Thursday, May 12, 2011

The New FamilySearch Family Tree - Post 1: I Have Access

I've written about the promises and projections made for the New FamilySearch Family Tree (an online interlinked family tree) in:

*  FamilySearch Blogger Day - FamilySearch Family Tree (25 October 2011)
FamilySearch Family Tree Update (21 January 2011)
More on the FamilySearch Family Tree Update (23 January 2011)

Since I am not an LDS Church member, I have not been able to observe or participate in this family tree database, and have been very curious about it.  I submitted an evaluation participation survey after the RootsTech announcement that the New FamilySearch Family Tree would be opened to selected non-LDS church members, and was invited to participate on Monday, 9 May.  I have taken advantage of that opportunity, and will be sharing my experiences, observations, criticisms, and suggestions here on Genea-Musings.  Access to the New FamilySearch Family Tree requires a registration on, and an invitation from to participate at this time.

To prepare for this adventure, I have checked out the following online resources:

*  FamilySearch has a report "A User's Guide to the New FamilySearch Website (February 2011)"

*  Family Search has a number of Videos about adding, editing, correcting and matching data in the Family Tree - see:

**   Getting Started in Your Family Tree
**  Navigating and Viewing the Pedigree
**  Combining and Separating Records
**  Displaying Correct Information   
**  Adding Missing Individuals

*  James Tanner has written extensively about New FamilySearch Family Tree on the excellent Genealogy's Star blog, including:

**  A current assessment of New FamilySearch (28 April 2011)
**  When is a source not a source? In New FamilySearch? (21 April 2011)
**  New FamilySearch goes public? (28 February 2011)
**  Sorting out the genealogical chaff (17 August 2010)
**  Probably many more that I didn't find in my search on his blog.

*  The Ancestry Insider has written quite a bit about New FamilySearch Family Tree sources in the excellent The Ancestry Insider blog (which could be renamed The FamilySearch Insider blog), including:

*  See the FamilySearch Tree archive of posts.

When I did a Google search for "new familysearch blog," I was surprised by the dearth of blog posts by geneabloggers on using New FamilySearch.  I wondered if there was some sort of non-disclosure agreement that prevented geneabloggers from showing screens, discussing features and problems, or whatever.  James assured me that there was no agreement that he knew of.  Other than James Tanner and The Ancestry Insider, very few geneabloggers with access to the New FamilySearch Family Tree have written much about the system, other than posting FamilySearch announcements. 

Over the past four days, I've explored the New FamilySearch Family Tree a bit, and observed many of the problems that James has written about in significant detail.  I searched for some of my ancestors back five or more generations, and see some of the duplicate person and duplicate assertion problems.  I'll point out some of them in future posts as examples, and discuss the options for how to deal with them. 

I entered my parents into the New FamilySearch Family Tree system to see how easy it was to enter information about persons online.  I entered only names, birth, marriage and death information, with sources for each.  It wasn't very easy.  For one person it took me ten minutes or more.  I did not try to add children to the family.

I knew that there was another way to access the New FamilySearch Family Tree and to add information to it - through desktop genealogy software like RootsMagic 4 and Legacy Family Tree 7.5 (there are other programs that do this also).  I watched several FREE webinars to help me understand this process, including:

FamilySearch Made Easy with Michael Booth and Bruce Buzbee of RootsMagic (link to watch on

New FamilySearch Made Easy with Legacy Family Tree, with Geoff Rasmussen of Legacy Family Tree (link to watch on

Improving Your Use of New FamilySearch: Data Cleanup Strategies, with Geoff Rasmussen of Legacy Family Tree (link to watch on

I've been using RootsMagic 4 to add and edit my genealogy data, so I experimented with it the last two nights and have managed to add about 60 more individuals to the New FamilySearch Family Tree.  It's very easy to do, but takes some time to add a person and their data (one to two minutes), but there are some limitations and pitfalls.

We'll look at using RootsMagic 4 to add family data in future posts, and also look at how things appear in the New FamilySearch Family Tree.
Note:  This was originally written on Thursday, 12 May just before the Blogger meltdown.  It hasn't come back yet, so I retrieved it from Google Reader.  Now to archive all blog posts somehow!


James Tanner said...

I am extremely interested in your comments and experience with NFS. I assume that I will have a lot of support opportunities as the program gains more public access. I am also very interested to see what happens to the database as more people gain access. Thanks for starting this series and dialog

Elizabeth O'Neal said...

Randy, your links to New Family Search Family Tree are coming up as errors. Is the URL really