Since its inception, Ancestry. com has been a renowned platform for individuals seeking to delve into their family history. However, there have long been rumors and speculation surrounding the ownership of this genealogy giant. One recurring question that surfaces time and again is whether or not the Mormon Church owns Ancestry. com. In this comprehensive article, we will explore the intricate relationship between these two entities and uncover the truth behind these claims.
The Origins of Ancestry. com
Before delving into the alleged connection with the Mormon Church, let’s first examine the origins of Ancestry. com. Founded in 1983 by Paul B. Allen and Dan Taggart as Infobases Inc. , this company initially focused on providing Latter-day Saint publications on floppy disks. As technology advanced, so did Infobases Inc. ‘s services, ultimately leading them to become one of today’s most prominent genealogical platforms under the name “Ancestry. com”.
Despite its humble beginnings rooted in LDS materials, it is crucial to note that Ancestry. com now caters to a much broader audience, encompassing people from diverse backgrounds who are eager to discover their heritage.
Ownership Through Subsidiaries
To address whether or not there is any validity to the claim that the Mormon Church owns Ancestry. com, we need first consider how businesses can be intertwined through subsidiary relationships.
Deseret Management Corporation (DMC)
The key player in unraveling this matter is the Deseret Management Corporation (DMC). Established in 1966 as a Utah-based for-profit holding company owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS), DMC oversees several business interests across various industries.
Although many people believe that DMC directly owns Ancestry. com due to its affiliation with LDS, the reality is slightly more nuanced. While DMC oversees other companies such as Bonneville International and Deseret Book, Ancestry. com is one of its subsidiaries through another intermediate entity: Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (IRI). Yes, it’s getting a little complicated!
Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (IRI)
Intellectual Reserve, Inc. , often referred to as IRI, acts as a holding company for various intellectual property assets owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. These assets range from copyrights for religious works to the Church’s vast genealogical records.
Ancestry. com became linked with IRI when The Generations Network entered into an agreement in 1997 that granted them access to the LDS Church’s extensive database. Over time, this connection deepened and eventually led to Ancestry. com becoming part of the broader umbrella under IRI.
Therefore, while it can be argued that there is indeed an indirect link between the Mormon Church and Ancestry. com through their mutual affiliation with IRI – it is crucial not to oversimplify this complex ownership structure.
Ancestry. com’s Autonomy
One might wonder about how much influence the Mormon Church exerts over Ancestry. com given these intricacies in ownership. It appears that despite being part of the same hierarchical chain beneath both DMC and IRI, Ancestry. com retains significant autonomy in its day-to-day operations, including decision-making processes and content development strategies.
While some individuals are concerned about potential biases or influences stemming from ties with the Mormon Church, it is vital to recognize that Ancestry. com maintains considerable independence in maintaining its status as a credible resource within the field of genealogy research.
As Robert Kehrer ─ Senior Product Manager at FamilySearch International (a non-profit genealogical organization operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints) emphasizes:
“Both organizations (FamilySearch and Ancestry. com) continue to be independent organizations. Some of our data is on their site, some of their data is on ours, but they make their own business decisions and FamilySearch makes its own business decisions. “
This statement underscores the autonomy maintained by Ancestry. com within the genealogy landscape, free from undue external influence.
Clarifying Speculation through Facts
Amidst rumors and speculation surrounding Ancestry. com’s connections with the Mormon Church, it is essential to address some common misconceptions to provide a more nuanced understanding. By clarifying these points, we can dispel any unfounded assumptions.
1. Data Access via Family Search
One significant aspect that fuels speculations about LDS ownership of Ancestry. com is the integration of databases between these two platforms. While FamilySearch International maintains a vast collection of genealogical records freely accessible to anyone, irrespective of religious background or affiliation, this collaboration does not automatically equate to ownership.
2. Subscription Fees & Profit Allocation
Despite being owned indirectly by an entity associated with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Ancestry. com operates as a for-profit company whose primary revenue source comes from user subscriptions and related services. Any profits generated are used to sustain ongoing operations and further enhance service offerings─ rather than directly funding religious activities.
3. User Privacy & Handling Sensitive Information
There have also been concerns regarding user privacy and whether sensitive information entrusted within Ancestry. com’s database could potentially be misused or exploited for religious purposes. However, the company has stringent policies in place to protect user data while ensuring compliance with applicable laws such as GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation). These measures ensure that individuals’ personal information remains secure throughout their genealogical journey.
Conclusion: Unraveling Ownership Mysteries
While many have questioned whether or not the Mormon Church owns Ancestry. com, it is clear that the reality is more complex than a simple “yes” or “no” answer. The involvement of Deseret Management Corporation (DMC) and Intellectual Reserve, Inc. (IRI) creates an intricate web of subsidiary relationships and ownership structures.
However, despite these connections through intermediaries, Ancestry. com operates independently, charting its own path within the realm of genealogical research whilst catering to individuals seeking to unlock their family history from all walks of life.
So, next time someone asks you if the Mormon Church actually owns Ancestry. com, you’re now equipped with the knowledge to shed light on this intricately interwoven relationship!
FAQ: Does Mormon Church Own Ancestry. com?
Q: Who owns Ancestry. com?
A: As of my knowledge, the ownership of Ancestry. com lies with a private equity firm called The Blackstone Group.
Q: Is the Mormon Church affiliated with Ancestry. com in any way?
A: While the Mormon Church, also known as The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, has had significant involvement in genealogical research and preserving family history, it does not currently own or control Ancestry. com. However, they have partnered in the past to digitize records and provide access to genealogical resources.
Q: Was Ancestry. com founded by members of the Mormon community?
A: No, that is incorrect. Paul Allen and Dan Taggart established Ancestry. com in 1983, whereas members of the Mormon community have been actively involved in genealogy for various reasons long before the company’s establishment.
Q: Why do people associate Mormons with genealogy and ancestry research then?
A: Mormons are often associated with genealogy because they place great value on tracing their family trees and performing religious rituals that require knowledge about their ancestors. The LDS Church has invested considerable effort into gathering records worldwide, making them accessible for research purposes.
Q: Can I access Mormon church records through Ancestry. com?
A: Yes, you can find some Latter-day Saints’ records within databases on Ancestry. com; however, accessing these specific collections may require a subscription or visiting one of their Family History Centers where you can use their computers to access extensive genealogical resources.
Note that this information is based on publicly available knowledge up until September 2021 when I was last trained. Changes or updates might have occurred since then.