21 November 2014

Beware of Black Friday, 5 December 2014

I've a new definition for Black Friday: FamilySearch.org is discontinuing photoduplication services on Friday, 5 December 2014.* They say that with digitization going full-force and new partnerships forming, they no longer need to provide this service. I am crushed.

I will admit that not only have I been an excellent customer - ordering lots of copies even when they used to cost me the princely sum of $2/document - I probably was also a one-woman marketing team for them when I posted in January 2013 about the advent of free document photoduplication. [Well, perhaps they didn't really want that type of marketing.  :-/ ]

One personal research project, for which I am quite proud, involved acquiring many (read: "oodles" of) vital records to document and solve some problems regarding the First Lubiner Progressive Benevolent Association landsmanshaft and burial society community in Montefiore Cemetery in Queens and Beth Moses Cemetery on Long Island, New York. Without FamilySearch I would not have been able to acquire all the records needed to analyze 66 immigrants (Friends, Acquaintances and Neighbors) interred in the cemetery plots. I have published this research in Avotaynu and presented on it at the International Association of Jewish Genealogical Societies conferences in Boston (2013) and Salt Lake City (2014). I am beholden to FamilySearch.

FamilySearch does so much for so many that I do not like to criticize. I think, however that this decision is a bit premature. While they have made huge strides in digitization in the last few years and have positioned themselves to complete their digitization effort in about ten years, that's still ten years (!). I don't usually look for conspiracies, but I wonder if this wasn't a decision included as part of some of the recent partnership agreements. Surely, these types of completely free resources could not sit well with those partners who make money from providing records.

I suppose I might feel better (at least temporarily) if my nearby Mesa FamilySearch Library was going to be open during the next month or so, but they have their own plans for completely closing from 24 November through 3 January for renovations. What's an intrepid genealogist to do? Shop?!

Goodbye, Photoduplication Department! It was sweet while it lasted.
* Special thanks to Sheryl Stern Levin who brought this to my attention when she posted about this on the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia FaceBook page.


  1. I am SO disappointed at this news. I have been "mining" NYC birth, marriage and death records for both my husband's family and mine, and I have at least 15-20 more in my list (you could only order five at a time). These records are on so many different microfilms that I don't want to order one microfilm at $7.50 for one vital record.

    I don't know how long it will be until they digitize all these BMD records but I hope not too long...

    1. I wonder if they will ever digitize them. For some records they are limited by the agreements they signed years ago when they first microfilmed the records. I do not know if their agreement with NYC would allow for digitizing. We'll see, I guess.

      $7.50/microfilm still might be less expensive that ordering the records from NYC. If not, then get your check book ready (!).

  2. I share your disappointment. This has been such a valuable service. I've tried to just use it for the one off record, ordering film if there were several. I can't imagine digitizing will happen quickly enough.


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