FamilySearch Photo Duplication Services to be Discontinued

According to a recently-updated wiki page at

“Photo duplication Services will be discontinued as of December 5, 2014. As of this date, existing orders will be completed, but new orders will not be accepted.

“As more microfilm and books are digitized and added to, and more links are made available to partner sites that already have this information digitized, the need for photoduplication will decrease. FamilySearch is attempting to digitize as many resources as possible and make these available online. If the film or book has been digitized, you can print your own copies directly from the web site, if printing the image is not restricted by the copyright holder.”

You can


This is very unfortunate. It means we have to go back to the days of faxes and eight week waits for snail mail.


That makes no sense. The service is for things that specifically have NOT been digitized and I’ve found it extremely helpful. If they want to say they’re overwhelmed and can’t continue it would be one thing however, given that many of the most useful things are not digitized the statement (at the risk of repeating myself) makes no sense.


    I agree with Ken. The reason stated in the announcement is disingenuous. Only a tiny, tiny fraction of the FHL’s microfilm is digitized and online. If the service is a burden, then please be honest and say so.


This is the worst news in the genealogy field in 10 or 12 years, since their web page crashed. For those of us who have an inconvenient access to a local Family History Center, the photoduplication service saves time, energy and money. They must be kidding about more resources being available. Just using their web site, they have only 5 resources available for Poland which is a major country for my research, and the same for Hungary which has only 6, another major country for me. None of the Polish resources are any help to me, and only one from Hungary is helpful. For fourteen other European countries, they have less than 5 resources for each. This is a very sad announcement. Perhaps if enough researchers send comments, they will reconsider.


This is a disaster. The New York City birth, marriage and death records are certainly not digitized but are vital to people around the globe as so many have NYC roots. They cost an absolute fortune to buy from NYC, in addition to the long wait, usually six weeks.

I have broken a number of brick walls with this service. I hope they reconsider this decision or at least modify it.


Disappointing news, indeed! As others have said, the photo duplication service is used when the record has not yet been digitized.


Many of the records mentioned above are currently being indexed by the dedicated indexers who tirelessly devote time so the ungrateful users can have their records presented to them free and immediately. My suggestion might be to become a volunteer indexer so the records will be available to sooner.


    Dear Sue,
    In case we do not express our Thanksgiving often enough, please know you and all the indexers are very much appreciated. Just because we do not index on this project does not mean we do not give ourselves in other ways, glorifying God and this wonderful creation he has allowed us to live in.
    Bless you for all you do.


    This has nothing to do with indexing. They’re already indexed, that’s why people know they want to see the image.


NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO! This was a great service to all. It is a money saver as well as many clients at our family history center are on a limited budget and can’t afford to pay the fee for the film rental. This will set back the research for many of us for years to come. Please reconsider FamilySearch!


Thoroughly disappointed in this news. Charge us for the service if you must. Genealogists want access to the records you hold, FamilySearch.


SECOND THAT NOOOOOOOOOO!! I have been working on a project a book that won’t be digitalized been years at 5 pages a time then it is hard to keep up with which pages need done.


I am SO disappointed about this. I have about 20 certs on my list to be ordered, to try to find a very common name in NYC. If these certs were available on line I would get them. It is clear to me they have been overwhelmed and I am sorry I did not take advantage of this service sooner, but I was spending so much $ on NYC vital certs I decided a few months ago to start using this route. If they were overwhelmed they could have just said it would take longer to get the answers. I have been to one LDS library (but have talked to others who had the same problems) and the experience I had (after a 30 minute drive to get there) was that the volunteers did not know much about anything, and referred me to an older man who was more interested in talking about his research than mine, then I was directed to a film I had particular interest in, and shown their “newest high speed machine” with NO instruction on how to use it. I could not find anything. One other film I wanted to see was held at Utah and was not to be lent out to other LDS libraries. I did eventually get the name and email addy of someone in Utah who WAS charging a reasonable fee (same as NYC but I got results in 2 days, not 6 weeks) but she has now raised her prices to be higher than NYC. The LDS website has very little in actual documents, at least in the people and areas that I am looking for. I do have but all THEY have for people is a link to NYC site to pay for info. I had always heard that LDS was THE place to go, but after comparing notes with other folks who have had similar experiences I decided I was NOT going to waste my time going back to an LDS library (where someone knocked over my laptop while waiting for assistance and it crashed my hard drive). It seems to me that with so many people interested in genealogy these days many websites have “jumped on the bandwagon” of charge people to death for info…Irish websites are particularly bad for this. In order to use the wiki you are better off googling your term with at the end of the search terms, or you cannot find anything. My “contact” at LDS Utah says the people who work there have complained over and over about site changes and other changes that make it more difficult for THEM to find info, to no avail. What I did learn at the LDS library I went to is that there seem to be 2 ways to access info, and if you are a Mormon you have access to a lot more things than if you are not. The older fellow I talked to tried to find my 2 x GGF in the Mormon system and was surprised to find nothing, as he said Mormons have access to a lot more info than those of us who are not Mormons. There are SO many cons to using and now they have a LOT of their info linked to other pay sites, which is OK when the site is as I have a membership there, but after 2 years of Fold3 with lousy results I just won’t use that site anymore. Ellis Island now also playing the same game…unless you want to pay a lot of money, you can just forget getting the documentation you really need to properly research your ancestry. Familysearch doesn’t charge, they just stopped offering the info. That would be OK if you could go to their libraries and get the info, but generally you cannot. needs to get it’s act together. I have found many documents incorrectly transcribed (showing people at 2 different addresses as family members when it is obvious they are not)–you cannot get to fix it on their site, they say talk to the LDS folks, and when you try to get LDS folks to fix something, you can just forget it. Mediocrity seems to be the name of the game with LDS too. I am really getting fed up with not being able to get info without costing a small fortune, but everyone seems to be playing that game these days since so many people have developed an interest in genealogy. It is sickening the way it seems most independant websites are “sticking it to us” and you cannot get any decent help at the LDS libraries. I guess Vital Certs are going to be cheapest at the source, the problem is outside of NYC it is difficult to even find a cert # for documents. I am plain tired of it. What happened to “the love of genealogy” and the Mormon attitude they claim to have, that they want to preserve our ancestry. They may want to save it, but they sure don’t want the public to have access to it…they reserve that for Mormons, Translation? If you want info, join their church.


