First a comment on statistics in general. Quoting numbers is an overused way of making a point. But many times it is also the only way that you can measure and demonstrate progress. What is more important than the actual numbers involved is the direction those numbers are moving. Now on to the article, here are some of the highlights:
- The number of members submitting family names for temple ordinances increased 11 percent in 2013.
- RootsTech 2014 will be held Feb. 6-8 in Salt Lake City and is anticipated to reach more than 100,000 attendees.
- Since April 2013, 12 million names have been linked to the family tree, and 1.8 million family photos and hundreds of thousands of family stories have already been posted online by patrons.
- The FamilySearch Family Tree online now boasts more than 1 billion searchable names linked to family trees.
- In 2013, it added 170 million digital images of historic records and 476 million indexed records to FamilySearch.org.
- It also entered into major agreements with the top three commercial family history websites, which will provide unprecedented access to billions of additional historic records and user-contributed records starting some time in 2014.
- An unprecedented number of youth responded by building online family trees from information provided by their families, printing generational fan charts, and using the vast growing databases of online records to seek out their kindred dead.
- Record numbers of youth are also being called and serving as family history consultants.
Here are some of my own observations on the numbers:
- Statistics from 2014 will really be a more accurate measure of the progress of Family Tree because it was only in December that New.FamilySearch.org was made read-only.
- The number of attendees at RootsTech 2014 likely includes an estimate of all those participating through online rebroadcasts of the presentations at local Family History Fairs. If 100,000 people show up at the Salt Palace, I think we will all be surprised.
- The number of new additions to the Family Tree and the Photos, Stories and Documents programs is truly impressive. This demonstrates, in part, the improvement this program is over the old one. But as I mentioned above, the real numbers will come from 2014 when New.FamilySearch.org is no longer contributing duplicates.
- The increasing number of digital images to the FamilySearch.org Historical Record Collections needs more prominence. This fact is the meat and potatoes of the value of the website to any one trying to find their ancestors. This is a fabulous resource.
- The announced agreement with other online databases is a huge development. I am sure we will hear a lot more about this in the months to come.
- I am thrilled that there are more youth becoming involved in genealogy. It will also be interesting to see how switching entirely to Family Tree from New.FamilySearch.org will affect this involvement.
- I think this is one of the best ideas yet, to call youth as Family History Consultants, but I just wish it would start to happen locally in my own Stake and Ward.
All in all the news is extremely encouraging. I hope I am around long enough to see even more dramatic changes in the future.