What Are Some of the Changes Happening at Familysearch.org

Beth Taylor from Familysearch.org in Salt lake City, Utah was the guest speaker for the Niagara Peninsula Branch OGS February General Meeting.  She was presented live from Salt Lake City via the Internet. Beth who is a research consultant for Familysearch.org mentioned that her interest in family stories starting at the age of fourteen.  She has taken numerous courses in genealogy and has worked with the Family Search organization for a number of years.

The main topics of her presentation were:

1.            Family Search Account – Familysearch.org is a free non-profit organization but registering for an account allows the site to be personalized for you and allows you to save information from the site on the site just for your research.  You do not have to register to use the site but you cannot take advantage of everything the site has to offer unless you do so.  Just click into the top right task bar “register or sign in” to start using this free site.

2.            Historic Records Collection- Familysearch has an online index of documents that are increasing rapidly with each week.  Just click on “All Record Collection” on the Home Page near the bottom left and a list of all the available records appears. You can filter your search by date, location and type of records to use for your search by using the filters on the left side bar.  This filtering will help reduce the number of hits for your search but will increase the chances of finding a manageable number of “high quality” hits.  You can further adjust your filters to refine your search.  If a camera icon is used as part of the document file information line then you are able to see an image of the actual document and manage this image.

3.            Canadian Historical Records Collection- You will find these as a set within the “All Record Collection”.  A lot of these records have been digitized from microfilm.  Currently there are over two and a half million microfilm rolls on the site.  There are a lot of records that are being recorded by digital cameras in the field and they are then being uploaded to the Familysearch site.  Her powerpoint presentation used the example of searching through the Canada Census information.

4.            Records that you can Browse compared to Searchable records

a)            Searchable records are documents that you can search for a specific person or location.  The Canadian Census was used as an example.  Using the left side bar allows you to refine your search.  If you click on the arrow icon on the document to the right a drop down screen will appear with extra details in the preview mode.  If you click on the name in blue for your search, a document page appears with the ability to have an image of the person if someone has added that information with the reference citation. If a number appears in the record column then that document can be searched.

b)            Records that can be browsed are files that you can use to access the information but these records have not yet been indexed. These documents will have a camera icon in the document record column meaning you can see the image of the document but if there is not a number in this document line then these documents have not yet been indexed. You can search through the record if you think it may add information to your search but finding the individual record will take more time. It is similar to searching through a roll of microfilm to find your certain file.   The presenter pointed out if you were interested in indexing there is an index tab on the homepage to learn about this skill and how to volunteer your services to the site.  The greater their number of indexers means that more records will be searchable for free in the future.

5)            Introduction to Individual Collections- You can search for your individual and narrow the filter to use just one of the individual collections.  You can further refine your search or change your filters as you like.  Click on the arrow icon of the file on the right for a preview of the document or click on the name in blue to be sent to the document page with the citation and other additional information.

6.            The Source Box- You need to have a Familysearch account to use this free feature. Every Familysearch account has a Source Box where you can place all of the records you want to keep from your search. On the top task bar to the right you will find the “Source Box” tab.  Place your cursor over these words and decide if you want to “Add to My Source Box” meaning the current document you have found will be sent to your Source Box or “Go to My Source Box” where you can create folders to organize your collection of documents or move or delete your files or folders. Once you are in My Source Box you can organize your folders in the left sidebar area.

7.            Family Tree- After you have your Familysearch account, you need to be registered to use this free feature called Family Tree. Use the following link and follow the instructions to be allowed to access the Family Tree feature.  www.familysearch.org/invite/familytree_tab 

This feature allows you to connect with others to work together to gather family information from existing family trees or to create your own tree on the site.  Familysearch has taken old family tree files and inputted them to start this feature. This can help you connect to research completed on common relatives.    

Once you access this link and follow the steps, this free service will appear on your Familysearch home page as a tab called “Family Tree” on the top task bar to the left. When you click on the tab, instructions will appear to help you learn how to Discover (what has already been found), Preserve (to save your own tree) or Share (to share your tree with others). Family tree information will appear as a bowtie or a pedigree view.  You will be able to check the sources for information others have added or suggest your corrections with your sources.

8.            Learn Tab- By clicking the Learn tab on the top task bar a screen appears showing Research Wiki, Research Courses and Discussion Forums.  The Research Wiki is an area for you to learn more about genealogy under numerous sub-headings and you can volunteer to develop an area on this site where you could add your expertise to help others.  The Research Courses area offers over 500 free online courses to improve your skills in genealogy. New courses are always being added and the present courses are being updated. Discussion Forums invites you to participate in discussions about many specific topics in genealogy research.

9.            Facebook Research Committee- This feature informs you about new items in Canadian Genealogical research. You can answer and ask questions as part of the group.

10.          Familysearch Lab- This feature allows you to ask questions and others will answer you.  It is a way to connect with others about genealogy.

11.          Familysearch Blog- This tab is located on the home page top task bar to the right.  This web based blog allows you to keep up to date with what is new at Familysearch.org.

12.          Under Development -Photos and Stories- This feature is in the development beta phase at this point for possible future use.  Familysearch.org is creating this feature where photos can be added to your family tree data as well as sound bits of family stories.  This information, with your permission, would then be shared with others in the family tree area of the website.

Beth finished her presentation by answering several questions from the members at the meeting and those watching on the web. She finished her presentation by commenting that this is the first time she has been able to speak to the future referring to the fact that Thorold is two hours “ahead” of the time in Salt lake City, Utah.  

Bill Young