    I am sorry you were not happy with your visit to an LDS family history center. I serve at my local family history center and you are right, some staff know more or less than other staff. Please realize that these are not professionals. It is all volunteer. I would suggest asking if there is a particular person on staff that may know more about your particular area of research or be an “expert” at using a specific website. I know there are people at my family history center who have expertise in many different areas and levels. If you cannot be there the same day as the “expert” perhaps you can arrange to meet with them on another date and time. I know many at my family history center are able to arrange their time to do something like this. You may also want to try contacting the Family History Library in Salt Lake and talking to one of their research helpers.
    As for the other issues you addressed, there is a way to provide feedback to Suggestions on how to improve the service are always welcome. As you can imagine designing and maintaining a website like this is very complicated and changes are made gradually. It is a work in progress. I hope you won’t give up on it completely. I have found it to be very valuable in my research. No one place is going to be able to fit all of everyone’s needs. Just know that we are trying to do our best. Sincerely, Carrie Taylor


    Please do not misunderstand me. I totally appprciate the work volunteers do, but I have many genealogy friends who have had the same experiences at LDS libraries as I have had. I am disabled, although most people would not know it to look at me, (bad back). In my winter home I am 30 min from an LDS library. In my summer home I am an hour away by the time I catch a ferry. It is diffucult for me to get to an LDS location in either place. I did appreciate the fact that everyone was very kind, and really did want to help–they just did not know how. I went there with 2 specific films I wanted to view. One I was told could not be released, it had to stay in Utah–gee thanks guys–apparently whoever donated the docs did so under an agreement that the films were not to be let out of the Utah location.

    The other film was available but no one could show me how to operate the bloody machine to view it. After 30 minutes of playing games trying to operate the machine (and I am no stranger to microfilm machines or viewers having been in the military supply system and had to use them on a regular basis) I gave up. I spent a total of 5 hours 4 hours in the facility, and did not get ONE things accomplished, and spent the next 4 days in bed for my trouble!

    RE: corrections: It seems that the people who volunteer to index documents on both LDS and either need glasses, or training or both. Many times the info is indexed incorrectly.

    With corrections are easy, and I make them frequently, so that other people can find their families. I have tried 2 x to get LDS to re-index things in the correct way. Once when I found an Italian document, which my “LDS Utah connection” (see below) had a consultant look at and determined I was correct in the name of a parent that should have been indexed to that name, not the name it was indexed to. I sent in a request to have it re-indexed properly. They told me I would have to write to Italy. Wonderful!

    I sent in the 2nd request when it was VERY obvious that the “group” of people listed as being one family was indeed 2 different families. The error was as plain as the nose on my face…again my request to have the record corrected was denied-and now due to the joinging of forces with their records are ALSO incorrect and THEY tell me to write to LDS to have it corrected–I tried that and was told they would not re-index the record. Anyone who knows how to tell that a street address (and names of wives, kids and relationships could tell, without knowing anything else about the family, which I did, could tell that it was indexed improperly. On you cannot get around these “quirks” when trying to attach a record. You CANNOT attach it to your tree properly, unless the people are indexed correctly. You cannot attach the names individually unless it is indexed correctly. SO the problem starts and ends with LDS–unless you can get LDS to properly index things, you cannot get it properly changed on and it CANNOT be attached to the people. There is NO way to separate out the people to attach them individually!

