The FamilySearch Wiki recently published its 100,000th genealogical research article. This free tool helps answer many common questions you might have when searching for ancestors in historical records. Each wiki article is written and updated by research specialists at the FamilySearch Family History Library and from the global genealogical community.
The FamilySearch Wiki helps you discover your ancestors by providing background information and research guidance on a wide range of topics relating to records collections, archives, local history, webinars, and other valuable information for areas throughout the world. If a topic is connected to genealogy research, it is likely to be found in the FamilySearch Wiki. If you’re not sure where to start in your ancestral search, it can help you find the best online databases for geographic areas where your ancestors lived.
The Genealogical Society of Utah, renamed FamilySearch in 1999, began providing research help articles in 1913. The FamilySearch Wiki, launched in 2008, was designed initially to help more advanced users with their research. In the past few years, its resources have broadened to include material and guides useful to beginners.
Today, the FamilySearch Wiki is among the top Wikis on the Internet based on the number of articles published and monthly visitors. The wiki averages more than 50,000 visitors per day, and the number is growing rapidly as users discover and embrace the wealth of information it offers. In 2021, more than 18 million visitors used it to assist them in their genealogical research.
“While the numbers are impressive, they are not the measure of success,” says Darris Williams, FamilySearch Wiki Team and Community Trees Manager. “It is about how the content helps people make ancestral discoveries. We get success stories all the time from patrons and glowing reports from well-known genealogy influencers, teachers, and lecturers who often recommend its use and link to specific content.”
Cyndi Ingle, website author of CyndisList.com and genealogy influencer, said today's online genealogical community couldn't get by without the FamilySearch Wiki. That it is “a must-have, go-to site for anyone doing genealogical research.”
Curt Witcher, Genealogy Center Manager and Director of Special Collections at the Allen County Public Library in Fort Wayne, Indiana, also lauds the wiki. “When patrons come to our library wondering how to do research, we often go to the FamilySearch Wiki, and we find so much useful data,” he said. “We use it ourselves all the time. It is the library of libraries, and libraries around the country are using it.”
The FamilySearch Wiki is like having ready access to a personal team of research specialists—a particularly great asset if you are new to genealogy or a related topic. For example, if you do not know where your first ancestor to arrive in a country immigrated from, the FamilySearch Wiki can offer suggestions on how to find out. What if you found you have Mennonite ancestry? Or need to know when birth records started in a certain city or parish? The wiki can instruct you on the best next steps.
Content in the FamilySearch Wiki is also global in scope. Genealogy research insights from around the world are covered. Don’t know where to start or look to find an ancestor in Germany? Brazil? Africa? Italy? China? Tonga? There is a wiki page for most countries, with databases listed from FamilySearch.org and elsewhere, to help you understand what is available and what approaches will most likely yield the quickest discoveries.
“The FamilySearch Wiki is developing, evolving, and expanding as more people with specific genealogical expertise contribute their knowledge,” said Williams.
New Guided Research Feature
A new feature called Guided Research was recently added. It is a good starting point for researchers because it provides directions to records collections from FamilySearch and other archives that will give the researcher the highest likelihood of success. Guided Research is currently available for 22 countries.
Although the Wiki allows open community authorship from specialists, most of the content is created and reviewed by a FamilySearch team of under 30 volunteers who are aided by FamilySearch genealogy specialists and others. They write, fact-check, and proof articles for accuracy and clarity. Some authors have written and edited thousands of pages. What they accomplish is a monumental achievement.
Most of the Wiki content is produced in English, with some articles in Spanish, Portuguese, German, Italian, French, Japanese, and Swedish. A Google Translate extension allows users to select from 109 languages that automatically translates the pages in the chosen language.
The Future of the FamilySearch Wiki
Gathering relevant, accurate research information throughout the world is a goal of the FamilySearch Wiki and an enormous task. Relationships are being developed with specialists in geographic areas who know their records and customs well and can provide local input. Currently, wiki information for the U.S. and England is especially robust. Williams says the goal is to have at least one country page for every country in the world and to keep expanding it.
Try the FamilySearch Wiki now to help you make your next family discovery.