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

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Did the FamilySearch elves make any changes during the night?

I am sure most of us of Western European extraction have heard the story of the shoemaker and the elves. I think we all secretly wish that some competent person would make all our work disappear overnight while we were asleep. In my case, the elves seem to make more work than the other way around. But getting back to genealogy, it has been a while since I looked to see what the elves at FamilySearch have been doing while I was asleep (they could probably use some sub-elves themselves).

So I rolled out my trusty old browser and went into the workshop to see what had been done. Hmmm. hasn't visibly changed since yesterday, maybe there is something under the hood (I am really good at mixing metaphors).  The number of Historical Record Collections continues to increase and as of today is up to 580 collections. It looks like about 48 collections have been added or updated in March so far with entries from France, Mexico, Spain, Austria, Brazil, Czech Republic, Italy, Chile, El Salvador, England, Wales, Guatemala, Canada, Venezuela, Germany, Argentina, the Philippines and a whole lot of U.S. states. There are hundreds of thousands, probably millions, of records but most of them are images only (a good thing) and so it is difficult to determine an approximate number. I am not sure numbers matter anymore. The collections look like they will have a huge impact on the way we look for original records. I guess their elves have been really busy.

Now to check out the progress on the rest of the website. They did add a link to the BYU Historical Books Collection from the Library Catalog page. This is the ongoing scanning/digitizing of books from the Family History Library and a long list of other places. Clicking on the link, shows the Family History Archives page which no longer has a BYU logo but a FamilySearch logo. Unfortunately, the counter for the page has been stuck on 17,764 for about a year and so we have no way of knowing if anything has been added to this collection. Because we are ongoing in our scanning efforts at the Mesa Family History Center, we know a lot more books have been scanned than show up online. Looks like the elves showed up to work but forgot to do anything yet.

Had to stop to oil my browser, it was getting rusty. OK, back to work. Not all of the elves' action has been in the Historical Record Collections, the FamilySearch Research Wiki has also been worked on. Last week it passed the 50,000 article milestone and already has 51,715 articles by today.  The Wiki is sort of like one of those huge blob monsters in the Japanese Anime movies that just keeps eating everything and getting larger. Here is another mixed analogy, the Wiki is like a huge bulldozer waiting to be used while all the genealogists are working with their hand shovels.

Moving on to another workroom, I am almost afraid to see if the elves have done anything. They managed to let in some few new participants in the program in the form of public users to join into the website. We haven't heard anything yet about these public testers. Maybe they were all sworn to secrecy? Judging from the questions I continue to answer, not much else has changed lately. I notice people still keep adding incorrect information about my Grandfather and other relatives. It looks like the elves still have a lot of work to do. One recent entry that had a wrong birth date for my Grandfather was submitted through the Pedigree Resource File. I will have to leave all that up to the elves, I don't  have enough time to correct my thousands of relatives' bad work.

Anything else going on in the FamilySearch workshop? FamilySearch FamilyTech is moving right along. There are dozens of articles and lots of new ones. I am still writing away on alternative content, you won't read my contributions here in Genealogy's Star anymore. I do get comments from people I talk to about their reading the content which is more than I can say about my own blog. They keep tweaking the website so it is more useful. Check it out, the elves are doing a lot of work here.

Any other evidence of elf activity? Not really, FamilySearch Community Trees continues to grow in the back room working quietly away without any fanfare or even much support. New collections include the Wales: Medieval Records Primarily of Nobility and Gentry: This Welsh database, when complete, will include lineage linked data for approximately 350,000 individuals, living from about 100 A.D. to 1700 A.D. The base data was extracted from Peter Bartrum's "Welsh Genealogies." Maybe they should pay these elves more? Or at least give them some publicity?

Well, on to the tasks of the day. It looks like some of the elves have been busy. I assume they all have but we just can't see what they have done yet. By the way, let's all hope they keep up their good work changing the entire genealogical community one collection at a time.

Oops, I almost forgot the RootsTech elves. They put several of the presentations from the Conference online at It looks like they are planning again for next year in Salt Lake.


  1. Your post inspired me to do a search and post about some new things I've noticed.

    Did you see the new link to "Family Tree?"

  2. James, you said "One recent entry that had a wrong birth date for my Grandfather was submitted through the Pedigree Resource File. I will have to leave all that up to the elves, I don't have enough time to correct my thousands of relatives' bad work."

    Ay, and that is the crux, is it not? Will the researchers focused on evidence-based genealogy bother to engage in a correction process in a database so riddled with outright errors and unproven assertions? Why would they care to do so, when they can post their own accurate trees at no cost in many venues?