Tuesday, January 15, 2013

FamilySearch.org Incremental Improvements

FamilySearch search with country and record type restrictionsI’ve noticed several improvements in FamilySearch.org recently. One is pretty major, the other two small increments.

Restrict Records by Location or Record Type

On large websites like FamilySearch.org and Ancestry.com one challenge is reading the mind of the researcher. Sometimes a researcher is interested in casting a wide net, finding all mentions of an ancestor, such as a parish record of English birth, a record of immigration to the United States, a U.S. census record, and marriage and death records. And not just his own, but the researcher would like the records where the ancestor is mentioned as a parent in the marriage and death records of his children.

On the other hand, sometimes the researcher is looking for the ancestor’s English christening record. The complaint is often heard,”Why are you giving me U.S. census records?”

FamilySearch now allows restricting records by country and record type. By default, the country fields is visible but the record type checkboxes are hidden. Click the link to make the respective section visible.

This is a welcome, major addition.

Image Load Time

On my DSL connection at home images used to take near a half-minute to load. Now images start to appear in a couple of seconds, albeit fuzzy. It only takes a few more seconds for the image to finish loading. Meanwhile, detail is often clear enough I can start zooming in on an area of interest.

It also feels like I can zoom in further. Does anyone else feel that way?

FamilySearch catalog search supports multiple criteriaCatalog

The new FamilySearch catalog (as opposed to the old, classic FHLC catalog) can be searched by multiple criteria.

For example, in the old catalog a surname search (now called a Last Names search) for Gates returned 259 results. But adding an Author name of Gates cuts the results to 25.

Click on a “Search by” option to reveal the respective search box.

I like incremental improvements. I know some people don’t like a website constantly changing. They would rather have a website stable for years at a time, with all the changes saved up and released all at once. Me? I’m an incrementalist. I’m glad we have these new improvements sooner than later.


  1. I don't find the new format all that great. I would like to be able to set a default country and have it remain "sticky" until I choose to change it. As it is the Country box now takes up an inordinate amount of room on the screen and I have to keep tabbing past it and all the options I don't want.

    I've sent them feedback ... no reply except for the usual canned response.

  2. I can't seem to recreate your first screen shot with the red arrows which gives the option to search immigration & naturalization, military, probate, etc. Can you provide steps to that screen? Thank you.


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