Wednesday, March 27, 2013

RootsTech FamilySearch Luncheon: I Am the Man

On Thursday Craig Miller spoke at the FamilySearch luncheon about “some of the challenges of dealing with family history.”

One issue is duplication of research. You do a lot of work to document a line; you spend countless hours. Only then do you come across the results of someone else researching the same line.

Another issue is the preservation of your work. “It’s all about saving that legacy,” said Miller. You could write a book, but your children may not read it. How do you preserve your research for those that value it?

Long time readers know I’ve taken particular delight in poking fun at FamilySearch for naming a website “new FamilySearch.” I’ve always wondered who picked that name. Thursday I found out.

“I am the man,” said Miller. “I named these websites the way they are.” He said we could blame him. He explained that  there were reasons. He didn’t have time to explain them.

Knowing where to start has been a challenge. The consolidation of new FamilySearch and FamilySearch Family Tree eliminates some confusion. For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the starting place is the same now as for other online Church needs: (See

Miller then showed slides of a newly designed FamilySearch website. They’ve done some user testing and are simplifying navigation, brightening colors, increasing font size, and improving contrast (all issues I have raised over the years). new website design new website design new website design new website design new website design utilizes warm color palette, photographs, simple icons.

A video shows the same things that Miller showed about the new website design:

The video, along with a description of features, is also available on a page on

In addition to the new fan chart view, they will add a descendency view and other charts in the future.

FamilySearch is adding a feature to assist members of the Church provide temple ordinances for their deceased ancestors. They have added an automated way for them to scan their first four generations of ancestors for the people they’ve added as a quick flow rather than walking the tree manually.

“No one has a help system like us and it’s all free,” said Miller. There are several different ways to get help. Help is available via live chat, phone call, or help center. Help is available for products or for research assistance.

Three or four weeks from now the general public will have access to the photos and stories feature of the new website.

The FamilySearch website addresses challenges confronting family history. It allows people to work together on a common website. It preserves research. At the end of the day we have an ancestor page that is filled out and preserved, said Miller. “The vault isn’t going away. That is where we store the backup tapes.”

“The purpose of FamilySearch is to help families work together to preserve their heritage,” said Miller.


  1. There are a couple things missing from the new site, or at least there is no way to readily access them.

    FamilySearch Wiki: With 70,000+ articles, this is a major resource to find documents not on FamilySearch via links within the articles, and to get other research help. (Having it more prominently displayed will help draw more people to it). FHL personnel say they have cut down a weeks research down to 30 minutes for some patrons by looking things up in the Wiki, and many library staffers contribute regularly as things are discovered, not to mention the contributions by thousands of others worldwide It's in all the languages that the site will be in as well. .

    The online courses: Somewhere around 300 online courses are available now, where are these going? Most if not all have video with them, plus some have handouts that can be printed. Some are also in foreign languages.

  2. I will never use this tree. My experience at shows how often the wrong information is claimed as fact. And no matter how many times I show my documentation, the wrong information is copied to a new tree because the old tree was not updated. One of my Mayflower ancestors has been proved and yet the old speculation keeps replacing the new proof. I can only control MY tree so that is how I will keep my information. It's there for anyone to see but no one but me will change it.


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