You don't have to be a genealogy maven to appreciate the recent expansion of online information available through FamilySearch, the free research service provided by the Mormon Church. Some 300 million new records have been added to the web site. These will eventually be integrated into the existing database of a few hundred million indexed names. But for now you can access them through a new "beta" search engine.
This new resource is easy to search. Just type in the ancestor's name to call up indexed data derived from birth certificates, marriage licenses, census lists and other documents. You can also refine searches by birth, death or marriage year; place of birth, death or marriage; father's or mother's name. In some cases, a digital image of the actual document will accompany the indexing.
FamilySearch intends to index all of the 3.5 billion records currently preserved on microfilm in its Salt Lake City vault. The effort will take about ten years.