2021 FamilySearch Year in Review

Year in Review Graphic 2021

If 2020 was considered a year of challenges, both globally and personally, then 2021 could accurately be described as a year of change.

At FamilySearch, we took this change in stride. The year began with hosting the largest free, all-virtual genealogy conference, RootsTech Connect, with over 1 million people participating from over 240 countries around the world. It also marked the completion of digitizing FamilySearch’s massive microfilm collection—2.4 million rolls, to be exact.

Although FamilySearch saw a lot of change this last year, as did many organizations around the world, all our efforts were targeted towards the same, wholesome goals. See what other fun milestones FamilySearch completed in its efforts to help create fun, free family discoveries for individuals worldwide and to build the family tree of humankind.

Adding to the FamilySearch Family Tree

Imagine billions of people adding what they know about their family history in a free online family tree that ultimately constitutes the family tree of humankind. That is one long-term goal of the FamilySearch Family Tree.

Contributors worldwide added information about millions of deceased relatives to the FamilySearch Family Tree in 2021, making a total of 1.38 billion people now searchable in the world’s largest collaborative—and free—family tree!

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1.38 Billion
People now in the FamilySearch Family Tree

This tree is a massive crowd-sourcing effort, and we are grateful to all who have contributed. In 2021, users also added hundreds of millions of sources—supporting facts—to their ancestors’ profile pages in the family tree. Sources can come from personal family records or hints generated by FamilySearch’s growing historical record collections. Sources help strengthen the genealogical accuracy of ancestor pages—particularly for common, shared ancestors.

As the family tree of humankind grows, the number of ancestors that users have in common also expands, and more and more people will be able to discover their relatives.

See what discoveries are waiting for you in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

More Searchable Records from around the World

To expand the branches of your family tree, you typically need access to genealogical records—records that give information about a relative’s birth, marriage, death, residence, military service, and so on. FamilySearch now offers more than 14.3 billion searchable names and images from historical records from ancestral homelands all over the globe. FamilySearch’s predecessors began gathering records in 1893 and started making these records available on microfilm in 1938.

14.3 Billion
Searchable names and images from historical records
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A major FamilySearch milestone in 2021 was completing the monumental project of digitizing its 2.4 million rolls of microfilm (see "FamilySearch Completes Digitization of Massive Microfilm Collection"). The initiative has now made billions of ancestors from over 200 countries and principalities more readily discoverable to anyone with internet access.

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2.4 Million
Rolls of microfilm digitized

FamilySearch’s Explore Historical Images feature enables users with a free FamilySearch account to effectively peruse the digitized online images from most of the microfilm collection.

FamilySearch also added hundreds of millions of new, searchable, historical records in 2021. Significant expansions included collections for Scandinavian countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden, and Finland), the Netherlands, Spain, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru, areas in the Caribbean and Pacific Islands, and more.

See what was added for your ancestral homelands in 2021 using the enhanced search feature at FamilySearch.org.

Making Discoveries on FamilySearch.org

Global interest in personal family connections continues to grow. FamilySearch experienced over 200 million visits in 2021, with visitors combing through online ancestor records to extend their family trees and add family memories.

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200 Million
Visits to FamilySearch.org

Enhancements in 2021 that visitors can now enjoy include new discovery pages for ancestors in the family tree. These pages are an easy way to see your relative’s life story at a glance, view photos and stories, and understand the historical events that family members may have lived through.

It’s also easier than ever to see what FamilySearch can tell you about your relatives with the discovery search feature. This search allows you to see results from Family Tree, historical records, memories and a surname search, all at the same time.

Do you have a relative you want to learn more about? See what FamilySearch has to offer!

Finding Help with Family History

Need help with your family history? FamilySearch made wonderful enhancements in 2021 to its menu of helpful services. You can now simply type in a topic or challenge, and suggested results will appear. The new FamilySearch Community forum enables you to easily find family history solutions and ask questions from—or even join—a helpful community of conscientious volunteers worldwide who are quick to respond—for free.

For those just getting started, FamilySearch also has a new page to guide you through your family history journey. From personal discoveries, to searching records, to creating a family tree or having family history fun, this page can get you started with simple steps.

Want to go on your own family history journey?

RootsTech Connect 2021 Highlights

RootsTech Connect welcomes millions of people worldwide to celebrate family and make family connections at the world’s largest family history conference and year long learning platform. It offers thousands of classes, inspiring speakers, and meaningful activities that foster new connections and discoveries.

1 Million+
Participants at the first RootsTech Connect
RootsTech Connect Logo

Undaunted by the uncertainties surrounding COVID-19 and related travel restrictions, FamilySearch held the 2021 RootsTech event entirely online for the first time. The results were amazing and far reaching. The all-virtual RootsTech Connect 2021 welcomed more than 1 million participants from 242 countries and territories (see "RootsTech Attracts over 1 Million Participants").

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Countries represented by RootsTech Connect attendees
Missed the RootsTech Connect 2021 virtual event? View over 2,000 on-demand videos for free all year long. You can also register for next year's event, to be held on 3–5 March 2022.

Use these quick links to find RootsTech videos from our favorite topics.

Family History Library Reopening

People from all over the world visit Salt Lake City, Utah, every year to take advantage of the genealogical resources of FamilySearch’s Family History Library. The library serves beginner and professional family history patrons from all over the world and is a popular tourist attraction for the state of Utah.

The library was happy to begin a phased reopening starting in July 2021 (see "FamilySearch Family History Library Reopening"), following its closure on 13 March, 2020, due to the global COVID-19 pandemic. The library took advantage of the extended closure to make needed renovations that significantly improve patron discovery and research experiences.

Books added to the Family History Library in Salt Lake
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Enhancements include the addition of state-of-the-art patron workstations with dual monitors and adjustable-height desks to accommodate sitting or standing preferences, enhanced workflow throughout the facility, a new patron dining area, and the addition of nearly 40,000 books from new acquisitions and long-term storage.

The library also added or upgraded free patron services (see the new Family History Library web page). Guests can sign up for free, one-on-one virtual consultations with a research specialist, a service that is available in multiple languages. If you can’t come to the library, a staff member can retrieve a book from library shelves and help you find what you’re seeking through the new record lookup service.

In FamilySearch Communities online, guests can receive assistance from volunteers worldwide, including locating or interpreting ancestor records, asking questions, or sharing expertise. The library also expanded its popular free online classes and webinars.

See what services the Family History Library has to offer both virtually and in person.

As 2021 comes to a close, we hope our reminiscing inspires you to visit FamilySearch.org and leads you to a connection with your own family. For a sneak peek at FamilySearch’s plans for 2022, keep an eye out for our "What’s Coming" article, which will be available in January 2022.

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