FamilySearch Celebrates 15 Years!

Happy-Birthday-15-yearsFamilySearch, the world’s biggest website of genealogical data (which by the way is all FREE), celebrated their 15th birthday yesterday. Can you believe that it’s been around that long already?

The FamilySearch blog made the annoucement of their birthday yesterday, and here’s some of what they say …

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.

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 names.

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.” 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.

I decided to head on over to the WayBack Machine to see just how FamilySearch has changed over time. How many of these screenshots do you recognise? (Click one ach image for a bigger picture).

FamilySearch homepage in 1999

FamilySearch homepage in 1999

FamilySearch homepage in 2009

FamilySearch homepage in 2009

FamilySearch homepage in 2011

FamilySearch homepage in 2011

FamilySearch homepage in 2014

FamilySearch homepage in 2014

Regular readers on this blog will know that I am an avid user of FamilySearch, and enjoy showing customers the numerous features it offers. Apart from the search screen which E-V-E-R-Y-O-N-E knows about, I’m always showing people how to access the browse-only records (the ones that aren’t yet indexed), also the wiki, the videos and courses, and the indexing. If you have a few hours you could spare, why not get involved in the indexing? And that’s without even mentioning about putting your tree online on FamilySearch Family Tree, printing out charts, or uploading photos or biographies … YES, all of these are things that can be done in the current version of FamilySearch.

There’s no question that FamilySearch has come a HUGE way since it started back in 1999, and so has genealogy. So it’ll be really interesting to see how both develop over the next 15 years! Exciting times ahead.

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