Facebook has quite a database with 500 million active users, and rumored total users in the billions. There are few that can relate to the types of problems engineers and architects encounter with a database of that size. FamilySearch.org is one of those, with a claimed database size of over 1 billion individual records, and possibly comparable numbers in associated documents and files. Their Facebook Page claims over 400 million records indexed since 2006, and a goal to do half that number in just 2011! Today FamilySearch.org broke another record, with an organized “Super Indexing Sunday”, claiming over 2 million records indexed in just one day, breaking their previous record of 1.9 million.
What is Indexing?
For those unfamiliar with Family History or Genealogy research, “Indexing” is the process of taking scanned in images and putting them in searchable, text form that others can easily find. Similar efforts are going on in smaller scales with Archive.org, the Gutenberg project, and other organizations, but FamilySearch.org seems to have mastered this technique (arguably, Ancestry.com is pretty good at this as well). With modern technology, FamilySearch has found ways to quickly and efficiently scan in records, then use its army of 400,000 volunteers (over half of those aren’t Mormon, the LDS Church being the parent owner of FamilySearch.org) to index those records for searching and attaching those records to applicable individuals in users’ Family History.
Example records indexed are Census records, Birth Certificates, Death Certificates, Civil Registrations, and Marriage Certificates. With such a worldwide effort it is becoming easier and easier for individuals around the world to prove their lineage and ancestry, and know more about their ancestors. See the video below for a glimpse at what goes on to make this happen.
“Super Indexing Sunday”
That’s why today is particularly important. Today, as others were watching the Greenbay Packers play the Pittsburgh Steelers in the Superbowl, potentially hundreds of thousands of people were participating in breaking a new world record in the number of records indexed in a day. The event “Super Indexing Sunday” was organized by a person not affiliated with FamilySearch.org, Ken Sisler, a Family Historian who lives in Newmarket, Ontario, Canada. It was a grassroots event started on Facebook, and spread to hundreds or even thousands on Facebook as all rallied around this event. I’m sad to admit that despite my employment at the LDS Church, I had not even heard of this until the event was over.
This evening the FamilySearch Indexing Facebook Page announced that over 2 million records had been indexed in a single day. Assuming the 1.9 million record from before is correct, that would make this a new world record, and goes to show that Family History and Genealogy are things that aren’t going away any time soon. To me this is an amazing feat!
If these types of efforts continue, FamilySearch.org is going to have no problem growing by almost half its size in indexed records for the year. As the world’s largest database for genealogical information, I think they could easily say that they could compete for the title of one of the largest databases of individual data in the world. To me, this makes FamilySearch.org one Web 2.0 website that is worth paying attention to.
You can participate in the FamilySearch Indexing effort at http://indexing.familysearch.org/.
Disclosure: FamilySearch.org is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, my employer. While I am employed by the Church, the statements herein are my own opinion and do not constitute official word or doctrine from the Church or its counterparts. To be clear, I have not recently talked to FamilySearch.org and the information contained is all information I gathered from publicly available resources – I have no insider information. I’m sharing this because I think it’s cool technology and something my readers might be interested in.