Technology helps FamilySearch hit major milestone


Published: Saturday, Sept. 12 2009 12:17 a.m. MDT

Salt Lake City, where the images will be processed, preserved, copied

and distributed.

The availability of the images depends on the contract

specifications of each project. Many images are published on

familysearch.org, some are published on commercial genealogical Web

sites, sometimes the archive itself publishes the work, and sometimes

the work is published but with restrictions as to who may access it.

\"In the end, we may or may not get to personally publish the

records — there all are sorts of barriers,\" Waters said. \"But

it's about making as many records as possible available to as many

people as possible.\"

A different kind of conversion

One of the most significant advancements for FamilySearch in recent

years was put into place in 2005, when 15 high-speed scanners were

developed to convert images previously contained on microfilm into

digital images to allow them to be viewed on a computer. These scanners

are converting 2.5 million rolls of microfilm from the church's Granite

Mountain Records Vault into tens of millions of ready-to-index digital


These rolls of microfilm include images of important historical

documents gathered from all over the world — birth and death records,

hospital records, family histories, immigration forms, historical

books and more.

\"To our knowledge, there is no company that does the level of vital-records preservation that FamilySearch does,\" said Nauta. \"The

records FamilySearch contains currently, when digitized, would equal

132 Libraries of Congress or 18 petabytes of data — and that doesn't

include our ongoing acquisition efforts.\"

The scanners are like a camera: As the microfilm unwinds, the

images on the microfilm are converted into a long ribbon of

high-quality digital images. A computer program quality-checks the

ribbon and uses special algorithms to break it up into individual


Scanning the original pictures from the microfilm, preparing the

images to be viewed with an online image viewer, and quality-checking

them may take only 18 minutes per roll.

Taking it to the world

FamilySearchIndexing.org is just one of a number of new Web-based programs that have been developed to advance family history endeavors.

FamilySearch Labs (labs.FamilySearch.org)

Try out the new DeseretNews.com design!
try beta learn more
Get The Deseret News Everywhere