FamilySearch’s 2 Billion Digitized Records

May 25, 2018 By Laurie Bradshaw

FamilySearch recently published its 2 billionth digital image of historical records. Yes, that’s billion with a “B.”

These digital images of records are an invaluable source for discovering new details about your family’s story. Access to the 2 billion images is organized in three main places on the site—the FamilySearch historical records collectioncatalog, and online books. We’ve prepared a free guide that explains how to perform searches in these areas.

Give Me a Hint

The indexed portion of this massive record collection is also used by the site to automatically search for your ancestors. These searches result in “hints” that appear in the pedigree and person page views of Family Tree. They also appear in the Family Tree mobile app. Hints help you add ancestors to the tree and make connections that would have taken much longer if you were doing the searches manually. Learn more about Record Hints.

All Digital, All the Time

For more than 80 years, FamilySearch microfilmed historical records for use in family history research. These microfilmed records require an extra step—scanning—to make them accessible online. Starting in 2017, FamilySearch discontinued microfilm in favor of digitizing records using cameras.

This all-digital workflow has increased efficiency at a crucial time. Preserving physical copies of genealogy records in archives is, in many cases, a race against the clock. Poor storage conditions, world conflict, scheduled destruction, and natural disasters are just some of the threats that physical records face. Digital preservation ensures that more records can be saved as quickly, and as accurately, as possible (see FamilySearch’s Strategy to Help Preserve the World’s Archives).

The Role of Indexing

It’s important to note the difference between digital record images and indexed records. A large portion of the digital images on FamilySearch are unindexed. They can be viewed using an image viewer, but can’t be searched by name and other search variables like a fully indexed collection would be.

Anyone can help in the process of indexing record images like these after they are digitized. Learn more about how indexing works, and give it it a try.