FamHist Blog

Family History Research Hints and Tips

FamilySearch Pilot and Beta – Manna from Heaven

I continue to rave about the records that are appearing on the FamilySearch Pilot and Beta sites thanks to all of the volunteer indexers worldwide and the LDS Church.

Brickwall after brickwall in my ancestral tree have fallen in the past few months because of the records.  I’ve turned into a sourcing maniac too.

Many, many decades ago (rocks were still dirt) I started my personal ancestral quest.  The idea of adding complete sources to your records was an odd notion at best. 

Way back then, you’d jot down research notes on your tablet with a charcoal stick and possibly include a tracing of the writing if you couldn’t readily read it at the Family History Library in Salt Lake.  Sometimes, you took the time to write down the name of the book or film you were using but typically, that wasn’t a consideration.

It wasn’t a problem until I was thirty and someone challenged my information about a sixth great grandfather.  I couldn’t give them references to prove the accuracy of my old handwritten note.  My data was correct, but finding the original source took hundreds of hours and considerable cost.

Lesson learned.  Genealogy data without sources are just ‘nice’ stories but not anything to be taken seriously.

Since that day, a large percentage of my time has been spent ‘proving’ my own research.  I’ve only found one error so far, but even evidential sourcing wouldn’t have resolved the problem created by a town clerk two hundred years ago.

The effort has been worth it.  I am passing on proven information to our descendants as well as sharing it with the world.

The advent of online documents has been a boon to all researcher.  I’ve certainly benefitted from it since almost day one of the DARPA project that created the ‘Internet’. 

Today, I revel in the documents and data being posted in the various FamilySearch online databases.  I’ve used and loved most of the commercial genealogical venues since their first publication but FamilySearch documents are the ‘sweet spot’ in providing the exact information needed to break down my ancestral brickwalls.

I don’t have to travel too far to get to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and have spent untold hours perusing the films, books and documents available there, but none of that time and effort produced the information needed to solve the mystery of those particular problems.  Worse, I had to wear slacks and fit the library hours into my schedule. 

FamilySearch Beta and Pilot let me work in my old comfy pj’s during the wee hours of the night when the dust of the day has settled.  Given enough time at the library, I would have probably found the same documents but the online record searches are so fast and fruitful that my visits to the library will be limited to specific hard to find records and other visits associated with teaching my family history students and grandchildren how to use the wonderful resources of the FHL.

Records continue to be indexed and posted on the FamilySearch site at record setting levels.  That effort will only grow as time goes on until all of the documents in the ‘Granite Vaults’ that can be published online are published.  I hope I live long enough to see that milestone become reality.  If I think I’ve had success in breaking down brickwalls using the FamilySearch sites already, wait until that day arrives!  

FamilySearch records already serve up a genealogy Christmas morning every day.  The records that are continually added to the sites will stretch that feeling onward for years to come.  

We know that the Pilot and Beta sites will eventually migrate into the newly written FamilySearch.org site / portal.  The inclusion of all of the other family history resources into a single site will make the combined resources that much richer.

Thanks FamilySearch!   Thanks to all of the other volunteer indexers worldwide.  You are “making our days” both collectively and individually, now and in the foreseeable future. 

Advertisements

26 July 2010 Posted by | Research Tips | , , , , | 1 Comment

FamilySearch – Portal To Many Wonders

Long enamored with the films, books and documents at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, I’ve lived long enough to enjoy the library coming to me.

I first visited the library as a youngster when it was in the office of the LDS Church Historian on 58 East South Temple in Salt Lake City. 

My mother and I used to make regular day trips to search for our ancestors.  At first I enjoyed the photos in the books but was soon filling out family group sheets and pedigree charts with the information I’d gleaned from the books. 

Learning to use the library catalog wasn’t difficult, but I seemed to spend more time looking through it than through the books that referenced my family.

When the library moved into the Church Office Building in 1971, the card catalog was still in existence but the years of training at the old building had made the finger-walking quest much easier.

When a dedicated building for the library was built in 1985, I frequented it constantly.  Eventually, the catalog migrated to a digital format.  The quest for ‘That’ record was shortened dramatically.  Life was good.  Very good.

Then the books and films entered the digital library domain.  I don’t visit Salt Lake very often now.  Increasingly, the Library comes to me on the monitors in my office at home.

FamilySearch has become a portal to all things genealogical.  New titles and record groups seem to arrive to the portal daily.  The Pilot pages of FamilySearch have become a favorite friend.  http://pilot.familysearch.org

This week, I’ve reveled in the Massachusetts Death and Burials pages.  Death information about my ancestral families has emerged from the pages.  I thought I had covered every source document related to this area, but new information is pouring off my screen. 

Decades of microfilming records by the folks from the the Library is now is being followed by the digitization, indexing and publication of the records on FamilySearch. 

Genealogists everywhere benefit from this work. New records are added to the site daily.  If you haven’t visited for a while, do yourself a favor and stop by today.  You’ll be pleasantly surprised.

Life today is not just good -– It’s Great! –- Thanks to FamilySearch!

 

 

10 June 2010 Posted by | FamilySearch, Genealogy | , , , , | Leave a comment

FamilySearch – It Just Keeps Getting Better

I stopped by the FamilySearch Pilot site for a ‘week’ yesterday.  The visit was planned for only a few minutes to look for a birth record for one of my ancestors who was born in New Hampshire.

Browsing directly to that collection, success was almost immediate.  That was easy!  While there, why not refine my search and search for the rest of my ancestors who were born in New Hampshire too?  That’s when the ‘week’ started.  Success, success, success, mixed with some failures.

The success continued all the way back to the mid-1600’s.  Thinking the ‘touch’ was with me; I started looking for the children of my direct ancestors.  A lot of their records were there too.

The saved images were added to each source entry in my database as I went along.  A quick preview of family group sheets for the families looked great with the primary sources and their related thumbnail sized images included.

“One more family”. “Just one more family” I murmured as the sun of the new day came over the mountain.  Of course I didn’t need to work all night. The records will still be there for a little while until they are removed when the indexing of them is complete.  Eventually, they’ll be included in the rewritten FamilySearch.org site, but when will that happen – exactly?

It will happen.  The WHEN is the “I Can’t Wait For It” question.

The same is true for most if not all of the records that are being Indexed by volunteers like you and I working on that massive project at FamilySearch.

If you haven’t searched the primary source records on the Pilot site yet, http://pilot.familysearch.org, give it a try this week.

FamilySearch Wiki

The FamilySearch user community is contributing excellent knowledge articles to help all of us in our ancestral quest. See it at:  https://wiki.familysearch.org

If you are having problems in your research, be sure to stop by the site and see if there is a posting to help.  If you have knowledge about any specific location research tools, hints and tips, sign in and add an article.

The wiki grows daily. Don’t forget to add it to your browser bookmarks.

Community Trees

Well documented family and regional family trees have been added as yet another FamilySearch site.  The site uses my favorite web based genealogy software – Darrin Lythgoe’s “The Next Generation.”  Take some time to look through it and see if information about your family has been included in the database. http://histfam.familysearch.org

15 January 2010 Posted by | FamilySearch | , , , , | Leave a comment