News Release

FamilySearch Introduces Major Digital Advances in Ancestral Research

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (often known as the Mormon faith) has made major changes to its on-line family history research tool, FamilySearch. 

The new version of, which launched in Australia today, makes family history research more interactive with a pedigree chart into which new data can be added and easily manipulated.  It is also conveniently collaborative, with added social media, photo and story elements that create a more personal family history experience for each user.

Each user can upload as many as 5,000 photos (with five-megabyte-per-image limit), and each story can be up to 100 pages long.

According to Alan Wakeley, the Church Public Affairs Department adviser to Australia, with the tools now available, Australians have the opportunity to create an enormous country-wide family tree of their ancestries.


“FamilySearch has billions of on-line records which are being added to every day,” he said. “Coupled with the more than 900 million names already submitted by online users, people will be able to quite quickly create personal pedigrees that connect them to family and other users around the country and the world.”

The Church, which has the largest collection of family history records internationally, provides all of its data at no cost and without any strings attached, a significant offering in today’s commercially-oriented marketplace.

Individuals can now work together with others online to build their family tree, compile and share family photos and stories, create interactive fan charts and access 24-7 online and phone assistance —also without any charge. 

The site’s enhancements seek to broaden family history’s appeal to those who don’t consider themselves researchers or genealogists, especially youth who are masters of digital realms such as social media.

"So many of us are involved with family history and we just don’t realize it,” says Paul Nauta, a senior marketing manager for FamilySearch. “I look at all the social networks today — they are basically family history platforms.

“People are sharing what they’re doing from day to day, what they’re interested in, and friends and family are finding that interesting and sharing their own thoughts. All of that is family history, but we’ve not had some of the tools at FamilySearch to help people make those ancestral connections where they can be inspired and motivated by it.”

That is, until now. FamilySearch’s new features are described below. 

Family Tree

Family Tree enables individuals to collaborate to build, manage and share family history online.  Users will discover information submitted by other users in their family line among the more than 900 million names already submitted by online users.

Patrons also have access to billions of names on to help fill in missing branches on the tree.

Family Tree also includes a click-and-drag feature that allows users to seamlessly move up, down and side to side and zoom in and out within a pedigree chart.

Photos and Stories

The Photos and Stories options allow users to preserve photos and stories of ancestors. With photos, faces can be identified and then linked to the respective ancestors’ profiles in a user’s family tree. Photos and stories can also be seamlessly shared via Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest and email.

Each user can upload as many as 5,000 photos (with five-megabyte-per-image limit), and each story can be up to 100 pages long.

According to FamilySearch CEO Dennis Brimhall, photos and stories matter, because they “personally teach us time-honoured principles from those who have gone on before us, like the value of hard work, dealing with life’s ups and downs and the impact of choices.”

Interactive Fan Chart

Interactive fan charts present one’s ancestry lines in a colourful wheel, with the user at the centre. Each layer of the wheel represents a different generation, and the wheel extends out to as many as six generations if such information is available. Fan charts can be used in a variety of ways.

For example, Nauta notes that some parents have printed out a fan chart for each child, with the child’s name at the centre so they can see themselves in the context of a larger family that extends out for generations.

Seeing yourself in a fan chart “changes you,” Nauta says. “You see yourself standing on the shoulders of all these people who have gone before you. You realize you’re not alone, and it adds meaning and perspective to your life.”

Family Tree Wizard

This feature is for family history novices. Family Tree Wizard asks new users questions about living and deceased ancestors and then builds connections into the family tree.

Live Help Page

FamilySearch has created a global online community that provides free product help and personal research assistance by phone and web chat all day, every day. Within several weeks, the website will be available in nine other languages, including Spanish, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Chinese, Japanese and Korean.

About FamilySearch

Three million people use FamilySearch records, resources and services each month to learn more about their family history. Since 1894, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving and sharing genealogical records worldwide.

Patrons can access FamilySearch services and resources for free at  or through more than 4,600 family history centres in 132 countries.

FamilySearch’s commitment to helping people connect with their ancestors is rooted in the Mormon belief that families are meant to be central to our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue beyond this life.

However, the Church believes that family history research by any individual, religious or otherwise, greatly enhances social interconnectedness. 

“Knowing more about our ancestors helps us to know more about ourselves and the nations in which we live,” said Alan Wakeley. “It’s not just about names and dates. Rather it’s about the lives of the people to whom we are related and how they met the challenges they faced.”

For more information:

Alan Wakeley

Office: 02-9841-5429

Mobile: 0405-103-407

Home: 02-9651-3903

mormon lds family search branch out Infographic

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.