31 March 2010

March 2010 - new.FamilySearch.org Update

Note: This article will be of interest and use only to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Yesterday I went to new.FamilySearch.org (hereafter nFS) to help a member of my local Branch sign up and learn how to enter data. At my surprise, I found that I could no longer log in with my original sign-in name. With excitement I read these words on my screen:
  • We are changing the sign-in system so that one user name and password works for participating FamilySearch Web sites. From now on, please use your LDS Account for new.familySearch.org. If you don't have an LDS Account, enter your new.familysearch.org user name and password, and we'll help you upgrade.

At first I expected to be asked to merge my accounts like I did with FamilySearch Indexing, but was pleased to find that this is not necessary. Anyone who already had a LDS Account (as I did) could simply log in using that account. All their previous work under the old sign in was right there! If you never made an LDS Account then you would be prompted to do so after using your nFS sign-in name.

Having one sign in for all church websites will significantly decrease the frustration an LDS member will feel when asked to get on one of the church websites. Anyone that has been on their ward website, FamilySearch Indexing, FamilySearch Wiki or nFS (to name just a few) will be able to access the other websites with the same user name and password. Thus only having to go through the registration process once.

As a Family History Consultant I find that many members do not have the information they need to register easily on hand. A person's record number and confirmation date are necessary. Using one user name will decrease the time I spend as a Family History Consultant walking people through the registration process. I am so happy that I can now focus more energy on helping people with the important part: family history and temple work!

There are some other updates to the website that make it much more user friendly. The ordinance list now completely self loads instead of stopping at the most recent 20 ordinances reserved. The link that was at the bottom of the screen to extend this list was difficult for many to notice. People wondered what happened to their lists when they had reserved over 20 individuals. Now I can see my 155 rows of ordinances waiting to be completed which not only is easier to work with, but does more to encourage me to get the work done.

The Family Tree view is more user friendly. I found that it was much easier for me to discover how to edit information from this view after the March update. Before this update I could not figure out how to edit information here. Now I found that double-clicking a name brings up an individual's detail box where I can change whatever I want.

I also found that when navigating away from the tree and going back it is much easier to pick up where one left off. I feel that there is much more work to be done though this update is a HUGE user friendliness improvement. When I clicked on my 3rd-great grandfather Samuel McCormick in Family Tree view and then moved back to Family Pedigree with Details, I expected to see my ancestor Samuel McCormick. It disappointed me that it does not work that way.

Which ever person is in the primary view on the Family Tree will be in the primary view when switching to Family Pedigree with Details and vice versa. In order to change the primary person in Family Tree view you must right click a name and select the appropriate option. I am an experienced family history website addict and it took me some playing around to realize that right clicking a name in the Family Tree view allowed me to "Show Ancestors" or "Show Descendants." For the average user, I think they will wonder why they keep losing their place when that was "fixed" with this update.

I did notice that even this did not always work. Sometimes within my nFS session I would click a different tab and click back to test this upgrade and the tree would be back on my name, even after I had put it on someone else a couple of times.

Overall, this update is AMAZING! I simply can't wait until the next updates come because I know if I am confused at some things still most of the members I help will be tempted to throw their hands in the air and wait for the next update.

18 March 2010

History of Compiled Genealogies within The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

This article was directly copied from a BYU, Hist 482 manual with minor additions in order to mention some newer systems that were not in the original. This article is for education purposes only and personal authorship is denied by the administrator of this blog.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has been creating indexes and gathering other compiled materials since the creation of the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1894. Both the IGI and the Ancestral File have predecessors that still have value to researchers. To understand those of the IGI, it is important to understand that the IGI is in reality an index of names of individuals or couples, submitted from among their own families or by extraction of consecutive entries in original sources such as census or church records by members of the LDS church. The only difference between the IGI and the LDS Ordinance Index (found only at LDS Family History Centers) is that the latter has the dates and temples for the LDS religious rites that were performed on behalf of those deceased individuals.

The history of the systems used to submit names for performance of LDS religious ordinances will help to both understand the strengths and weaknesses of the IGI, and to identify other sources related to those earlier submission processes. Beginning in 1844, baptisms were performed on behalf of the dead. Other religious rites for deceased persons did not begin until 1877, when the temple in St. George, Utah was opened. From those earliest times until into the mid 1920s, a member of the church merely selected a name of a deceased person and went directly to a temple (by 1927 there were seven such temples) to perform the ordinances. Each temple maintained a register of such ordinance work. In 1925 the secretary of the Genealogical Society of Utah objected to the duplication and inefficiency in the system, suggesting that an index be created of all work already performed, and that in the future all names submitted be checked against that index and cleared before ordinances were performed. From that request the Temple Index Bureau (TIB) was created. The TIB only indexed those ordinances known as endowments and, therefore, did not necessarily contain names of persons for whom baptisms (performed before 1877) or marriage sealings were performed. The TIB was a file card index and grew to fill a large room with millions of cards in hundreds of file drawers before it was discontinued on 1 January, 1970.

