If you’re into genealogy, you’re part of the fastest growing hobby in the world. Millions of people are searching for their roots every day. It’s not always easy. Even with records online, there is still a dearth of material yet to be digitized.
The LDS Church holds the largest collection of genealogy related material in the world. Their main library in Salt Lake City, Utah contains over 2 million rolls of microfilm that can be loaned out to the public through their various Family History Centers. However, you cannot view their records at any other facility.
A few years ago the LDS Church embarked on indexing the 1880 US Census. They’ve also been indexing some smaller collections. But, the announcement reported today made genealogist worldwide jump for joy. The LDS Church will begin indexing it’s entire microfilm collection and make it available on their website for free. This will involve digitizing records, inputting them into databases, proofreading, and uploading the data to their website. All the work will be done by volunteers. It will take years and years to complete. When it’s done, it will simplify genealogy research for the masses.
What’s amazing is that in this day and age of profit, the LDS Church will maintain it’s philosophy of offering research materials for free. This is at a time when many companies are trying to get a piece of the genealogy pie. Online subscriptions run from $30 to hundreds of dollars. The LDS Church has already made genealogy accessible to the average person by opening their research facilities to anyone with access to a Family History Center. Now they will open their records for free to anyone with Internet access. This is truly the spirit of genealogy which may be the only hobby where people openly and freely exchange data that they’ve collected for years.
[Photograph credit: Charles Thompson, www.sxc.hu]