Saturday, September 10, 2005

FHL to Digitize Microfilm

Wow. This announcement at first left me speechless. Kimberly Powell wrote on About.com's Genealogy Blog that FamilySearch is digitizing their microfilm collection and with the help of volunteers will be creating new online indexes. The Deseret (Utah) Morning News notes that the "indexing demonstration and other planned improvements to the popular FamilySearch.org Web site are drawing standing-room-only crowds" at the FGS Genealogy Conference. This is a monumental project; there are over two million reels of film to digitize!

Although the project depends on volunteer support and may be several years from completion, this may be the most significant genealogical project ever. It's certainly the biggest thing since I started to research. Some may argue that the creation of the microfilm in the first place was the biggest project. I'm sure it was. This new project, though, depending on how they allow access, opens up the records to everyone that can get online. I'm assuming this means an eventual end to ordering a small batch of film each month. I won't miss that process.

Just like the State of Missouri 's forthcoming death certificate index, I plan on signing up to help with the FamilySearch indexing project and hope others will join in as well. Ideally, individuals will be allowed to choose which records to index. As Kimberly Powell wrote, "It's much more fun to volunteer to index records if you're interested in the records for your own research!" I agree. I would eagerly index names from Pennsylvania will and probate records with the hope of finding our very elusive HEATON ancestors, or German church records that may finally reveal where the last few "unknowns" emigrated from.

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