Genealogy is a popular hobby worldwide, but it holds particular importance to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon church). The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has contributed significant resources to collecting and distributing historical records. The church has created the largest collection of family records in the world, initially as the Genealogical Society of Utah, and now as Family Search.
What is Family Search?
Family Search is a non-profit family history organization. Established in 1894, members have spent over 100 years curating a vast network of resources and facilities dedicated to family history. The Family Search is a service provided by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It aligns with the Mormon belief system of the importance of family and ancestry to identity, and that there is an enduring bond between living individuals and the story of their ancestors.
Their main activities involve the collection and preservation of family history records across the world. They are a pioneer in this field, using the best technology and expertise to capture and record information with accuracy. The company started in the U.S., so it is especially useful for those with U.S. ancestry.
Once images of the historical data have been captured, they must be transcribed and digitized. This allows them to be indexed, making them searchable for family history enthusiasts. The physical records collected by the church are stored in the Granite Mountain Records Vault in Utah. The vault is an environmentally controlled facility owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It is here that volunteer indexers document the information on the records, making them searchable and accessible online.
What does Family Search offer?
Family Search has an extensive collection of billions of family records. Their record collections include:
- Birth, marriage, and death records
- Census records
- Immigration records
- Court records
- Military records
- Church records
They also harbor the world’s largest family tree, containing over 1 billion unique profiles, to which you can add your family tree. As well as their database, Family Search also provides a resource to store photos, memories, documents, stories, and recordings, and link these to your family members. Importantly, you don’t have to be a member of the church to use the services.
Family Search has centers that you can visit in person, allowing you to access further genealogy resources. There are over 5,000 of these centers worldwide. The company also has an app with excellent functionality that enables you to add details to your family tree on the go.
To get started, all you have to do is create an account and begin constructing your family tree. You can then fill in the blanks and connect your family tree to the site’s huge family tree.
As well as being a searchable database, they also help individuals in the preservation and digitization of their own familial records. Therefore, Family Search is very much a collaborative service.
Family Search is also an excellent way for individuals to contribute to the global genealogy community. You can sign up as a volunteer in your country to index records and help connect families through shared ancestry.
Value for money
Family Search is an entirely free service. It is wholly funded by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Family Search is an excellent option for beginners just delving into the world of genealogy because it is free and non-commital. Even for experienced users, it is definitely worth making an account since you have nothing to lose, and you never know what you might uncover.
However, Family Search does not offer any DNA testing or analysis services. Therefore, Family Search is not a good option for users interested in exploring what their DNA can reveal about their ancestry. However, Family Search does provide some information on their site about DNA testing, and point you in the direction of these resources.