26
June
2017
|
06:43 PM
Europe/Amsterdam

FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm

FamilySearch, a world genealogy leader and nonprofit, announced today its plans to discontinue its 80-year-old microfilm distribution service. The transition is the result of significant progress made in FamilySearch’s microfilm digitization efforts and the obsolescence of microfilm technology. The last day for ordering microfilm will be August 31, 2017. Online access to digital images of the world's historic records allows FamilySearch to service more people around the globe, faster and more efficiently. See Finding Digital Images of Records on FamilySearch.org and Frequently Asked Questions

A global leader in historic records preservation and access, FamilySearch and its predecessors began using microfilm in 1938, amassing billions of the world’s genealogical records in its collections from over 200 countries. Why the shift from microfilm to digital? Diane Loosle, Director of the Patron Services Division said, "Preserving historic records is only one half of the equation. Making them easily accessible to family historians and researchers worldwide when they need them is the other crucial component."

Loosle noted that FamilySearch will continue to preserve the master copies of its original microfilms in its Granite Mountain Records Vault as added backup to the digital copies online.

As the Internet has become more accessible to people worldwide over the past two decades, FamilySearch made the decision to convert its preservation and access strategy to digital. No small task for an organization with 2.4 million rolls of microfilm in inventory and a distribution network of over 5,000 family history centers and affiliate libraries worldwide.

It began the transition to digital preservation years ago. It not only focused on converting its massive microfilm collection, but also in replacing its microfilm cameras in the field. All microfilm cameras have been replaced with over 300 specialized digital cameras that significantly decrease the time required to make historic records images accessible online.

FamilySearch has now digitally reproduced the bulk of its microfilm collection—over 1.5 billion images so far—including the most requested collections based on microfilm loan records worldwide. The remaining microfilms should be digitized by the end of 2020, and all new records from its ongoing global efforts are already using digital camera equipment.

Digital image collections can be accessed today in three places at FamilySearch.org. Using the Search feature, you can find them in Records (check out the Browse all published collections link), Books, and the Catalog. For additional help, see Finding Digital Images of Records on FamilySearch.org.

Transitioning from microfilm to digital creates a fun opportunity for FamilySearch's family history center network. Centers will focus on simplified, one-on-one experiences for patrons, and continue to provide access to relevant technology, popular premium subscription services, and restricted digital record collections not available to patrons from home.

Centers and affiliate libraries will coordinate with local leaders and administrators to manage their current microfilm collections on loan from FamilySearch, and determine when to return films that are already published online. For more information, see Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 5,000 family history centers in 129 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Comments 1 - 20 (71)
Thank you for your message.
Megan Ryan
17
October
2017
How does a library go about becoming an affiliate site?
Donna Tabrosky
11
October
2017
After years of trying to locate my ancestor's hometown in Poland, I found their births on film 1978450. I was going to order the film again to locate marriage and deaths (both are noted as being on the film); however, I just learned that the film ordering service is no longer available due to an increasing number of records being made available online. While it will be convenient to search online, obtaining copies of the actual handwritten page is something I'd rather receive. Very disappointed the films are no longer available for searching myself. However, after searching online for the marriages and deaths for film 1978450, there are none posted yet. Do you know when the full film will become available for searching online?
Kim Knepper
11
October
2017
I would like to know if the Hayes Presidential Library in Fremont, Ohio is an affiliate library? And if so what is the protocol to look at records? Do they have computers set up for public use? Thanks.
Linda
06
October
2017
What a sad decision. It is also sad to experience the Church resorting to public-relations-speak in responding to questions about this decision. If there are truly so few records that have not been digitized, how can it be burdensome to continue to send out those films and fiche on request. Regarding Joe's response to Jeanne (affiliate FS libraries), the most you may be able to find out at the affiliate is that the digitized record is available. You'll probably have to go to a FHCenter to actually look at it. Another blow to family research.
Linda Lichtblau
02
October
2017
I would like to find out if there is a record of a birth for Ida Schwartz DOB 9/12/42. Mother's name Dinah Schwartz. Hospital was Unity Hospital located at 1545 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn, NY.

