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

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

FamilySearch Family Tree now official

I have written in the past about the so-called formal introduction of FamilySearch Family Tree since it has been postponed a number of times. But on 5 March 2013, the website finally showed up as a permanent link on the startup page of The introduction was done without much prior warning or promotion and was likely noticed by only a comparatively small handful of users. Although there were several blog posts on the subject touting mainly the fact that the program was now open to both members and those are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, this is not exactly the case, since, in effect the program has been open to those outside the membership of the Church from the program's introduction.

I do wonder if it is now easier for those with a FamilySearch account to gain complete access to the program? So far, I haven't talked to anyone who has tried to sign in after the change. The link has gone from from hiding, to putting it on the startup page permanently for all to see.

When you are immersed in the online genealogical community, you have a tendency to judge things by the reaction of that community. But in this case, the whole issue will be lost on the vast majority outside the genealogical community, even of those who are members of the Church. I'm sorry if I sound a little cynical, but I have been teaching classes for the past few weeks specifically on FamilySearch Family Tree and except for the volunteers at the Mesa FamilySearch Library, hardly any of those attending my classes have the slightest acquaintanceship with FamilySearch FamilyTree. In one recent class, there were 124 people and after I asked, only three of them were familiar with and these were actively participating genealogists. I could only assume from the reaction of the class to my inquiry about, that my introduction to FamilySearch Family Tree was the very first time most of them had even heard of the program.

In fact, when I teach about in general, most of the people attending my classes are abundantly surprised to find out that there are Historical Record Collections on the website and they are usually even less familiar with the other resources such as the Research Wiki and the Video instructional material.

FamilySearch does a stellar and fantastic job of doing what it does both online and off line, but the demographics of the genealogical community work against a low key, word-of-mouth approach to promoting a website. With a few exceptions, many of the people who are involved in genealogy, some in a significant way, do not communicate with other genealogists. On the other hand, the level of awareness of is a complete contrast to the lack of visibility of This is due primarily to the TV advertising and saturated website advertising of This discrepancy in the visibility of the two programs occurs despite the fact that the resources on are at least as valuable for research and possibly more valuable than those on depending on where and when you are doing your research.


  1. I remain a bit confused about this. I have been using FamilyTree for some time already. The only difference I see is that now the link appears prior to logging in, whereas before it appeared after logging in - nothing else? Also, can I find FamilyTree info entered by others, and if so, where do I find it.


  2. The difference is ... all you have to do now to search the FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT), is register with FamilySearch, then click on the "Family Tree" icon, then click "Search" to search the FSFT. In the past you had to register, then "request access to the FamilySearch Family Tree", a process not well documented. It is indeed, a simple change, but the casual user will not request inclusion to something that's not intuitively obvious. I've handed out one-page simplified instructions to sign up for the (non-intuitive) FSFT and now even simple instructions are not needed. That's a GOOD thing, I think.