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For 40 years, the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has influenced the family history community for the better. For several decades, FamilySearch International has enjoyed its association with this great force in the genealogical community, and we congratulate them on their 40th anniversary.
We also recognize the projects we’ve worked on together over the years and appreciate that those projects are helping people to identify their ancestors. When we come together with a common purpose, the things we can accomplish are significant.
We particularly remember three noteworthy FGS projects that FamilySearch International has been pleased to support.
First, the Civil War Soldiers and Sailors Database (CWSS) project began in 1990 and was completed in 1997. CWSS was a joint project sponsored by the National Park Service (NPS), specifically the Palo Alto Battlefield Historic Park in Brownsville, Texas, in cooperation with FGS, the National Archives and Records Administration, the Civil War Trust, and FamilySearch International. This online database of participants in the Civil War has about 6.5 million entries and is now held by the NPS.
National Archives initially estimated the project would cost $1 per name to index, or $6.5 million total. But with FamilySearch’s support and the help of volunteers, the project was completed for approximately $200,000, saving more than 6 million taxpayer dollars on the project.
“We support the federation because of projects like that—projects we can see are good for people, good for the country, and good for people doing their family history,” said David Rencher, chief genealogical officer for FamilySearch International.
Second, FamilySearch International is proud to support FGS in the ongoing project “Preserve the Pensions.” This is an effort to create a digital index of pensions belonging to veterans of the War of 1812. According to the National Archives, these pension records are among the most frequently requested materials. Because of their heavy use and age, these records are quickly deteriorating. The project aims to digitize these 7.2 million records and make them available online for free when the project is complete.
Preserve the Pensions relies on grassroots-level donations to fund it, with a donation from Ancestry.com to match every dollar donated. FamilySearch International made the first substantial contribution to the project.
Finally, we look forward to the success of a third joint project: an effort to create an index of participants in the Mexican War. The indexing project is much smaller than CWSS—it involves about 130,000 entries—and is supported by FamilySearch International, FGS, and NPS.
Several FamilySearch International employees have also served on the board of directors and as officers for FGS over the years. Three FamilySearch International employees have served as president, with many others serving as treasurer, vice president of development, vice president of membership, vice president of administration, and in other positions.
The past and future success of these projects and of both organizations remind us that we can make significant contributions to the broader genealogical community as we work together. People all over the world who are seeking their ancestors reap the benefits when we reach our goals.
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