Saturday, March 1, 2014

Find-A-Record, a new tool for genealogists from the #RootsTech 2014 Developers Challenge

One of the programs that I saw at #RootsTech 2014 was the second place winner in the Developer's Challenge, This program caught my eye because it has the potential of helping beginning researchers overcome a basic problem: where do I go to find the records I need to do some research? This is a problem even seasoned researchers face from time to time. All along, there have been finding aids to tell genealogists what types of records might contain information about birth, deaths etc. but most of the programs were tied to a specific database program or not very useful. makes a very good run at developing a geographically based program that will search database catalogs for programs that might be helpful both at the time the events occurred and in the place they occurred. If you enter a place and a date, with general instructions on the types of records you are searching for, the program produces a list of suggested records. Here is a screenshot of such a search:

The utility of the program, in the future, depends on the online database programs it can search and the number of geographic areas it can use and connect to the records. Both of those areas are presently somewhat limited. This is a program I could use almost every day working with patrons in the Mesa FamilySearch Library. It is apparent that the developers are working hard at making the program usable and functional. The reaction of a user is going to be positive if the program produces a useful list or very negative if the place selected fails to produce any records. The developers have chosen to base their initial program on This is helpful because that website is free and they will not be giving out results that the user must have a subscription to see. But that also limits the program and perhaps they should have a way to tell the program you have a subscription to or whatever.

It is a promising program, but we will have to wait and see how it works out. Right now, it seems to be free, but there is likely to be a fee based expansion of the capabilities. Adding a fee may defeat the utility for most potential users. I don't know if I would pay for a list of sources in the catalog or not.


  1. Index not only limited to -- limited to the fewer than 15% of databases that are indexed.

  2. I use GenSmarts for this, but it is arguably not user friendly for new genealogists. It doe shave the benefit of being able to tell it what subscriptions you have.