23
May
2019
|
02:00 PM
America/Denver

FamilySearch Celebrates 20 Years Online

FamilySearch.org Homepage as it appeared in 1999 at the launch of the new internet genealogy service.Twenty years ago, global nonprofit FamilySearch launched an innovative new website, a free internet genealogy service. Two decades later, FamilySearch is a leader in the rising tide of popular ancestry-related services online. During that time, FamilySearch has expanded and evolved its free mix of online offerings, holding true to its purpose to provide economical access to the world’s genealogical records and create fun family history discoveries for everyone.

On May 24, 1999, FamilySearch.org took the online genealogy world by storm, offering free access to hundreds of millions of historical records online—a treasure for those seeking to make family history connections. For perspective, online broadcast news, e-trading, and downloadable music services were the rage at the time. Google, ranked 93rd of top websites, was still an up-and-coming service that was attempting to redefine the role of a search engine by indexing the web to make results junk free and more consumer relevant.

At FamilySearch.org, searching historical records for new discoveries continues to be a big interest for site visitors. Millions of new customers grace its portal each year, looking for new family connections. And for good reason. The site now boasts over 7 billion searchable names and over 3 billion searchable images of historical records. And it adds more than 300 million new historical records and images yearly from archives worldwide.

The website has expanded its free offerings since its grand opening two decades ago. Patrons have added 1.4 billion ancestors to the site's robust, collaborative family tree. And the tree is integrated with two powerful mobile apps. You can preserve family photos and create audio files that help tell your family’s stories. The website also features an impressive inventory of very useful help services, like how to make sense of DNA test results, and it’s all still free.

Randy Bryson, now retired, was a FamilySearch IT director when the site was launched in 1999. He fondly recalls the big day. He said that the site was so wildly successful that it constituted 10 percent of all internet traffic at the time and was a top 10 website based on the amount of data it was hosting (20 terabytes). “Traffic on the site was so extreme at the time of the launch that we had to limit user access to 30 minutes at a time,” said Bryson. “The amazing thing was that people didn’t go away. When they were timed out, they would just log right back in to finish their search.”

Today the site is nimble and quick. Bryson said he was moved by the amazing gratitude of the site’s users. “It was very overwhelming, emotional, and gratifying” to see people able to easily access records of their ancestors conveniently online from their homes.

Steve Rockwood, FamilySearch CEO, is not surprised by the continued popularity of the website. He said, “When individuals discover more about their family history or make new family connections, it changes them. They see and treat each other differently.” Rockwood said that future services under development on the website will create more of these fun discovery experiences worldwide for site visitors.

FamilySearch.org continues to enjoy impressive growth today, adding over 50,000 new subscribers weekly and hundreds of millions of new family photos, documents, stories, and historical records yearly from contributors and archives around the world.

See what has changed and make new family connections in your family tree for free at FamilySearch.org.

 

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 - 8 (8)
Thank you for your message.
Toni horgan
27
May
2019
Hello..im very confused on my tree..i have alot of relatives that me or my mother do not know of...i asked my mom and she has no answers and won't allow anyone in the family to take a DNA test even if I pay for it.im the only 1 to have a test taken??
Marnetta Aubuchon
25
May
2019
I am looking for my family. Harbins from Marion county Alabama.
Julie Ann Kereama
25
May
2019
Hi My sister was not brought up with me and mum, as she was adopted out to an another family. We found each other after mum had past on. We both would like to take a DNA test to find out if we have the same father. How much is a DNA test for non members? I My daugher would like to know her ethnic back gound, is another reason l would like to take a DNA test.
Martha Garvin
27
May
2019
Family Search doesn't offer DNA tests, but once you have the name of your father(s), you can look up information on his deceased ancestors here.
Giuseppe Martinengo
25
May
2019
Twenty years ago when they launched FamilySearch at the end of May, I was still living in Brazil and studying hard preparing to take the GMAT at the end of the year, hoping to be accepted to the MBA program at BYU. A little less than a year later I was at BYU, and now I work at FamilySearch. It is amazing what has been accomplished at FamilySearch and how the general technology development of these last years has helped this effort!
Freddy E. Mendez
25
May
2019
Congratulations to FamilySearch online for its 20 years. As a frequent user since early times, I was very pleased to see "probe" on many ancestors that I only knew by family oral tradition; it was as finally all of them became "real". Thanks for the great service to people interested in knowing their origins.
Janet Phillips
24
May
2019
Great web site, very efficient I am getting my Temple ordinance work done very quickly.
DebiR
24
May
2019
I was serving in the FHC in Kaiserslautern Germany at the time. We didn't have internet access and still worked off of the hard drive and old CDs. What a great gift to the world this site has been! Thanks to so many who have made this possible! I look forward to seeing what comes in the next 20 years!
Mrs Christine Watson
24
May
2019
Thank you for your genealogy search site and for it being free......i would not have found 90% of my ancestors without it. Got back to mid 1500s on my father's side & mid 1600s on my mother's side. I also use the local Mormon Family History Centre where I can also access Ancestry & FMP for extra help. Would not have known anything about my ancestors without you, so a MASSIVE THANK YOU.