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Geneanet’s mission: to make genealogy accessible to all!

Posted by Jean-Yves on Jan 2, 2024

As the new year begins, we’d like to remind you of Geneanet’s founding principles and tell you about our New Year’s resolutions for 2024.

Ever since its founding in 1996, Geneanet has always sought to reveal the links that unite us by making accessible to everyone the discovery and sharing of their genealogy, and more generally, their family history. From this ambition arose the principles of community, mutual aid and sharing so dear to Geneanet as well as our three founding pillars: contributive, collaborative and freemium. Let’s look together at how Geneanet strives on a daily basis to make genealogy accessible to everyone.

Access to genealogical source documents thanks to our collaborative approach

To discover your family history, you need access to the source documents which recorded the events and to be able to easily find your ancestors in them. This is why, since our beginnings, Geneanet has formed numerous partnerships with archives and supported and coordinated a multitude of collaborative digitization and indexing projects of vital records.

2023 was a fruitful year from this point of view, with the completion of a number of long-standing projects such as the digitization of the Parisian guardianship registers, the digitization and indexing of millions of notary registers, the indexing of French marriages of the 19th century, the Moscow files, the military muster rolls of Napoléon’s soldiers, the Spanish electoral lists, not to mention our Save our Graves project which has surpassed 6 million photographed and indexed graves. In total, nearly 32 million individuals were indexed at Geneanet through these unique collaborative projects, thanks to a colossal effort that mobilized 35,000 people!

Best of all, the fruit of these projects is made freely available to all according to an essential principle, which is specific to Geneanet: everything that is contributed by members remains freely accessible to all other Geneanet members. We salute the commitment of all of you who participated in these collaborative projects, whether through digitization or in the indexing of all these exclusive collections. Let’s thank sincerely all those who participate in these projects for their valuable contribution! You are participating in our goal to democratize genealogy and the discovery of people’s roots.

We have some nice surprises in store for you for 2024. In particular, we will be launching a new large-scale collaborative indexing project in a few weeks, which we hope will excite you as much as ourselves!

Access to genealogical sources through partnerships

Making genealogy accessible also means allowing Geneanet’s millions of international visitors, sometimes just out of curiosity, to easily find, without specific knowledge, information about their family following a simple search ny name. This involves the rapid indexing of millions of records from around the world. Thanks to our numerous partnerships (genealogical associations, obituary compilers, libraries), we have enriched our database with several hundred million individuals across Europe, particularly in France, Sweden, Norway, Finland, Austria, Hungary, Slovakia, Romania, Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Belgium and the Netherlands, to name only the main ones. A mass of data which was offered, in 2023, at no additional cost to Premium members.

Simplified access to our site

Accessibility rhymes with simplicity. While continuing to offer you more and more archival resources to enrich your research, we want to make our site even more user-friendly and more easily accessible to as many people as possible. This will not happen overnight, because we want to accompany you as these evolutions appear. We will work in small steps, taking care at each stage to listen to comments from all those who keep Geneanet going on a daily basis.

2023 has seen great progress on our site, starting with the redesign of search results, the new presentation of hints and the Search for Relatives feature. The steep increases in use of these pages show how these changes have met your expectations.

We will continue these efforts in 2024 and that will begin in a few days with your tree’s configuration settings. You will see simpler and more understandable menus that will allow you to more easily access the information you need or to choose the best options.

An extensive free offer thanks to Premium

To make genealogy accessible to everyone is to above all allow anyone curious about their origins, whatever their means, to be able to discover and to share their family history.

It’s with this in mind that Geneanet offers an unbeatable range of free services. You can create a family tree of unlimited size for free. You can access billions of data points for free: family trees, indexes uploaded by volunteer, graves, online registers, vintage postcards, etc. You can find out about the history of your last name or first name, for free.

However, it’s important to realize that this extensive free offer, unique in the genealogical sector, has a cost, and an increasingly growing cost at that. Even if the men and women who make Geneanet what it is are passionate about genealogy and family history in the service of the entire community, Geneanet is also a business with employees, premises, computer servers, and so on, with 95% of revenue coming from Premium subscriptions.

Since our origins, our model has been the same and hasn’t changed: through their subscriptions, Premium members allow Geneanet to develop and continue to offer services and data freely accessible to all. This is what makes Geneanet strong and unique. This is the ambition that we continually follow for our site, for your site.

