Thursday, May 30, 2013

Evolution of records preservation

In the past, records were filmed in 16 mm or 35 mm formats. The film was processed and stored for use in microfilm readers. There are obvious problems with film. It can be damaged and degrades over time. It also is bulky and requires a lot of storage space. Any copies made are of less quality than the original.

How is it being done now? Using industrial cameras that can each take images ranging from 16 to 50 megapixels. This means that the info can be shared in digital format and can more easily be enhanced to improve image quality. FamilySearch reports that there are more than 1.5 million images captured each week.  Each image is a page from a book or loose pages of documents such as Church records, cemetery or other vital records. Many paper records have been lost to fire, flood and age degradation, and this process preserves the record for future use.

There are about 222 cameras located all over the world; 92 cameras in the Western Hemisphere, and 130 in the Eastern Hemisphere. Computer software calibrates the camera, captures the image, manages the project, and captures information about the records. The documents are kept level to keep the image in focus. The images are saved on an external hard drive. At the end of each week the drives are sent to Salt Lake City, Utah, where the data is sent through an auditing process where rejected images are sent back for rework and approved images are processed and published.

Where are they published you ask? Go to and find the answer!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

FamilySearch Fan Chart

FamilySearch’s Fan Chart Wins Big Fans

Fan Chart Icon 2The unique interactive fan chart provides a way to visualize your ancestry differently than the traditional pedigree chart. It provides a way to quickly recognize visual clues regarding missing lines on your Family Tree.
The fan chart shows the main person at the center of the chart. Their spouse and children are also displayed. The ancestors of the main person expand out for four generations. You can reposition anyone in the fan chart to be the person of focus and visualize his or her ancestry.
Any individual shown on the fan chart can be clicked on to bring up their basic information. By clicking on an person you will also be directed to the person’s full page, which shows all the information about that person including vital information, relationships, sources, photos, and stories.
You can also print the fan chart from the browser now. Soon, FamilySearch will provide a larger, seven generation fan chart that will be printable.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Dennis Brimhall on Volunteers

Volunteers: The Lifeblood of the Genealogical Community

DennisBlogI’ve been leading FamilySearch for just over a year, and I still can’t get over what our volunteers are accomplishing. I always knew FamilySearch was a volunteer-supported, nonprofit organization, but the magnitude of giving continues to impress me. And at the heart of our volunteer program is indexing.
Volunteer indexers and arbitrators—hundreds of thousands of you—have produced over one billion free, searchable records on just since 2006. There’s nothing in the history of genealogy that can compare in magnitude with this ongoing act of selfless giving.
Volunteers really matter to FamilySearch, as well as to every person out there who is trying to find his or her ancestors. You are the lifeblood, not just of FamilySearch, but of the entire genealogical community. If not for you, the world of genealogical possibilities we all enjoy would not exist. That’s why doing all we can to help you succeed is so critically important.
Now, I have also become aware of concerns within our indexing community. Indexers and arbitrators working together can produce amazing results, but when conflicts arise between them, the quality of the work suffers, feelings are hurt, and dedicated volunteers may go looking for other ways to give. I am now keenly aware of improvements that we need to make, whether in our data, software tools, or volunteer programs, and I want to assure each of you that we are taking steps to address these shortcomings in appropriate ways.
As most of you know, we have been working to improve the experience for users of This monumental task has consumed nearly all of our resources for many months. We believe our efforts will result in making family history more appealing to more people, which, in turn, will spur demand for more records and more ways to discover and share them.
Our chief consideration in all of this is to help patrons more easily discover their ancestors and their stories. Your satisfaction as a volunteer is key to meeting that objective. There is much to consider in this process, and occasionally there will be trade-offs, but we believe our efforts will result in the greatest possible good for all.
As we move forward, we will continue to balance our efforts between attracting new family historians and supporting the ever-growing demand to find and index new records. Part of that effort will be to make the experience for our volunteers more delightful and productive. I would like to offer my sincere thanks for your willingness to overlook the shortcomings of the program so that others can continue to have the joy of discovering their ancestors.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Fragmentation of Efforts Update

Last September I expressed the opinion that there is very little coordination in research. There are competing and overlapping sites, trying to accomplish the same ends. Some are in it for the money. Others are sincerely trying to do what they think is best. There are countless hours and financial resources being expended.

I would like to promote a possible solution to much of the duplication: use the same site and help to build it. FamilySearch has been quietly building a records collection that is unmatched and under used. The search feature on the website has a records collection that grows literally every day. The paid sites have used the film from FamilySearch for many of their offerings. is partnering with FS to fund projects as was the case with other large projects in the past, that can only be finished in that way.

A new feature on the FS site is the family Tree. It is now open to anyone who wishes to participate. It is possible to see an interactive fan chart on anyone in your family, to add photos and stories and many other features are in the works. They are encouraging documentation, which will make for better records. Also asking for families to work together to make the records as complete and accurate as possible. This is a safe place to store your family records where they will be available for other family members to view.

If you have not been to, I would suggest that you will be pleasantly surprised! Is it perfect? Absolutely not, but it gets better every day and needs more involvement. If you have data on the site that you have not verified, get it done and help to cut down the fragmentation!