Tuesday, July 27, 2010

FamilySearch Standard Finder - Post 1

One of the projects on the FamilySearch Labs site is the Standard Finder. The Labs site describes it as:

"With Standard Finder you can search for a standardized name, date or place based on your input. The Standard Finder will present the standards that will be used in future releases of new FamilySearch. Come and try out your historical and current entries and understand how the system will interpret your input. Use filtered results to see what we think the best match would be or uncheck filtered results to see all the possible standards. Then send us feedback on how the system can do better."

There are five tabs on the Standard Finder site - for Name, Date, Place, Preview and Resources. In this post, we'll look at the first three tabs.

On the "Name" tab, I entered my surname "seaver" and saw:

The site provides variant spellings for the surname, apparently gleaned from some unknown list. A different list appears for "seaver" as a first name.

The "Date" tab provides some logical information. After some experimentation, I entered "3/5/1659" in the search field and saw:

The site said that the date was ambiguous - either 5 March 1659 or 3 May 1659. However, it didn't say that it was 5 March 1658/1659 or 5 March 1659/1660 which is what I expected to cover the double-date created by the Julian calendar issue.

The "Place" tab permits the user to type in a place name. I chose to put in "wano, kansas" since I've heard that Wano is a ghost town. Will it find it? Here is the result:

This screen has several links. There is one for the Place Name (Wano township > Cheyenne > Kansas > United States), one for the Geo Code (39.69028 N, 101.8125 W(, and one for the Identification Number (439087).

I clicked on the Place Name and saw:

There are 13 items on this list, mainly churches and cemeteries, plus the town of Saint Francis.

Clicking on the Geo code link brings up a Google map of the area with a stickpin locating Wano township.

The user can manipulate the Google map to zoom in or out, change to a satellite map or a hybrid map, etc. The map is much smaller than the Google map that you can use at http://maps.google.com . This is an excellent resource for finding the latitude and longitude of a place.

Why did FamilySearch create this Standard Finder tool? They are using the standard name, date and place entries for the rest of the new and improved FamilySearch web site - including the Record Search Pilot site, the FamilySearch Beta site and the new FamilySearch Family Tree site.

We'll look at the Preview and Resources tabs in the next post.

1 comment:

Gary Hoffman said...

I've been fascinated by the feature for some time and was looking for an authoritative explanation. I may have to write one. I think a lot of work has gone into this unassuming database. There may some shortcomings but standardized names, dates, and places can remove lots of confusion in family history.