Dear Ancestry Insider,
I've been reading your column/blog since you began - and have always been interested in the content -EXCEPT for the recent columns re "the rollout of New FamilySearch (NFS) to all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world (‘cept for the Orient)."
At a recent Board meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County, Florida - a Board member who had visited our local FHC in Boca Raton, informed us he was told that the digitalized records for the NEW FAMILY SEARCH would not be available in this location.
Is this correct?
Please clarify exactly what this means - and if the digitalized records will only be available at various FHCs in the Utah area.
Sylvia Furshman Nusinov
Genealogical Workbook Editor
Sylvia subsequently forwarded a message she received Sunday morning:
I understand no LDS library outside Salt Lake City holds any films - they have to be ordered and yes, it takes up to 4 months for them to arrive. They seem to be closing Family History Centers regularly and I have been told that within the next two years they are going to make the whole collection available online - to members that is. At present it seems a mystery how non-members will be able to access the records. Any information welcome.
Dear Sylvia and Nicole,
I have good news for you. THIS RUMOR IS FALSE!
Have you ever played a party game variously called Gossip, Telephone (U.S.), Whispers, (England), Le Téléphone Arabe (France), or Stille Post (Germany)? Players sit in a circle. One person whispers a message to the next person, who passes it on around the circle. After the message has completed the circuit, the group compares the original message with its final incarnation.
At a publicity stunt in Las Vegas in 2004, a record breaking 614 participants played the game. The starting phrase, "Mac King is a comedy magic genius," became "Macaroni cantaloupe knows the future."
Let me catalog some possible sources for your rumor:
Don’t let my comment about New FamilySearch (NFS) confuse you. While it is currently available only to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as I’ve reported, the leaders of “the Church are anxious to get New FamilySearch out to genealogists outside the Church.”
Don’t let the name “New FamilySearch” confuse you. It is the FamilySearch Family Tree offering. The name is astonishingly ambiguous. The name practically demands misunderstanding and I’ve had to deal with my share. Back in September 2008 Carolynne vowed to never index again when the ambiguity led her to believe that only Church members would have access to the resulting records. Not true!
You can already access some of the indexed, converted microfilm on the Record Search Pilot website (at pilot.familysearch.org or via labs.familysearch.org). Once Record Search emerges from the pilot stage, you will see lots more records show up. Once the pipeline emerges from its pilot stage, then you will see a continuous flow of lots more records. Click here to review articles I’ve written about Record Search.
Unfortunately, participation in FamilySearch Indexing is not expanding as fast as it could. While most of the 2.5 million rolls of microfilm may be digitized in 3 to 5 years, indexing at current rates will take several hundred years. Do yourself a favor and resolve to spend some time each week indexing.
New FamilySearch.org Website
Don’t be confused by information about a new FamilySearch.org website. Eventually, the old www.familysearch.org will be replaced with a new website that consolidates the many pieces currently under separate development:
- new.familysearch.org – New FamilySearch (the tree)
- pilot.familysearch.org – Record Search
- indexing.familysearch.org – FamilySearch Indexing
- forums.familysearch.org – Forums for research questions and FamilySearch product help
- wiki.familysearch.org – Research Wiki
- histfam.familysearch.org – Community Trees
- contact.familysearch.org – Worldwide support contact information
- www.familysearch.org – Some stuff from the old site not covered in the above offerings
To make the confusion worse, FamilySearch insists on using a lowercase “n” for “new FamilySearch” (the tree). As a result, it is easy to confuse the new FamilySearch and the new familysearch.org.
To avoid confusion, the Ancestry Insider always uses “New FamilySearch” (capital “N” and no “.org”) to reference the tree and “new familysearch.org” (lowercase “n” and always with “.org”) to reference the website. With other sources, you’re on your own.
Don’t confuse the term “FamilySearch Member” with “Church Member.” As I reported last year, access to some images will be limited to FamilySearch Members, defined at the time as:
- Volunteers and indexers who meet basic contribution requirements each quarter
- Patrons at family history centers
- Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Church members provide the millions of dollars needed to keep FamilySearch operating
In the July 2008 announcement, FamilySearch pledged, “All data indexed by FamilySearch volunteers will continue to be made available for free to the public through FamilySearch.org—now and in the future.” This option has not yet shown up in the Record Search pilot and exact details have not been announced.
Family History Centers
As I’ve previously reported, rumors that FamilySearch is closing all its family history centers (FHCs) are not true. FamilySearch’s Russell Webster stated that the overall number of centers is actually on the increase. The number quoted on FamilySearch press releases recently jumped from 4,500 to 4,600.
Webster said that FHCs are being repurposed. In the past they were needed for microfilm access and TempleReady for Church members. As both these purposes are largely replaced by Internet offerings, the reasons to have FHCs become:
- computer access,
- Internet access,
- access to FamilySearch Member records,
- access to some premium genealogy websites,
- access to CD databases that can’t be published on FamilySearch.org,
- access to microfilms that can’t be digitized, and
- face-to-face research assistance.
Home access to the internet only replaces the first three items, so there is an ongoing need for FHCs. The way I interpret Webster’s comments, repurposing leaves Utah and Idaho with too many centers, and developing countries with too few centers. (Also see KD 101753.)
In summary, Sylvia and Nicole, digitized records will be available to all, member or otherwise. If you do your part indexing, then you’ll have access in your home. Otherwise, you’ll have access in your local family history center—which generally is not closing. Even New FamilySearch, currently open only to Church members, will eventually be available to all.
-- The Ancestry Insider