Thank you.
Beverly
29
September
2017
I am sorry to read of these developments, I was always hopeful that in the near future we would be able to down load digital data from your site. It is impossible for personal reasons for me to get to a FHL, and living in a rural area the library is a no no also. Looks like my research is going to stay at the same stage as now.
Matt
19
September
2017
Would you please consider keeping an online running list of microfilm records now accessible online (for at least just this new post-microfilm era)? This would be a nice quick way to determine if records relevant to me have been digitized! And if the list gets too long, maybe you can add filters. Thank you for your consideration!
Jeanne
15
September
2017
I keep reading about affiliate libraries, is there a place to lookup where they may be located? My local FHL is only opened 2 hours 1 night a week. So if I could find a library that I can gain access, I would greatly appreciate the chance to do so. Thank you.
Joe
15
September
2017
Affiliate libraries can be found by clicking on Get Help, then Contact Us. There is a Find a Family History Center search which includes FamilySearch affiliate libraries. You can also go directly to the Find a Family History Center and FamilySearch Affiliate Libraries map search here: https://www.familysearch.org/locations.
Peter
10
September
2017
Is familysearch catalog offline, I get message that technical difficulties are being experienced for the past 24 hours.
Joe
12
September
2017
There was some site maintenance being done over the weekend that caused some temporary issues. The FamilySearch Catalog and other site features should be working OK now.
Waterford City
07
September
2017
Re: Affiliate libraries access to digital images - I received an email with instructions on how affiliate libraries can gain access to digital images. However the list of numbers to call did not include a number for Ireland. I am the coordinator for Waterford Libraries in Ireland which is an affiliate library. Can you please give me a number to call or an email address to send the relevant library IP addressed to.
Etta Cowman
Joe
12
September
2017
Etta, we are sorry the number for Ireland was not included in the email. The number to dial in Ireland is 00-800-1830-1830. You can also go to FamilySearch.org, click Get Help and Contact Us and find the current number for your country, as well as a way to contact us via email or chat.
Anne Giles
02
September
2017
Re: Affiliate libraries access to digital images - is there an Australian contact number for FamilySearch support? I am the coordinator for the LDS films for the Western Australian Genealogical Society - we haven't heard anything yet.
Joe
03
September
2017
An email was sent to affiliate libraries with instructions on how to obtain access. If you did not receive it, perhaps you can check your junk mail. In any case, the number to call in Australia is 1800-083-293. When prompted, select "family history center support" in the recorded menu, or ask an operator to connect you to family history center support.
James Francis
01
September
2017
Hi
Would you please film 2299695 and 2299696 and 2299502 and 2299503
James
Joe
03
September
2017
Through Sep 7th you can still order microfilms via the online film ordering system at www.familysearch.org/films. If you would like to suggest a film to be added to the priority list for digitization, you can do so after Sep 7th by contacting FamilySearch Support. (Click on Get Help, then Contact Us and use the Send a Message, Live Chat, or Call Us feature.)
Debra Dudek
31
August
2017
Our public library is a FamilySearch Affiliate Library. We have been loaning out microfilm for several years, and our patrons really enjoy this service. In light of the microfilm service coming to a close, is there an opportunity for our library to apply to be a FamilySearch Center where our patrons can access digital images of genealogical materials which are not available to the public? It is quite a drive for our patrons to visit an LDS Center with these services.
Paul Nauta
31
August
2017
Debra,

