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Monday, May 14, 2012

Using FamilySearch Trees to Preserve Your Files -- Part One

We are going to get into some real interesting terminology issues with this post. So here are a few definitions before I even get started: (Note: If you know all this stuff, you can skip down to my explanation about the current status of submitting GEDCOM files to FamilySearch)

FamilySearch 
The Corporation that is wholly owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and that owns and operates several websites, among many other things.

FamilySearch.org
One of the websites owned and operated by FamilySearch containing genealogical references, sources, digitized images, videos, and a user submitted family history information.

Trees
One of the categories of links on FamilySearch.org that searches both user submitted information and original source information.

Family Trees
A term used by FamilySearch to refer to lineage linked genealogies submitted by users of the website currently and in the past. Here is the Family Search definition:
Family Trees contains millions of lineage linked genealogies. These pedigrees come from Ancestral File, the Pedigree Resource File (PRF) and other patron submissions.
 Ancestral File (AF)
Here is the definition of the Ancestral File from the FamilySearch Research Wiki:
Ancestral File is a computerized collection of genealogies that links families into pedigrees, showing ancestors and descendants. It contains information about 40 million people from throughout the world. It shows individuals’ names; family relationships; and dates and places of birth, marriage, and death. Ancestral File was created from thousands of user submitted pedigree charts, family group sheets, and GEDCOM files. Submissions were merged to eliminate duplication and submitted corrections were applied to eliminate errors.

  • The current site contains 40 million, 5 million more than the previous website.
  • Information is not displayed for living individuals, including submitters.
Note, the part about duplication is not entirely accurate. Here is another statement about the Ancestral File from FamilySearch.org:
Ancestral File is a collection of genealogical information taken from pedigree charts and family group records submitted to the Family History Department since 1978. The information has not been verified for accuracy. These patron submitted pedigrees were merged into one tree. Sources and notes were not preserved. Users can draw from this database for help with their family history research. Since the information in Ancestral File was contributed by the public, it is the responsibility of those who use the file to verify its accuracy.
Pedigree Resource File (PRF)
Here's where things start to get a little complicated. This is the accepted definition of the Pedigree Resource File, again from the Research Wiki:
Pedigree Resource File (PRF) is a growing collection of user submitted genealogies. It shows individuals’ names; family relationships; and dates and places of birth, marriage, and death. No merges, corrections, or additions are made to genealogies submitted to Pedigree Resource File.
Here is another statement from FamilySearch.org about the PRF:
The Pedigree Resource File (PRF) is a collection of lineage-linked names submitted by users of FamilySearch.org. These pedigrees include notes and sources from the original the submissions. No merges, corrections, or additions were made to the original data submitted to the Pedigree Resource File. Users can draw from this database for help with their family history research. Since the information in Pedigree Resource File is contributed by the public, it is the responsibility of those who use the file to verify its accuracy.
International Genealogical Index (IGI)
A huge index of genealogical records, mainly from the United States and England. 

New FamilySearch
This is the name usually associated with a website called New.FamilySearch.org. This is a compilation of the user submitted family tree information already in the Ancestral File, the Pedigree Resource File, the International Genealogical Index, and Church membership and ordinance information. It is in the process of being replaced by a program called Family Tree. Largely only open to members of the Church.

Family Tree
A recently introduced part of FamilySearch.org that essentially tries to repair the shortcomings of New FamilySearch. So far it does a pretty good job. Already open to everyone whether or not they are members of the Church.

OK, now I am probably in a position to talk about how you can still submit GEDCOM or genealogical data communications files to FamilySearch for safe keeping.

Originally, the PRF was the only method of submitting user generated files directly to FamilySearch. Once submitted, the files could not be changed or deleted. A huge number of files were submitted, some with multiple copies of the same files in different states of finality. Unfortunately, many of these files ended up in the New FamilySearch database. For example, I submitted two overlapping files. Subsequent research showed that the files were incomplete and in some cases, inaccurate. But there was no way to either correct the information or remove the files.

Theoretically, it was always possible to submit files, but only recently has an easy way to do this been again instituted. A major change has been offered; a way to remove old files. These submitted files also go into the part of the FamilySearch.org program searchable with the link to "Trees."

The reason for the long explanation above is simple. We now have
  • New.FamilySearch.org
  • FamilySearch.org
  • Family Tree
  • Trees
  • Family Trees
all with different but duplicative and overlapping information. When you submit a GEDCOM file to FamilySearch.org, the file will go into what was previously called the PRF. The information becomes searchable on FamilySearch.org, but will not be included in the part of the program they now call Family Tree. You can also delete old out-of-date previous submissions, such as the one I submitted back in 2000.

This is part one of the explanation because all this got really complicated.

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