A World Leader in Genealogical Research
Harald W. Azmann
Established in 1894 as a nonprofit organization funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Genealogical Society of Utah has grown from 13 members to an international organization of over 700 highly skilled and dedicated individuals, with headquarters located in Salt Lake City, Utah, USA.
Today, more than 100 years later, the society's activities span the globe. Staff members have expertise in history, area studies, library science, micrographics, digital imaging, business management and a multitude of languages, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints supports the development of many unique resources to encourage its members and researchers around the world to search their family roots.
The Family Search Internet Genealogy Service
• The free FamilySearch Internet Genealogy Service website www.familysearch.org was launched on 24. May 1999.
• Use of familysearch.org has far exceeded predictions with an average of 9 million hits per day.
• Website features include the Ancestral File with 36 million lineage-linked names and the International Genealogical Index (IGI) containing over 600 million names.
• The website is also a portal to thousands of other genealogical websites.
• Users of familysearch.org may submit information to the Pedigree Resource File.
• familysearch.org allows users to collaborate with other researchers and pool their information for more complete family records.
The Family History Library
• The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, provides access to the world's largest collection of genealogical records.
• The library has access to genealogical information recorded on more than 2 million rolls of microfilm and 180,000 microfiche, and in 288,000 books and 4,500 periodicals.
• In addition to filmed and published records, the library's database contains such records as the Ancestral File, the U.S. Social Security Index, and the U.S. Military Index.
• In 1999, the average increase of information was 4,500 rolls of microfilm and 700 books per month.
• More than 2,000 people visit the library per day.
• Nearly 450 staff members and volunteers are available to assist both new and expert genealogists.
• The Family History Library is linked to more than 3,500 Family History Centers located in 65 countries.
When records are destroyed, important links to the past can be lost forever. Fragile historical documents may also become damaged through frequent use. By contrast, microfilm copies can be used repeatedly and reproduced often, leaving the original documents untouched, undamaged, and preserved for future generations.
In cooperation with archives and other record-keeping institutions, the Genealogical Society of Utah began microfilming and storing records in 1938. To date, the society has microfilmed in over 100 countries. The society provides cooperating institutions with a free microfilm copy of their records; additionally, the microfilms stored by the society serve as backup copies for archives around the world, thus providing essential protection in the event of damage or loss.
The society stores microfilmed records in the Granite Mountain Records Vault, located near Salt Lake City, Utah. The vault is in a canyon wall beneath 700 feet (200 meters) of solid granite and is climate controlled for storing microfilm. The vault's six rooms can hold microfilm copies of over 25 million volumes of 300 pages each (about 6 million rolls of microfilm). Here records from all over the world are protected from natural and man-made disasters.
People interested in learning about their ancestors need to be able to find historical documents and use them effectively. Therefore, as the Genealogical Society of Utah acquires copies of records world-wide, it systematically catalogs each record by date, place of origin, and type of record. This catalog is available on microfiche and as part of FamilySearch, an automated system of genealogical information.
In addition to the catalog, FamilySearch has many resource files that include family history information for millions of deceased individuals. To create these resource files, the society works with other organizations to computerize and index parish, census, and other records.
Researchers can use the FamilySearch computer system at an increasing number of places throughout the world, including the Family History Library and the FamilySearch Center in Salt Lake City, an extensive network of Family History Centers (tm) worldwide, and other genealogical and educational institutions. As permitted by law and contractual obligations, copies of the records in the society's collection may be made available to researchers in these locations.
No single group can preserve, organize, and make available all the information contained in the world's important genealogical documents. This immense task requires the cooperation of record keepers and researchers around the world. In the spirit of cooperation, the Genealogical Society of Utah is committed to working with others to help preserve genealogical records and promote family research.
For more information, please go to www.familysearch.org.