I apologize about the broken FamilySearch image links in last Friday’s article, “Darned Second Enumerations.” But I must say, IT WAS NOT MY FAULT! At the time I wrote the article, the links worked. Today, they don’t.
Long time Ancestry.com users will recall Ancestry.com has broken links to their images on several occasions. In particular, when Ancestry.com switched image viewers (they used to use a 3rd party viewer called MrSID), all links, favorites, and bookmarks to their census images broke.
The same seems to be true for FamilySearch.org. Since I wrote the article before FamilySearch.org released a new image viewer. The old links still bring up the old viewer—with a message that says, “The image is currently unavailable. Please try again later.” That confused me for several minutes. The message is misleading and should be reworded.
Here are the images from Friday’s article, with the links repaired.
This situation is illustrative of a couple of citation principles.
1. When you print a record, make certain you write a complete citation in the margin. Write it on the front so it isn’t lost when photocopying. The website should do this for you. But if you’re using a lame website, add it when you print it.
2. A web address or URL is never a sufficient citation. Addresses change. And they change more frequently than vendors would like to admit.
I included full citational information in Friday’s article and it certainly saved my bacon.
Repairing Broken FamilySearch Image Links
If you have old links and you didn’t save enough citation information to easily relocate the record, there is an easy way to find it. But you may have to work fast. I fully expect FamilySearch will inadvertently break this workaround when they “fix” the aforesaid misleading message.
When you get to the page with the misleading message, look at the breadcrumb trail and image number. It contains the citational information. Add the information to your citation. To view the record and get the new URL, use the breadcrumb information.
Don’t Try This at Home
For the technically savvy, it is possible to directly edit the URL. If you aren’t technically savvy, skip now to the conclusion.
Being able to fix addresses is rare, but in this case it is possible. Consider this a temporary fix to get you to the record. Again, you ought to act fast. Once you’ve found the record, capture the citation. It is only a matter of time before something else changes and this method no longer works.
Follow these steps:
- Click the link or otherwise paste the old address into your browser. You will see the error message above (until FamilySearch fixes it).
- Delete this part, starting with the slash before search and ending with the word records:
- Replace “pal%3A” with “pal:”
- Replace “%3Fcc%3D” with “?cc=”
- Replace “%26wc%3D” with “&wc=”
For example, the old address of the second image above is
Deleting this part:
Replacing “pal%3A” with “pal:” gives
Replacing “%3Fcc%3D” with “?cc=” gives
Replacing “%26wc%3D” with “&wc=” gives the address you can use temporarily to see the image and record the necessary citation information.
Standards and best practices exist so each of us don’t have to learn the hard way (or should I say, relearn) the mistakes of the past. A web address or URL is never sufficient. If you don’t create a full citation, it is just a matter of time before you regret it.