Affiliate libraries now have access to nearly all of the restricted image collections as family history centers. If the affiliate's status has not been expanded to this extent, they need to contact FamilySearch Support for instructions. Toll Free: 1-866-406-1830.
Clare Dickinson
31
August
2017
I am researching my family history based in the UK and keep coming up with FHL numbers which do not appear to have been digitised as there are no images that are available. Now that you no longer offer the microfilm ordering service how am I supposed to view these records, travelling to SLC is not an option I'm afraid. Very frustrating that I cannot see records which for other ancestors they are still available in the UK either in the National Archives or in local parishes. Clare
Joe
03
September
2017
FamilySearch is working to complete the digitization of the microfilms by 2020. Through September 7th, you can still order microfilms. After microfilm ordering ends, you can contact FamilySearch Support to suggest a film to be added to the priority list for digitization. Until it is digitized, another option is to check other family history centers or FamilySearch affiliate libraries do see if they have a copy of the microfilm. In the FamilySearch Catalog, select a family history center under "Search these family history centers", then search for the film number you are looking for to see if they have it. Another option may be to find a researcher or volunteer who can visit the Family History Library in Salt Lake City for you.
Anthony
30
August
2017
Just wondering, what is the reason for making certain digitized records only viewable at Family History Centers and affiliated libraries? Thanks!
Paul Nauta
30
August
2017
The most common reason for restricted access/viewing through a family history center or affiliate library is that the microfilm may have a contractual, data privacy, or other restriction preventing access. FamilySearch is making every effort to ease restrictions, which is dependent on decisions of record custodians and applicable laws. FamilySearch strives to obey all laws and restrictions regarding records.
Some records are limited to viewing only in a family history center and some are restricted from any access. Microfilms that previously were restricted from circulation will remain restricted from access in digital format until legal conditions change.
Denise
24
August
2017
I am sitting in a family search affiliated library and not able to see the images that supposedly I can see from here. The librarian does not know how this works. How do I do it? Thanks.
Joe
24
August
2017
Access to these images in affiliate libraries is a brand new feature that is still in process of being disseminated to all the affiliates over the coming weeks. If the library has not received instructions yet on how to obtain access, they should receive that very soon. A library staff member may already contact FamilySearch Support to request access now, however. The library will just need to provide some technical information in order to activate it. It may then take a few days for the access to start working.
Colleen Hatch
23
August
2017
To preface my remarks, I am thrilled with the amount of information that has been made available for researchers through your digitization of records. I have noted a couple of issues with not being able to view images of certain records, thus forcing us to rely on only the indexed information. I have found that by being able to view the image itself, additional valuable information is available. An example would be addresses and witness or informant names that help verify the connections between family members. Additionally, a higher standard of indexing is required if the transcribed information is all that we are able to view. I have accidentally found many records for my ancestors just because I was familiar with the names and places of those people, but the indexed information was so far from the mark that the Family Search search criteria could not bring up the records without some very creative thinking on what to search for. I think that a premium subscription service that allowed access to the images would be a wonderful option for a midnight researcher.
Joe
03
September
2017
Indeed it is best to be able to view the original image in order to verify the index information and also look for other clues that might not be found in the index. FamilySearch's goal is to make the digital images available wherever possible. In some cases, indexes on FamilySearch were created before digital imaging technology existed, and so the index only refers to a microfilm number instead of linking to the image. FamilySearch intends to eventually link index records to the corresponding image as microfilms are digitized, though this is a labor intensive process that takes time. If the index record says "Image not available", it may be that the microfilm has not been digitized yet, or it may be it that it is digitized, but not yet linked to the index record. If you go to FamilySearch Catalog and look up the microfilm number there, you can check for a camera icon to see if it is available digitally. FamilySearch is also working on making it easier to go from an index record to browse the digital images of the microfilm, in cases where the microfilm is digitized, but the index record is not yet linked to the specific image.
Joe
03
September
2017
FamilySearch is committed to providing free access to records. The reason some images are not yet available is either because they are not digitized yet or because there is some kind of legal restriction preventing access at this time. If FamilySearch could provide the images, we would do so for free, not via a premium service. FamilySearch is currently scanning microfilms at a rate of 1000 per business day, and actively working with record custodians to negotiate for better access. In some cases, the restrictions are due to data privacy, and so we must wait to provide access until enough time has passed for those restrictions to expire.
Angelina Fracassi Occhialini
21
August
2017
I have been trying to find my ancestry
Dan
08
August
2017
I understand the reasoning behind this. But FamilySearch really needs to offer a premium subscription service to view digital records online.

It just isn't practical to travel to a center which usually has limited hours. And now with microfilm being discontinued this is even more needed.
Joe
03
September
2017
Microfilm ordering also required travel to a family history center. With digitization, there is at least the possibility to provide access at home and for most digitized microfilms that is the case. However, there are contractual limitations that require many digitized microfilms to be limited to viewing in a family history center or FamilySearch affiliate library. If FamilySearch could provide these images at home, we would do so free of charge, rather than through a premium service.
albert mason
28
July
2017
searching for ancestors of albert russell born wath upon dearne yorkshire 6 march 1973.
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