Tuesday, September 21, 2021

FamilySearch Completes Digitization of Massive Microfilm Collection



FamilySearch Completes Digitization of Massive Microfilm Collection

Effort makes billions of historical genealogy records freely available online

FamilySearch completes initiative to digitize its 2.4 million rolls of microfilm for free online access.It is a milestone 83 years in the making. Today FamilySearch International announced the completion of a massive project to digitize its collection of millions of rolls of microfilm containing billions of family history records from around the world. The archive containing information on more than 11.5 billion individuals is now freely available to the public on FamilySearch.org.

"We hope that all those who contributed to this milestone in the last 80 years feel a sense of humble accomplishment today,” said Steve Rockwood, the CEO of FamilySearch International. “And we hope the millions of individuals who will discover, gather, and connect generation upon generation of their family members for years to come because of these efforts will have a deep sense of gratitude for the many unheralded contributors who made those discoveries possible."

“It's a game-changer for everybody in the world. So, instead of having to come to the library, people can start accessing these records from home,” said Becky Adamson, a research consultant at the FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Over 200 countries and principalities and more than 100 languages are represented in the digitized documents. Completion of the project makes it much easier for individuals to make more personal and family discoveries.

To explore FamilySearch’s free collections of indexed records and images, go to FamilySearch.org and search both “Records” and “Images”. The Images feature enables users to peruse digitized images from the microfilm collection and more. A free FamilySearch account will be required to access the service.

History of FamilySearch Records Preservation

FamilySearch staff digitizing microfilm for convenient, free online access.FamilySearch and its predecessors have been collecting, preserving, and providing access to genealogically significant historical records for more than 100 years. Those records include birth, death, marriage, census, military service, immigration, and other types of documents.

FamilySearch began microfilming in 1938 as the Genealogical Society of Utah. It was one of the first major organizations to embrace the use of microfilm imaging. That microfilm collection eventually grew to more than 2.4 million rolls.

For many decades, duplicates of the original rolls could be ordered and viewed at one of FamilySearch’s more than 5,000 family history centers worldwide. The process of duplicating and distributing microfilm copies, and the laborious research that followed, seems excruciating by today’s instant online research standards, but at the time, it was innovative and the easiest, most economical way available to help patrons worldwide find family information without having to travel to an archive holding the original records.

(Watch "Billions of Microfilm Records Digitized" Video News Release) 

FamilySearch ended its microfilm distribution to family history centers in September 2017 when it began its transition to an all-digital, free, online access approach. The microfilm collection will continue to be preserved, but the information the rolls contain can now be easily viewed and searched online.

FamilySearch continues to capture images of original records at an ever-increasing rate, howbeit in digital form, bypassing the need to transfer the information from film.

The Microfilm Digitization Timeline

Digitization of the rolls of film began more than 20 years ago when FamilySearch purchased its first microfilm scanners in 1998. The project was expected to take over 50 years to complete, but advances in technology helped shorten the timeline by nearly 30 years. The last of the microfilm scanning was completed this year. The project took a leap forward in 2006 when software and processes were developed by FamilySearch in conjunction with the Church History and the Information and Communication Services Departments of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The scanning began with about 5 employees. As the process was developed, up to 30 employees using 26 scanners were working on the process, even during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The digitization effort has been directed by the Church Historian and Recorder and executed by preservation professionals in the Church History Department. The last roll of film added to the collection was captured by FamilySearch’s in-field cameras in 2018.

FamilySearch is committed to collecting, preserving, and providing access to the world’s genealogical records to help individuals and families worldwide discover and connect with their family histories. FamilySearch will continue to increase the digitization of new records worldwide from its digital camera operations and partnerships. It will also begin digitizing 335,000 microfiches in its collections.


Church Completes Microfilm Digitization Initiative (Church Newsroom, 21 September 2021)

Explore Historical Images Tool Unlocks Data in Digital Records (FamilySearch Blog, How-to, 18 February 2020)

FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm (FamilySearch News, 7 September 2017)

Monday, August 2, 2021

School Records May Provide Information

Remember how your parents had to provide information about you, such as date and place of birth, as part of registering you for school? Many schools maintain their records indefinitely, usually in some records retention facility. Registration, grades, yearbooks, and other information may still exist. If you can determine the location of the school that your ancestor or relative attended, and the county it is/was in, chances are that you may be able to obtain copies of school records.

Also, don't overlook colleges and universities your ancestor attended. Registrars’ offices can be contacted for academic records and alumni associations may have subsequent addresses. Yearbooks are usually a permanent part of the institution’s library so be sure to check them for details about your ancestors’ extracurricular school activities. Don’t forget to check with fraternities, sororities, and alumni offices. Be prepared, however, to provide proof of your relationship in order to gain access to or copies of some of the academic records.

Thursday, July 1, 2021

Genealogy Guys Learn Summer Sale!

