About a month ago I did a post on the status of the FamilySearch online websites. I got some interesting reaction, including comments about the "exclusive" nature of the FamilySearch sites. Just to be absolutely clear, the only website not currently open and free to the general public is the New.FamilySearch.org website which is still in Beta testing and being opened to the general public in stages. All of the other sites are open, free and extremely useful. It is probably time, given the number of changes, to review where we are with each of the major websites:
FamilySearch.org (not New.FamilySearch.org):
This huge website now incorporates the FamilySearch Research Wiki, the FamilySearch Indexing project, the Historical Record Collections, the Family History Library Catalog, the Family History Archive of scanned books, the Research Courses, FamilySearch TechTips and a whole lot more.
There have been notable increases in the number of records in the Historical Record Collections with millions and millions of new records being added almost daily. There are, as of the writing of this post, 638 collections with new records being added from Florida, Hawaii, New York, Tennessee, Wales, England, Iowa, Massachusetts, Norway, Sweden, Canada, Indiana and many other locations and that is just in the last week or so. Also a reminder of the Civil War Records collection featured on the FamilySearch.org startup page.
The FamilySearch Research Wiki climbed to 59,276 articles. About a month ago when I last wrote about this topic, there were 58,768. It is my impression that the number of contributions has dropped, perhaps because of the summer vacations, but there is still significant growth in the content of this resource. You are missing one of the most valuable resources available today on the Internet for genealogy if you haven't looked at the Research Wiki. One of the notable projects going on is for Illinois and you might want to check out the progress by looking at the pages and content being added.
The Family History Archives has still stalled and does not seem to have much going on in the way of scanned books being added to the collection, but this may be an illusion, hopefully more work is going on in the background?
The Family History Library Catalog is undergoing a subtle change. You might not have noticed but the entries are all marked for availability. Those marked Family History Library are only available in the the Library in Salt Lake City. However, many of the entries and all of those with microfilm or online, are marked with the availability as Family History Centers. This means that the item is available for loan to the various Family History Centers around the world. Also, if items have been digitized and are available online, the Catalog now reflects the online availability.
FamilySearch Indexing of the records being digitized and made available in the Historical Record Collections continues at an increasing rate.
New.FamilySearch.org has had few changes since February. I have noticed that the past changes to the program have begun to minimize concerns about the content of the database. My impression is presently that most people who have significant numbers of ancestors in the file have essentially abandoned even looking at the file and are waiting for some significant changes that will allow extensive editing of the entries. If that never comes, then use of the program by those with established genealogical records will continue to decrease other than for approving names for ordinance work.
FamilySearch TechTips has continued to add content. There are a number of new contributors and the quality of the articles being submitted by the new authors is outstanding. Some of the new contributors include Dick Eastman, Barry Ewell, A.C. Ivory, Lisa Louise Cooke and of course I keep writing new stuff every week also.
Overall, the links between different parts of the websites have improved. The emphasis lately seems to be on content rather than continued expansion of the sites. Content is what it is all about and the increase in the number of digitized records is beginning to make a significant difference in the availability of online primary sources. Even though all of the websites, with the exception of New.FamilySearch.org, are available through the main FamilySearch.org website by links, that links are sometimes less than obvious. I suggest looking around the site, especially at the bottom of the pages for more content.