With nearly a billion searchable historical records, the new FamilySearch.org offers brilliant possibilities for furthering your research. Our guide spotlights tips and hints for making the most of the website.
Back in 1999, a revolutionary website was launched. For the first time, genealogy buffs worldwide had remote access to indexes and finding aids for the world's largest family history collection -- the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). Right away, FamilySearch.org
was overwhelmed by visitors; the volume of traffic crashed the site's servers.
Twelve years later, the LDS Church has launched a brand-new -- and even more groundbreaking -- FamilySearch.org. The revamped site lets you search and view nearly 1 billion digitized historical records for free, with billions more still to come. The new site also integrates resources from the old one, allowing you to tap previously separate databases all at once. But don't let the plethora of new tools and resources on FamilySearch.org overwhelm you: Take this crash course to get the most out of the site.
Searching the storehouse
The most exciting feature of the revamped FamilySearch.org is its rapidly growing collection of genealogical records. The old version of the site already had an impressive collection consisting mostly of transcribed birth, marriage, death and census records. Now FamilySearch (the genealogy arm of the LDS church) has taken on the task of digitizing its entire microfilm collection -- 2.4 million rolls containing 3.5 billion images -- and posting the images online. You can access microfilms at the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City or rent them to view at a local FamilySearch Center, but most of those films aren't indexed. The move to put FamilySearch's huge collection of records online, with indexes, will truly revolutionize genealogy.