FamilySearch 2017 Genealogy Highlights
FamilySearch online visitors made millions of personal family discoveries in 2017. The nonprofit family history giant published hundreds of millions of free historical records online in 2017 and experienced significant growth in its mobile app customer base. It's all part of FamilySearch's purpose to help individuals discover more about themselves by learning more about their ancestry roots. These are just some of the impressive highlights from FamilySearch's 2017 year in review.
Family Tree Upgrades
FamilySearch’s Family Tree encourages family collaboration. In 2017, more than 27 million new ancestors were added, 3.7 million through mobile devices. Over 1.2 billion people are now in the FamilySearch Family Tree. An updated user-to-user messaging feature simplifies collaboration with others doing research on common ancestors. System upgrades now enable users to merge duplicate records of large or highly common family lines.
Adding family photos, stories, documents, and audio files is easier to do, and the process is now mobile device friendly. There is very little functionality now on the website that cannot be done on the Family Tree mobile app. It's an extremely robust, free application—and with no advertising, a popular attribute of nonprofit FamilySearch's product offerings. Customers are now able to add photos to their family tree directly from Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Google. Users contributed 2.4 million memories in 2017.
Patrons can now also identify their relationships to people in the growing, collaborative Family Tree in a single click using a new relationship feature. (See “View My Relationship” under names of relations on your home page.)
The dynamic records hints feature is faster and more accurate. Hints originate from weekly additions to historic record collections online that can then be accepted as rich supporting sources to ancestors in users’ trees. Since the Hints feature appeared on the Family Tree in 2014, 2.5 billion hints are now available on Family Tree, including 450 million added in 2017. Approximately 160 million sources were added to user trees from accepted hints in 2017—7 million performed through the mobile app. A total of more than 633 million hints have been accepted since the feature’s launch.
Access to New Historical Records
Successful family history discoveries are fueled by a person’s ability to easily and quickly search for ancestors by name in historical records online. FamilySearch added 283 million free searchable names for a total of 5.9 billion names. It also added over 340 million images of historic records and books online. You can search the new records at FamilySearch.org. The unindexed images can be searched in the Catalog and Historic Records Collections.
FamilySearch discontinued its 80-year era of historic records access to usher in a new, digital model (See FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm). The goal of FamilySearch is to digitize all the records within its capacity and make them available when possible. A portion of the hundreds of millions of images FamilySearch captures yearly will not be accessible for decades due to privacy laws or other limitations. For example, FamilySearch is currently digitizing census records in Africa that are scheduled to be destroyed by the record custodian in the very near future, even though privacy laws will not permit FamilySearch to publish them for another 75 years. In addition, FamilySearch has only published 13 million of its 40 million Chinese record images that have been collected since 1978. This is not a matter of privacy laws but because of the limited number of people who have the necessary expertise to catalog the records.
Receiving and Giving Help
FamilySearch support volunteers donated 3.4 million hours of service in 2017, resolving over 1 million patron inquiries. More than 320,000 online volunteer indexers contributed another staggering 8.3 million hours to make 283 million new historical records freely accessible.
A new discovery center in St. George, Utah, and the Discover Experiences at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City were opened. Over 5.6 million visitors frequented these facilities and the 5,058 FamilySearch family history centers worldwide (98 new).
Online, FamilySearch had 134 million visitors in 2017, an increase of 10 percent. The top 10 countries for new patron accounts were the United States, Brazil, United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Germany, the Philippines, and Italy.
FamilySearch hosted RootsTech 2017, the largest world-wide family history technology conference, which attracted 26,000 attendees, with 23,000 Family Discovery Day attendees and over 100,000 online views of broadcasted content. Special guests included LaVar Burton, Liz Wiseman, the Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, and Oscar Hammerstein the III.
Fun or fond memories are what keep family connections vibrant. If you don’t believe us, just look at the great success of Disney Pixar’s Coco. Photos and stories are what endear us the most to our ancestors—and 22.7 million stories were added to FamilySearch Memories in 2017.
FamilySearch’s free mobile apps—Family Tree and Memories—now enable users to freely attach and save photos and stories (audio and text) to individuals in their FamilySearch Family Tree, add other information, and receive notifications when others add content to shared ancestors.
Two fun new features introduced are Map Your Ancestors, which creates a map of locations where events took place in the life of ancestors in your FamilySearch family tree, and Relatives Around Me, which allows you to see if and how you are related to others around you who are using the feature.
Users can now record stories of relatives with a new mobile audio recording feature and save the audio files directly to the memories gallery on FamilySearch. The memories feature now includes contributor information, so participants can message each other. It can also create a map of locations where events took place in the life of an ancestor as recorded on FamilySearch Family Tree.
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.