Is it just me? I seem to have problems using FamilySearch.org several times a week. It runs so slow, it is hard to use. But last Wednesday night at my local Family History Center? It was embarrassing. And it was excruciating.
We had a youth group come in to learn about family history. There were three leaders (who did nothing but talk among themselves) and five young men. I tried to teach them how to use Family Tree while doing research.
Everything we did required five or more refreshes. The pedigree view wouldn’t show up. Or expanding a branch wouldn’t work. Or clicking on a name would bring up a blank person card. Or View Person would bring up a form with no information filling in the blanks. Or the right half of the merge page would be blank.
Trying to interest a group of teenage boys in genealogy is tenuous at best.
One of the boys didn’t have a Family Tree login account and was quickly lost to his cell phone. A second one sat behind the rest and unswervingly wrote in secret code in a small notebook.
The third boy showed the most interest. With much diligence he got to the point where he needed to merge two people in his tree. I worked with him for several minutes but the merge page kept coming up empty. I left him with standing instructions to hit Retry every 15 seconds and holler when the screen came up. I never heard from him again.
The fourth boy was able to push through far enough to find a man in a collateral line that listed a wife but no children. I had the fifth boy bring up FamilySearch.org historical record collections. (The All Collections list takes upwards of 30 seconds. If I scroll down while I wait, I find the first 30 entries area listed, but it takes forever for the remainder to show up.) He found the man in the census, complete with children.
But it did the fourth boy no good because the system was so slow, he couldn’t get to the point where he could add the children. He finally gave up so I sent him off to Ancestry.com where he enjoyed finding a portrait and a gravestone photograph of this ancestor.
Engaging another generation in genealogy is tricky. Last Wednesday night at my Family History Center, the FamilySearch.org website did more disengaging than engaging.