    I am done with trying to help LDS get their records properly indexed. It is obvious to me (with 20 years of research behind my belt) that they have no interest in correcting errors. If they DON’T see what the errors are they should ask for more info to suppport your claim. They don’t. They just let it ride, incorrect or not!

    I have a cousin BTW who used to volunteer for in transcribing records, and the incompetence there so ticked him off that he stopped volunteering.

    Either people are not being provided good copies, or magnifying equipement for viewing documents (this applies to LDS as well as or that they just don’t know what the heck they are doing. I have found time after time on where the document (especially directories which are hard to translate incorrectly) are just not being transcribed correctly and make no sense. The documents are plain as day, yet they come up with addresses that just don’t make any sense.

    I recently ran across something similar with the 1855 NY State Census, wherein it was imperative that I identify the county a person was from as it was holding up my research in going further back. It was totally illegible both on and also the LDS.

    I finally found a way to “go in the back door” and was able to finally find a document I could read…so a legible document DOES exist, no one cares to get the readable document in the database where it is more easily found.

    I did find a “connection” in the LDS library (I was referred to her by a professional researcher from a rootsweb mailing list) who would get me certs for usually about $17, but within a few days–about the same price as going through NYC, the difference was that she would get me the info on a few days as opposed to weeks–weeks later I am totally on a different person and it is easy to lose track of where you are in research, as I research nearly everfy day of the week.

    With a tree of about 10,000 people (I have traced my lines WAY back and I go the distance in doing cousins, 2nd cousins etc etc) it is difficult for me to wait 6-8 weeks for NYC certs, which are not available anywhere on line. If they were I would get them through

    My “connection” in LDS tells me she and many of her co-workers have complained numerous times about changes in the system that make it more difficult to locate documents. Now my “connection” has increased her prices so much (due to the fact that even SHE who has worked there for years can no longer readily find things) that it is better for me to just order the NYC certs and wait the 6-8 weeks.

    If these documents were available on line, we would get them there. They are not. I have many “relations” with very common names (you try looking for Stephenson and Johnson in NYC LOL) and the only way for me to ascertain who are the correct people is to see their certs…BUT they are not in my Pedigree line, so I will not spend $20 a cert to try to find the correct Johnson or the correct George Stephenson for my tree. This is a total disservice not only to ME but to anyone who may be descended from them, as they will not find the info in my tree, which may be the one clue they need to progress THEIR research.

    So you see, all these things impact not only me, they impact many other people, or will impact people in the future. Putting folks on my tree who are cousins, siblings of my GGP’s will help other people. I have the time, I have the determination, I just cannot get the documents now without spending a fortune–and I have NO more time to waste at LDS libraries not getting anywhere either! Many of the folks there were there to basically chat…I had MORE compliments on my finegrnails that day (they were quite long at the time and quite pink) than I had help in finding resources. The few resources they DID have I already own. I went there to view films I could not get access to any other way, and I did not get to see them either!

    As I said, had this been a “one time only” experience, and my genealogy buddies had told me “oh, you hit a bad day, go back” I would have gone back again–but they did not. They told me their experiences were similar.

    The LDS site is nearly impossible to find things, and the only way I have found to get info is to do a google search for areas of the country I need info on, and add “” at the end of my search terms. They have made it so that it is almost impossible to find documents that DO exist…they have just made it so convoluted in the online search that you cannot find them.

    I appreciate the wealth of resources, however many of those also have to be viewed at LDS libraries. Well, I am on the West Coast and reseraching the East Coast (where I was born and all of my ancestors are intially found) so going to an LDS in the West is an exercise in futility.

    I know this sounds harsh, and believe me, I do not mean it that way. I truly do appreciate the time folks give to their endeavors at etc BUT the LDS needs to get its act together if they truly mean what they say, that their intent is to help us all find our heritage.

    I just do not find that to be the case…so I will continue, finding what I can through various websites such as and newspaper sites etc …

    It just is a crushing blow to no longer be able to get these most valuable certs via email. I would rather familysearch has said “OK we are limiting you to 2 a month” or “we will take 6 mos to fulfill your request” rather than totally pull the plug on this program.

    There are far too many of us out there with no other options.

    I DO appreciate those who volunteer, and if I could, I would.

    Thanks for at least taking the time to respond, but I DO hope you see a better picture of the dilemma. I hope you pass it on to “the powers that be”.

    Have a great day/evening.



