Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Computer SIG revisits FamilySearch

At the Februrary 1, 2011 meeting of the CCGS Computer Special Interest Group David Martin provided members with a look at the new version of FamilySearch.org and a tour of other websites associated with FamilySearch.

This is a view of the new and improved FamilySearch home page, introduced in the middle of December, 2010. The new site combines data from what used to be separate beta sites into a single search interface. For example, you can search among historical records, record collections by country and even family trees, all from the same search screen.

Search results seem to resemble those from Ancestry.com. For example, when searching surnames you get exact matches first, followed by possible alternate spellings for both surnames and given names. The new site also makes available millions more indexed records than previously, a direct result of the the LDS’ ongoing Indexing Project.

The new FamilySearch.org incorporates a Research Wiki, a free collection of family history articles provided by family history enthusiasts from around the world, similar in operation to Wikipedia and other Wiki-type information sites. You can still access the older Research Helps area, which lets you search for research aids sorted by title, by subject, or by document type. Much of this information will eventually make its way to the Research Wiki, but researchers may still want to use this helpful research tool.

It may still be a while before all the features of the previous version are seamlessly incorporated into the newer site. Although there are many excellent video and written tutorials for making the best of this new exciting site, during the transition period visitors can opt for the older interface by clicking on a link on the main page.

The new FamilySearch.org site is the result of several prior beta test sites. You can see what may be in the pipeline for future enhancements by checking in at FamilySearch Labs. Here you can see some of the “retired” projects that have been successfully incorporated into the the new improved site. Others still under development include Forums, where people can share ideas about their family research; English Jurisdictions 1851 lets you click within a parish boundary and receive results consolidated from multiple sources; and Community Trees, which, among other things, attempts to reconstruct the families that lived in your ancestral village.

Finally, to keep abreast of the latest developments at FamilySearch, David Martin recommended subscribing to Dick Eastman’s Online Genealogy Newsletter, which almost weekly has new information about the FamilySearch sites. You can also subscribe to the FamilySearch Blog, to find out even more about what’s happening in all the areas of FamilySearch.

The Computer SIG meets the first Tuesday of the month from 10am - noon at the Dennis Public Library in Dennisport, MA. The next meeting is Tuesday March 1, 2011, where the focus will be on finding death records online. Contact David Martin at davidchina_2000@yahoo.com for more information.

Description of all CCGS Special Interest Groups (SIGs)

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