Thursday, August 21, 2014

Don Anderson and FamilySearch Partners #BYUFHGC

Don Anderson is a senior vice president at FamilySearch for patron and partner services. He gave two presentations at the recent BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. It’s pretty cool to have someone of his standing presenting one regular session, let alone two. Both were about partners. “Partners are a key part of our strategy at FamilySearch,” he said.

Anderson showed parts from the partnering infographic released by FamilySearch back in February.

Collaboration is needed to acquire all the records that need to be preserved.
FamilySearch has preserved 5.3 billion records and need to preserve 60 billion more.

Collaboration is needed to index all the records that have been acquired.
Without collaboration it will take 200 to 300 years to index the 5.3 billion FamilySearch records

Jay Verkler, former FamilySearch president once told a story about meeting an elderly lady who reached up, grabbed his lapels, pulled him closer and said, “You’ve got to go faster. At the rate you’re going, I’m going to meet my ancestors before I find them.”

FamilySearch will publish about 1 billion records this year. About 800 million of those are being done with our partners, Anderson said. That number is likely to increase. Our relationships with our partners are getting deeper and more robust, he said.

Partnering is bringing progress in emerging markets like Brazil and Mexico. In Italy we are working with partners to help people discover their families, Anderson said. The more partners that get involved, the easier it is for us all to find our ancestors. We lower the cost of the commercial firms to enter new markets, he said. Take Italy as an example. FamilySearch has a very large filming project in Italy right now. At the current pace, it will take 100 years to index all the acquired records. Partner relationship may bring that down to five or six years. The situation is similar with Mexico and Brazil.

“We at FamilySearch don’t care where you find your ancestor,” Anderson said. “The important thing is that you find them.” He said that as much as he likes the FamilySearch collaborative tree, he knows not everyone likes it. The goal is that you put your information wherever you want and then find what you need.

Only 1 billion of the 28 billion who have lived since 1500 A.D.  are in FamilySearch Family TreeOnly 1 billion of the 28 billion who have lived since 1500 A.D.  are in FamilySearch Family Tree

Anderson showed his tree on He said it was a serious testimonial for’s hinting capabilities. There was a shaky leaf on just about everyone on his pedigree. Through FamilySearch’s partnerships with, MyHeritage, and FIndMyPast, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have easy access to all their different tree systems. “I suspect that most of you will find one of the trees on one of the sites and use it, while also utilizing in some way all the sites,” he said.

FamilySearch has made partnerships in markets adjacent to family history. Two examples are StoryPress and Reel Genie. FamilySearch is a bit of a hub and information can flow in or flow out.

FamilySearch has made partnerships with developers. To see a list of certified apps available through these development partners, visit

FamilySearch has partnered with record managers like “RootsMagic, Legacy, and I shouldn’t have mentioned any names, as I will forget some,” he said. About 30% of the contributions added to FamilySearch Family Tree come through these programs.

I’ll report on Anderson’s Friday presentation soon. With the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) quickly approaching, further coverage of the BYU conference may get pushed off several weeks.

Speaking of the FGS conference, it’s not too late to decide to attend.

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