From The Encyclopedia of Mormonism
Author: Cahoon, L. Reynolds
FamilySearch is an automated computer system that simplifies the task of family history research. The FamilySearch system includes search-and-retrieval programs designed to work on personal computers and computer files of family history information. FamilySearch was developed by the Family History Department of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
The information in each file is distributed on compact discs, each capable of storing the equivalent of about 320,000 pages of text. They are read by computers equipped with a compact-disc player and with the FamilySearch software.
FamilySearch is available to the public at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and over time will be distributed to family history centers affiliated with the library.
FamilySearch's primary purpose is to help members of the Church identify their ancestors and complete temple ordinances for them. The power of the program, together with the large files available to it, make FamilySearch a valuable research tool.
When the system was introduced in 1990, it included the following files:
1. The Family History Library Catalog, which has been available for many years in a microfiche edition in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and in family history centers, describes the collection of the library and provides help in locating the book, microfilm, or other research tool a patron may need. The automated edition simplifies use of the catalog.
2. The International Genealogical Index (IGI), which has been available for many years in a microfiche edition. The automated edition gives information about deceased persons for whom temple ordinances have been performed. It also lists birth, christening, and marriage dates and temple ordinance information.
3. Ancestral File is a family-linked file containing genealogies contributed by members of the Church since 1979. Many other genealogies have also been included, and additional contributions of family history information are welcomed. Other files will be added to FamilySearch as they become available.
"FamilySearch Software," Attachment, First Presidency Letter, April 2, 1990.
Mayfield, David M., and A. Gregory Brown. "FamilySearch." Genealogical Computing 10 (1990):1.
L. REYNOLDS CAHOON