New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) and FamilySearch, the family history arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, today announced a multi-year collaboration between the two nonprofit organizations and a sharing of online genealogical resources, establishing a milestone in the growing international family history industry.
In a database exchange program, the two leading non-profits in the global genealogy business will now make available millions of new records containing billions of new searchable names to their many constituents.
Read the full explanation from D. Brenton Simons and Ryan J. Woods of NEHGS, and Dennis Brimhall of FamilySearch, below.
The study of family history is an important endeavor with many applications.
Searching for one’s ancestors is, for some, an intellectual pursuit, for some it is an enjoyable pastime, and for others it is an aspect of one’s faith. For nearly all engaged in genealogy, researching one’s past is a way to better understand who we are as people today. Literally and metaphorically, we are the sum of our ancestors—our DNA is representative of our forebears, and our personality traits are indicative of the customs and traditions from generations past.
Genealogy builds bridges between what happened then and who we are now. From well documented family histories, we can discover much about art, music, literature, philosophy, religion, politics, and economics. Through genealogical research, we endeavor to enable everyone to delve into their personal past, regardless of background or heritage, and to advance the study of two cherished facets of our lives: family and community.
FamilySearch and the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS) keenly understand the importance of collaboration in family history. That is why our two organizations are teaming together to help provide high-quality solutions and experiences for the family history community.
As the leading nonprofits in family history, FamilySearch and NEHGS bring unique strengths to the partnership.
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NEHGS is America’s founding genealogical organization, dedicated to advancing the study of family history in America and beyond by inspiring, educating, and connecting people through its scholarship, collections, and expertise.
Since 1845, NEHGS has been at the forefront of the field as a publisher, record preserver, and interpreter of family history. In its most recent strategic plan, NEHGS further refined its mission and purpose with a set of four cornerstones that will guide its work in the coming years: advance its position as the leader in scholarly excellence, build relationships in the family history community, maximize the use of technology for connecting people and affirming scholarly excellence, and ensure financial sustainability of the enterprise.
NEHGS has long represented excellence and accuracy in family history. NEHGS has a 170-year history as the premier publisher of genealogical scholarship, first through its journal The New England Historical and Genealogical Register, which has been published quarterly since 1847, and more recently through its book program, which publishes some twenty volumes a year of original genealogical scholarship. These activities, combined with the largest collection of original unpublished family history research materials in the field, along with a membership devoted to accuracy, creates a community that supports the highest-quality genealogical conclusions.
Today, NEHGS serves online audiences as AmericanAncestors.org. This portal communicates the organization’s national scope and is the most visited genealogical society website in the country, according to independent rankings. NEHGS provides expertise in nearly all aspects of family history research, from seventeenth-century colonial New England through twenty-first century immigration. For all those who seek to discover their family history, NEHGS has experts to guide researchers and to help make sense of all of the genealogical information one collects. They can verify the accuracy of research and provide context and meaning to ancestors’ stories.
FamilySearch is the largest genealogy organization in the world. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch has been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources for free online at FamilySearch.org or through more than 4,800 family history centers in 70 countries, including the renowned Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.
Under a multi-year partnership, FamilySearch will provide NEHGS with more than 2 billion records from its global historic record collections and its online Family Tree. These records will be added to the newly upgraded AmericanAncestors.org and a forthcoming online family tree experience. The searchable and browsable records to be added to the NEHGS website include U.S. federal census transcripts (1790–1930); civil registrations for Italy, Germany, Scotland, and the Netherlands; English birth, christening, marriage, and death record transcripts dating from the fifteenth century through the twentieth century; and a panoply of census records, birth records, marriage records, and death records for states across the U.S.
In turn, members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will have access to hundreds of millions of records on AmericanAncestors.org through online affiliate accounts. AmericanAncestors.org will also be made available at all LDS family history centers around the world. In addition, NEHGS will add millions of new records to FamilySearch.org from its holdings, including unique cemetery records from around the U.S. and Canada, historic tax records, early American military records, early New England marriage records, historic newspapers, and original scholarship from NEHGS published books.
Family history is a uniquely collaborative effort. Although research often takes place as a solitary activity, it is due to those who preserved records and documented sources before us,and to the labors of our contemporaries who are willing to share their work, that progress in understanding our past is possible.
By FamilySearch and NEGHS partnering together, the family history community will benefit in a number of ways, but perhaps most readily from access to unique research materials and scholarship that would otherwise be difficult to access or be available only in limited format.
The addition of tens of thousands of new users to the collaborative family tree experience will contribute well-documented genealogical conclusions that will help, over time, facilitate faster, more accurate research for everyone.
By sharing existing data and by co-developing new resources for use on FamilySearch and AmericanAncestors.org, together we are building a powerful and far-reaching association that benefits genealogists of every level now, and for generations to come.
Image: Italian family on the steps of a Catholic church in the Bronx after mass on Sunday, 1942, Library of Congress