By becoming a Premium member, not only do you benefit from privileged access to advanced features and exclusive resources, to unique and efficient services, you also actively contribute to the continuous improvement of the site and the development of new features for all. Your subscription is essential in enabling us to offer an ever more friendly, intuitive and enriching user experience.

In this new year, let’s take another step together towards the democratization of genealogy, towards a Geneanet for all where every genealogist, whether beginner or experienced, finds their place and the answers to their questions. Your contribution as a Premium member is more than a subscription, it is an act of support for a cause that is dear to us: the preservation and celebration of our shared family history.

We sincerely thank you for your trust and continued support. Together, let’s continue to make Geneanet not only a site, but a true community where every family story finds its voice and its echo.

Renew or subscribe to Geneanet Premium

Update January 20, 2024

Many members reacted to our blog post, thank you very much for your feedback.

Please note that if you have questions, it’s best to ask them in Geneanet’s forums (menu Community > Forums), you will have a much faster and more efficient response.

Some of your comments have encouraged us to share more information.

Reliability of tree data

Some members have complained about the poor quality of certain family trees present on Geneanet, which are sometimes built by compiling data from other genealogists and without citing their sources. Some have suggested requiring that sources be indicated. Others want source-free trees to simply be removed! This subject is vast and complex. We will discuss this in a future post, in order to remind you of all the tools and methods at your disposal to make your family tree more reliable, but also to “evaluate” the quality of the family trees you look at.

The equilibrium between the free and Premium parts of the site

We have members who use the site for free and feel there is too much Premium content compared to free.

For every feature and data collection, we have to arbitrate between offering them to all, or only to Premium members.

Concerning site features, the choice is permanent. However, we do sometimes make Premium features free. In the past, for example, we eliminated advertising on Geneanet which was a regular source of revenue for us. Recently, we made some Premium functions free for all, such as the Consistency Checker, the search by couple in all records, and the search by event.

Concerning content, our rule is simple: content provided by our partners (most often reserved for their members or customers) is reserved for Premium members. Conversely, all content shared by members of Geneanet is freely accessible to everyone.

We would also like to thank all those who share their family trees, their photos, their documents, or who participate in collaborative indexing. We should also thank the Geneanet team, who develop and manage these projects with dedication.

All this free content is possible thanks to your participation and its smooth operation is assured with the support of Premium subscribers.

Premium subscription and contribution

Some members think that they should have a free access to Geneanet Premium when they contribute to the site.

This is a good idea only at first sight. First of all, the majority of Premium members are also contributors. If there were no Premium members, there would be no Geneanet.

Moreover, a member who just copies an existing family tree or register would be considered a contributor. This would happen at the expense of data quality, and the spirit of mutual help and sharing so important at Geneanet.

Geneanet without Premium, or Geneanet paid subscription only?

A member told us that he would prefer Geneanet to be a site with advertising, fewer options and services, but totally free…

With such a model, the free part of the site would probably be smaller, and tiresome to use with ads everywhere and a limited technical infrastructure. Our existing model gives us the liberty to first and foremost best serve our members as we see fit, without depending on advertisers who are unpredictable by nature.

Others suggest that we should require all members pay an inexpensive subscription.

This would go against the model of a free and open site.

We take our “Freemium” model seriously and we are proud of all our members, whether they are Premium, contributors, or just users. We are proud to welcome our whole community in its diversity and to share a certain concept of genealogy.

Geneanet is not only a company with paid employees managing a website with “customers”. It is above all an extraordinary community which every day practices mutual help and sharing, and participates in a number of collaborative projects.

Renew or subscribe to Geneanet Premium

Among the testimonials we have received, this one from Laura Edwards seems to express how many feel:

“I found Geneanet and signed up for a free account around 2008. Then, In 2009, I made the plunge and upgraded to the ‘paid membership’ (before it became Premium). Geneanet just keeps getting better! Over the years, they’ve added documents, indexes, searchable old French newspapers, historical articles, and other numerous resources. I have found French ancestors galore, help to follow clues, help on the forums, networking and connect to French genealogists. These genealogists were a very most important feature for me. (They helped me with finding records, translations, understanding early parish records, recognizing the different letter styles of the time ect) I highly recommend Geneanet. Premium membership is very economical and well worth every penny. I will continue to renew my membership year after year!”

Don’t hesitate to add your own testimonial in the comments below!



Lt William Pyle A092851 I am Gail Pyle adamson

Je commence à utiliser Geneanet

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