I recently returned from an invaluable business trip to Europe and am excited to report that FamilySearch is having some wonderful success there. We met with employees, archivists, and partners to access and learn how we can better understand and grow the work of family history around the world. Here are some highlights of this fantastic tour which started out in Frankfurt, Germany. We had three important objectives in mind before we left—and I feel we accomplished each of them.
Our first goal was for me to meet our international workforce. We conducted three successful employee roundtables and were able to discuss the department vision and our role as team members at FamilySearch—with many attendees joining us via video conferencing from distant locations. We discussed the same things we talk about here—our role, why we exist as a department, and what we want to accomplish in this significant and important industry.
While we were in Germany we also accomplished half of our second objective—solidify relationships with some of the national archives who are so important to what we do. We had the opportunity to visit the Hessen state archives in Wiesbaden, the Hessisches Hauptstaatsarchiv. While there we looked at documents that pre-dated Columbus! At the same time we watched one of our many remarkable image capture teams in action. We have wonderful relationships with archives around the world, and it was rewarding to see how well this entire process of image capture is transpiring.
The second half of our archiving goal was accomplished near London where we met with Oliver Morley, the Chief Executive and Keeper at the UK government’s official archive, The National Archives. The local Family History Library is being temporarily housed in The National Archives while the Hyde Park Chapel is being renovated. We had a very positive meeting about our services and the importance of our relationship to each of us.
Our final objective was to meet with partners. We went to Scotland and were hosted by Chris van der Kuyl, the CEO of BrightSolid, and looked at some very exciting things they’re doing. They demonstrated some leading-edge search technology they use to scan newspapers and make the information searchable. I was able to do a search on an ancestor of mine, Peter Manwaring. Using their new search engine I was quickly able to bring up three 1800s newspaper articles from Preston, England that referenced him. That was impressive…both from a technology standpoint, but also from a human experience. I knew the dates and places, but to see him come to life before my very eyes was touching. I was deeply impressed that this is the type of experience our work should and will allow everyone to have.
The trip couldn’t have been more successful. I was pleased to see the dedication of FamilySearch employees worldwide, the positive collaboration of our archive keepers, and the focus of our partners. It is doubly rewarding for me to see the work flourish not only here, but also abroad. It was truly an honor to represent you and our great work on this memorable and successful tour.