Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Beta FamilySearch -- a facelift and new records

It is evident that the website is a work-in-progress. Changes have been made not only to the design of the website, but new content is being regularly added. As has been noted by several bloggers, 20 million additional records have recently been added according to an announcement by FamilySearch on October 6, 2010. The content of the announcement can be found on Dick Eastman's post of the same date. The additional collections added bring the total to 470. The site reflects the need to address the larger number of collections and the search fields and pages have been modified to focus on a particular geographic area more quickly.

In what can be seen as a tremendous help to researchers, FamilySearch has begun putting the images online and not waiting for the indexes to be completed. Anyone who is used to scanning microfilm realizes that this step forward. It is always nice to have an index, but most researchers I know who are concerned about thoroughness, would prefer the images to the index if they could only have one choice.

As I have stated previously, some of these new records are for locations for which records have never previously been available except through ordering microfilm. Particularly for the Spanish language records, this is a wonderful opportunity for access to records that have never been particularly available previously. Mexican researchers will appreciate have three more state's Catholic Church Records online bringing the total to 22 states out of 32 plus the Federal District of Mexico. In dealing with Spanish speaking patrons at the Mesa Regional Family History Center, you cannot imagine the huge impact these records are having on the ability of the researchers to find their families.

The Beta site has been revamped with new links and a new design in part. The changes appear to be helpful. There is still some confusion on the part of the user as to what the links such as "learn" are supposed to contain, but I see an improvement in the way that the Research Wiki has been integrated.

All in all, the site continues to improve, and is beginning to look like a viable website.

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