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The following was written by Laurie Bradshaw for the Family Search blog.
Have you heard? FamilySearch just added its 2 billionth image of genealogy records. This is an important milestone for the site that adds millions of records weekly and represents significant progress in FamilySearch’s work towards historical record preservation and access.
For 80 years, FamilySearch microfilmed historical records; this changed in 2017, with the announcement that FamilySearch would be discontinuing microfilming in favor of digitizing records. This shift made records more accessible worldwide and improved the efficiency of recording important historical documents as sources to your family tree.
Today, efficiency is what’s needed; preserving physical genealogy records in archives is, in many cases, a race against the clock. Poor storage conditions, world conflict, scheduled destruction, and natural disasters are just some of the threats that physical records face. FamilySearch’s shift to digital preservation ensures that more records can be preserved as quickly, and as accurately, as possible (see FamilySearch’s Strategy to Help Preserve the World’s Archives).
It’s important to note the difference between digital record images and indexed records. The digital images, as mentioned here, are unindexed. They’re merely images that can be viewed using a cool image viewer, but they can’t be conveniently searched by name and other search variables like a fully indexed database of the collection would enable you to do.
As a FamilySearch user, you can aid in the process of indexing record images like these after they are digitized. Through the work of indexing volunteers, partners, and new technologies, FamilySearch has over 6 billion free searchable names in its historical record collections as of March 2018.
So, what’s the best way to use these digital images of genealogy records for your own family history work? The 2 billion images are free and located in three possible places—the FamilySearch catalog, historical records collection, and online books.
You can utilize these online genealogy records to discover new clues to your personal family history and make new connections to your FamilySearch Family Tree. Digitized and indexed records can provide invaluable links to your ancestors. For more information on how to use these tools, follow this link.