Wednesday, February 19, 2014

FamilySearch to Make Millions of Obituaries Searchable Online

February 12, 2014

Tens of Thousands of Additional Indexers Needed to Help Create an Every-Name Index to Millions of Obituaries

Salt Lake City, Utah—FamilySearch is working with partners and the larger genealogical community to collect, digitize, and index millions of obituaries from the United States (with other nations to follow). This huge undertaking will ultimately make hundreds of millions of names of deceased individuals and information about their family relationships freely available for online research.

Dennis Brimhall, CEO of FamilySearch, announced this new initiative in his keynote speech yesterday as he welcomed record-breaking crowds to the 2014 RootsTech family history conference in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Brimhall and special guest pirate mascot “Captain Jack Starling” utilized a well-known pirate theme of “dead men tell no tales” and added, “but their obituaries do!” drawing attention to the fact that obituaries tell the stories of people’s lives long after they are deceased. Carrying the theme further, attendees at the conference were invited to volunteer and help unlock the “treasure trove” of precious family information contained in obituaries, which is currently “locked away” in static electronic images and newspapers.

“Estimates claim over 500 million obituaries exist in the U.S. alone,” said Dennis Brimhall, FamilySearch CEO. “The average obituary can contain the names of about ten family members of the deceased—parents, spouse, children, and other relatives. Making them easily searchable online can be an enormous future source for creating our family histories. The number of people who will benefit is incalculable. It could very well be the single largest preservation and access project of its kind, and will no doubt be one of the most used online collections worldwide as it grows.”

The success of the obituary campaign depends on volunteers. The information contained in obituaries requires native language skills and human judgment. The goal for this project in 2014 is 100 million names indexed, which will require tens of thousands of additional volunteers. Without volunteer indexers, these precious records will remain largely unavailable to family history researchers.

Those interested in helping to create this vast database that will be used by family history researchers for generations to come can learn more and volunteer at FamilySearch.org/indexing. A training video, indexing guide, and clear project indexing instructions are available to help indexers get a quick start on this adventure.

About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.