It’s hard to believe, but FamilySearch.org is 15 years old today. Originally launched on May 24, 1999 by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, FamilySearch has played a key role in dramatically changing the landscape of internet genealogy. When President Gordon B. Hinckley launched FamilySearch Internet, he commented, “I hope you understand this is far from just a new website. . . . Today we take the long-awaited step of allowing home access via the Internet to some of the most significant materials in our Family History Library.” That step mentioned by President Hinckley was just the first step in a long and remarkable journey to what was to become the development of one of the world’s leading genealogical websites.
In its infancy, FamilySearch started with two key databases, which included Ancestral File and the International Genealogical File (IGI), along with a few minor genealogical databases. The site originally provided access to 400 million names. Today, FamilySearch contains more than 3.2 billion records.
Over the past 15 years, FamilySearch has gone through a number of changes and revisions. Users can now access billions of digitized images of original records. It now offers a single unified pedigree called Family Tree, which allows users to work with each other to coordinate their work, thus dramatically reducing needless duplication of effort.
FamilySearch now has partnership agreements with hundreds of archives around the world, as well as working agreements with a number of internet vendors such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, findmypast, Archives, BillionGraves and others. It will continue to develop new partnership in the years to come.
The past 15 years have seen some remarkable growth and exciting achievements for FamilySearch. And with the development of new technology and the ongoing partnerships that FamilySearch is presently pursuing, we can expect that the next 15 years will be even more exciting and productive.
FamilySearch has moved out of its infancy and is now in its youthful and vibrant “teenage years.” As it continues to grow, we can anticipate the adaptation new technologies that will allow our users to continue to enjoy free access to resources that will allow them to find their ancestors with far greater ease and speed. We can look forward to the addition of many billions of new records, made available by our FamilySearch Indexing efforts as well as through the development of new partnerships.
The future looks bright for FamilySearch. With that, we want to wish FamilySearch a happy 15th birthday, with the hope of many more to come.