FamilySearch Adds 2 Billionth Image of Genealogy Records

The following announcement was written by FamilySearch:

FamilySearch reaches publishing milestone of 2 billion images of searchable genealogy records online.Salt Lake City, Utah (23 April 2018), In your quest to discover your family history it might be time to take another look at FamilySearch’s online offerings. The genealogy giant’s free online databases of digitized historical documents have now surpassed 2 billion images of genealogy records with millions more being added weekly from countries around the world. Nonprofit FamilySearch, a global leader in historical genealogy records preservation and access, announced the milestone today.

Last September FamilySearch transitioned from its microfilm circulation services to a new digital model that makes its massive genealogical records collections more broadly and readily accessible online (See UPDATE: FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm). Today’s announcement reinforces its continuing commitment to grow online genealogy resources. FamilySearch currently adds over 300 million new images a year online from its microfilm to digital and field operations efforts.

The free genealogy records include censuses, birth, marriage, death, court, immigration and other document types that are invaluable for individuals to make personal family history discoveries and connections. A host of online volunteers (See FamilySearch Indexing), partners, and emerging technologies help to eventually create searchable name indexes to the images, but in the meantime, images (digital photos) can be browsed and saved.

The digital image only collections can be viewed at FamilySearch in three points of access:

  • The catalog includes a description of all microfilms and digital images in FamilySearch images. New images from field operations or digitized microfilms are added daily.
  • Historical records include collections that have searchable name databases or some waypoints to help in browsing unindexed images.
  • Books include digital copies of local histories and published genealogies from the FamilySearch Family History Library in Salt Lake City and other affiliate libraries. This includes many books that were previously preserved on microfilm.

FamilySearch traces its preservation work to 1938 when its forerunner, the Genealogical Society of Utah, began microfilming historical genealogy documents. Eighty years later, the preservation science has changed from microfilming to digital preservation which creates convenient access to anyone with an internet connection. Today, FamilySearch has over 300 mobile digitization teams with specialized cameras, filming genealogy documents on location from archives worldwide. It also partners with libraries and societies to digitize their historical books and other relevant publications.

FamilySearch has billions more indexed records that are searchable by name online, and robust, free collaborative Family Tree and Memories features and mobile apps. To explore its records and images and these services, simply create a free account and start searching.

See also FamilySearch’s Strategy to Help Preserve the World’s Archives


This is very welcome news, however, I have been greatly disappointed in the fact that so many of the more recent images one must visit a local family history library to view the images. I can see this would get more people in to their libraries, but does not help the elderly folks, who have difficulty traveling but still have good brains to do research. I have hopes this will change in the future though.


    —> that so many of the more recent images one must visit a local family history library to view the images.

    I am obviously not authorized to speak for FamilySearch but I believe I know the reason for this. In all cases where clicking on an image results in a message that you must visit a local FamilySearch Center or else to log in with a (paid) user name and password from that organization to view the image or the record, that message is generated because of contractual obligations.

    The company or other organization that has the image or document stored on their servers allows FamilySearch to display only a bit of information about it or perhaps a thumbnail view of the image or the document. The company or other organization reserves the right to be the only ones to display everything only to their own users as that organization believes makes sense for their own business objectives.

    FamilySearch absolutely must comply with the terms of the legally-binding contractual agreement.

    Therefore, the folks at FamilySearch have to make a decision to either (1.) display only a very limited amount of information, as dictated by the terms of the contract with the other organizations, or (2.) to ignore the information and display nothing at all. I assume the FamilySearch managers made the decision that displaying limited information and giving the user an option to take further action is better than displaying nothing at all.


    Lol…that’s me. I now live 70 miles from the LDS library used to go to. I depend on my internet for my researching now.

    Liked by 1 person

After multiple phone calls, and emails, to the Latter Day Saints’ two Family History Centers in Westchester County, NY, NO ONE responds. How is one supposed to confirm hours of operation before driving out of the way to one of them? Is this supposed to deter non-LDS folks from using them?


Since the main Family History Center in Manhattan (NYC) closed. where are we supposed to access these full, remastered digital images?


Mr. Eastman,
You have misunderstood the comment made by leonardmccown. For example take the microfilm records of NYC Birth records. These are filmed records from the NYC Municipal Archives on 31 Chambers St. (example FHL film #007900155). These can only be viewed, as far as I can tell, from a FHC library. These locations generally have rather restrictive hours of operation and times of day. This is not a major issue for me, as I live in Metro KC, MO, and I have access to the Midwest Genealogy Center (part of the Mid-Continent Public Library system). They have a relationship with the FHL, and I have many films there on what was indefinite loan.

