Four years ago, in 2017, FamilySearch announced that it would no longer have microfilm distribution. I remember at the time, there was an outcry from the genealogy community. This was because so many people depended on getting films shipped to their part of the world to do their family research. Sure some people could travel to Salt Lake City after making a massive list of all the documents they needed, but for some, that didn’t happen often, and for others, that was just a dream. At the time, FamilySearch had already started digitizing its records.
They started that process more than 16 years earlier when FamilySearch first said they would begin digitizing their entire collection, and the timeline was 50 years to complete. I remember thinking, I’ll never live to see that project completed. But as technology got better, the timeline shortened.
So in 2014, that’s why there was that outcry. But FamilySearch committed to the massive project to digitize its collection of millions of rolls of microfilm containing billions of family history records from around the globe, and they promised to have the project completed by 2020.
Today FamilySearch announced that that job is completed. Bravo FamilySearch Bravo.
I know they were a year off but who can blame them, considering what we’ve been going through this past year.
What does that mean to you and me? It means that you have access remotely to records that contain over 11.5 billion individuals.
Your ancestors are in those records. Their births, their marriage, their deaths, and many events they participated in throughout their lifetime.
If you read the press release, you’ll see that FamilySearch says you can access them from your home. Well, that’s sort of true.
Don’t get me wrong, there are many many that you can see from the comfort of your home. But there are some legal challenges that FamilySearch has to deal with.
For as long as FamilySearch has been working with organizations, first filming and then digitizing their records, FamilySearch has had legal contracts with those organizations regarding ownership of the documents and access. With digitization and real-time access, there are more legal things to deal with. You can read Judy G. Russell, The Legal Genealogist’s blog, HERE to find out more.
You can still see digitized records, maybe not from your home, but some you can access from affiliate libraries such as your local library or genealogy society or at your local Family History Library. So be sure to check locally to see what’s available, and as always, you can still go to Salt Lake City to the Family History Library in person or request a document to be looked up online. I haven’t used that service, but I know that Judy Russell and others can vouch for it.
Another feature you may not know about is that FamilySearch offers educational classes and 20-minute one-on-one consultations. I can vouch for the consultations. I’ve used that service a couple of times. Be sure to check out the FamilySearch Wiki, where you can learn so much about all aspects of researching your family.
So when Judy talks about doing genealogy in your fluffy bunny slippers, it’s true.. I don’t have bunny slippers, but I do a lot of research in my pajamas, and we won’t get into what time it might be.