News Story

FamilySearch Leader Participates in Tonga's First 'International Archives Day'

Michael Higgins, Pacific Area FamilySearch manager with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, recently participated in Tonga’s first International Archives Day. 

Mr. Higgins was invited to attend and speak at the one-day event sponsored by the Government of Tonga with key stakeholders from UNESCO Tonga Office, Government Ministries and colleagues from national archives and museums.

Tonga’s Prime Minister, Lord Tui’vakano, was a guest of honour at the opening session and shared an inspirational address.  The entire day’s proceedings were broadcast live on Radio Tonga.

The aim of the archives day was to bring together government, genealogical organizations, churches, community and other groups to pool ideas and resources on behalf of the people of Tonga so genealogical, historical and other public records can be preserved for many years to come.

According to a Tongan Government and International Council on Archives press release, “The Committee has agreed to the proposed theme ‘Our museums, archives and libraries — networking past and present information for the future.’”

It continues: “Although Tonga is new to establishing associations of archives, this year is significant to the country as it moves towards a bill for Freedom of Information ensuring that improved records and archives management is key to better service provision.”

Mr. Higgins said that “Tonga’s government, along with governments around the world, recognize that paper records deteriorate and become unusable over time due to climatic forces and other factors.”

“We applaud the government for taking the important step of digitizing and preserving the Kingdom of Tonga’s public records so officials and members of the public can access these significant records for generations to come.”

Mr. Higgins says the work currently underway by the Ministry of Justice with the assistance of the Commonwealth Fund for Technical Cooperation to digitize and organize the vital records is “wonderful, and should be publicly recognized.” 

“FamilySearch may assist in the process moving forward, if our services are needed.  In particular, we can assist in long-term storage of the digital records and publish historical records so government officials and members of the public can access the records pertaining to their work or in researching their own family trees.”

FamilySearch is the largest genealogical organization in the world. The non-profit and volunteer-driven organization is sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. has over three billion searchable records in 1,245 online collections. The site receives around 10 million hits, on average, each day.

Over 200 filming teams across the globe, many being volunteers, digitize paper records of births, deaths, marriages and other events, working closely with governments, churches and other organizations.

These digitized records are then indexed and posted on so people throughout the world can research their family trees.


Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.