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FamilySearch has digitized billions of family history records

The Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Salt Lake City on August 11, 2021. Photo credit: Colby Walker KSL NewsRadio

SALT LAKE CITY — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has now digitized the family history records for 11.5 billion people.

To do this work in the past, patrons had to visit the Family History Library on Temple Square. That, or use the centers in their meetinghouses, or ward buildings. Now it’s all at familysearch.org.

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“This is a really incredible milestone,” said Joseph Monsen, director of preservation services for the Church History Department in the announcement from the church.

Monson said the church has collected and used microfilm records for genealogical research for 83 years. Now all those rolls — 2.4 million of them — are digitally saved and available.

These are birth, death, marriage, census, military service, and immigration documents. They came from over 200 countries and 100 languages.

“All of God’s children benefit from these images, said Kris Whitehead, who is a manager for FamilySearch International. “These are family history records that in some cases don’t exist anymore through fires, floods [or] natural disasters.”

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The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints began preserving documents and records by using microfilm in 1938. They started scanning the microfilm documents in 1998. At that time, they thought the process would take 50 to 100 years to finish.

But they developed new software and technology in 2006 which sped up the digital process. This month the last record was digitized.

“It’s a game-changer for everybody in the world. So, instead of having to come to the library, people can start accessing these records from home,” said Becky Adamson, a research specialist at the Family History Library in the church’s announcement.

“These family history records are now available to anyone who has a computer, anyone who has an Internet connection, and you can find documents and records now anywhere in the world that relate to your family,” said Whitehead.

The church says they will continue to store the microfilm in their secure archives.

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