On 14 October 2012, FamilySearch.org added one of the largest updates to the Historical Record Collections to date. 53 Collections were updated or added to the now vast collection of records. The addition of the new records impacts every genealogical researcher differently. What I think is a valuable addition, may be ignored by others. Since we each have our own perspective of what is or is not a treasure, there is no way to make a selection of records that would be equally useful to all.
But cumulatively, these free records are going to begin fundamentally affecting the way we do genealogy. It is not likely that FamilySearch.org will displace Ancestry.com or the up-and-coming MyHeritage.com with their huge advertising budgets, but especially for people whose ancestors come from places other than the U.S. and U.K., FamilySearch.org is quickly becoming almost the only online source for millions of records. You have to remember, that the vast majority of the collections on FamilySearch.org contain images of the original records, not just compiled indexes.
As I have said before, when it comes to counting genealogical records, numbers are both revealing and misleading at the same time. Using the word "collection" for example; this could mean one very limited record or hundreds of digitized copies of microfilm. The same thing can be said about the claims for records or collections of records on all of the other online databases.
Even though this post addresses recent changes in the Historical Record Collections on FamilySearch.org, the "Big Four" websites have all added substantial numbers and features to their collective holdings. We really have four huge databases to use. Of course, FamilySearch.org, Ancestry.com and MyHeritage.com, but we must not forget brightsolid.com's Findmypast.com website and all of its companion sites.