Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What does LDS Free Access Mean?

Note: Please see comments below or attached.

It appears that that free isn't necessarily free when applied to the partnership "free" access accounts through for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In some cases, the partner websites search for and list resources that are available only with a higher level of membership or are only available on other subscription websites that are not included in the free subscription.

Now, I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth. During the recent RootsTech 2015 Conference, FamilySearch announced "free" access to the New England Historic Genealogical Society's American Ancestors website. Since I have multiple lines of New England ancestors, I signed into the program and received an "Affiliate" membership. I immediately began searching for my ancestors in Vermont and Rhode Island. After five separate searches, I had yet see even one record. Every search either came up with no useful records or with the notice that I did not have the level of access to see the records. There was just enough information to determine that the record might be appropriate, but the full records were not available. I was told that I had to pay for a Basic Membership.

Now, this has happened to a lot of people when signing in to but the problem turns out to be the fact that they did not take all the steps necessary in the signup process. However, with the American Ancestors Affiliate Account, apparently you cannot see any of the records. You do get access to their online training and store, but cannot see any of the actual records online. Here is a screenshot of the notice:

With the other programs free means free access to the database; apparently, in this case it does not. If I am mistaken, please let me know how to correctly access the information on the website.


  1. I was able to see images from some collections but not others. It must depend on which are included in the LDS account but I could not tell which is which until I tried to see them.

    1. I guess I will try some more names. I looked at about five people and none of the records listed would open and there was no data in the entries.

  2. It looks like my previous comment didn't come through, so if this is a repost, please ignore.

    With all of our partnerships, there are certain record collections that the partner cannot include in the free membership. That said, the majority of records should be available, so it sounds like your experience isn't meeting that.

    Here are a few things to check to make sure your account is set up correctly:

    1. On your "My Account" page, you should see: "Membership Level: American Ancestors Affiliate Account..." You can check that here:

    2. When signed in, you should be able to view this record:

    If this isn't working, you may need to work with the support to get the account issues resolved.

    If you have questions about which collections are not included, please see the following article:

    This lists 25 collections that cannot be made available with this level of membership. NEHGS has been gracious in publishing this list. If you hit a record restriction for a collection that is not on that list, then it should be considered a bug and NEHGS should fix it.

    Hope this helps! Jimmy Zimmerman

    1. Thanks, that helps a huge amount. I will post the explanation.

    2. Glad that helps. I'd also like to emphasize that NEHGS has previous contractual obligations to other entities that causes these record restrictions. They are honoring their contracts by placing the restrictions on these collections. It may be helpful to include this in your further explanation.

  3. These are some of the collections I can access:
    Under Search/External Collections/Library Databases From Home, I can use
    Marquis Biographies Online

    Under Databases I seem to be able to see more today. Maybe my searches were better.

    I looked up Paul Hinckley from 1750-1850 and found three listings; one in Rensselaer Co., NY and two in Stonington, Ct., all of which I can access. Some are transcripts, some are images of original records.

    I looked up Daniel Waters from 1815-1870 for Massachusetts then for New York. On the list of hits I can tell which are accessible to me and most are but not some of the Massachusetts vital records. These may be available at FamilySearch, however.

    From what I looked at yesterday before logging in, the items under Education, at least some of them, are free to anyone and look worthwhile.

    And they have an e-newsletter which is free to all. Subscribe from the link at the very bottom of the homepage.

    That's a start.


    1. The Blog mentioned at the bottom of the page looks interesting too.

    2. See Jimmy Zimmerman's Comment above for a full explanation. I will also be making a post.