The LDS Church filming of Russian records, how it began.

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James W Anderson

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Jul 2, 2007, 11:40:44 PM7/2/07
to Russian Historical and Genealogical News
As you know, the best place in the world for many things relating to
genealogy is the Family History Library, run by the LDS Church.

The Church runs the Genealogical Society of Utah, which was recently
renamed to better coordinate with familysearch.org, to
'FamilySearch'. There will be some very exciting things happen in the
next few years, some are in progress right now, and some will yet be
seen. Some of this will be the digitizing and posting online of
microfilm, and an indexing project has begun, anyone can participate.
Go to http://www.familysearchindexing.org/ and sign up. Most projects
are in English right now, but eventually foreign-language materials
will be indexed also, including at some point the Russian films the
Family History Library now has, and all of that will be posted
online. You won't have to leave home to read the film.

But until Communism fell in the Soviet Union, we had almost no real
access to Russian records generally, maybe we had a few, along with
whatever some had, but not what we are getting now.

Soon after the LDS Church started doing work in Russia, it was found
they needed more cameras. At that time microfilm was still being
used, they are doing that still but are slowly upconverting the
filming to digital because it's faster and requires almost no
retakes.

They looked for cameras, but since creating indexes was common and
digitization was around the corner, there were fewer places making
cameras, so they had to improvise somehow. They found their answer in
of all places, the KGB!

Historically, the Communist governments felt they did not want to rely
on the West for their equipment, goods, or services, so they made
their own of just about everything. In music, they knocked off the
Hammond B3 organ, and in microfilming, they knocked off the Kodak
cameras the LDS Church was using among many other businesses and
groups.

But the cameras still took the standard size film, and they soon were
put to work filming anything that could be found. There is a vast
quantity of records still there, and at the outset they soon had,
thanks to the old KGB cameras, were able to have 40 operational
throughout Russia and other areas almost right away.

That was about 15 years ago. They are still filming to this day. If
you want to find out if your Russian ancestor's places were filmed, go
to the http://www.familysearch.org/ website and go to the library
catalog area, they update it weekly too, and search by locality.

They have iflmed in some areas of the world like Great Britain for
many years and those places have extensive collections in the FHL.
But countries like Russia and the former Warsaw Pact nations have very
few in relation to the sheer amount of materials they all have.

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