What is the Family Search website about, you ask?
I have been working with a friend who is searching for her family in census records and she asked me, "What is that Family Search website all about?" The answer is very simple: while you have to pay to use some popular genealogy research sites, like Ancestry.com or Fold3.com, there is a free place to go to look for information about your family.
God bless the Mormons, literally and figuratively. You see, the core principle of the religion is that we are all related, back to Adam and Eve. And wouldn’t you know that the collective work of the members is to prove just that.
Members have been creating family trees for all of us...as well as photographing birth, marriage, and death records from all over the world for decades. Images on microfilm are actually stored in a mountain vault in Salt Lake City, Utah. One way to view the records is to hop on a plane for Utah. Another is by ordering them through a local Family Search Center run by the church.
Wonderfully, technological advances with computers and the internet have spurred on a herculean effort by the Mormon Church to digitize the microfilmed records and eventually make them all available on their own website. In the case where an original document has yet be digitally scanned (or the image is only available through a paid partner site like Ancestry.com), the general information found in the record has been added to the searchable database. Using the different search filters (name, date, life event - like birth, or residence place) you can try to find a census record, or church records that were photographed by a team of Mormons taking over a town for a week.
You can find Family Search at www.familysearch.org.
Beth Finch McCarthy