“I want to tell the stories of my mother’s family,” explained Jackie Zhang, a native of China currently living in Salt Lake City, Utah. “I was able to scan in two photos, one of my mother and another of my grandparents, but I have a lot of information missing. Much of my family history was lost in the Cultural Revolution, but my uncle has additional records that will help. I have been able to contact him, but I don’t have the further information at this time.”
Zhang utilized the services of the Family History Library of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to review her family lines and to begin her family organization online. With her FamilySearch.org Family Tree organized, she was able to post identifying photos to her family group.
Though the Chinese cultural tradition illustrates a family history with Chinese characters, ink and a brush, Zhang is eager to preserve and update her family records with a new service now offered in more than 2,800 of the Church’s North American family history centers and coming soon to international centers.
Now it takes only minutes for valuable family photographs or documents such as Zhang’s to be scanned, transmitted and published. The recently installed customized Lexmark multifunction products (MFPs) quickly scan photos or significant documents and transfer them online to your personal genealogical space. The scanning system produces high-quality digital images in both .jpg and .png file formats and will accommodate up to 5 MB in size. Items may also be scanned and saved to a thumb drive, all free of charge.
“We all have them, the kitchen or dresser drawers, plastic bags, scrapbooks or file boxes — all full of family photos, vital records and other precious correspondence from our ancestors,” said Penney Devey, FamilySearch director of worldwide patron and partner services. “These family artifacts are constant reminders of our heartfelt good intentions to someday preserve, organize, share or tell their hidden stories for posterity.”
For Joan Peterson, also of Salt Lake City, the intentions have turned to action. “I have access to photos and journals of my ancestors, documents that I’m planning to turn in to the Church History Library. Before I donate the hard copies to the Church, I wanted to make certain the information was recorded for my own family.”
Peterson has spent the last three months organizing her valuable family memorabilia, scanning photos to her FamilySearch Family Tree and posting life sketches and other personal memories.
In addition to having the records in digital files, Peterson discovered long-lost cousins who read the posted profiles online. “Several people I didn’t know have contacted me. One of my husband’s cousins has information about his lines we didn’t have. I think whatever family history work you do, all roads lead to Bethlehem — that is, all efforts help us piece our lives together.”
The scanning process is simple and straightforward. Just the touch of a button on the scanner, a login to an established FamilySearch.org account, and the important photos or papers are scanned and transferred as high-quality digital images. The items are cropped and deposited in a folder in your FamilySearch account. You can then at your leisure label them, identify people in the photos and connect them to respective ancestors in your FamilySearch Family Tree. From there, you can post links and share the information with other family members and encourage them to share as well.
And like Peterson discovered, little-known relatives may emerge from the digital world with helpful or new information and with the opportunity to build broader family relationships.
FamilySearch is a world leader in historic record preservation and access, connecting growing generations of families through family history products and services. It is the largest genealogical organization in the world, a nonprofit volunteer-driven group sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people worldwide use FamilySearch records, resources and services to learn more about family history.
To help in this pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving and sharing genealogical records for over 100 years. Patrons may access resources free online at FamilySearch.org or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.