“It’s very touching to be able to feel like you’re part of something so important. It’s history,” said Karen Sunderland, one of the preservation volunteers, while holding a file from 1884 that marked the first recordings of the Alaska Territorial Courts. Sunderland worked alongside her husband, Merrill, and fellow LDS missionaries Diana and Doyle Rasmussen. The two couples were the last of four to take shifts for several months at a time on the project, backed by the nonprofit FamilySearch.
The organization’s mission for gathering, recording and preserving records is a global effort that puts fading documents in a place where they can “live” virtually forever on the internet.
While FamilySearch.org serves primarily as a free place to help “people connect with their ancestors,” according to the organization’s website, this project has also helped the State of Alaska dot some i’s and cross some t’s when it comes to records keeping.
State Archivist Dean Dawson oversaw this digitizing of state records and said what the FamilySearch volunteers did goes beyond the $1 million in funds saved through volunteer time. “They more than met our expectations with their quality of product,” Dawson said, explaining that the more than 1,101,839 images of archived birth and death records, court and probate records and other historical documents will be ready for public viewing online in about four months.