning, that access has been officially granted.
To sign up for a free subscription, church members can go to familysearch.org/partneraccess and create accounts for each website separately. Church members ages 13-17 require parental permission to create their own accounts.
The monetary value of the combined subscriptions to the three commercial sites is substantial, said Thom Reed, a marketing manager at FamilySearch. This generous benefit grants church members access to more than 17.8 billion family history records, according to FamilySearch CEO Dennis Brimhall.
"Free subscriptions to the three major family history websites provide Latter-day Saints about 3.5 times the online content to help them identify their ancestors," Brimhall said in press release. "This is possible because of the great relationship we have with these companies, their generosity, and a recognition of the investment in time and tithes members of the church have invested in the shared records."
Brimhall said the group partnership is a win-win for everyone. FamilySearch will continue to share records and collaborate with the commercial sites.
The public will have free access to each website when visiting one of the 4,800 LDS family history centers around the world.
During the spring and summer months, FamilySearch began granting access to the three commercial sites on a limited basis with email invitations.
Todd Godfrey, Ancestry.com's senior director of global content, said Ancestry offers church members access to 14 billion searchable records as well as a larger collaborative community of 2.1 million subscribers that are actively pursuing their family history. It's a valuable collaboration, Godfrey said.
"Over the past 18 years, this community has created over 60 million family trees containing six billion ancestors. There are literally billions of new discoveries to be made," Godfrey said.
For those with family roots in Europe, information and records found on FindMyPast.com and MyHeritage will be especially valuable, said Paul Nauta, public affairs manager at FamilySearch.
"This is a considerable offering. Members should be scrambling to take advantage of the free subscriptions," Nauta said. "They have never, ever had access to so much rich information at their finger tips."
When used in tandem with FamilySearch, the three commercial websites will open new doors and enhance church members' ability to be successful in doing family history research, Reed said.
"If you believe all the work in your family tree has been done or is at a dead end, the expanded content of these commercial family history websites will allow you to remove those road blocks," Reed said. "This is an exciting time to become engaged in family history for members that may not have had success before.
"Ancestors are waiting, and with the addition of these free websites to FamilySearch, members can find joy in successfully discovering their ancestors and submitting their name for temple ordinances."
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