The article, written by Sharon Hintze of the London Family History Centre, highlights some startling figures
- 3.2 billion records in total on the FamilySearch website http://familysearch.org
- 100,000 volunteer transcribers
- 4,700 Family History Centres around the world.
The vast majority of these records - 3 billion of the total 3.2 billion - relate to the USA, which indicates that USA records are particularly strong, as are those for the UK (see below). A particularly large ongoing American project is being undertaken to catalogue obituaries in newspapers. However, despite the huge numbers of records online, it is estimated that only 7% of the total available records have been digitised. The undigitised records can be viewed at any of the LDS Family History Centres around the world.
For England and Wales the 1841-1891 census returns are available online, as are about 50 datasets (listed below), some county based (such as for Cheshire) and some are thematic, such as BMD records. The total for England alone comes to 688,707,267 records, with the single largest dataset being the birth registration index with over 132,000,000 records.
Scotland also has the same census returns and a large collection of BMDs from Scottish parish registers. In Ireland the most popular records on FamilySearch are the civil registration indexes. In Ireland some of the BMD certificates have been microfilmed and can be seen at the local Family History Centres.
And, unlike payment websites such as Ancestry or Findmypast, all this data is for free!
The reason that FamilySearch is free is that it is sponsored by the Church of the Latter Day Saints (sometimes known as The Mormons - after The Book of Mormon - or LDS Church). Family history is supported by the LDS Church for two main reasons, the first is theological and the second is that the Church is very family orientated and so it is promoting family history as a 'lifelong involvement for family members of all ages' (to quote the WDYTYA article).
I have listed the current FamilySearch English datasets below and I am entering them into the Family History Records Online website (http://www.familyhistoryrecordsonline.com). At the same address for FamilySearch - https://familysearch.org/search/collection/location/1986340 - there are also a large number of collections that haven't been indexed yet but which can be viewed as images to scroll through.
The useful WDYTYA overview article on FamilySearch has the following sections:
- The World of Family Search
- 10 Steps To Get The Most Out Of FamilySearch's Family Tree
- How To Find Relevant Records on FamilySearch.org
- 5 reasons You Should Visit the FamilySearch Research Wiki
- 12 Countries Worth Visiting on Family Search
- Why You Should Visit the London Family History Centre
Note: These are the current indexed English datasets on the FamilySearch website.