News Release

FamilySearch Participates in the Largest International Congress on Archives 2023

Addresses Role of Artificial Intelligence and Ottoman Empire Family Histories

On October 9–13, 2023, representatives of FamilySearch participated in the ICA Congress, which took place in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, organized by the International Council of Archives.

His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence of the United Arab Emirates, was among the keynote speakers. In his address, he stressed the role of archiving and documentation in supporting tolerance and coexistence in society. He praised the efforts of all involved in this work.

Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch, praised the preservation efforts of archivists during his address at the Federation for National Archivists luncheon, stating, “We at FamilySearch are your fellow students, learning new and innovative ways to preserve our precious history and share it with those seeking to remember. We believe everyone deserves to be remembered. The records you care for are essential to each member of the human family being remembered.”

At the conference, a number of representatives from FamilySearch shared their insights and research through various presentations:

  • Dr. Jonathan McCollum addressed the topic “The Eastern Question for Archivists: What to Do with Ottoman Records?”;
  • Ian James spoke about technological advancements of “Man and Machine Learning: Bridging the Gap between Communities of Users and the AI-Powered Extraction of Historical Content”;
  • Jarrett Anderson presented a poster “Preserving and Publishing Arabic Tribal Lineages: Digital Tribal Reconstitution from Antiquity to Modernity.”

Representatives of FamilySearch also prepared a booth that consisted of demonstrations of best practices in record preservation, digitization and access using advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI). FamilySearch specialists helped guests coming from 140 countries of the world to learn creative ways to explore their family heritage and roots. Over the week, more than 3,300 participants attended the congress.

As this year’s conference was held in the Middle East region, FamilySearch took this opportunity to launch the Ottoman Collaborative, an initiative that brings archives and interested third parties together to digitally preserve and make accessible the records of peoples whose history was entwined with the Ottoman Empire.

International Congress on Archives is an event that takes place every four years and is organized by the International Council on Archives, which celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2023. Abu Dhabi Congress in 2023 is dedicated to the effective management of records and the preservation of the world’s archival heritage. FamilySearch was the Titanium sponsor of the ICA Congress in 2023.

FamilySearch is a nonprofit and the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch works with thousands of government, church, and private archives around the world to digitize and preserve their genealogically relevant record collections.

FamilySearch International is a nonprofit subsidiary of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. FamilySearch’s commitment to helping people connect with their ancestors is rooted in the Latter-day Saint belief that families are central to strong, healthy communities and our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue beyond this life. Because interest in one’s family history is not limited by culture, ethnicity or religious faith, FamilySearch’s resources are available to anyone who wants to discover more about their family and heritage.

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