The general membership in the St. George Utah and Idaho Falls Idaho temple districts will soon be receiving access to New FamilySearch, according to Lance McIntosh yesterday at the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference. Local leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints started receiving notices yesterday. Presumably, these rollouts will take place in groups of stakes over several weeks. It was not clear if one temple would be completed prior to the other, or if each week would include groups of stakes from both temple districts.
Rollout to the St. George Utah temple is significant, as it is the oldest operating temple in the Church today. While the Kirtland (Ohio) and Nauvoo (Illinois) temples preceded St. George, the Kirtland Temple is no longer owned by the Church and the original Nauvoo Temple was demolished after being damaged by arson and tornado.
Rollout to St. George and Idaho Falls is also significant because it will leave just Wasatch Front temples. (See “Temple Districts Using New FamilySearch.”)
While it is possible that St. George or Idaho Falls could all release at once, as Boise did, I think one has to consider the unknown risks introduced by the August NFS release. (See “NFS August 2009 Release.”)
IGI Dies Without Fanfare
This week saw another significant, yet unheralded milestone. On Monday the final two temples feeding data into the venerable International Genealogy Index (IGI) switched to the new recording system used by NFS. I assume no new data will be added to the IGI. At an appropriate, as yet undecided, future date, it will be removed from the FamilySearch.org website.
The IGI is being replaced with two systems, reflecting two of the three sources of the information it contains: genealogy data submitted by members of the Church and data extracted from source records. Genealogy data submitted by members of the Church is now entered by members directly into New FamilySearch. All of the data contained in the IGI that was extracted from source records is being staged for publication on Record Search.
I heartily endorse the separation of the two types of data. Having them combined in the IGI has long caused problems for researchers, violating several genealogical best practices:
- Evidentiary data (extracted records) should be kept separate from conclusionary data (member submissions).
- Conclusions (member submitted genealogies) can not be believed without citations to the supporting evidence.
- It violates the principle of Respect de fonds to mix collections of different origins. Member submissions and extracted records shouldn’t be mixed. And don’t look for one big “IGI Collection” on Record Search; that too would violate the principle. Different sources of data will be divided up into different collections, reflecting FamilySearch’s determination to follow best practices.
Then Why Do I Have Heartburn?
My only heartburn in the death of the IGI concerns the third source of information in the IGI: temple ordinance data for use by members of the Church.
Granted the IGI was not an original source for pre-1969 temple records. But it provided source film and batch numbers. The IGI even allows searching by source, allowing some nice research techniques for those with pioneer ancestors.
For several decades now, temple records have been “born digital.” Since digital copies of digital records can be made with little chance of introducing errors, the IGI has been, essentially, an original source of primary information about temple ordinances. I’m not saying the genealogical information was correct, or properly sourced, or that every ordinance performed was properly recorded. What I’m saying is that if the IGI said an ordinance took place in the last 25+ years, then it took place. Period.
If I were King and cost were no object, I would see that Record Search contained collections that provided evidence of temple ordinances. In addition to fully searchable electronic indexes, for records that were not born digital, the indexes would be linked to images of the transcribed records. Every record would have a source citation. This is not a special case and wouldn’t require special expense. It would be produced just like any other collection on Record Search. Like other Record Search collections whose owners have contracted with FamilySearch to restrict access, and like the Special Collections room at the Family History Library, access to Temple Record collections would be restricted to temple worthy members of the Church. When the day comes that we can link information in NFS to evidence in Record Search, no special work would be required for ordinance information. (An old programming adage is, avoid special cases in order to avoid special bugs.)
FamilySearch, I hope you won’t take away the IGI until there are replacements for all three types of data it contains: conclusionary information supplied by members of the Church, evidentiary information extracted from records, and evidentiary temple ordinance information.