24 Fun Facts about FamilySearch You May Not Know

December 11, 2019  - by 
Family playing together on a couch

FamilySearch celebrated its first 125 years of family discovery in November 2019! Founded in 1894 as the Genealogical Society of Utah, FamilySearch has grown through the years and experienced many wonderful advancements. We wanted to share some interesting tidbits about FamilySearch and its fascinating history. Did you know these fun facts?

1. In 1894, the Genealogical Society of Utah (now FamilySearch) started its library with a collection of 300 books. FamilySearch now has over 453,000 digital books and 4.84 billion searchable records. 

Beginning of the Genealogical Society of Utah. Black and white photo of people in a room

2. In 1896, the Genealogical Society of Utah (now FamilySearch) charged an entrance fee of $2 per day for library access. You can now search over 7.5 billion names for free! 

3. In 1934, the Genealogical Society of Utah had nearly 6,000 life members and hundreds of additional annual members. Today, there more than 13.7 million registered FamilySearch.org users!  

4. In 1963, patrons could check out only 1 roll of microfilm at a time for research. Now you can search billions of records published online from your home computer or mobile device. 

5. Microfilming began in 1938 with one camera and the aid and experience of Ernst Koehler, a native of Germany. Now there are over 300 cameras digitally preserving records around the world.

6. In 1968, the first oral genealogy interviews were conducted in Samoa. Today, users of the Family Tree app around the world can record their own audio memories and save them to their family trees. 

A mother and son on a lap top together

7. In 1964, branch libraries had just begun to be established. In just 55 years, there are now over 5,100 family history centers in 139 countries worldwide. 

8. In 1998, FamilySearch began digitizing genealogical and historical records. The online FamilySearch catalog now contains over 1.72 billion digital images! 

9. In 1999, the name “FamilySearch” was introduced as the organization ushered in a new era of online research.

10. FamilySearch.org was launched on May 24, 1999. There are now over 7 million page views each day on FamilySearch.org.

A young boy on his phone by a computer

11. In 2007, the first digital images from the vault were published on FamilySearch.org. Now millions of people worldwide use those digital images to learn about their deceased family members.  

12. In 2010, FamilySearch.org’s new Record Search launched with over a billion names and millions of images. 

13. In 2017, web-based indexing started. Since then, more than 1.8 million online indexing volunteers have participated.

14. In 2014, FamilySearch began sending record hints to its patrons. Since then, hundreds of thousands of people have been able to discover more about their deceased family members using FamilySearch records. A special thank you goes out to all the wonderful people that have made record hinting possible! 

15. In 2019, more than 15,000 individuals attended RootsTech (the world’s largest genealogical conference, which is sponsored by FamilySearch) in Salt Lake City from 38 countries and all 50 states in the United States.

Rootstech 2019 hallway

16. The first international RootsTech was held in London, England, in October 2019. 

17. Commercial partnerships have provided approximately half of the 7.5 billion searchable names on FamilySearch.org that enable new discoveries through historical records. Thank you, partners!

18. More than 7.4 million people received FamilySearch emails in 2018, which included personalized hints, messages about specific ancestors, and other invitations to discover more about their families. 

19. The new All about Me experience helps patrons discover fun facts about the meaning of their name and what life was like during the year they were born.

All about me screenshot

20. The new Compare a Face experience shows patrons the ancestors that they most resemble. Who do you look like in your family? 

21. You can add both audio recordings and photos as memories to the Family Tree.

22. Now you can see how you are related to other FamilySearch.org users by enabling relationship viewing in settings.

23. Family history does not always require technology. Many fun and engaging in-home activities are available for the whole family on FamilySearch.org

24. You can sign in to FamilySearch.org for a collection of great questions to help you record your stories and save them directly to Family Tree. Everyone has a story. Share yours!

Girl recording phone

We look forward to the future as we strive to create inspiring experiences that bring joy to all people as they discover, gather, and connect their family—past, present, and future. 

Now that you know a little bit more about FamilySearch, we invite you to learn a little bit more about yourself! Discover new information about your surnamecreate and explore your family tree, or learn some fun facts about your own history using FamilySearch discovery experiences.

Share your experiences about what you have found at FamilySearch using the hashtag #FoundatFamilySearch on social media and see what others have found here.

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  1. I find, that after being off line for several years, that the system has changed somewhat and I am having to re-learn how to do my research! I am 84 and my mind is slower and forgetful at times but I am finding out many other re-searchers for my family lines! One has taken one line back to year 302! How exciting that has been and I am now putting all those names in my program. I have found some errors as the children of several families have been entered as being the children of one wife when several of them were actually the children of a second wife. My male ancestors sometimes had three wives and children from all of them! I wonder how he afforded them all! I have so many notes to add correct dates or places that I will have several months of recording until I can start my own investigative work can start. It was exciting to find that several of my male ancestors knew Joseph Smith and was set apart by him for their serving in other places. I know this is a blessed work and hope to have many more years of research. Thanks to all that are adding new records to what is already in the library. I really appreciate their work. Now, if only I could find the father of my 4th great grandmother…….

  2. I have noticed that as users we can change indexed information. I find this to be a problem. No longer can I assume the information that has been indexed is correct. I see mistakes when people change names on trees, now we will see problems with indexes? Familysearch.org has been wonderful until recently. Just looking for a way to keep it all true.

  3. #14 Receiving the hints is the best thing ever! I’m not good at searching, (actually I have a perfect record of failure,) but when the records are “delivered “ right to me, I can work for hours. I’m always amazed at how much information I get, and how many new people I enter, just from the hints. It’s like getting an email from the other side of the veil, saying “Remember us!”

  4. FamilySearch is such a blessing to our world. Thanks to all those who work so tirelessly to make it all possible.