Wednesday, August 21, 2013

#FGS2013: Community Trees: A Win-Win Project for Societies

I attended the full set of FamilySearch sponsored lectures during Society Day at the 2013 annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. This was the first:

FamilySearch Community TreesDavid S. Barss presented a session titled, “Community Trees: A Win-Win Project for Societies.” Barss is the FamilySearch project manager for the Community Trees Project.

Before beginning, Barss mentioned that FamilySearch is offering societies a resource associated with RootsTech. FamilySearch is looking for interested societies to host a local family history fair in 2014. FamilySearch will provide turnkey tools: an online registration platform, training helps, and communication materials. It will also provide recordings of classes and sessions from the 2014 RootsTech conference. Interested societies can contact FamilySearch at the RootsTech booth.

BTW, Paul Nauta mentioned Tuesday night that RootsTech registration opens this week (Thursday, I think). Visit

Barss defined a community tree as a locality-based, lineage-linked, sourced, genealogy database. It is an attempt to identify everyone in a community. A community can be any size, such as a town, a state, or a country. It can be an ethnic or religious group.

A community tree is a great resource for societies to preserve their records and make them more accessible. Merging all the records for a community, say census records or county histories, can produce extended, lineage linked trees showing how the members of the community are interrelated.

The stages of a society project are: decide what you want to do, determine the locality and scope, identify resources, recruit coordinators and volunteers, extract the data, merge it, and publish it.

Volunteers like to see results. Assign them small pieces and publish updates regularly. To facilitate merging, use standards for name, date, and place entry. Estimate dates and places when missing, noting that they are estimates. This helps the merge process a lot. Validate with primary sources (i.e. sources of primary information). Consider approaching FamilySearch for guidance, merging, and publication.

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