Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Mailbox: Preservation of Photos and Stories on FamilySearch

The Ancestry Insider's Monday Mailbox

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I have been using FamilySearch Memories as my main repository for family history-related photographs and documents, with the hopes that this material will be preserved “forever.”  Do you think there is a chance that the LDS Church could abandon the FamilySearch Family Tree and Memories projects, with all of this material being lost?

Thomas Abbott

Dear Thomas,

There is always a chance your scanned images of photographs and documents could be lost. Elder D. Todd Christofferson, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently reaffirmed the Church’s belief that it will endure forever and one of its duties is offering ordinances to both the living and the dead. If he is correct ((and I believe he is), then your images are not in danger for reasons of the Church ceasing to exist or losing interest in family history work. However, there are other reasons to consider. Storing those images is very expensive and preserving them is more difficult than you might think. One can argue that preserving them is not essential to offering ordinances to the dead. There is always the possibility that the Church would divest that portion of their family history efforts to one of the many other companies offering that service. Failure of that 3rd party then becomes a possibility. There are no plans to do this, but one can not rule out the possibility that it could someday happen. And there is always the possibility of catastrophic failure that inadvertently destroys all the Church’s copies of your images. I think that would be nearly impossible, but stranger things happen.

Similar arguments can be applied to FamilySearch Family Tree. I believe there is an additional risk for Family Tree. If FamilySearch can’t find a way for non-genealogists and competent genealogists to coexist in the same tree, then Family Tree might collapse under its own weight.

I believe the lesson here is the same one we talked about last week: many copies of images and information increase the possibility that they will survive.

The Ancestry Insider

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