FamilySearch.org is a website owned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or the Mormons as they are widely known. The Mormons have been undertaking large genealogy transcription projects for many years and their genealogy collections have been goldmines of family information before the internet existed. Combine this with the power of the internet and you have access to an extensive catalogue of records that is both free and easy to use.
What makes FamilySearch such a useful website?
To illustrate that best I will tell you about a One-Name-Study that I have conducted. The Scherno surname is not that common so I decided to locate and compare all of the records that I could for people with that exact surname, excluding variations. I looked at all the records I could access freely from FamilySearch and all the records I could see without a membership to a large commercial site. To show the difference, the results seen below are for people with the surname Scherno:
- On FamilySearch there are 96 records.
- The commercial site lists 227 results, 111 of these results are replicated family trees.
- After analysis, on both sites there are about 70 individual people
- The key records of births, deaths and marriages are duplicated on both sites.
- Minimal birth, death and marriage information is shown on the commercial site unless you have a paid membership.
- On FamilySearch you can see the date, location and any relatives who are listed.
- The commercial site has additional military service and pension records
- Neither site includes a range of freely available Scherno family information that is freely available in France where the families are initially from.
You can also maintain and view family trees on FamilySearch, however my personal experience is that generally the family trees which can be found on FamilySearch do not have the same level of information that can be found on other genealogy sites.
The quantity of transcriptions and the quality of the information which can be found on FamilySearch makes this a very useful resource which you should visit and revisit throughout your family history research. Within the search functions you can narrow the results by inputting a large amount of known information or by choosing to look at results from specific collections, such as only look at birth records from Germany. Of course if you only have limited information then this is also a good site to search because the vast level of records can be very useful for tracking down where great, great, great grandfather Henry was actually born prior to moving half way around the world.