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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Look out world - here comes the iceberg!

Its been pointed out lately that only 5-10% of all genealogical records are available online, at best. This is so true, and reinforces the idea that genealogists need to get off their computers, and head to the courthouses, the cemeteries and to Aunt Mable's house for a history lesson. Those are valuable and generally really fun things to do anyway, but can be time, energy, and finance consuming. So the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is working to bring all those records to your own personal computer. Look out world - here comes the whole iceberg!

Just yesterday Paul Nauta was interviewed in an article in "Mormon Times", and said that the 2.5 million rolls of microfilm in the Granite Mountain Vaults are being digitized and could be completed as early as next year. Do you realize what that could mean? It could mean that it may not longer take three weeks for that microfilm of the parish register from that tiny town in Germany to show up at the FHC after you ordered it - In digital form, it could be delivered overnight... maybe even in less time than it takes to locate the place on a map! Or perhaps (dare I hope it) the digitized images could be delivered right to your own home computer. Wouldn't that be incredible? Imagine stumbling across a name at 2 am, and realizing you desperately need to check the original birth or death records, and you can!

Of course what this also means is that the indexing program will want to try to catch up as well. Currently about 100,000 volunteer indexers around the world are indexing nearly a million names a day, from the microfilm collections that are being digitized. So not only are those great images available, but they are searchable as well. Anyone can volunteer - anyone with a free five minutes here or there. It doesn't take any special talent or anything. Just go to, and click on the "Indexing" tab to volunteer.

Its staggering to think of the amount of genealogical information that the LDS church is making accessible to the world - and its FREE!


ronfergy said...

A welcome reminder to us all!

As someone who is helping in this indexing project, I would encourage everyone to help. It is not onerous, but sometimes the pages can be a little difficult to decipher. But we are all used to that!

Ron Ferguson (UK)

Terry Thornton said...

Thanks Tami for your "Here comes the iceberg" --- it is amazing what digital information is available already and to learn that 2.5 million additional rolls of microfilm are being put into a computer-friendly format is awesome.

I can say that the work of the LDS volunteers who came to my home county in Mississippi to microfilm our chancery records (which were in sad repair) did a beautiful job --- and the Index they prepared to those old records is a primary source all to itself --- knowing that the film of all those thousands of pages will soon be available in digital format is most exciting news.


Terry Thornton
Fulton, Mississippi