By Don Anderson
FamilySearch had a bloggers call this last week and there were some interesting highlights. The pace of digitization is steadily increasing. Last year FamilySearch added more than 4 million images to their collection. This year the number will increase substantially. FamilySearch has yet to hit the rate at which they will ultimately reach in producing digital images and other records. They are still projecting to have their collection fully digitized within the next eight years. This goal now seems possible.
The pace of indexing is also increasing. FamilySearch added more than 40,000 indexers last year. These include members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, who have long been the core of the FamilySearch indexing program, but also increasingly include members of the general public. Genealogists in large numbers are starting to join the effort at FamilySearch as they see records being published and the results of their work having impact. The dry spell at FamilySearch, which was seen for more than five years as the organization retooled for the digital era, seems to be well and truly in the past. FamilySearch is marching steadily to a leadership position once again.
New indexing levels of production were reached the four days before the conference call. The indexers at FamilySearch are approaching more than two million records indexed per day. That would mean more than 700 million records indexed annually. WOW! The work seems to be continually growing. Projects are now available in more than eleven languages.
FamilySearch also took time on the call to reinforce the messages of their new technology conference, rootstech. They shared details about new interactive sessions and sessions designed for software developers. They also highlighted sessions targeted for those with genealogical interest that are looking to see upcoming technology innovations and how to use technology better in searching for ancestors. The early bird registration has now ended so the registration fee is $150, but this should be a great conference with many interesting sessions and speakers.
One of the most interesting items shared on the call, however, was the training update. FamilySearch now has more than 120 lessons online, all free. They are targeting to have more than 4,000 when they have all the courses in their current plan. These courses are grouped into what they have called “General Core”, “Geographic Core”, and “Specialized” courses and they have begun to engage with the genealogical community to deliver them.
I have written about the course from well know genealogist Tom Jones. FamilySearch has now released a course on courthouse researcher by the women who literally wrote the book on it, Christine Rose. Rose lectures at virtually every national conference and teaches at Samford University nearly every year at the week long genealogical studies program. This program is the gold standard in genealogical training.
The course, now posted online on FamilySearch, is a step by step tutorial from Rose on how to research in courthouses. If you are going to do any research in the United States you will spend a lot of time in county courthouses. Most of the records, from vitals to land, to tax records, are held by counties. Gaining an understanding of research techniques in county records is core to doing successful US research.
FamilySearch is taking their course capture work on the road. They have an operation set up at the FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake where any visiting genealogist can record their training sessions to be shared on FamilySearch.org, but they also have started to take the video capture equipment to locations near genealogists around the US. They had just completed a trip to the Mid-Continent Genealogical Library in Missouri. They are planning to have cameras ready at the National Genealogical Society conference and the Federation of Genealogical Societies conference. These are the two primary national conferences focused on family history.
FamilySearch aims to become the place to go for genealogical help and with the new courses published and the additional content available they are well on their way. I have said in the past that there is no better time than now to be involved in family history. This call only reminded me again why that is true. I can increasingly find help, training, records, and resources available from where I am, without having to travel to an archive or even a family history center. I can find these resources anytime, from anywhere, and in ways that are increasingly simple to use. The future looks bright, and my ability to succeed increases each day.