Monday, May 14, 2007

FamilySearch Unveils New Program

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints Church sent out a news release today that said:


FamilySearch Unveils Program to Increase Access to World's Genealogical Records

Tidal Wave of Online Databases Will Result

SALT LAKE CITY, UTAH-FamilySearch announced today its Records Access program to increase public access to massive genealogy collections worldwide. For the first time ever, FamilySearch will provide free services to archives and other records custodians who wish to digitize, index, publish, and preserve their collections. The program expands FamiliySearch's previously announced decision to digitize and provide online access to over 2 million rolls of copyrighted microfilm preserved in the Granite Mountain Records Vault. A key component of the program allows FamilySearch and archives to team with genealogy websites to provide unprecedented access to microfilm in the vault. The combined results ensure a flood of new record indexes and images online at and affiliated websites.

The plan combines the assets and experience of the Genealogical Society of Utah with the state-of-the-art technology resources of FamilySearch-all under the single brand name of FamilySearch. The Records Access program allows records custodians to publish their data online by themselves or with the assistance of FamilySearch or affiliate genealogical websites and historical societies.

"Records custodians worldwide are experiencing growing pressure to provide access to their records online while maintaining control and ownership. At the same time, websites that provide digitizing and publishing services are struggling with the staggering costs," said Wayne Metcalfe, director of Records Services for FamilySearch. "The new Record Access program takes advantage of FamilySearch's resources and creates an economical and effective forum where record custodians and genealogical websites can work together to accomplish their respective objectives," added Metcalfe.

Working with the records custodians, FamilySearch can leverage its extensive microfilm and growing digital image collection to create digital images for affiliate genealogical websites at a fraction of the cost. The affiliate genealogy organization will create indices of the digital images and then publish the images and the indices on its own website, the archive's website, or a jointly published site. A copy of the index will also be made available for free on the popular FamilySearch website, which will help drive traffic to record images on the custodians' or affiliates' sites. Full, free access to both the indices and images will be provided to family history centers, FamilySearch managed facilities, and the archives. If the record custodian seeks revenue to sustain operations, a small fee may be required to access images outside FamilySearch managed facilities or the archive.

For archives and heritage societies, the new program benefits include:

  • Digitally capture, preserve, and publish records online
  • Increase access to records while maintaining control and ownership
  • Increase patronage and business viability
  • Over 100 years of archival and publishing experience
For genealogy websites, the new program helps them:
  • Benefit from the knowledge and relationships of FamilySearch with the archival community worldwide
  • Significantly lower costs associated with acquiring, preserving, or providing access to data
  • Increase business viability and website traffic
  • Leverage an open platform that develops value-added services around FamilySearch, the world's largest repository of genealogical data.
Under the program, FamilySearch will also provide tools and assistance to records custodians who want to publish parts of their collection using state-of-the-art digital cameras, software, and web-based applications.

The archive can work with an affiliate, historical society, or FamilySearch to index the images or host a website for the records custodian. The index of the record collection will be available for free on FamilySearch, and the records custodian's site will provide access to the images for free or a fee depending on the needs of the archive and those assisting in the digitization.

One example of the tools FamilySearch can provide is FamilySearch Indexing, a web-based application that engages tens of thousands of volunteers worldwide to create searchable indexes linked to the digital images created by FamilySearch. "Through mere word-of-mouth promotions, literally tens of thousands of volunteers are already joining this effort to index the world's records by registering at and donating a few minutes a week online to the effort. Over 100,000 volunteers are expected to enlist in the initiative by year end with the numbers increasing as more projects-particularly international projects-are added," said Paul Nauta, manager of Public Affairs for FamilySearch.

FamilySearch will announce the first collaborative projects of its new Records Access program during the National Genealogical Society (NGS) Convention in Richmond, Virginia, the week of May 14, 2007. Many more project announcements are expected in the following months.

Record custodians and archives that would like additional information regarding the FamilySearch Records Services can contact Wayne Metcalfe ( and genealogy web service providers should contact Dave Harding (

FamilySearch (historically known as the Genealogical Society of Utah) is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources accessed through, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries.


This will take a little time to analyze and determine how this announcement will benefit genealogy researchers. It seems like it will be a boon to researchers since more records will be made available in digital format.

Hat tip to Dick Eastman and Miriam Midkiff for being first with this in the genea-blogosphere. There may have been others, but these are the first two I saw.

Amazingly, the LDS Newsroom site doesn't have this announcement posted yet for some reason (9:15 AM 5/14).

No comments: