I’m here at the 2015 annual conference of the National Genealogical Society. Typically you’re reading my story this morning about the Tuesday night FamilySearch blogger dinner. Only this year they didn’t have one, so I will have to wing it. I’ll try to guess what they would have said, if they had said it. (I’ve checked with booth workers to see what they are saying. I’ve checked their handouts and signage. I’ve checked their latest blog posts. And I’ve attended some recent presentations at smaller conferences.)
FamilySearch is sometimes surprised by how many people have not heard of it and its website. I’m preaching to a choir, here, that is well aware of FamilySearch. Suffice it to say that FamilySearch is a non-profit, volunteer-driven service of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It offers a free website with billions of records, a collaborative family tree, and free research help.
May I add that neither FamilySearch nor Ancestry.com own the other. The fact that both are headquartered in Utah still seems to confuse people. Others want to believe that the Church is secretly controlling Ancestry.com. I’ve worked for both organizations and, believe me, that is not true. Ancestry is owned by a company far away in Germany. It is managed by owners, a board, and executives who are not members of the Church. Ancestry’s motive are commercial. FamilySearch’s motives are religious. And while the two highlight their public partnership, anyone can see that out in the field, they compete for access to records in churches and archives. (But I digress…)
FamilySearch has added improvements to Family Tree. There is a new landscape pedigree with icons encouraging cleanup of the tree. There is a relationship calculator. There are sources pointing to the extracted IGI records used to prepopulate Family Tree.
The landscape pedigree view contains various colored icons indicating several possible ways to clean up Family Tree. I’ve shown them below with the popups enlarged for legibility.
One icon type indicates that the computer has found sources that might be useful for documenting the information in the tree. These are like Ancestry.com’s shaky leaves, so they should be considered carefully before attaching.
Another icon type indicates a data problem exists, such as death previous to birth.
A third icon type points out opportunities for research, such as possibly missing children or spouses.
FamilySearch has added a relationship calculator for relatives within your scope of interest. Your scope of interest is defined as four generations of ancestors and their children. When viewing the person page of someone in your scope of interest, you can see a link to “View My Relationship.” Click the link to see a graphical representation of your relationship to that person. Again, this is only available for your ancestors up to your 3rd-great-grandparents and then down one from each of these ancestors.
Most people know that FamilySearch seeded Family Tree with information from older databases. However, they didn’t create any sources to indicate which database they got the information from. FamilySearch is rectifying that for persons in Family Tree that were created from the high quality extracted records of the International Genealogical Index (IGI). As of last report, they have created sources for 100 million of the 500 million planned. An IGI source looks no different from any other sources until the source is opened. Then you will see a message indicating the source is from the IGI.
I’ll continue tomorrow with information about FamilySearch Indexing. Stay tuned…