FamilySearch International, a global leader in helping individuals discover their family history, published its annual at-a-glance summary of its efforts in 2018. A key FamilySearch initiative is to simplify family history and increase discovery experiences for beginners. In 2018, FamilySearch published hundreds of millions of new, free historical records online, provided personal, interactive learning opportunities, opened new facilities, and created more effective search experiences at FamilySearch.org.
Record Updates in 2018
FamilySearch has the largest collection of genealogical and historical records in the world—and 5.8 billion of those are now searchable online. True to its mission to connect families, FamilySearch published its two billionth digital image of historical records online and continues adding records at a rate of over 300 million new records and images yearly. Over 300,000 online volunteers clocked in over 11 million hours to help index 122 million new records, making them easy to search for an ancestor’s name.
FamilySearch published significant new collections from the War of 1812 and World War I.Military records are a treasure trove of largely underutilized record collections. They can help uncover details about soldiers and their families and lives. Another significant collection published was the complete archive of Ellis Island and Castle Garden Records online. Today, more than 100 million Americans have at least one ancestor who came through Ellis Island.
Family Tree Growth in 2018
The popular, free FamilySearch Family Tree had 1.6 million contributors for the year, who added 28 million new people to the global tree. The total number of searchable people is now 1.21 billion. Users also added 241 million sources to their ancestor pages.
New tools make online searches easier with an array of devices. The powerful FamilySearch Family Tree mobile app now has over 90 percent of the functionality of FamilySearch.org’s Family Tree feature.
New Interactive Experiences
FamilySearch’s vision includes “creating a bond, linking the present to the past, and building a bridge to the future.” Part of that process is to create fun, interactive experiences that link people to the past. FamilySearch’s innovation experiences are now showcased at Revolution Place in the Museum of the American Revolution, a popular new tourist attraction in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Four interactive displays immerse visitors in an experience of 1770 Philadelphia when the American Colonies struggled with the quest for independence.
New Director for the Family History Library in Salt Lake City
In August of this year, David Rencher, AG, CG, FIGRS, and chief genealogical officer of FamilySearch, was also made director of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City. He is working with FamilySearch development teams to increase patron success at the library and more than 5,000 local centers worldwide. During the year, 72 new centers were built to increase user access. In January 2018, a new 8,000 square foot FamilySearch center opened in Lehi, Utah, and ground was broken for a new Ogden Utah FamilySearch Center.
Successful 2018 Genealogy Conference
RootsTech 2018 was a huge success, providing up-to-date information on resources and search techniques. Over 125,000 attendees participated in person and online. Throughout the year, lectures have been rebroadcast and posts of information have appeared on the RootsTech Blog.
After a year of impressive growth in 2018, FamilySearch is looking forward to what the new year will bring!