Archives and other record custodians have the dual and conflicting missions of protecting records and making them accessible. When FamilySearch negotiates contracts with record custodians to photograph, digitize, and post records online, record custodians often wrestle with the proper balance between these two. Access to images on FamilySearch.org is sometimes restricted in some fashion by contractual agreement with the record custodian. I’ve written about this before in “South David Fair: Selective Blindness,” and “Make More Data Free.” Since the last time I presented examples, a couple of new flavors have shown up.
Here is a list of restrictions, with example collections.
- Images are available on FamilySearch.org and on the archive website: Utah Death Certificates, 1904-1956 (The administrator commented that the state has upgraded images and indexes, while FamilySearch has not.)
- Image are available for a fee on a 3rd party website: United States, Mormon Battalion Pension Applications, 1846-1923
- Images are available for free on a 3rd party website: West Virginia Births, 1853-1930
- Images are available on FamilySearch.org to those that sign in: Georgia Deaths, 1928-1930
- Images are available to signed-in members of supporting organizations: Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section, 1942-1969 (Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can see images in this collection.)
- Images are available when using FamilySearch at a family history center: the Italian collections tagged “State Archive.” (I need to try one of these to see how it works.)
- “Images are no longer available for the Cheshire, Church of England Records 1538-1907 in Historical Records… They will be available at a future date when there are technologies in place which allow us to identify specific groups and individuals and add the required authentications.” (I would give you a URL to this help topic, but the stupid new FamilySearch help system doesn’t support URLs for some topics.)
- Images are watermarked: Indiana, Marriages, 1811-1959
- Attribution is shown at the top of the image viewer. Click the archive name to popup more information: Germany, Prussia, Brandenburg and Posen, Church Book Duplicates, 1794-1874
- Print and download icons are disabled: Italy, Bari, Civil Registration (State Archive), 1809-1908
- "Not all indexed names will have a viewable record image due to contractual agreements:" California, County Marriages, 1850-1952
- Belgium Civil Registration, 1795-1920 is an interesting animal. Images used to be available on FamilySearch.org. Now they are available on http://search.arch.be/fr/tips/101-etat-civil, but unlike the West Virginia example, FamilySearch.org doesn’t provide a link to it.
UPDATE 2013: THANK YOU TO ALL WHO PROVIDED EXAMPLES. I’VE INCORPORATED SOME OF THEM HERE.
UPDATE 18 March 2017: As I was checking the links in this article, I found the "Belgium Civil Registration, 1795-1920" collection no longer exists. It seems to have been replaced with a series of collections. (See Belgium, Civil Registration (FamilySearch Historical Records) in the wiki.) I tried one and images were available.