FamilySearch Donates Digital Records Destroyed in Typhoon Haiyan

Family Search Donates Records to Philippines
Family Search employees return records, destroyed by Typhoon Haiyan, in Hernani, Eastern Samar. Image via

People living in the Philippines have suffered the loss of homes, family members, and personal belongings since Typhoon Haiyan wreaked its havoc. The typhoon also destroyed civil records, which city officials in four cities thought would remain in the lost category forever—that is, until FamilySearch gave them a glimmer of hope.

Ten years ago, officials in the four cities—Tacloban and the smaller municipalities of Guiuan, Hernani and Marabut—granted permission to FamilySearch country manager, Manolito Baul, to digitally copy their civil records. These records have since been destroyed in the storm. Deseret News reports that a little more than one month ago, FamilySearch met with officials from these cities and donated back to them copies of their civil records.

Bishop Gérald Caussé, first counselor in the Presiding Bishopric, and Elder Lynn G. Robbins of the Seventy accompanied Baul on his trip to donate back the records. The records, which were brought over on an external hard drive, included civil registry records and birth certificates. Officials offered their gratitude for the generosity of FamilySearch and some, after being able to view their own personal records for the first time ever, even invited FamilySearch to return and digitize any other desired records.

Of his trip, Caussé said,

It was a very touching moment when city officials learned that the memories of the past had not been swept away by the typhoon but that essential knowledge about past generations had been preserved.

FamilySearch has donated records to countries all over the world who have experienced similar loss of records due to natural disasters.

Kylie is a writer at and graduate of BYU with a degree in Broadcast Journalism. She grew up in a Chicago suburb where she gained a passion for the Chicago Cubs. She enjoys writing and live event video production.