Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Beta.familysearch.org Replaces www.familysearch.org

The change is now official. The beta.familysearch.org website has “gone live,” replacing the old www.familysearch.org. For several days I have been reporting signs that the change was eminent.

The official announcement, “FamilySearch.org Website Changes,” came last night at 5:25pm.

If you haven’t yet, read my earlier article, “Comparing the Old and the New,” for a brief summary of what works and what doesn’t.

Initial feedback is somewhat polarized and can be grouped around these sentiments:

  • What happened to (blank)? Fill in: IGI, PRF, Ancestral File, Historical Books,… (Aren’t you glad you read the Ancestry Insider? :-)
  • It looks great, but…
  • Don’t like changes. It is harder to use.
  • Search used to be much better. (Do I hear Ancestry.com chuckling?)
  • Wow! More records!

Some of the comments make you wonder. I thought this one was interesting:

“What happened to the ability to make changes to our own previous submissions?”

What do you think of the new site? Ready for prime-time? What needs to be fixed before FamilySearch shuts down the old site? Do you have favorite bookmarks that are now broken? What kudos can you give?

Click on Comments, below.


  1. It is no longer possible to search the IGI as a distinct database. What a major mistake! Who wants to search through the gazillion results one gets when searching all the Historical Records? It's back to the IGI CDs for me...

  2. The state and country research guides have been moved to the FamilySearch wiki. That's a good way to keep them up to date. Unfortunately they've created no way to easily print them. That's a really ill-conceived development. A lot of people like to have printed guides that they can look at when their computers are turned off.

  3. Yes, I'm going to sorely miss the controlled extraction IGI's, as I mentioned on a previous comment.

    And both sites have been rocky today on both IE and Firefox (under Vista 32-bit). The response to my email was a "no response" type of message saying what I should be doing and didn't address my question at all.

  4. For now, you can still search the IGI. Click on "Search the IGI" on the "What's New" blog or go back to the original site. I fear that the present utility will, however, disappear at some time


  6. My data sources are such that I've been using Pilot site Historical records as much as the IGI, so not being able to restrict a search to IGI per se is not an issue for me.

    My big issue is the wholly inadequate filtering on the new site (ex-Beta) when compared to the Pilot site.

    Suppose I request all events for John Pickstock in Cheshire between 1600 and 1720. On the Pilot site, I get a list, decide, because of the results, to filter it down to look at christening / baptism events and get 3.

    On the new (ex-Beta) site, I can't filter by event type - if my sources contain baptisms and burials, I get both. If I want to look at just baptisms, I have to go back to the Advanced screen via the front (no means to easily get there) and select that event. Oh, except I can't do a range 1600 to 1720, only a date plus or minus 20 at most.

    And whereas the Pilot gave me a visible year on the front screen, I have to open up the entry on the new (ex-Beta) site.

  7. My big beef is still the same. Suppose I am searching for a death record for Nicholas Carter, born 1771 +/-2 years, in Kent, England. I go to Advanced Search and put in this information and search, drilling down to the 'England Death and Burial' database. Why, oh, why does it return deaths for dates like 1635, well before the man was born? I've found these kinds of impossible dates crop up when searching for other records, such as marriages as well.

  8. Can someone explain why the IGI is of any real use anymore? As a beginner I used it (35 years ago), when it was one of the few accessible databases. It was problematic even then (barest facts without any way to distinguish people with similar data, uncertain provenance, etc.). But we've seen such growth of digitized indexes and images recently -- why consult something so inadequate?

  9. Although the user-contributed records in the IGI are questionable at best, the extracted records in the IGI are not at all "inadequate." As the result of a controlled extraction program, with significant quality controls, the IGI extracted records provide some of the best genealogical indexes available. They are also linked to their sources, films of original records that the diligent genealogist can follow up on.

  10. I was under the impression that the extracted records portion of the IGI was being integrated into the historical records, ie. organized under the descriptive name of the film from which they were extracted, or included in a compilation of similar films.
    However, the none of the IGI records I've seen ever have the number of fields that currently indexed records have.
    My original question remains - why insist that the IGI remain as a separate searchable database?

  11. Already answered by Anonymous #1 above.

  12. Any word on when a Record Search API will be available? Can't find any documentation on the FamilySearch Developer Network site.

  13. Anonymous said December 15, 2010 2:10 PM :
    ". . . the extracted records in the IGI are not at all "inadequate." As the result of a controlled extraction program, with significant quality controls, the IGI extracted records provide some of the best genealogical indexes available."

    But there are many stupid errors. For example there is an extract of Bangor, ME Town records, including items related to marriages. The IGI extracts some of the Town Clerk's records that intentions of marriage were published, usually giving publication date. The IGI gives the publication date or sometimes the recording-of-publication dates as "marriage," for the unsuspecting user. In such instances a marriage may never have been performed. This is just one of the many ludicrous-error examples I have personally found. Similar endemic errors concern calling Marriage Bonds, Marriage Licenses, etc. "marriages."

    All in all there are vast numbers of extraction errors (and of course omissions from the items extracted). This is one of the reasons that when users of such databases claim veracity of an assertion because "I found it on www.familysearch.org" they should be laughed out of town. People's confidence in IGI is greatly misplaced, even with removal of the often ridiculous user-submitted material.

  14. I'm also still curious why one would want to search the IGI and disregard the Historical Records?

    If one gets gazillions of irrelevant records from the Historical Records, then it's the search mechanism that's at fault, not losing the ability to restrict the search to a certain amorphous clump. If you confine yourself to the IGI, the risk is that you miss the pearls in the HRs.

  15. No one said anything about disregarding the Historical Records - they've just said they want to search the IGI as an individual database, just like all the other individual databases. Stop arguing just for the sake of arguing.

  16. Geolover - Well, of course there are errors in the IGI. There are errors in every index. But some have fewer than others. The IGI is one of the better online indexes available to genealogists. And of course original records are better than derivative ones. Did you notice the previous Anonymous's comment: "They are also linked to their sources, films of original records that the diligent genealogist can follow up on."

  17. Why are the date fields ignored? I searched for someone with a range of 1750-1800. The results began with the 1920 US census!
    This one quirk keeps me from subscribing to Ancestry.com. Please tell us that FamilySearch isn't going in the same direction.

  18. I am very upset by this. I managed to research almost 300 years with both web sites and now when I want to point out my sources, I cannot! Now when I enter birthdates for known ancestors their records are "not found". I am in disbelief. There really isnt more that I could say. I liked the old way better. Why did anyone think that this would be more convenient?

  19. I want to be able to type in 1682 and get only years from 1680-1685.Why do I need to see every surname that matches through years 1800+? What is this menu that pops up and only lists later years than what I need? If I need 1600-1700, wh do the pop up menus for years through not go back that far? Whoever thought this up was either making it confusing like a phone book so you would have to "call information" (so to speak) and got a pay out from Ancestry.com, or never sat down and looked up a family history using the separate sites....tsk tsk tsk....

  20. Wow, I took a small vacation from my family research for the holidays. I come back and now I cannot find a thing! This is not good. Go back to the drawing board or put it back the old way Family Search!

  21. The problem I have is that I can't go back to search a record that I saw maybe a week before. There was no way to store the records for further use like on ancestry. You can put them in a shoebox and go back later. Also when I puut in a certain date I get information on everyone in the world with that same name back 200 years or up 100 years later. It's irritating and aggravating and makes my research difficult especially when I know the ancestors birthdate or date of death. I still can't find my gr-grandmother in Indiana. I know she lived there and worked at Inland Steel there. She died in the house on Evergreen across the street and field from the mill. Where is she?


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