Church Genealogical Record-Gathering Increases
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“Church Genealogical Record-Gathering Increases,” Ensign, July 1978, 78

Church Genealogical Record-Gathering Increases

The world’s largest collection of genealogical records is getting larger.

The Church is gathering records from many countries around the world—by filming books and other records, by purchasing copies of existing microfilms, by paying countries to do filming, and by conducting oral histories.

“This expands the project beyond our standard microfilming practices,” says Lynn Carson, administrative assistant to the Genealogical Society’s director of Library Services.

Presently, the Church has eighty-five cameras in operation around the world—fourteen of them in the United States, working their way from the East Coast to the West Coast. In the U.S., local historical societies and state agencies are giving valuable assistance.

Approved filming has been completed in Rhodesia (2,000 microfilm rolls) and Poland (10,000 microfilm rolls).

While the Church has done no microfilming on mainland China, a number of Chinese records are available. Uncounted clan genealogies have been published in mainland China, and many of these volumes have been placed in western libraries. “We have searched every western library for them and have filmed wherever we’ve found them. Now we have the largest collection of clan genealogies outside mainland China,” Brother Carson says. The books were filmed in such places as Taiwan, Harvard University, and the Library of Congress in Washington D.C.

In those Pacific islands where written records have not been kept, oral histories are being tape recorded.

European filming is being done in Austria, Belgium, England, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Spain. Filming was completed in Hungary several years ago.

Sometimes, after the Church has filmed the records, local authorities realize the wisdom of the filming. An Anglican priest in Aberdeen, Scotland, wrote the Genealogical Society asking for copies of microfilmed records that vandals had stolen and destroyed shortly after they were filmed. The East Providence, Rhode Island, city hall was destroyed by fire after its records had been microfilmed, and the Genealogical Society was able to provide copies.

Filming and other methods of acquisition are planned for other areas of the world where no records have previously been obtained.

Microfilm cameramen in Italy photograph archive rooms full of ancient records.