Thursday, February 5, 2009

FamilySearch news bytes

My goodness. Did you see I consigned my former employer to the small status of "bits" yesterday compared to the broader and higher concept of "bytes" for FamilySearch today? That was totally not planned in advance. Come on,, you know I love you guys!!

Brown nosing aside, I've got several FamilySearch news items to take care of, so we'll follow the same format as yesterday. Using the same song, however, is optional.

FamilySearch Wiki has announced the launch of its second barn raising: England! Alan Mann, noted United Kingdom researcher announced Tuesday, "During this February 2009 barn raising we will revise the England Portal, topic pages for the four basic English record types, and add pages for major English research sites. At the end of the barn raising the wiki will contain information about the latest and best basic records and web sites to use in finding English ancestors."

Everyone is invited to help out. There are tasks for both experienced English researchers as well as those who just want to help. Many hands make light work. You can browse through the task list at

For assistance registering, see "Old fashioned barn raising at FamilySearch wiki."

fsa Members of the "official unofficial FamilySearch group" on Facebook received an invitation yesterday to participate in a 10 minute alpha test this Friday, 6 February 2009. Dan Lawyer, event organizer, said, "We've organized a 10 minutes quick test of the FamilySearch Alpha. It is set for this Friday, February 6th. For more info check out the FamilySearch Alpha - Test #1 event on the FamilySearch group page." The additional information gives the URL for the test and asks participants to look at the home page, the blog and the library.Lawyer earlier explained that FamilySearch is in the early stages of designing the new replacement for the venerable website.

Visitors to the FamilySearch Labs website can also find a link to see the current concept design for the FamilySearch Alpha website. As work proceeds, updates will be made every 2 to 4 weeks.

The expected release date for the new site has not been made public. Uncharacteristically, they told me this time! They don't usually trust me with that kind of information. Sorry! I'm not sharing. I've got some trust to earn.

At-home indexing is rapidly increasing genealogical records access"At-home indexing [is] rapidly increasing genealogical records access," according to a recent press release from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Over 150,000 people have volunteered to help. If all of them are active, each would only have to index 7 names for the group to produce a million names! Of course, not all volunteers actively continue to index. And indexers are not keeping up with the microfilm scanners that are creating digital images from the microfilm collection in the Granite Mountain Record Vault.

“At the current rate of scanning,” reports Paul Nauta, FamilySearch Manager of Public Affairs, “it will take between eight and ten years to complete the microfilm scanning.”

Learn more and volunteer yourself at

Another source reports the microfilm scanning project may not proceed that slowly. According to Nancy Scott of Cincinnati, Ohio,

The schedule for digitizing the church records at the Granite Mountain is 5 years according to Steve Brey, our Area Family History Manager from the Salt Lake City Library, who spoke at a FH conference this past October held in Kentucky.

We'll definitely need more people to help index if we're going to keep up.

Catalog entry showing link to Record Search Nancy also mentioned,

As it is, if you go to the library catalog and search for a film number, there will be some sort of red bar come across the screen and if this is the case you can look at the film online at that very moment. I have not been so lucky to have had the ones I am searching appear but I keep checking before ordering the films anyway.

That was news to me! Several people inside FamilySearch have told me that no such links exist from the catalog into Record Search because it is still a pilot. But if you search for film 953959, you will indeed see a red message, shown in the illustration above or to the right, and a link to the Record Search pilot.

However, this may have been an isolated test. The catalog actually needs separate links to the 1855 and 1865 Massachusetts State Censuses. And when the pilot is over, any links entered into the catalog will have to be fixed. Further, I've checked close to a dozen of the other collections from Record Search and none have the red notice.

So don't feel bad, Nancy. You're not the only one who isn't lucky enough to see this link.


Once again, it is time for bed and my list isn't cleared yet. Oh, well...

", ma-jor, gen-er-al!!" Thank, you; thank you!

Thanks, folks. You've been a terrific crowd. Tell your friends; I'll be here all week.

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