Family History Website in France Offers Free Access to Church Members

Contributed By R. Scott Lloyd, Church News staff writer

  • 9 March 2017

Geneanet, a family history website based in France, offers free access to Church members. Some have already been surprised to find breakthroughs in their genealogical lines in western Europe.  Photo courtesy of Geneanet.com.

Article Highlights

  • Geneanet is the first French genealogy website and offers every kind of genealogy record.
  • Geneanet is a helpful tool for finding ancestors from western Europe.
  • Members of the Church can have free premium access to Geneanet.

When John de Jong learned of a new FamilySearch partner organization called Geneanet, based in France, his initial thought was that it would be a useful website for those of French ancestry hoping to find their family history, but it would not be of much personal use to him.

He soon learned otherwise.

Brother de Jong is the North America multi-area manager in the Records Access Division of FamilySearch International, the Church’s global family history service.

His colleague at FamilySearch, Jean-Luc Magré, showed him around the website, www.geneanet.org.

“I was very surprised when Jean-Luc showed me how to log in and enter a name to search through the many family trees on the website,” Brother de Jong wrote in an email to others working with FamilySearch.

“I had recently been searching for additional ancestors and cousins in my great-grandmother’s Druif line. Druif means grape in Dutch, so you might say I was looking for bunches of grapes along my family vine.

“I quickly found a ‘vine’ with some Druifs living not far away from the ones my grandmother had already found, and realizing they came from the same area and were probably related, I submitted their names to the temple in order to provide them with their ordinances.”

He continued his search in ensuing weeks, finding other branches of his Dutch genealogy on Geneanet.

The result? “There are literally tens of thousands of people who have been waiting diligently to go to the temple who will now have the opportunity to do so,” Brother De Jong said.

“Frankly, I am completely overwhelmed by this experience. I often comment on the fact that there are not many of my people who are famous enough to have books written about them which include their genealogies, yet now I have been given a gift of over half a million of my relatives to enter into the FamilySearch Family Tree so we can all be sealed together as one big, happy family.”

Brother Magré has been enthusiastically recommending Geneanet, identifying a couple of reasons why it can be useful for Church members.

“It’s a wonderful thing if you have ancestors from western Europe,” he said. “And members of the Church can have free premium access.”

As with other FamilySearch partner organizations, Church members, using their FamilySearch registered log-in names and passwords, can access services on the site for free that would otherwise cost them a fee (go to FamilySearch.org/partneraccess).

Brother Magré pointed out that Geneanet has a database of 4 billion names and about 2 million registered users. “So it’s quite a sizable organization.”

Many of his acquaintances have been surprised after they have logged in to find ancestral connections in England, Holland, Switzerland, Italy, and other parts of the world. “It’s going to be a good resource for you if you just log in and start browsing,” he said.

“Another good thing is that if someone has posted his tree on the site, and you can identify whom you know on the tree—not only direct ancestors, but distant cousins—you can sometimes communicate with the person directly by email.”

According to the website home page, Geneanet was launched in 1996 by genealogy enthusiasts to help family history researchers share their data, and it was an instant success.

“We wanted our users to pay only if they want, and that’s why we created the premium service. Most of the website pages and features are available for free, but you can take advantage of ad-free browsing, more effective search engine, and access to additional records by subscribing to the Premium.”

Of course, the subscription is free to Church members.

The 25-employee company is the first French genealogy website.

The website offers every kind of genealogy record published by researchers, genealogy societies, and commercial companies. “Data submitters decide if they want to give free or paid access to their information, but most of it is available for free to every Geneanet member, and you will never be charged without your authorization.”