FamilySearch.org has a couple of new press releases on their website and we are starting to see a bigger picture to their plans.
The first article Genesis Project Begins tells of how FamilySearch is initiating digital publishing proposals to records custodians worldwide. FamilySearch is distributing to them a Request for Information (RFI) with a list of data sets they plan on publishing online over the next 24 months. The dataset (records) targeted include censuses, civil registrations, and church, land, and military records. The dataset is only a sample of the projects FamilySearch intends to publish. The RFI seeks responses from both records custodians and service providers who are interested in publishing the datasets listed in the RFI. The published records will become part of the Records Access Program.
We have already seen some of the end results of Records Access Program with the partnerships FamilySearch has made with Heritage Quest, World Vital Records, Godfrey Memorial Library, FamilyLink, KindredKonnections and Footnote. Family History Center patrons can access some of these databases on the Family History Center Services - Online Portal. Not all FHCs are live with this program yet but more and more are coming online everyday. Currently 100 FHC have access and they estimate that this week there will be a total of 500 FHC with portal access. It is anticipated that in the next two weeks 4,500 FHC will gain portal access.
Things are moving at lighting speed. In fact it's really hard for me to keep up with just making the announcements! The record custodians worldwide have only until Sept 15th to decide if they have records they want to include in the Genesis Project.
The Genesis Project is the name for FamilySearch's record scanning for those they have partnered with. This is similar to the Scanstone project we heard about when the LDS Church announced they were digitizing all the records in the Granite Mountain Vault. One is internal and the other is with external record providers.
In the Genesis Project the record custodians will have the benefit of FamilySearch digitizing their records. That is the most expensive part of putting records online. Now for the Scanstone Project the church has asked volunteers to help index the records. In the Genesis Project the record custodians will be responsible for the indexing portion. They will have the benefit of tools such as FamilySearch Indexing to complete this process.
Once the digitizing and indexing is complete the arrangement will be that FamilySearch.org will have access to these indexes for free. To view the images people will have to travel to a Family History Center and gain access through the Family History Center Services - Online Portal. The combination of all these efforts comes under the umbrella of the Records Access Program. The Records Access program’s goal is to increase public access to vast genealogy collections worldwide
The next news release on FamilySearch is called “Local and County Histories To Go Online.” I feel both excited and overwhelmed by this announcement. Three LARGE genealogy libraries are pooling their collections into one massive digitization effort. The players are The Allen County Public Library (ACPL), Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, and FamilySearch’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City. They are targeting 100,000 published family histories, thousands of city directories, local histories for North American cities and counties. Once these books are digitized they will become every word searchable and the results will be linked to the digital images. The best part is this will all be accessible for free.
I went back to one of my old blog articles back in Sept 2005, “FamilySearch Library Catalog Book On-line" It was during this time frame that BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library had received a grant to digitize 5,000 family history books. I had just found one of these books in the Family History Library Catalog with a hyperlink to the digital image. At the time BYU wasn’t sure if they would receive any more funding to continue the project – well obviously they have! Little did I realize I have just seen a drop in the bucket of what was to come. I haven’t even yet begun to glean the information out of the Brayton Family History that I found two years ago. How am I ever going to keep up with everything that is becoming available? Wow, I sound like I am complaining, it’s just that this is getting a little overwhelming.
Two years ago you could access the digitized books through the Family History Library Catalog and BYU’s Library Online Database. The website and URL at BYU has changed and it is now called Family History Archives at www.familyhistoryarchive.byu.edu. This new location will be where we can locate all of the books that these three libraries are digitizing. To me it sounded like they might be moved to a different location later. The digitized books will also be noted and hyperlinked in the Family History Library catalog on FamilySearch.org.
My last announcement is on the FamilySearch Indexing. You just need to take a look at their site on projects they are currently indexing and those being planned. The list is getting huge, there are more 1900 US Census records, Revolutionary War Pension and Land Warrants, Irish Civil Registration, 1930 Mexico Census, 27 coming up and 38 current. Why so many? Because we are doing a fantastic job at indexing these records. According to FHC Support on last Tuesday alone 1.2 million names were indexed by 70,000 indexers.
FamilySearch Labs Record Search is currently beta testing these indexed records online. I was lucky enough to be accepted as a beta tester. Right now the test is closed to more participants, but if you are interested I would keep watching their site. On the site you will find some of the indexed records with their digitized images or just some of the images that haven’t yet been indexed. Eventually everything from the granite mountain vault will be on there.
WAHOO! I'm psyched plus a lot of overwhelmed this is just beyond comprehension. I can't wait for New FamilySearch to come out so I can start collaborating with some family members on getting some of the research done. One person just can't tackle everything all by themselves. Just way to many toys to play with on this playground.
See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!