SALT LAKE CITY — Two family history organizations are undertaking a massive project to create an online database of obituaries.
In connection with Family History month, FamilySearch International and GenealogyBank.com announced Wednesday that they will work together to digitize more than one billion historical obituaries so the records are more accessible.
The historical records will come from more than 100 million U.S. newspapers in all 50 states dating from 1730 to the present. The enormous project will require tens of thousands of online volunteers, according to a press release.
More details about the campaign are available at familysearch.org/campaign/obituaries.
Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, said obituaries are a "treasure trove" of rich information.
"The average obituary contains the names of about 10 family members of the deceased — parents, spouse, children and other relatives," Brimhall said in the news release. "Some include much more. Making them easily searchable online creates an enormously important source for compiling our family histories. The number of people who will benefit from this joint initiative is incalculable."
Dan V. Jones, GenealogyBank vice president, said GenealogyBank is excited to partner with FamilySearch in bringing these obituaries to researchers all over the world. GenealogyBank has more than 6,500 historical U.S. newspapers going back over 280 years. These publications contain obituaries and death notices that can provide information not readily available in other public records.
"The unique life stories written, dates documented and generations of family members mentioned are often only found within an obituary, which makes them such an invaluable resource," Jones said in the news release. "Obituaries have the unique power to both tell a story and enable individuals to learn more about their family relationships."
Volunteers are needed to transfer the information from an image into searchable data. Information about online volunteering is available at FamilySearch.org/indexing. The website offers a training video along with other information and resources.
FamilySearch has already organized and indexed more than one billion historic records online since 2006.
When completed, indexed obituary collections will be available online at FamilySearch.org and GenealogyBank.com.
FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. GenealogyBank.com is one of the largest exclusive collections of newspapers and historical documents for family history research.
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