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Free Online Genealogy Database Hits 150 Million Names

A powerful genealogical database launched several years ago on the Internet has now expanded to include 150 million names and is still growing.

Back in 1999, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints invited family history enthusiasts to contribute their family trees to the Pedigree Resource File (PRF), a database housed on the Church’s FamilySearch Web site. Since then the file has grown steadily, and the Church announced this week that it has passed the 150-million-name mark, making it one of the largest free databases online.

Unlike the IGI (International Genealogical Index) on the same site that provides data on hundreds of millions of individuals, the Pedigree Resource File links genealogies to make identifying whole families and generations much easier. The Church said this week that a new feature has also been added to PRF that allows users to view information for deceased individuals in a familiar pedigree (family tree) format.

“Our commitment is to make the user’s experience as easy and rewarding as possible,” said Steve Anderson, marketing manager for FamilySearch. “We also wanted to display search results for an individual in the more familiar context of a family tree. This new feature allows them to do just that.”

Before the addition, users were only able to see the person they searched for and their parents. By using the pedigree view and checking the “show all events” box, users can now view data for extended generations.

Since its launch in 1999, PRF has grown at a rate of about 19 million names a year, making it a popular destination for family historians looking for missing branches of their family tree. The central concept of the Pedigree Resource File is that people visit to share information and to preserve their family histories online.

To respect privacy, only information about deceased individuals is displayed online.

FamilySearch is the public channel of the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU), a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch maintains the world's largest repository of genealogical resources, which can be accessed through, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries.

The Church’s interest in family history is driven by its doctrine, which teaches that families can survive forever and that Church members have an obligation to research their family trees.

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