Tuesday, October 7, 2014

FamilySearch Adds Audio File Upload

[Update: Since I previewed this article last Saturday, FamilySearch removed the reference to the inaccessible list of OS/browser combinations that don’t work. They have also enhanced the announcement to more fully describe the new feature.]

FamilySearch advertizes preservation of family memories.Last Friday FamilySearch announced that it now supports upload of audio files to the Memories section of the FamilySearch website. The section already supports photos, stories, and documents. FamilySearch spokesperson, Brad Young, said:

FamilySearch is pleased to announce the new audio files upload feature as part of the Memories tab options in Family Tree. Patrons can now add audio files to FamilySearch, and attach them to their ancestors for others to discover and enjoy.

Audio recordings are handled much the same way as photos. Recordings can be uploaded, tagged to memory persons, attached to tree persons, titled, described, and stored in albums.

The FamilySearch website says “Your priceless family memories are accessible to you and your family online, and will be preserved in our state-of-the-art archive facilities.” Underneath this is a picture of the Granite Mountain Record Vault. I wonder if FamilySearch is going to shoulder the expense of keeping your photos and recordings accessible as file formats become obsolete. Photos and audio recordings are accepted in formants that may be difficult to sustain. (See “Sustainability of Digital Formats Planning for Library of Congress Collections.”) Already, some recordings are inaccessible in some situations. For example, m4a files are inaccessible using Firefox on Apple and Android devices. The article links to a list of supported browser/OS combinations, but that list is also inaccessible. [Note: FamilySearch has since removed this link.]

If FamilySearch means what they say, I highly recommend utilizing their offer to keep your memories accessible. But to be safe, I think you should also archive your own copies and plan on bearing the burden of conversion from technology to technology.

To read the entire FamilySearch announcement, see “Audio File Upload Feature Now Available on Family Tree.” (As I write this, ironically, that article is inaccessible. If the link still doesn’t work when you read this, try https://familysearch.org/blog/en/tag/audio-files/.)


  1. Your emphasis in the second-to-last paragraph is backward. It should read, "I think you should utilize their offer to keep your memories accessible. But to be safe, I highly recommend that you also archive your own copies and plan on bearing the burden of conversion from technology to technology."

    Anyone who suffered through the demise of MyFamily.com will know what I mean. The download of material from MyFamily that Ancestry offered was a joke. All they included in the download was the photographs. The text from the photographs and the news items and everything else was lost when MyFamily disappeared after September 30, unless you had the time to copy and paste everything by hand. It took me hours to copy and paste the 260 pages of news items my family had posted over 15 years and I didn't have time to copy and paste the text accompanying the photos or anything else, so all that was lost when they shut MyFamily down.

    Anyone who trusts their material (photos, audio, text, etc) only to a third party is making a mistake that sooner or later they or their descendants will regret. One would hope that FamilySearch will be more responsible than Ancestry was, but regardless of how dependable a third party seems to be, you take a risk if the only copy of your material rests with them.

    Digital technology is wonderful and helps tremendously when it comes to distribution, but my experience with MyFamily and the problems associated with changing technology make old-fashioned paper copies start to look good again. Of course paper copies have their own downsides (fire, physical decay, misplacing, etc), but at least you aren't dependent on the whims of some corporation or changing technology.

    1. I hear ya loud and clear.

      In 2000 I used Ofoto to store and share my digital photographs. In 2001 Kodak bought Ofoto and deleted my photographs because I didn't buy any Kodak products. I had photos on there that I didn't have anywhere else and they gave no way to download them.

      Can you guess whether or not I ever bought another Kodak product?


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