By the numbers: FamilySearch growth in 2020

In 2020, FamilySearch expanded its discovery experiences to 30 languages and added over a billion new searchable names from historical records.

A total of 207 million visited FamilySearch.org in 2020, a 17.8% increase from 2019 — and that’s just scratching the surface of what happened during this historic year for family history work.

President Russell M. Nelson said during the October 2020 general conference, “During the past few months, a global pandemic, raging wildfires and other natural disasters have turned our world upside down. … Meanwhile, the work of the Lord is steadily moving forward.”

Unusual times can bring unusual rewards, he said. “We had to close temples for a time, and some construction projects were briefly delayed, but now they are all moving forward. …

“Family history work has increased exponentially.”

FamilySearch’s year-in-review published on Feb. 2, reported the following achievements:

Family Tree

Contributors added nearly 100 million relatives to the FamilySearch Family Tree in 2020. The world’s largest collaborative family tree now has a total of 1.3 billion people.

At the end of 2020, the FamilySearch Family Tree had 1.7 billon total sources and 1.3 total people.
At the end of 2020, the FamilySearch Family Tree had 1.7 billon total sources and 1.3 total people. Credit: FamilySearch

Users also added 300 million sources from their family records or hints generated by FamilySearch from its growing online record collections, strengthening the genealogical soundness of ancestor pages. 

Read more: How indexing, family history has increased with President Nelson’s invitation amid COVID-19

Recent changes in the tree data help search engines more effectively index the tree’s content to make it more discoverable online. New features give users the ability to add tags to people they follow in their tree and in Memories; they can now make certain memories private, bookmark an album, create searchable labels or tags and build slideshows for an ancestor.

The ancestral fan chart can now be viewed on the Family Tree mobile app, and users can view or print up to seven generations in a variety of fun options.

Searchable records

FamilySearch published a billion new searchable names from historical records last year — meaning a billion new personal and ancestor discoveries are now easier to find. In September 2020, FamilySearch’s total searchable names reached 8 billion.

The surname search on FamilySearch was improved and now has the ability to search using alternate names. Expanded search enhancements were also made to the Genealogies feature, a collection of community and user-contributed trees.

At the end of 2020, FamilySearch recorded a total of 8.3 billion total names in historical records.
At the end of 2020, FamilySearch recorded a total of 8.3 billion total names in historical records. Credit: FamilySearch

FamilySearch introduced its Explore Historical Images feature, helping searchers access the more than 4.3 billion images previously discoverable only through the online catalog.  

Read more: How FamilySearch is using computer technology to speed up the process of publishing record images

FamilySearch added significant new records to its Norway, Brazil, France, Germany, Fiji, American Samoa and Puerto Rico collections and more.

Thousands were able to discover their pilgrim ancestry in the new Mayflower collection. Almost 500,000 historical books are now available online in the FamilySearch Digital Library.

FamilySearch continues to refine emerging technology that can accurately read old handwriting — particularly in non-English historical documents. These innovations will greatly increase the number of records searchable by name in the future.

Discovery experiences

FamilySearch’s popular discovery activities were expanded with interactive time lines and maps. Personalized experiences were added to the All about Me activity for those who have ancestral roots in American Samoa, Fiji, Norway and Puerto Rico.

For those who need help with family history, FamilySearch enhanced its menu of helpful services. By typing in a topic or challenge, suggested results will appear. The new FamilySearch Community forum enables users to find family history solutions and ask questions from — or even join — a community of volunteers worldwide who are quick to respond.

The Family History Library added free online consultations to its expanding list of services. To schedule a free 20-minute research consultation, answer a few questions to connect you with the right specialist, and the virtual appointment is set.

A total of 207 million visited FamilySearch.org in 2020, a 17.8% increase from 2019.
A total of 207 million visited FamilySearch.org in 2020, a 17.8% increase from 2019. Credit: FamilySearch

RootsTech

In February 2020, RootsTech celebrated its 10th year. The Young Women and Young Men general presidencies joined 20,000 youth for family history activities on RootsTech’s youth night. Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and other General Authorities and general officers participated in the annual Temple and Family History Leadership Instruction.

As keynote speakers on Family Discovery Day, Elder Gary E. Stevenson of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles and his wife, Sister Lesa Stevenson, offered ideas to help Latter-day Saints invite the Spirit of Elijah into their homes and fortify their families. 

Other keynotes included Pulitzer Prize winning White House photographer David Hume KennerlyEmmitt Smith of the Dallas Cowboys, Leigh Anne Tuohy of “The Blind Side” and New York comedian Ryan Hamilton.

RootsTech Connect 2021, set for Feb. 25-27, will be an entirely virtual, free, global event with over 200,000 registrants from more than 200 countries. Register on RootsTech.org.