Monday, June 21, 2010

"Trees" on FamilySearch Beta Site

While looking through the FamilySearch Beta Site ( last week, I noticed the "Trees" link on the home page. Being a curious sort of guy, I clicked on it and added a name to the search fields, as shown below:

There were 39 matches to the name, and the screen shows 20 at a time:

All of the matches were from the LDS Ancestral File database (Version 4.19), which is family tree data submitted by LDS members via GEDCOM many years ago.

I clicked on one of the entries and saw (two screens):

On this screen, I could click on the parents names to see their data, and/or click on the Show Children link to see the list of children for the person shown on the record above. I could navigate from one family to another by clicking on parents and/or children until the database runs out of records.

The submitters of this record to Ancestral File are also listed (some by using the "More" link).

The LDS Ancestral File 4.19 is described as:

"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 against any official records. Since the information in Ancestral File is contributed, it is the responsibility of those who use the file to verify its accuracy."

The LDS Ancestral File is also searchable, although with a much more limited search engine, on the "classic" LDS FamilySearch site here.

The results for the two sites appear to be the same, at least for my limited searches.

All researchers should be aware that the accuracy of some of the information on the Ancestral File database by be poor. It should be used as a finding aid, or clue, only. Researchers should verify all information from Ancestral File by obtaining original records with primary information, if possible. There was no attempt to verify or certify the accuracy of the Ancestral File records, but there was an attempt to combine the records of one or more researchers for the same person; for example, the record above had 10 submitters listed.

The Ancestral File records are part of the New FamilySearch Family Tree project, so there may have been some effort to determine the best or accepted evidence for facts in the nFS Family Tree database. However, this is not available to non-LDS members yet.

Is this "Trees" link on the FamilySearch Beta site the "portal" for researchers to eventually search on the nFS Family Tree? Perhaps...we'll have to wait and see.

What about the Pedigree Resource File (PRF) database that is also on the "classic" FamilySearch site here? This large database is not yet on the FamilySearch Beta site, although I believe that the PRF records were included in the nFS Family Tree database.

Lastly, where are the International Genealogical Index (IGI) records in the FamilySearch Beta site? Many of these records were transcriptions from original or derivative printed sources, and have some value. However, some of the IGI records were submitted by LDS members and some have errors. This large database has not appeared yet in the FamilySearch Record Search databases to my knowledge. I believe that the IGI records were included in the nFS Family Tree database also.

Can an LDS member with access to nFS Family Tree confirm that Ancestral File (AF), Pedigree Resource File (PRF) and International Genealogical Index (IGI) records are included in the New FamilySearch Family Tree database?


Renee Zamora said...
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Renee Zamora said...

Yes, Ancestral File, IGI and a good portion of the Pedigree Resource file are found on NFS.

Dan Lawyer said...

Thanks for checking out the Trees feature and sharing your thoughts. As you noticed, Pedigree Resource File (PRF) is not yet included in the FamilySearch Beta although it will be included under the Tree search in the near future. The extracted portions of the International Genealogical Index (IGI) are already available on the FamilySearch Beta as part of the historical record search.

One of the core design concepts behind the FamilySearch Beta is to keep a clear separation between collections or databases that are "source-like" and those that are "conclusion-like". This is what lead us to the categorization of searching for historical records vs. searching trees.


Geolover said...


You said "The Ancestral File records are part of the New FamilySearch Family Tree project, so there may have been some effort to determine the best or accepted evidence for facts in the nFS Family Tree database. However, this is not available to non-LDS members yet."

The Ancestral File material is ~records~ of submitters' opinions or conclusions, which in a relatively small percentage of instances may be substantiated by evidence.

Trying to trace veracity of what's in the AF material, Pedigree Resource Files, and user-submitted material in IGI (including hordes of genealogies not particularly based on evidence) is a waste of time. Some or perhaps much of this conclusory material already has been disproved, yet it still remains there in these three, er, databases to be reinjected after some determined researcher attempts to correct errors in the nFS Tree.

Some of the difficulties of this concatenation have been outlined recently by AncestryInsider.