Friday, November 07, 2014

The Mormon Church Is Building a Family Tree of the Entire Human Race

This is a really good article on the history of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and how and why they collect genealogy records.

"The Mormon Church is Building a Family Tree of the Entire Human Race" by Christine Kenneally with New Republic, dated 14 Oct 2014.

Here's are some excerpts.

"Even as a large branch of American genealogy sheared off at the turn of the twentieth century into a mad eugenic scheme to reshape the human race, the Mormons got on with their mission to gather and share records. Around that time Mormons whose ancestors had come from Europe could find out about their forebears only by traveling back to their home countries and transcribing whatever information they could find. As a way to assist its members, the church began to send representatives to locate collections of records, copy them all, and bring them back to Utah. In the 1920s the church began recording the genealogical information it had gathered on index cards, and in 1938 it started to make copies on microfilm. Eventually the microfilm was circulated to thousands of Mormon libraries throughout the world. By the 1950s the church elders faced an ever-growing pile of film, and in the wake of the great destruction of records in Germany in World War II, they started to store it safely for posterity inside the Granite Mountain Records Vault.
The mountain now holds parish records and old English manuscripts dating from the 1500s, including records from London, when civil registration began in 1837, and copies of jai pu, Chinese family records, which date back before AD 1. Overall the data the Mormons have gathered is equivalent to thirty-two times the amount of information contained in the Library of Congressand the church adds a new Library of Congress’s worth of new data every year."
"Trying to determine and then store everyone’s name and existence for perpetuity is also an insanely costly process. Today the Church has 220 data-gathering teams in forty-five countries that are making digital copies of new records. They are also converting 2.4 million microfilm records into a digital format. The LDS drove microfilm technology in the twentieth century, and today it is a leader in digital data storage. Its digital camera operators photograph records and get those images online within two days, and then an enormous armythat is to say, hundreds of thousandsof volunteers index the files and make them searchable. The Mormons were crowdsourcing long before the word was invented."

1 comment:

Tom said...

The amount of data and manpower going into an undertaking like this is staggering. But we should really be thankful that the LDS are doing this - they'll be uncovering better genealogy research methods for all of us as they remain on the cutting-edge of the process.