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

Friday, May 25, 2012

News and Updates from FamilySearch

FamilySearch likes to send out its announcements of new features to and Family Tree in batches. We can go for a week or two without any updates and then all at once, there are two or more significant announcements. Here is the latest, in no particular order:

FamilySearch extends its Relationship with BillionGraves
This is interesting and significant in more ways than one. First, to get the comment out of the way, I will have to do an updated analysis of the partnerships and ownerships in the genealogical community. Not to be outdone by, and brightsolid, FamilySearch is right in there making strategic alliances and expanding into new areas of the online genealogical community.

Here is a quote from the press release (disguised as a blog):
On our FamilySearch blog we have been providing our readers with a lot of information about a website called which is owned and operated by AppTime, LLC. We like what they have to offer to the public and feel that they have a bright future in the field of genealogy and family history research. BillionGraves aims to provide an expansive family history database for records and images from cemeteries located around the world by engaging volunteers using BillionGraves mobile applications. Digitized images of each gravestone will be tagged with GPS coordinates to make finding an ancestor’s graves a very simple matter of using a mobile cell phone. Their database is growing every day as volunteers gather images of headstones from around the world. Their goal is to collect images and GPS coordinates of one billion graves, which we feel is a very realistic goal.

With that in mind, effective immediately, FamilySearch would like to announce that we will be adding to FamilySearch the growing indexes of BillionGraves’ database. This new arrangement will be a great benefit to both organizations. Indexed photos of tombstones provided by the BillionGraves website can now be found by searching records on the BillionGraves search page of the website and is available to the public at no cost. This will be the case from now into the indefinite future. To learn more about BillionGraves and see what they are all about, visit the BillionGraves website.

The BillionGraves Index has been added as one of the collections in the Historical Records Collections list, searchable from the links on the startup page. The record count shows that is about 999 million graves short of its goal. Here is a screen shot of the BillionGraves link page:

New FamilySearch Feature -- IGI
Don't be mislead by this title. What they mean is that there is a new feature in, not a "New FamilySearch" feature. Oh well, so much for ambiguity. Maybe they should be a little more circumspect in using the term "new." Well, this feature is not really new but it is being presented in a "new" way. The International Genealogical Index (IGI) has been around since I started doing genealogy. The format has changed several times and this is another format change. The IGI is now being included in the Historical Record Collections in two formats. Quoting from the press release (actually I think formal press releases are a dead as a dodo. Blogs are the present. Who knows the future):
  • Community Indexed IGI: This collection consists of sources that were indexed by the genealogical community from collections of vital and Church records. They are considered an excellent source of primary genealogical information. Unlike the old IGI, which put these sources all in one collection, on the new site each record has been organized into their respective collections (ex. England, Births and Christenings, 1538-1975).This sentence is not clear to me. I don’t follow what a respective collection is.
  • Community Contributed IGI: This collection consists of personal family information submitted by individuals to the LDS Church. Some of these are source-like,What is source-like? but the collection they were extracted from is no longer known. Many represent conclusions of the submitter. The quality of this information varies. Duplicate entries, conclusions from secondary sources, and inconsistent information are common. Always verify contributed entries against sources of primary information.
The collections will be separately searchable.

New FamilySearch Feature - My Source Box
Here we go with ambiguity again. Maybe they really don't realize how much confusion there is in the genealogical community over the overuse of the word "new" in conjunction with FamilySearch? Anyway, this is another not-so-new change. What has been added to the Family Tree program (not is the ability to create and organize folders for sources. As it turns out, this is really useful function because you can organize sources and add them to folders before you actually need to use them. In effect, Family Tree becomes a way to organize your research activities and maintain a research log. Very good idea folks.

That's all for now from FamilySearch. It looks like Family Tree is developing rapidly into an even more dynamic and useful program. We are still looking for a way to print reports however.

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