In 1943, the means of submitting names to the temples was changed from one of submitting individual names to submitting complete family groups on family group sheets. That system likewise continued in use until 1 January, 1970, when it was replaced by a computerized system. The original family group sheets submitted were filed in binders and stored in the Family History Library in Salt Lake in what became known as the Family Group Records Archives—Main Section. Endowment ordinances that appeared on these sheets continued to be added to the TIB and a notation was placed on the TIB cards in the form of a C and/or a P in the upper right hand corner of the card to indicate if that person appeared as a child and/or a parent on a family group record. In addition to the information currently found on the IGI, these sheets often had source notes and other comments about the families. Throughout this period, individual temples continued to also maintain registers of work done. In January 1970, use of both the TIB and the family group records was discontinued and the temples shifted to a computerized system of record keeping. At that time nearly all submissions of names of deceased persons were done on 8½ by 11 inch sheets on which the names of from one to six individuals or married couples could be listed. In addition to space for each person’s or couples’ vital statistics, a space was provided for notes concerning sources of information. All of the vital statistics, along with the dates when temple ordinances were performed, were entered into a computer and the resultant index was initially known as the Computer File Index. In the early 1980s, the name was changed to the International Genealogical Index. As a result of this historical development, information on names submitted to the temples for ordinance work can be found in four sources:

Temple Registers. Most are available on microfilm, as identified in the Family History Library Catalog.

Temple Index Bureau. Available on microfilm at the Family Search Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake and on microfilm at the Family History Center in the library of Brigham Young University, Provo, Utah, it is only available for consultation by members of the LDS Church.

Family Group Records Archives. These are available in their original format at the Family Search Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake, and on microfilm that can be ordered to Family History Centers throughout the world.

International Genealogical Index. This index contains not only names of persons whose LDS temple work has been performed since 1 January 1970, but, through a major transfer effort to vital statistic information from the first three sources discussed. For names submitted by individuals and not added by extraction programs, a copy of the original sheet as prepared by the individual submitter can be viewed on microfilm. The pamphlets on the IGI explain the process of identifying batch numbers and searching for these in the FHLC. The researcher should remember that none of the information concerning submitters and their relationships to the deceased person, nor the information concerning sources, was transferred to the IGI. Also, the IGI does not contain information about baptisms for the living performed outside of the temples that may appear on the TIB cards.

Today all of the former systems have merged into one, newFamilySearch. While newFamilySearch will always be a work in progress, as people continue to add data, it fulfills the purposes of the earlier systems: preparing names for temple work, avoiding duplication and recording sources.

Prior to newFamilySearch, Pedigree Resource File was the means of submitting one’s genealogy for safekeeping and sharing. Before that it was Ancestral File. Rumor has it that when the FamilySearch website was introduced it was discovered that transferring the offline Ancestral File database to an online environment was not going to work. Some say it is at that realization that the new database was introduced. As early as the 1920s, the Genealogical Society of Utah encouraged its members to submit copies of their genealogies to the Society for those purposes. Those early efforts through 1963, now known as the Old Patron section, are available though the FHLC. Beginning in 1963, the LDS Church urged its members to submit at least their first four generations on family group sheets. These—with an incredible amount of duplication and contradiction—were gathered together in the Family Group Records Archives—Patrons Section. They likewise are available in the original at the Family Search Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake and on microfilms that can be ordered to Family History Centers throughout the world.

Even in geographic research areas where one may think there would be of little value, these indexes should be checked. I cannot count the number of times I have sent Latin American and southern European researchers into these collections and they have returned disappointed at not finding anything. Nevertheless, just when I have begun to consider not having them do so anymore, I have found in these indexes such valuable materials as complete parishes in Bilbao, Spain that are indexed on the IGI, or a series of over four hundred family group sheets from the colonial period in Jalisco, Mexico extending a line back to the 1520s that can be found in the Family Group Records Archives Main Section and accessed through the IGI. These indexes should always be checked when new surnames, time periods or places become available during the research process.

This article was directly copied from a BYU, Hist 482 manual with minor additions in order to mention some newer systems that were not in the original. This article is for education purposes only and personal authorship is denied by the administrator of this blog.

06 March 2010

Who do you think you are?

"Who Do You Think You Are?" genealogy show on NBC brought overwhelming traffic to the popular genealogy website, Ancestry.com last night. Soon will come a day when the majority of Americans no longer think genealogy is only for the older crowd.

If you have been intensely involved with genealogy already you may know that CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation) already had a show called "Who Do You Think You Are?", part of which can be seen on RootsTelevision.com (There was recent talk about closing RootsTV so it might not be available for long.) The show appears to be the same, except each network features different people on their episodes.

The same title sometimes shortened to WDYTYA with the same logos are used for an Ancestry.com sponsored genealogy conference in the UK.

02 March 2010

newFamilySearch Beta

Received an encouraging message today
from nFS Beta Release Team:

The Family History Department is looking for individuals willing to help us test the new FamilySearch on the Internet. Our goal is to start testing soon. Any help you can give is very much appreciated. All genealogical data you may enter during the test will be discarded after testing. However, a new registration system will be tested, and user names and passwords created during beta testing will last beyond the test period (more information about this will be included in future letters).To participate in this test, do the following:

1. Look for another e-mail, which will include test instructions and information about when to begin testing. Please do not start testing until you receive the test instructions and the date that testing will begin. Carefully review the test instructions. They will include a link to the test site as well as some exercises or challenges to help you test some of the new and existing program features.

2. Follow the test instructions, and give your feedback through the Feedback link. Please test in your primary language even if that language is not English.

3. After the beta test is completed, we will send you a link to complete a simple survey.

We look forward to your participation and are grateful for your help.If you cannot help us test at this time, please ignore any further communications about this test. We hope you will be able to help us in the future.Please do not respond to this e-mail. It is for your information only.

Thank you. FamilySearch Beta Release Team