The Genealogy Guys Learn subscription education site is on sale at 25% off from July 1st through July 31st for $74 for the first year's subscription (new members only). Our regular annual subscription price is $99, and this sale price of $74 is a 25% savings!  

Genealogy Guys Learn currently offers 35 video and 20 written courses with new content added every month. Courses range from beginning to advanced topics. A complete list of current courses and new topics coming soon can be found at https://ahaseminars.com/cpage.php?pt=29.

Learn from The Genealogy Guys, producers since 2005 of the longest-running genealogy podcast, expert researchers and presenters, and prolific authors!

This sale is in effect from July 1, 2021, until 11:59 PM Eastern U.S. time on July 31, 2021. Take advantage of this great price by going to the website at https://genealogyguyslearn.com/, click the red Enroll Now! box at the bottom of the screen, fill in the information requested, and add the code SUMMERTIME for your discount. 

Fill the coming year with new knowledge and make some great new discoveries!

Happy Summer!

Wednesday, June 30, 2021

Vivid-Pix Genealogy Whodunit Mystery Game - Help Find Uncle George!


Help Find Uncle George!

Vivid-Pix has created a fun genealogy whodunit game that combines elements of family history research with the use of RESTORE, their powerful image restoration software.

The game immerses you into the genealogy process using restored photos and documents to learn about relatives’ past. The game is all about a fictional long-lost Great-Uncle: George Albert Bellamy, who emigrated from the U.K. to the U.S. in the early 1900’s. By collaborating with distant cousin Peter, you will analyze miniscule details in old photos and documents using the restoration tools in Vivid-Pix to discover hidden clues from Great-Uncle George’s past in the U.K. and his mysterious travels overseas to the U.S. Prepare yourself for a journey through Edwardian Britain and beyond, complete with crime, cryptic postcards, and more! 

The game provides Tips & Tricks on genealogy research and Vivid-Pix RESTORE software.


Those who successfully complete the challenge can enter to win great prizes, including a weekend in New York City, London or $1,000 USD, and photo gifts.

Get started by clicking the image below or this link! The game goes on through September 30, 2021, but get started NOW!


Enjoy the mystery!


Monday, June 14, 2021

The Lost African American Cemeteries of Tampa Bay

 A number of African American cemeteries in the Tampa Bay, Florida, area have been "lost" or "erased" over time. One cemetery, the Zion Cemetery, has been the focus of a great deal of scrutiny. Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) has been used to verify the presence of graves. Government and community members have gotten involved to identify those interred there, and to learn more about them.

Drew Smith is the Genealogy Librarian at the University of South Florida Libraries and he is leading a group of volunteers to trace the families and descendants of those interred in the Zion Cemetery. The article he wrote about the project can be found at https://lib.usf.edu/news/the-lost-african-american-cemeteries-of-tampa-bay-whats-being-done-to-remember-them/?fbclid=IwAR3CC0WUQMtSCw6u7kan9t0m05SFE2mSw3HXlBREGcgKtcKnsYxHpXgb7T4

Monday, June 7, 2021

FamilySearch Announces Release of GEDCOM 7.0

 FamilySearch International is pleased to announce the release of FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 (Genealogical Data Communications). The latest version allows zip packaging capabilities for photos and files with genealogical information, plus new tools, and a public GitHub repository for ongoing maintenance. Technical information, specifications, tools, and guides can be found at GEDCOM.io

At RootsTech 2020, FamilySearch launched an effort to create a new version of GEDCOM based on the 5.5.1 version that would include: 1) new expressivity, flexibility, and compatibility; 2) zip packaging of associated images and other files with the related GEDCOM file; and 3) public access using a GitHub repository. Many industry software providers and key influencers participated, and the initiative concluded May 15, 2021, with the completion of this comprehensive effort.

FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 is the outcome of those efforts and includes the following new enhancements:

·       Zip packaging capabilities for photos and files have been added.

·       Notes have been expanded for more versatile use and styling of text.

·       Tools, sample files, sample code, and self-testing guides are included.

·       The GEDCOM specification and any code available from FamilySearch based on the specification is subject to the terms and conditions of the Apache License, Version 2.0.

·       Ambiguities in the GEDCOM Version 5.5.1 specification have been removed.

·       A public GitHub repository generates maintenance requests and on-going discussions about future features.

Users of FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 will be able to import files from older GEDCOM versions. However, users of older versions of GEDCOM will not be able to import from FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0.


FamilySearch GEDCOM 7.0 is copyrighted.

© 1987, 1989, 1992, 1993, 1995, 1999, 2019, and 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved. A service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

General information can be found at GEDCOM.info.

Helpful Sources

General InfoGEDCOM.info

Technical Specs, Tools and GuidesGEDCOM.io
Community:  GEDCOM General Google Group and GitHub Public GEDCOM Repository