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LDS FamilySearch donates $1.5 million to Philly museum

Published: Thursday, April 24 2014 7:35 p.m. MDT

Philadelphia city representative Desiree Peterkin-Bell, left, listens as FamilySearch International president and CEO Dennis Brimhall addresses a press conference announcing a $1.5 million donation by the LDS Church to the Museum of the American Revolution. Also listening are former Pennsylvania Gov. Edward G. Rendell, center behind Brimhall, and museum president and CEO Michael Quinn.

Courtesy Lisa J. Godfrey

PHILADELPHIA — The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints presented a $1.5 million gift on Thursday to the Museum of the American Revolution, scheduled to open in late 2016.

The donation pushed fundraising for the museum in Philadelphia past $100 million. The goal is $150 million.

"We have many donors to thank for their generosity and commitment to the museum and want to particularly thank our LDS friends for this gift, which has gotten us to such a milestone," said Michael Quinn, president and CEO of the museum.

Former Pennsylvania Gov. Ed Rendell also thanked the church during a press conference on Thursday in Philadelphia.

“I’ve always felt like the church embodies American values, values that this country was built on and still treasures,” Rendell said.

The Museum of the American Revolution is expected to feature permanent and special exhibits, including artwork and manuscripts.

The president and CEO of an LDS Church affiliate, FamilySearch International, presented the gift to the museum.

"The story of America's founding is one of faith, family and religious freedom," FamilySearch's Dennis Brimhall said. "The church is pleased to be a partner in the ongoing efforts to engage people in their heritage in inspiring, immersive and interactive ways."

"With more than 25,000 members in and around the city of Philadelphia, this support demonstrates our commitment to and interest in building our local community,” said Elder Robert B. Smith, an Area Seventy of the church’s North America Northeast Area.

The museum also will feature a discovery center supported by FamilySearch.

FamilySearch is a free service provided by the LDS Church to help people connect with their ancestors. Launched 120 years ago, FamilySearch is the world's largest genealogy organization with more than 3.5 billion records available free at familysearch.org.

More than 3 million people each month use FamilySearch services and records, which are transcribed from digital copies of handwritten records from around the world.

On Wedneday, FamilySearch announced the addition of 10.7 million images to its collection, including more than 470,000 U.S. World War II draft registration cards and over 3.6 million records from New Zealand passenger lists between 1839-1973.

Users also can access the records through 4,600 family history centers in more than 130 countries, including the Family History Library in Salt Lake City.

Latter-day Saints believe families are central to life and that family relationships may continue beyond this life.

Email: twalch@deseretnews.com

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