Monday, July 26, 2010

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. 

 

Reactions:

5 comments:

Martin said...

Can you give an example of how something on Familysearch pilot ended a brick wall for you that regular researching for 30 years didn't?

Kathy said...

I just tried the FamilySearch pilot. Wow! The FIRST name I entered... my g-g-grandfather's. And boy was I stunned. There is a record of his marriage to my g-g-grandmother - in 1870!!! I'm African American. Experienced genealogists are aware of that "1870" brick wall for descendants of slaves. I never imagined finding such a record. I'm thrilled. A quick search of other people in my tree reveals records I traveled four years ago to find - are now available online through FamilySearch pilot, including the marriage record of my g-grandparents - from 1899! Happy Hunting, Kathy

FamHist said...

Martin, a quick note while I'm on the go. Kathy has posted a great response to your question.

Congratulations Kathy! I continue to find info about my family on the pilot.familysearch.org site and often feel like an evangelist for it. Folks say I'm overly enthusiastic about the site until they try it for themselves and then they say that that I'm understating the great data on it if anything..

Thanks FamilySearch. Thanks volunteer FamilySearch Indexers.

Nancy said...

I like your genealogical work ethic. Sources and documentation are good. Those who come after you should be pleased with all the careful attention you gave to your family history research.

Anonymous said...

Hi All,
I too have had some great success. I had two marriages that I could not locate over the last 15 yrs. the first months on the pilot program gave me both of them!