FamilySearch International recently observed the 120th anniversary of the formation of its forerunner, the Genealogical Society of Utah. FamilySearch is the largest worldwide Internet genealogy service in the world. For more details, read the full article at “FamilySearch Celebrates 120 Years.”
The Genealogical Society of Utah was formed in 1894 by Wilford Woodruff (1807-1898), a native of Connecticut, to help the residents of Utah “to seek out their ancestors and preserve their family trees for future generations.”
The article quotes Paul Nauta of FamilySearch public affairs:
Today, the vast collection of historical records and other family history services for preserving and sharing information are available for free to anyone at FamilySearch.org and the famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City.
Here’s a quick overview of FamilySearch’s history from their announcement:
- During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the society pioneered the use of microfilm to preserve and provide access to the world’s genealogical records.
- In 1963, the society completed the Granite Mountain Records Vault for long-term storage of microfilmed records. More than 2.4 million rolls of film from more than 120 countries and principalities are stored there today.
- In 1984, the society pioneered one of the first desktop genealogy management software programs, Personal Ancestral File. It also developed GEDCOM, a software code for sharing genealogical data.
- In 1999, it launched the free website FamilySearch.org, which is available today in 10 languages.
- In 2007, FamilySearch began crowd-sourcing family history by creating a website where volunteers could index records to make them searchable. Over 1 billion records have been indexed in just seven years.
- In 2013, FamilySearch introduced Family Tree and Memories, which let you build, preserve, and share your family trees, photos, stories, and historical documents collaboratively.
Today, FamilySearch is used by tens of millions of people around the world “to build, preserve, share, and research their family histories and records.”
Note: FamilySearch International (FamilySearch.org) and GenealogyBank are partnering to make over a billion records from historical obituaries searchable online. The tremendous undertaking will make a billion records from over 100 million U.S. newspaper obituaries readily searchable online. The newspapers are from all 50 states and cover the period 1730 to the present.