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 (65)
Thank you for your message.
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.
Patricia Dennis
27
July
2017
Hi!
Some of my ancestor's records are online. However, I cannot download the record while I am at the Family History Center. An example is Montemitro, Italy. Is there a reason why I cannot download the record? I would like a copy for my genealogy binder for source information.

Thank you for all that you do with genealogy and allowing everyone to enjoy the benefits!
Joe
03
September
2017
Perhaps there was a temporary problem. The Montemitro records should be viewable at a family history center. If you are still experience problems, you may need to ask your family history center staff to contact FamilySearch Support for technical support.
Al Lopes
27
July
2017
Hi Paul, some microfilms are an index of a series of microfilms (Spain,Granada pre marriage index). They do not contain images, only information, I believe, typed by indexers. This specific digital information is from 2010. At the SLC family history center I can have access to these images getting the microfilm and search it. This Spain, Granada, pre marriage information has several microfilms. ( I believe could be close to 100 microfilms or even more as I remember). With this digitalization of all microfilms, do you believe all this microfilms will be available by 2020?
My second question is when I find wrong information in a microfilm (kind of, it is a christening microfilm and it says marriage or the years on the microfilm does not match the information typed by Family Search. Could it have a way for reasearchers to inform this to Family search in a easy way? I had this problem before, I contacted Family Search, it was very complicate to find the correct people and then I got an answer that cannot be fixed or it will be fixed in the future. Years passed and it was never fixed. Is it possible to have a place to touch and report this kind of problem with a microfilm in the same screen when you are researching? Maybe having volunteers to check this mistakes in the same way as arbitrators on the indexing program?
Thanks. Al
Anthony Garza
13
July
2017
I am happy that FamilySearch is going to digitize all their records. One question that I have is why are some digitized microfilms can be viewed on my home computer via FamilySearch.org, and others I have to travel to a family history center to view? I live an hour away from my family history center and then they are only open two days a week for 3 hours. So it is very difficult to travel there and research in that short amount of time. Will all digitized microfilms in the future be able to be accessed from my personal computer? Thanks.
Paul Nauta
13
July
2017
Anthony,

FamilySearch has preservation and access agreements with tens of thousands of record custodians (archivists) worldwide that govern the breadth of it's ability to provide access. In some cases, record custodians of the original records impose access restrictions on the records FamilySearch has created on film or digitally. In the case of these contractual restrictions, FamilySearch may be limited to providing patron access through its 5,000 Family History Centers. I should state that of FamilySearch's vast inventory of records, those with access restrictions like this are very few.
Isabelle Drown
12
July
2017
How will a Patron access the films that are not digitized yet?
Paul Nauta
13
July
2017
Isabelle,

FamilySearch's microfilms are available through its Family History Center and affiliate library network (https://familysearch.org/locations/centerlocator?cid=hp2-1047). Or when searching the FamilySearch Catalog online (https://familysearch.org/catalog/search) and finding a film you want, click on the icon of the film roll to see ordering instructions.
Carolyn Eddington
11
July
2017
I am a member of the Western Australian Geneological Society (WAGS) and LDS microfilms are sent there for viewing. This has been great service. I also use the local LDS family history centre, but there are only 4 computers there which clearly is inadequate come the move to online.
I have been told by the WAGS chairman that they are an agency not an affiliate. How do they become an affiliate? If WAGS is an affiliate then I can view the records online.
ian simon
11
July
2017
Paul

You keep referring to films that researchers use often. You are ignoring researchers who discover they need to hire a film to view one record because that is where the event occurred and which they will never refer to again. That is not a "popular" film.

I have several cases of this. The question: is do I rush and hire the films or wait for the images to appear on line at the risk they will not appear until 2020? Is there a list of what is coming online or a list of what will not be done?
Paul Nauta
13
July
2017
Ian,

Let me assure you FamilySearch is not ignoring the patrons of its microfilm collections as it makes the needed transitions. The vast majority of users of FamilySearch's vast microfilm collections will be pleasantly surprised to find in the FamilySearch Catalog that most of the microfilms they have used over the years--even those rented just one time to find only a single event--have already been digitized.

We suggest that film users check the FamilySearch Catalog to see if their films have already been conveniently digitized. In the case the films you're seeking have not been digitized, then yes, it is recommended you consider the option of ordering them to use while you are waiting on their digitization. FamilySearch is also looking into the possibilities of providing some patron insight into its future film digitization schedule. Currently, this capability or feature does not exist.

Thank you.
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