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A Look at FamilySearch Events and Milestones in 2021

FamilySearch released its year in review on December 30, 2021. Photo courtesy of FamilySearch, courtesy of Church News. All rights reserved.

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By Sydney Walker, Church News

The importance of family history to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was evident in 2021 with several noteworthy events: a $2 million donation to Oklahoma’s First Americans Museum; an all-virtual RootsTech Connect, which was free to the public; and the completion of a monumental microfilm digitization project.

President Russell M. Nelson announced the donation on Sunday, October 17, 2021, during a broadcast to Latter-day Saints in Oklahoma and Kansas. “The gift from the Church will strengthen Native American and other families by creating within the museum a FamilySearch center,” he said. “This center will make it possible for visitors to the museum to receive help in preserving personal histories, searching for ancestors and building their own family trees.”

The three-day RootsTech Connect in February attracted a record-breaking 1 million participants worldwide, leading FamilySearch CEO Steve Rockwood to declare online learning a new core FamilySearch priority and announce another all-virtual event in 2022.

Filming the RootsTech Connect keynote address of Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Patricia, in St. George, Utah. The video aired during Family Discovery Day on Saturday, February 27, 2021. 2021 by Intellectual Reserve, Inc. All rights reserved.
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A global effort to digitize FamilySearch’s collection of 2.4 million rolls of microfilm was completed in September — a milestone 83 years in the making. Over 200 countries and principalities and more than 100 languages are represented in the digitized documents.

FamilySearch released its annual year in review on December 30, noting several additional achievements:

Searchable Names and Images Total 14.3 Billion

Thanks to the microfilm project and other digitization efforts, the FamilySearch database now includes more than 14.3 billion searchable names and images from historical records — such as birth, death, marriage, census, military service and immigration documents — from all over the globe.

FamilySearch also added hundreds of millions of new, searchable, historical records in 2021. Among top expansions were collections for Scandinavian countries (Norway, Denmark, Sweden and Finland), the Netherlands, Spain, Caribbean and Pacific Island countries, the United Kingdom, Canada, the United States, Mexico, Uruguay, Venezuela, Peru and more.

Family Tree Grows to 1.3 Billion People

Crowdsourcing contributors worldwide added information about millions of deceased relatives to FamilySearch’s Family Tree in 2021, making a total of 1.38 billion people now searchable in the world’s largest collaborative family tree.

Users also added hundreds of millions of sources to their ancestors’ personal pages in the Family Tree, improving the pages’ accuracy. Sources came from personal family records as well as automated hints generated by FamilySearch’s growing historical records collection.

Screenshot of Pearl Allen’s ancestor page in the FamilySearch Family Tree. The new ancestor page includes a life summary, photos, memories, family time line, world events and more — all in one place. Image is a screenshot from FamilySearch, courtesy of Church News.All rights reserved.

Visits to FamilySearch.org Top 200 Million

As global interest in personal family connections continues to grow, FamilySearch.org experienced over 200 million visits in 2021.

To help new and beginner users search and find their ancestors, FamilySearch launched three new or updated features: the new Discovery Search Experience, new discovery pages and the improved Search Historical Records page.

The new Discovery Search Experience provides a way to quickly search select databases on FamilySearch — the tree, records, memories and last-name information —at the same time. It’s the first time FamilySearch has merged multiple search experiences into one.

The discovery page provides an engaging “snapshot” of a person’s life with a variety of information, including photos, memories, sources, a family timeline, world events, parents and siblings, the meaning of their name, and activities to learn about their homeland.

Read more: 3 features to help new and beginning users find their ancestors

FamilySearch has updated its Search Historical Records page to make searching these records more intuitive and straightforward. Its simple design is more user friendly, with simplified boxes and filters for easier navigation.

Family History Library Is Remodeled

While doors to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, were closed to the public for nearly 16 months due to COVID-19, construction crews were hard at work executing a remodel.

Sister Barbara Moon, left, gets help translating Swedish documents from Savannah Larson, Nordic research specialist, at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ Family History Library in Salt Lake City on Tuesday, July 6, 2021. The library reopened after being closed 16 months. Photo by Kristin Murphy, courtesy of Church News. Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company.

The Family History Library, which attracts about 400,000 visitors a year, had not gone through a major renovation since 2002. The new changes were primarily designed to make the library’s services more accessible.

Copyright 2021 Deseret News Publishing Company

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