Preserving Family History through Digitization
Businesses, healthcare facilities and government organizations are all archiving thousands of pages of their records to preserve and use them better. Not to be left behind, family history is also going digital.
Published on: Mar 4, 2016
Transcripts - Preserving Family History through Digitization
Preserving Family History through Digitization
The advantages of digital document management systems are well known.
Businesses, healthcare facilities and government organizations are all
archiving thousands of pages of their records to preserve and use them
better. Not to be left behind, family history is also going digital. Preserving
photographs and other memorabilia is important to preserve family history
for future generations.
Family Search International is collaborating with commercial family history
companies such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and Myheritage.com to
digitize billions of family history records from all over the world, and to make
the contents accessible online. This is to help people find their ancestors and
connect them in collaborative, online family trees.
Family Search is one of the world’s largest genealogy organizations operated
by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their records and
resources allow people to learn more about their family history and to have
rich details about ancestors from around the world. The past eighty years
have seen the compilation of around 5 billion genealogical records either
using microfilm or via digital scanning of documents. Around 60 billion more
records remain to be digitally captured from various parts of the world. Now,
work is fervently on to digitally index online the five billion records the church
already has in its possession. This is a mammoth task which is estimated to
take at least 200 – 300 years to complete at the present pace. In addition to
this 5 billion, there is an additional 100 million new digital images of historic
records added each year. To shorten the time frame, collaboration with other
organizations is vital.
It is quite disquieting to find that out of the 28 billion people that have
inhabited the earth from A.D 1500 until now, only 4 billion have so far been
connected and preserved in family trees accessible on the internet. The
remaining 24 billion people are to be identified and linked online to make the
family tree comprehensive. For this, commercial genealogy organizations
that focus on obtaining broader online access to the church’s genealogy
records can be of assistance.
Creating and Preserving Family History Awareness
The year of 2014 has been declared as the “Year of the Obituary” and the
main focus for this year is to index 100 million names from historical
documents. Obituaries are historical documents that tell the life story of an
individual, possibly with an image, interesting stories, and a list of the names
of his or her close relatives. In order to attain the goal for 2014, a number of
volunteers are needed to keep up with the volume of obituary indexing
projects. But with the inadequacy of manpower, they plan to have Family
History Centers to collect and submit obituaries. Collections will be subjected
to document scanning and digitizing to make them ready for online access.
Most families have a large volume of precious information that must be
preserved for posterity such as documents, photographs, slides, microfilm,
blueprints, obituaries, books, maps, genealogical images, and other
memorabilia. Converting all this into electronic format would have many
• Digital records can be preserved, backed-up, organized, and shared
• Digitized records will not fade or deteriorate
• Digitized records would not get lost or misplaced like paper records
• It is easy to share the information with people across the world and
build your family tree
• Electronic files can be duplicated and backed-up at minimal cost,
unlike voluminous paper records
• Digital records save physical storage space
• Converting family records to electronic format will allow better
documentation of family histories since the images and files can be
accessed and used by all members
• Digitizing obituaries will help users gather information to add people
and data to the family tree.
• Better organization of material with search capability of the collection
Key Processes Involved in Digitization of Records
Selection and organization: The first process is the selection of the
documents to be added, the subscription of database, and the digitization of
the documents to the desired electronic format. Following this, the metadata
has to be assigned to each document being added to the collection.
Scanning and imaging: All the records, photos, and memorabilia would
have to be scanned for secure storage and access on a computer.
Indexing and storage: This component involves the indexing and storage
of the entire information for efficient search and retrieval.
Search and retrieval: End users must be provided with the ability to
browse, search, retrieve and view the contents of digitized family tree and
history. This would involve presentation in Hyper-Text Mark-up Language
Back-up: Back-up must be created for all the scanned files.
The two major resources needed for the creation of a digital document
management system are technology, infrastructure and personnel.
Partnering with a document scanning and imaging company which is well-
equipped with these essentials is the best way to achieve your family history