16 April 2013

Major Update to FamilySearch.org

It's been no secret that FamilySearch, the family history arm of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, ranked 4,349 among all website on Alexa, was imminently going to roll out an upgrade to the site. It's here and as the second ranked family history site, below ancestry.com, above myheritage.com, this is major.

The announcement of the update points out "significant new enhancements to its web services that allow visitors to collaboratively build their family tree online, preserve and share precious family photos and stories, and receive personal research assistance-all for free."

It couldn't be clearer where the emphasis is being placed:

The update "seeks to broaden family history’s appeal to those who don’t consider themselves researchers or genealogists, especially youth who are masters of digital realms such as social media." 

It's simple to enter your data on people in your family tree, add photographs and stories and receive hints to filling in the gaps. You can display in various formats and, as promoting collaboration is a major objective, sharing via links to major social networks.

Although its not as prominent as previously you can still find the information the LDS have recorded in the field, and surface abstracted and indexed data digitized by tens if not hundreds of thousands of volunteers; and that continues to grow. Clicking on Family Records then Start Searching brings you to:

an updated version of a page familiar to regular users. Scrolling down the page brings you to a place to browse and select from the various collections and search that specific collection, such as a particular census where indexed. 

The ribbon at the top gives access to user submitted genealogies, such as the Ancestral File and the Pedigree Resource File; the FamilySearch (previously Family History Library) Catalog and; a collection of more than 40,000 digitized genealogy and family history publications.

From the home page also gives access to the volunteer indexing projects.

I found the change quite easy to navigate but didn't delve into the social side. Maybe later!

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