In the state of the art Budapest City Archives building was hosted a special ceremony on Thursday January 31st, 2013. It was the site of the ”2012 Research Location of the Year” awards that were presented by the Hungarian Society for Family History Research (HSFHR).
Attendees included members of the national government and the municipal administration, such as Endre Gyimesi, Ministerial Commissioner responsible for Hungarian archives, and Deputy Mayor Miklos Csomos. The ceremony started with opening words from HSFHR president, Laszlo Hunyady.
Mr. Hunyady announced the winners in two categories; domestic contributions and International categories contributions. Hunyady emphasized that the award’s significance and popularity was rooted in how it reflected the opinions of the Hungarian community and of family history researchers. The winners were chosen from over 50 archives, museums, libraries and other institutions.
The winner of the domestic category was the Budapest City Archives. The winner of the international category was FamilySearch International. Mr. Hunyady explained that both winners provided ease of access , user friendly procedures and clarity of vision, which were crucial aspects considered for the final decision.
HSFHR Secretary Jozsef Nemeth shared some of the comments that had been submitted during the nomination period. They recognized FamilySearch’s role in global genealogical research. ”I think it is obvious that https://familysearch.org is the research site where every family history researcher starts from and returns to regularly. We would immediately notice its absence,” read one of the judges.
Several other comments pointed to the link between the site and the Church, praising the size and intensity of LDS efforts. ”Although the nominee is the FamilySearch website, we are all aware that it is owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, also maintaining Family History Centers worldwide, so the award should really be handed to [the Church],” replied one HSFHR member.
This opinion was also reflected in another comment, which said that ”Mormons made the online research of various vital and other records possible. This provides great help for family and local history research. Indexing volunteers should also be recognized.”
Presenting the awards to the winners, Dr. Gyimesi remarked that ”researchers must always encounter the will to help” – a will, which he believed the two institutions had demonstrated.
Accepting the award on behalf of FamilySearch, Field Relations Manager for Europe East, Torben Engbjerg thanked the large number of indexing volunteers – 350,000 individuals in 2012 alone – “who have done a tremendous job”. He also expressed a special note of gratitude to archivists in Hungary and elsewhere who are instrumental in assisting FamilySearch’s mission: to preserve and publish records.
Speaking of plans for 2013, Engbjerg pointed to the goal of processing 100 million records. This is an ambitious but fully feasible increase from the already impressive volume of almost 80 million records processed in 2012.
He also recalled the beginnings of his own research 35 years ago and the excitement of going to the archives in Denmark, opening old books and learning about his ancestors. As Brother Engbjerg remarked with lighthearted nostalgia, his children ”do not get to feel it the same way, as they can use their computers to look up the same information. There is no smell of old books.”
Following the close of the formal award ceremony, most of the audience returned for a one hour Q&A session with Torben Engbjerg.
This story was reported by Miklos Bekefi.