Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Capturing Sources in FamilySearch Family Tree

Remember the Ancestry Toolbar? It was an add-on for Internet Explorer and Firefox that allowed easy linking of a web page to a person in your Ancestry tree. Last November, deactivated the service. I was sorry to see it go. I loved that thing.

Now a company has introduced a similar tool for attaching a web source to a person in your FamilySearch tree. RecordSeek a browser add in (bookmarklet) that adds the address of a webpage, record, or document as a source in the FamilySearch Family Tree source box.

Installation is a drag… er, I mean easy. Go to Drag the Tree Connect button to your bookmark bar. (After installation it changes from a big green button, to a regular looking bookmark.)

Install RecordSeek by dragging the button onto your bookmark bar

To create a source from a web page, visit the webpage. Highlight any text you wish to appear in the source notes. Click the bookmark. A window pops up that allows you to login to FamilySearch. Tree connect then creates a source and fills in the title, citation, and description. Select a source box folder, click Save and you’re ready to attach the source from your source box to someone in your tree.

RecordSeek automates the creation of a FamilySearch Family Tree webpage source

In the notes (record description) is a Tree Connection advertisement. It is safe to delete it and enter a description of your own.

I have a concern about the citation. This is more than a nitpick. The URL is enclosed in angle brackets (< and >). Because these symbols have a special meaning on the web, they can cause problems in some situations and their use in a citation has been discontinued by the Chicago Manual of Style. Evidence Style also discourages their use. If it were me, I’d delete them. I could nitpick on the rest of the citation, but I won’t.

OK. Maybe I will nit a little bit. I encourage the use of Evidence Style for genealogists. Say what you will but it is the only citation style that addresses derivative sources, that cites both online derivative and offline original, and that characterizes the strength of the source. In Evidence Style, cite webpages like a book. (See “Citation Principles: Websites are Like a Book.”) OK. Enough said.

Now about saving records…

Citing a subscription website as a source is problematic; there is no way around it. People without a subscription won’t be able to see it. Tough. Just cite it. Of course, if a record is available on a free website as well, it might be worth the extra effort to cite the free source. After all, the day may come when you yourself won’t have access.

If you are at the Family History Library or a participating library it may be possible to take an URL someone saved in a source and view it without a subscription. Look near the beginning of the address, the part just before the .com. Change it as follows to indicate where you are trying to view the record:

An web address of a record can also be shortened quite a bit. Save the record to your shoebox. Click on the record in the shoebox. Now the URL is much shorter.

For example, is the shortened form of

Do this before using RecordSeek or copying the address to paste into another tree program.

RecordSeek is a definite addition to my toolbox. Go out and give it (and FamilySearch Family Tree) a try.

RecordSeek is a FamilySearch certified product from Real-Time Collaboration. Thank you, James Tanner, for alerting me to this tool.


  1. This is a fabulous little tool that I've also been playing around with for the past week or so. What I really love about it is the ability to create the source, and then right then and there, a search box comes up where you can search for your ancestor and attach that source directly to Family Tree. I wish there was a search like that available when you add a record directly from FamilySearch into your source box. Instead you add sources to your box, then you have to go back to Family Tree, find the correct person, and then go back to your source box to attach them. It seems like there are just too many steps involved, (which probably explains the plethora of unattached sources I have sitting in my box from FamilySearch records, as opposed to the 50+ Find a Grave records I was able to quickly attach using Tree Connect and then delete from my box in the course of one afternoon.)

  2. Thanks for sharing this information - very useful tool/resource. Cheers, Fiona


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.