BTW It is NOT that I am cheap. I have spent more than $3000 on overseas research in Italy. I have spent money on Irish site that give you so little info to see if it is “your folks” and when you pay for a complete record it is pretty much worthless, and you wasted your money. I have international access on but even with the international access you cannot actually see the record, and this is leading to a lot of mistakes in family trees-people seem to “assume” that only one person exists with the name they are looking for…when it comes to overseas records, and even many local records the only answer seems to be to jump on a plane and go there. We cannot all afford to hire Louis Gates to research for us! I am really tired of being nickeled and dimed to death…and now Ellis Island has made it impossible to copy records unless you pay outrageous fees. THEIR screen jumps around so much in order that you cannot copy it that you cannot even read it. I am just sick of it all…It is ALL about money now that so many people are interested in researching their ancestry. More people interested means they are getting more business, not less. The Genealogy sites are making a fortune, and we are still not getting records adequate enough to show conclusively who our ancestors were. If you are lucky, you can find histories at, but unless your ancestors are well known, you can forget that also! I used to enjoy this work…now I am getting more and more frustrated every time I turn around. I don’t mind paying $ BUT when I pay $ I want to get results, and that is getting a LOT more difficult these days. They all want their pound of flesh but they have no interest in “delivering the goods” that you pay for.


Screaming all you can but nothing can stop the service from shutting down.
Had inside source – the service requests are dwindling to less than 25 a day as more images are added regardless whether there are indexes or not. Plus there are many images that can not be added due to restrictions imposed by the owners of records. Quite a number of government agencies got into act of profit-making now. Plus there are negotiations still going on with many agencies concerning getting records online.


    This makes no sense what-so-ever. My last request was answered with an email that said; please be patient due to volume of requests it may take up to six weeks. Were they lying? I think not. Given the sheer numbers of people who are into genealogy these days the suggestion that no one is using the service is absurd. A figure of 25 requests a day and the limit of 5 requests per person per month would suggest 1000 people or LESS people are using this service. That passes the smell test even less that their original statement.


OK, now it makes sense. Before making a post knocking the competition one should first disclose that they are running a for profit genealogy web site in direct competition with FamilySearch.


Unbelieveably stupid decision. New York CITY vital records are indexed but they certainly are NOT digitalized. IF I wanted to spend $6K+ to have the films my certificates are on sent to my local FHL, I would hire a professional genealogist to do the work instead.


    You likely hit on the true reason they are doing this as their original statement still makes no sense.


    Well, all you complainers need to just band together and not use the FREE Family Search services as a punishment to them. That should show them who is boss. Family Search provides FREE genealogy data, digitized records, video classes, Family History Centers to view film that only costs for the postage back and forth and indexes so you at least know where the original records might be located. You need to pay the fees for the online services and only use them and see how far you get.


    I think the REAL reason was so many of us with ancestors in NYC (quite a bit of the population of this country as so many people lived there for a while) is that they were inundated with requests for ancillary family members…I have over 20 George Stephensons in NYC and the ONLY way for me to find the right one is certs…I suspect many people have also been submitting requests for their “needle in a haystack” folks and it has overwhelmed them…but I would rather get 1 cert a month, than get no certs at all…I would go broke if I ordered every cert there is for “George Stephenson” or John Johnson in NYC…the directories are mind boggling as are the Census. Certs are the ONLY way to figure out these siblings (or ancestors) ans in NYC, unless the name is unusual, you could easily spend hundreds of dollars and still not find the right ones. Ther original statement was that you could not have an FHL library near by, and I think they found that too time consunign to research as I know someone IN NYC who could easily get the certs on his own, but instead ordered them free through FHL…No sense putting rules out there if you don’t or cannot enforce them, thus people living close to FHL’s were also getting certs, when they could have gotten them another way…BUT for those of us living far from NYC, getting these certs was the only reasonable way if you are searching a common last name.


😦 The request page was yanked down at Fri 5 Dec, 5:39pm CST.


woops sorry for all the typos…there is no way to edit posts that I can find 😦


@ Sue; Since you want to be their great defender please do explain why they want to force people to pay postage and why they would find shipping film all over the country to be more efficient than emailing a JPG. I only ask because the more one examines their original statement the less truth it seems to contain.


    @ Sue; aside from their original statement not making sense they’ve gone out of their way to ignore people who asked about this on their Facebook page. One would think if there was a reasonable reply they’d be more than happy to explain it. At least that would be the neighborly thing to do.


Does anyone know if all requests before the request page was taken down will be honored? Or if only the ones before December 5th? Just wondering because I got a couple requests in right on December 5th.


    I got in more than a couple. I just got one back 6 Jan 15. That kinda’ squashes the comments made that no one was using the service. It’s likely they had to do away with it because they were overwhelmed. If that’s the case they could have told the truth and it wouldn’t have left people with a feeling that they were betrayed.


I am devastated this service no longer exists


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