The FamilySearch.org family of websites continues to provide more services and more data and more features – always for free! This is a great place to start your research.
Please follow the link on the top edge of the main page at https://familysearch.org/ to Indexing. Try the Test Drive and then follow the link to Get Started. What is Indexing? “FamilySearch Indexing is a volunteer project established in 2006 and run by FamilySearch. The project aims to create searchable digital indexes for scanned images of historical documents.
The documents are drawn primarily from a collection of 2.4 million rolls of microfilm containing photographic images of historical documents from 110 countries and principalities. The documents include census records, birth and Death certificates, Marriage licenses, military and Property records, and other Vital records maintained by local, state, and national governments.
Volunteers install free software on their home computers, download images from the site, type the data they read from the image via the software, and submit their work back to the site. The data is eventually made publicly and freely available at Family History Centers or at the FamilySearch website for use in genealogical and family history research. FamilySearch anticipates that the number of names and associated genealogical data indexed is expected to accelerate as more people volunteer to index.” (FamilySearch Wiki https://familysearch.org/learn/wiki/en/FamilySearch_Indexing)
We all like to search for our ancestors on our computers – we all appreciate getting accurate information. Now we can all help! Even one hour a week by each of us would make a huge difference.
- Going back to the main page of FamilySearch.org – remember clicking on the tree icon in the upper left always returns you to the main page – under the words Discover Your Family History are 4 links – Records, Genealogies, Catalog, Books.:
- Records – means Historical Records – coming from the results of Indexing and earlier extraction projects. Over 3 billion records and nearly 1500 collections. Scroll down to the lower left of the main screen to browse by collection. Note that some collections include images and, usually because of copyright reasons, some don’t. There are also collections of just images without indexes – we need to get to work on Indexing! Search in Records by putting in the least information in the main search fields and then using the excellent filters on the lower left of the results window. New features have been added to the search. You can know specify the country and/or the type of record and/or the batch number (if you know it). This is designed to speed up your searching.
- Genealogies – used to be called Trees – and gives access to the Ancestral File (AF) and Pedigree Resource File (PRF)collections. These are family history records donated to FamilySearch – quality varies – but some are very good. I suggest you select PRF and search there first as they are the more recent submissions and may have sources (AF did not gather sources).
- Catalog – is a beta version of a new FH Library Catalog. This is important to find information to order microfilms into the local FH Centre. The search has been changed to allow multiple search criteria. Not just by Place – the most common type of search – but also by any or all of Last Names, Titles, Author, Subjects, and Keyword. This certainly gives more power and flexibility but I would caution using too many criteria for one search. Place alone will probably remain my most common search.
- At the top of the main screen at FamilySearch.org is a link to Learn. There appear to be 4 features on the next screen: Getting Started, Research Wiki, Research Courses, and Discussion Forums. Sadly the Discussion Forums were discontinued as of 1 January 2013. The Research Wiki – helping us learn how to do research – and the hundreds of free Research Courses continue to grow in quantity and value.
- Labs.FamilySearch.org https://labs.familysearch.org/ is a separate site with several interesting tools and 2 in particular:
- England Jurisdictions 1851 – directly accessible through – in my opinion a must use tool for anyone doing research in England – find information and mapping for your parish, it’s neighbours, and dates when records are available. Sometimes a little slow – but well worth the wait. A good thing to learn to use.
- Community Trees – directly accessible through http://histfam.familysearch.org/ – a collection of “ lineage-linked genealogies from specific time periods and geographic localities around the world. The information also includes the supporting sources. Most of the genealogies are joint projects between FamilySearch and others who live locally or have expertise in the area or records used to create the genealogies” (https://labs.familysearch.org/). To get an understanding of the collection of trees click on the orange lettering Community Trees on the lower left once you are at the Community Trees search screen – I know it doesn’t look like a link but it takes you to a description of the collection by geographic location. If you want to just see a list of the trees in this collection then click on the word Surnames (in white just below the Search button) to go to a screen where there is a drop down list All Trees. Lots of good information here. The Knowles Collections are for Jewish genealogies.
- Family Tree is a new feature on FamilySearch.org. This is a project to create one family tree for all mankind. Even though this has not been publicly released you can use it now. Sign in at FamilySearch.org – register if you don’t already have a sign in. If Family Tree does not appear at the top of the screen (to the right of the tree and left of Learn) then go to Help and click on the second link under the heading Family Tree “Gaining Access to the FamilySearch Family Tree” and follow the instructions. There are quite a few help materials on Family Tree. I would suggest at first that you just search for each of your grandparents (assuming they are deceased) and see if you get a link to an existing tree. Remember the web is public space and that Family Tree is still under development. Information on Family Tree can be edited and sources continue to needed to be added.
- Associated with Family Tree are 2 new tools from FamilySearch:
- Sourcebox – once you find information in the Records collection you can add it to your source box and then access your source box from within Family Tree to add those all important sources to information.
- Photos – add photos to your tree – also under development – but available now – go to https://familysearch.org/photos/
There is a lot of building and changing going on at FamilySearch right now – so please be patience if you get server errors. The annual RootsTech conference in Salt Lake is from March 21 to 23. Last year over 4000 people attended. No doubt the good people at FamilySearch are working to get things ready for the conference.
Photoduplication – for several years FamilySearch have been offering this service for really quite a low fee – but have been mailing the copies. The service has just moved to digital format so the copies are emailed to you. There is now no fees. For information on what can be done through Photoduplication go to https://familysearch.org/blog/en/policy-change-patrons-requesting-photocopies-family-history-library-salt-lake-city-utah/ which is an article at the Family Search Blog posted 4 Feb 2013 – the link to the Blog is at the top of the main page. (Note and caution – if you use Help at FamilySearch.org and the search term Photoduplication you can access a document on the service – but the document is a couple of years old)