FamilySearch’s 2 Billion Digitized Records

May 25, 2018  - by 

FamilySearch recently published its 2 billionth digital image of historical records. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”

These digital images of records are an invaluable source for discovering new details about your family’s story. Access to the 2 billion images is organized in three main places on the site—the FamilySearch historical records collection, catalog, and online books. We’ve prepared a free guide that explains how to perform searches in these areas.


Give Me a Hint

The indexed portion of this massive record collection is also used by the site to automatically search for your ancestors. These searches result in “hints” that appear in the pedigree and person page views of Family Tree. They also appear in the Family Tree mobile app. Hints help you add ancestors to the tree and make connections that would have taken much longer if you were doing the searches manually. Learn more about Record Hints.

All Digital, All the Time

For more than 80 years, FamilySearch microfilmed historical records for use in family history research. These microfilmed records require an extra step—scanning—to make them accessible online. Starting in 2017, FamilySearch discontinued microfilm in favor of digitizing records using cameras.

This all-digital workflow has increased efficiency at a crucial time. Preserving physical copies of genealogy records in archives is, in many cases, a race against the clock. Poor storage conditions, world conflict, scheduled destruction, and natural disasters are just some of the threats that physical records face. Digital preservation ensures that more records can be saved as quickly, and as accurately, as possible (see FamilySearch’s Strategy to Help Preserve the World’s Archives).

The Role of Indexing

It’s important to note the difference between digital record images and indexed records. A large portion of the digital images on FamilySearch are unindexed. They can be viewed using an image viewer, but can’t be searched by name and other search variables like a fully indexed collection would be.

Anyone can help in the process of indexing record images like these after they are digitized. Learn more about how indexing works, and give it it a try.


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  1. There is definitely a value to your free service. However, I have noticed that, over the years, some items have been moved to “view at a Family History Library”. Why? Ireland’s probate/ wills comes to mind. Also, any plans to digitize the films of the Irish land valuation books that show revisions from 1858 through the early 1900s?

    1. Patti, FamilySearch works to publish as many records as possible for users. The rights to publish those records depends on the owners of the records, which sometimes includes restrictions such as limited time or type of user. For more information, click here.

  2. I really wish there was a simple link to add records from other platforms- like Geni and My Heritage. So many of my records are held there!

  3. Having spent many pleasant hours at the library and no longer able to do so, I really appreciate being able to access so maAlicemaudeny records online. Kudos to all who work so hard to make this happen.

  4. I still am totally unable to figure the system out, and do consider it a great loss! In this world of
    Business I really found your site helpful and accesible and amazingly generous.
    I am totally unable to find anything and have tried multiple times.
    My family’s history research stopped totally. Am unable to find basic access. My password does not work most of the times and am forced to re-start with a new sign-in.
    I feel the access has become very selective in many ways and that is huge loss for your previous generosity.
    The same thing happened to 23andMe.
    Suddenly the sites and access become so extremely difficult to access!
    Maybe the reason is my age, 72, and my mental capacities.
    Maybe the key word is simplify!!

    1. Carlota, you should not need to create a new account if your password does not work. Underneath the Sign In button, click <Forgot Your Username or Password to get help finding your information.

      For help finding your username, follow this link:

      For help finding your password, follow this link:

      You can also contact FamilySearch Help here for more help:

  5. Been using FamilySearch for awhile now but cannot locate anything on my Ancestors in Germany before 1949. Not sure why?

    1. Some suggestions; Spend some time in Record Search. in Life Event search for Germany or Deutschland. I added 1900-1949 without any name added came up with over a million records. Next suggestion; use the Catalog and add Germany. There are so many record possibilities there. Only some of them are indexed or digitized– if there is a camera by the name you can search those records.
      IF you are not familiar with these processes there are “learn how’s” so you can find records you are desiring. Use the “learning center” under the HELP button in the top right of the web page. Or FamilySearch Wiki has a lot of ideas and helps to get you going in the right direction.
      Hope something here will help you.

      1. Thank you very much for the suggestions Jacut. I will spend time attempting to learn and see if it gives results.
        Regards George

  6. I didn’t know about the ability to request microfilms until the program was discontinued in August. Now I can see that the records that I need to see are on microfilm but they are not digitized and there is no way to request the microfilm anymore. I have requested that the images that I need would be digitized but I am sure that it will take some time. It would have been nice if the microfilm images would have still been available until they are digitized. Any chance of that?

    1. Elizabeth, the microfilm has been discontinued. It is expected that the remaining microfilms will be digitized by 2020. I apologize for the inconvenience!

      1. I am sad that I will have to wait for the images to be digitized but this in no way takes away from all the valuable information that Family Search has already provided to me. This has been a wonderful resource. I will just have to learn to be more patient.

  7. Well done on all the work you do on preserving records – if only all our Government departments would do the same with vital records!

  8. I would like to know if you have any South American (Montevideo) records done yet and if not are you going to do them

  9. There are quite few record sets in the Family Search catalogue which are still available only on film, fiche, and sometimes only in book form. If the item of interest is not yet indicated in the catalogue as digitized .can patrons at the Salt Lake main library still access those records? For example, many probate records are still only on film. May I use those films if I come to Salt Lake?

    John Gibson

  10. Before the last couple of family search updates, I was able to see lots of census records with the full family. Now, I have to go to ancestry every time and sign in unless I’m at the FHC. Why aren’t those records still available at family search?

  11. I am looking for the church records (Kirchenbuch) from Ludorf, Mecklenburg-Schwerin, Germany. They are listed in microfilm format in your catalogue. Any way to know if/when they will be available on-line? Thanks!