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Data Access

FamilySearch is a nonprofit family history organization dedicated to connecting families across generations. FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world and has been gathering and preserving records for over 100 years. FamilySearch includes over 4 billion names in searchable databases with over 200 million indexed names added each year. There are also 6.9 billion historical records on microfilm that are being digitized and eventually indexed.

While all of this data is available for free to users directly on the FamilySearch website, sharing datasets with academic researchers is limited by the legal agreements that FamilySearch has with the original data providers. An important goal of our lab is to make the data access process at FamilySearch as transparent as possible. Below is a set of steps that we have established with FamilySearch to help researchers be able to access this amazing database of indexed historical records.

1 REQUEST A researcher submits a request for access to FamilySearch data by filling out an online form using the Brigham Young University research portal.
2 REVIEW The request is reviewed by a panel of professors from Brigham Young University and business professionals from FamilySearch. Panelists consider academic merit and legal rights for sharing data in making a determination regarding what can/cannot be shared.
3 NOTIFY A student correspondent from Brigham Young University sends notification of the panelists’ decision to the researcher. If approved, an agreement is sent to the researcher detailing the conditions under which the data can be shared.
4 AGREEMENT If the researcher agrees to abide by the terms of the agreement, they sign the agreement, and email it to the Brigham Young University student correspondent.
5 DELIVERY Data is then prepared and delivered to the researcher. The Brigham Young University student correspondent notifies the researcher when data is available and shares how to access it.
6 FOLLOW-THRU The Brigham Young University student corresponds with the researcher to ensure that license agreement terms such as restrictions on data use or delivery of research results are followed. The student correspondent shares research deliverables with FamilySearch.

Click here to access the online data request form.

Feel free to provide any feedback about how we can improve the process. When possible, please express gratitude to FamilySearch for making their data available to the research community. The data is a product of millions of hours of effort in gathering, digitizing, and indexing the records. Also, help in finding ways that we can add to or improve the data that FamilySearch has to share with individuals doing family history work. Feel free to share with us any ideas you have for things we can do that will create a benefit for both FamilySearch and the research community.

We will be posting a FAQ soon so feel free to email us any questions that would be helpful for us to address. You can contact us at