Time again for our Website of the Week, when we showcase interesting and innovative online destinations.
This time it's a goldmine for people interested in learning more about their family history.
ANDERSON: "What we are dedicated to is providing resources and records for people interested in finding out about their heritage, finding some kind of fammily history information, genealogical records, recording that, preserving that — all the things related to family history."
Steve Anderson is marketing manager for FamilySearch.org, a website run by an arm of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the LDS church. The Mormons, as they're also known, got into genealogy for reasons related to their faith. But that's not to say the material on the website is only of interest to Mormons.
ANDERSON: "Oh, no, no. As a matter of fact, the vast majority of people who come to the website are not Mormons. The vast majority come there because maybe they're looking at census records or maybe they're looking for information on how to research in Poland or in China or in Mexico and want to know what records are available and how to use them."
The LDS church has gathered on microfilm the world's largest collection of birth and death records, and other source documents for people researching their family tree. In the past, you had to go to one of the Mormon Family History Centers to actually view the records. But Steve Anderson says the church has embarked on an ambitious program to make all 15 billion documents available online.
ANDERSON: "And so we actually began that process last year, the digitization. We've actually invented some new technology, and we now believe we will be able to have them all digitized, indexed and on-line beginning this year and completing somewhere in the six- or seven-year range."
In addition to searching for information about your family tree, the website has a first-rate genealogy program, Personal Ancestral File (PAF), that you can download for free. You can also share your research with others, perhaps finding a distant relation who shows up on someone else's family tree, which could introduce you to a whole new group of relatives you never knew your had.
It's a great example of how the Internet can help distribute knowledge and help bring people together. Check it out at FamilySearch.org, or get the link from our site, voanews.com.