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

Monday, October 10, 2011

Hmm. A link between and

It may have been there for a while, but I just found an interesting link between and I found that you have to be signed into to see the link. But I seriously question the utility of the link. In some cases it highlights the problems with New.FamilySearch in a dramatic way.

I was looking at and left without signing out. If I had signed out, I would not have found the link. I then did a search in's Historical Record Collections. I still might never have noticed the link had I not seen a new collection of Rhode Island Births and Christenings, 1600-1914. This is an index only collection with 870,030 records. I was interested because my Tanner family line comes from Rhode Island and I would expect to be related to practically all of the Tanners in that state. So I began a review of the older records. I did a straight-forward search for the surname "Tanner." There were 1,438 results. A lot of relatives! I figured I would need to go back, at least until my present family lived in Rhode Island, around the end of the 18th Century.

Here is a screen shot of the first search of the Rhode Island Births and Christenings, 1600-1914:

Of course, this is not all of the over 1,400 records. I decided to filter down the list a little to those with birth years in the 1700s. I read down the list and found one of my direct line ancestors, Joshua Tanner and his wife, Thankful Tefft.

I decided to take a look at the individual record. Here is what I saw since I just happened to be also signed into I tried it later and found out that the link disappears if you are not signed in, in another window in your browser. Very interesting. OK, so here is the elusive link that appeared:

Here comes the real interesting part. Clicking on the link.

Here are the results in I know it is pretty hard to see, but there are little asterisks next to Joshua Tanner and his father, Francis Tanner. Clicking on those links shows the multiple lines that are uncombined and floating out there in

Here is the link for Joshua Tanner:

Fortunately, there are only four additional full-blown pedigrees in for this ancestor. Unfortunately, there is absolutely no way to tell which, if any, of these available pedigrees are accurate, believable or of any use whatsoever. How do I choose which one to use? I don't. I ignore them all.

Out of interest, I decided to click on Francis Tanner, Joshua's father. Here it really gets even more interesting:

Now, there are ten different pedigree lines to choose from. The dates and names are all over the place. Do I diligently copy all this information into my personal database? Not on your life. Actually, I simply ignore it all as an unsolvable mess better left to those with more time than I have to correct others' errors.

By this time you have probably forgotten that all this got started with an index of birth records for Rhode Island. Too bad someone didn't look at the index before they put all this junk in their databases and had it loaded into But wait, the database for Rhode Island just went online. Interesting. Then why did I have the information pretty well sorted out in my own personal database? There were and are other records available. I got my information from Hopkinton, Rhode Island Town Records, Deeds, Tax Records and a whole lot more by looking at microfilms in the Family History Library.

What does finding this link to add to my knowledge about my ancestors? It really sucks the information out of my head like watching TV. I don't know what to do at this point. What am I supposed to do with the link to How is the link supposed to help me understand more about my family history? If there were some way to edit the information in or add in a source, I could do some editing from the source record information. But absent these tools, there is nothing I can do but feel frustrated.

Can I imagine a use for having a link like the one I found? Oh yes, in a world where my ancestors' files in weren't a total disaster, I might be able to use the information. If were like a wiki and could be corrected and the additional information added to the lineage, it would be fabulously useful. As it is, I really can't do anything with the link although I can use the information from the Rhode Island records and the source in my personal database on my computer.


  1. James, you generously did not comment on two other issues, one with new.FamilySearch's display of Susannah Tanner's page, and the other with the Historical Records entry.

    1) Why does Susannah Tanner's page have parenthetical vital dates "(1745-1859)," while the only birth date given for Susannah is in 1784? There is no asterisk next to Susannah's pedigree-page entry suggesting that there are other entries for her.

    2) The Historical Records Search Results pages do not state what the source was for the entry. You can find it by doing a FHL Catalog search (a-click on the unidentified logo-link back to search page and wait several minutes for the search page to load; b-click 'Catalog' tab which really is for the FH Library Catalog; c-use the drop-down menu to select search by film number; d-enter film number and click 'search'; e-wait several minutes until you get a page giving only a general title for whatever database group the film is in; f-click on the title of the database group; g-look for the microfilm number and the title of the actual record source). I don't know why they can't just put the title of the actual source-record on the page with the search results.

    The generic "Births and Christenings" collections of databases are not actual source records, and there is no entry in the FHLibrary Catalog for any of them that list the actual components of the collections. There are Wiki pages for each generic group which also do not list the actual component source records. Wiki contributors do not have access to any complete list of what actual records are part of any of the generic groups.

    I don't know why the film number search can't just take you to the page listing the actual database name that goes with the microfilm number given in the search results (often only on the detail page, not the original results page); the page with the general record-group title is useless.

    Why are the slow and overloaded servers burdened with these extra useless pages?

  2. Ancestry Member Trees give me the same feeling. Occasionally there is a tidbit of information I can use as a clue but 99% of the time there is nothing of interest.

  3. I found the same type link to people in new.FamilySearch in some of the Massachusetts vital records that do not have images available. I did not delve as deeply into the source as you did, assuming that this is a precursor for the sourcing process when is migrated to and becomes Family Tree. I would give Feedback or report a Problem to FamilySearch support.