So yes, they have added millions and millions of digital images. However, a significant minority of them can ONLY be accessed at certain physical locations and on certain days and times, but are as near as I can tell now free, as opposed to having to had rent the films. This is of course, still a good thing. But, it is something that should be mentioned.

You are correct there are other films that require paying fees to access, because of licensing agreements. That is a separate issue, and of course understandable. Although, I’m a strong advocate of “Information wants to be free”, I’m also a realist.


    —> You have misunderstood the comment made by leonardmccown.

    Thank you for the feedback but I am not sure why you think I misunderstood the comment. leonardmccown stated that “…one must visit a local family history library to view the images.” He is correct. I simply explained why that is necessary in many cases. I just went back and re-read my reply to leonardmccown and do not see anything inaccurate in my words.

    I have never seen the contract between the NYC Municipal Archives and FamilySearch or any other contract FamilySearch has signed. However, some years ago, I negotiated similar contractual agreements for my employer of that time. In addition, I have sat through several presentations by FamilySearch employees in which they explained many things about the data and images they obtained from other organizations. I know that signed contracts are always required and that these contracts specify in detail what may or may not be done with the information provided to FamilySearch. I have been told that FamilySearch ALWAYS has a contractual agreement with every organization that provides information and/or images to FamilySearch.

    In all cases, the provider of the information specifies what may or may not be done with the information provided. Some organizations allow unlimited distribution while other organizations might not.


When FamilySearch ended its microfilm service last Sept., it became a full-fledged disaster for my research. All the essential NYC birth, marriage, death records, the 1890 NYC Police Census and others are only available at FHCs, difficult or impossible for many to visit. They cost a fortune to buy from NYC, really impossible for most to afford more than a few, so FamilySearch was a lifesaver.
I understand the contractual bit but the obvious solution was to retain the microfilm service for records unavailable online at home. Why, why didn’t FS think of that solution? Their price was affordable and the service built good will for FS.

Liked by 1 person

    “I understand the contractual bit but the obvious solution was to retain the microfilm service for records unavailable online at home. Why, why didn’t FS think of that solution? Their price was affordable and the service built good will for FS.”
    You are badly misinformed there I’m afraid. Microfilm and microfiche are mediums whose day has come and gone. Both mediums are very near to going out of production. Both mediums are now extremely expensive. Not only are the mediums both expensive and hard to get hold of, but the same is true of the readers as well. New readers are virtually impossible to get and spare parts are also running out.
    So the price may well have been affordable for you, but it certainly wasn’t for Familysearch. Since they were the ones providing the service, they are the ultimate arbiters of affordability. Given how close they are to digitising all of the rolls of film that were made and how costly it was for them to run the service it was quite right of them to withdraw the service. They also indicated that rolls that were out for loan when the service was ended could be retained. There are many cases where large microfilm collections have ended up somewhere else but still accessible. For example the London Family History Centre’s rolls ended up at the Society of Genealogists.
    The situation is what it is. At least for the NYC Police Census there is an online index. That’s accessible everywhere, and although it’s not as good as a collection with images it’s at least something. Eventually the record holders may see sense. However given the current paranoia over “identity theft” they may make things worse. In that case the best thing to do is to lobby for legislation to change the rules about access to historical records: not an easy path!


Check with your Public Library some of them have access to Family History Public Library in them.


I agree Virginia. I understand contracts, but perhaps they stopped the microfilm program too early for many home bound researchers, which certainly had to end research by their church members as well.


FHC hours are restrictive for working folks, young mothers, seniors, and even LDS members.


    Hours of operation are often restricted due to lack of volunteers. More volunteers – more hours – AND you do not have to be an LDS church member to be a volunteer. I know this because I am not a member of the church but I volunteer – why – because I want the place to remain open for myself as well as others.
    As to the contracts, the one in particular I wish was different but understand why it isn’t – is Scotland OPR’s but they have their own way of providing the data and would loose money if the material was made available via everyone’s PC. This IS fair as they have their own costs to cover. Do I wish it was different? Absolutely, but no one said I have to be involved in this hobby, I chose to do it, so where necessary will simply pay the ‘piper’ and get on with it.

    Liked by 1 person

    If they put the records online and charged a reasonable fee, like the English GRO, I’d be glad to pay it. Another simple solution.

    Liked by 1 person

    “FHC hours are restrictive for working folks, young mothers, seniors, and even LDS members.”

    Erm what?! You are telling me that RETIRED PEOPLE cannot make it to Family History Centres due to restrictive hours?! Nope. Wrong. The hours of opening are not what restricts retired people. If a retired person wants to make the time they can do so: that’s part of what being retired means! Health restricting their ability to get out of the house to get the FHC I can believe, but that is NOT down to the local FHC having restricted opening hours.


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