FamilySearch (www.familysearch.org) is the Internet gateway to the Family History Library of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City was established in 1894 as a repository for genealogical records and to assist Church members in researching their family histories.
The Library holds more than 2 million rolls of microfilmed genealogical records, plus a large number of books, periodicals, and other resources. The records cover vital statistics, census, land, probate, immigration and church records from around the world. In addition, the library stores family history information that has been collected and submitted by individual researchers. Much of the material in the Family History Library can be accessed at local branches called Family History Centers. In recent years much of the information has been made available on CD-ROM.
The FamilySearch web site made its debut in 1999 and has now replaced CD-ROM as the primary means of access to much of the Family History Library information. The amount of material available through the web site and the strength of the search features are growing steadily.
For those resources not fully online, FamilySearch allows users to search a catalog to locate material of potential interest, which can then be viewed at a local Family History Center or at the library itself in Salt Lake City.
Although the Library and the FamilySearch web site are maintained by the Church, they are freely available to the general public. The FamilySearch web site does not promote the Church's philosophy, and registering with the web site does not result in being contacted by the Church.