Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FamilySearch Reviews 2016 Accomplishments – Part 1

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: Family Tree[THE INDICATED BULLET WAS UPDATED 14 JANUARY 2017 TO ELIMINATE MY BAD MATH.]
FamilySearch recently published a review of their 2016 accomplishments, just as they did last year for 2015. As I did last year, I thought I’d present the information here, along with commentary, and a comparison with their 2015 accomplishments. I found a few surprises.

FamilySearch organized the accomplishments around the five discovery experiences presented in Steve Rockwood’s 2016 RootsTech presentation.

Family Tree

In 2016, FamilySearch made Family Tree more stable, made it possible to merge duplicates, added more record hints, made record hints more accurate, added user-to-user messaging, and broadened the ability to identify your relationships to persons in Family Tree.

Facts and figures:

  • 1.1 billion persons in FamilySearch Family Tree.  FamilySearch has previously reported that 28 billion people have lived since 1500 AD. Few records exist that uniquely identify people who lived prior to that date. Had FamilySearch met their objective that there be no duplication in Family Tree, then the Tree would contain 4% of all the recorded people in the world’s history. However, there is a lot of duplication in the Tree. 1.1 billion is the same size reported last year, so the number of new persons must be less than 100 million.
  • 561,759 new contributors in 2016. This is up from 120,000 in 2015. I think this includes those who contribute in any way, not just the addition of persons.
  • [Updated 14 January 2017]3.45 million total contributors. That sounds high, even though participation is considered a mandate for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Current Church membership stands at 15,634,199. Total contributors was up from 2.47 million in 2015.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: Searchable RecordsSearchable Records

“Millions more searchable records were added this year as employees and volunteers digitally converted FamilySearch’s vaults of microfilm for online viewing and added millions of new record images from archives across the globe,” wrote FamilySearch’s Diane Sagers. “Partnerships formed with other genealogy search companies, such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com, broaden its searchable databases.”

Around the world, 320 camera teams digitally preserved over 60 million records in 45 countries. FamilySearch reworked the U.S. census collections in 2016.

FamilySearch, along with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, other organizations, and 25,000 volunteers, indexed and published records from the Freedmen’s Bureau. “These records are pivotal for African American research because they document freed slaves and others who struggled to redefine themselves after the Civil War.”

Facts and figures:

  • 5.57 billion total searchable records online. This is 260 million more than the 5.31 billion reported last year.
  • 275 million total records indexed [during 2016]. This is up from 110 million in 2015. According to the math, volunteers indexed 15 million more names than FamilySearch published. Makes you wonder if they have a growing backlog.
  • 37 million non-English records indexed. FamilySearch must be having trouble recruiting non-English language indexers, since that is just 13% of the total. On the positive side, 37 is up quite a bit from 19 million in 2015.
  • 125 new 2016 historic records collections. This is down from 158 the previous year.
  • 2,174 total collections. It was 2,049 at the end of 2015.
  • 60 million record images published. FamilySearch cut in half the number of images, 122 million, published in 2015. That is disappointing. One possible explanation is that FamilySearch now publishes some record images exclusively through their catalog—much the same way that NARA does with their catalog. If you are not using the catalog as your primary search mechanism, you are missing out on what looks to be millions of records.

See tomorrow's article for more information.


  1. I seem to remember that last year FamilySearch made some statement about how much duplication there was, indicating that they thought that the number of duplicate IDs was coming down....that would be true even if they only counted the merges I alone do nearly every day! I would say that fully 50% to 60% of all persons I add records to or otherwise work on in Family Tree have duplicate entries. The Tree is far from "clean", and I wish that more people would spend time checking and adding records and cleaning....Anyhow, what is FS's latest estimate of duplication in the Family Tree?

  2. Re your comment that 2.2% of church membership would reach that total of 3.45 million contributors. It appears a 'zero' got dropped - the number actually would be 22%. I doubt it's anywhere near THAT.

  3. "3.45 million total contributors. That sounds high, but you have to remember that participation is considered a mandate for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Current Church membership stands at 15,634,199. It would take participation by just 2.2% of living Church members to reach 3.45 million contributors. Total contributors was up from 2.47 million in 2015."

    2.2% of 3.45 million is actually only about 344,000.

  4. Thanks to all who caught my bad math. I've dropped that sentence.


  5. You might be interested in my new blog where I compare Geni and FamilySearch stats. http://schoenblog.com/?p=1035


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