Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Using Find-A-Record to Add Information to Your FamilySearch Family Tree

Find-A-Record is a research assistant that enables you to search geographically for genealogical records.  It tells you what records exist in the place and time period that your ancestors lived.

The Find-A-Record tool works hand-in-hand with the FamilySearch Family Tree.  You have to be in the Family Tree and have added your ancestral families to the Family Tree in order to use Find-A-Record effectively.

There is a short video that explains how Find-A-Record works:

1)  The Find-A-Record home page looks like this (two slides):

Genea-blogger James Tanner is quoted as saying:  "It is a fabulous time saver and helps the beginning researcher focus on pertinent records."

On the screens above, there are three links - one to Start using the "Research Assistant" (left-side of the screen); one to "Search" geographically for records (upper right-hand side of the screen); and Download a "Chrome Extension" (lower right-hand side of the screen).

I'm going to look at what happens if you use the "Research Assistant" in this post.

2)  I clicked on the "Start" button in the "Research Assistant" area, and was requested to login to FamilySearch (it's a free account):

3)  After logging into FamilySearch, I was presented with a page titled "Research Opportunities:"

There are five colored buttons beneath the title:

*  green for Sources
*  blue for Person
*  purple for Relationships
*  red for Problems
*  orange for Cleanup

On the screen above, there is a list of items with a color code on the left side of each item that corresponds to the five buttons above.

You can unclick one or some or all of the buttons.  I unclicked them all, and then clicked on them one at a time.

4)  Here are the green (Sources) button items:

If I click on one of the Sources items above, the Research Assistant will provide the FamilySearch Family Tree information for the person, and suggested sources to be investigated.  I clicked on the first item and saw (three slides):

As you can see, a number of Canada birth records resources are listed, with the opportunity to search each FamilySearch record collection for the birth of the person.  There is also a "General Search" at the bottom of the page with links to Ancestry.com, BillionGraves, FamilySearch, Find A Grave, Findmypast and MyHeritage.

Note that this limits the search to a specific jurisdiction.  It appears that the jurisdictions are U.S. states and other countries (e.g., although my item was born in Ontario, the assistant found all Canada databases with births).

5)  Here are the results of clicking on the blue (Person) button on the "Research Opportunities" screen:

If I click on one of the items, then I can search in a specific location (a U.S. State or a country) for a record.

6)  Clicking on the purple (Relationships) button results in:

If I click on one of the items, then I can search in a specific location (a U.S. State or a country) for a record.

7)  Clicking on the red (Problems) button results in:

If I click on one of the items, then I can search in a specific location (a U.S. State or a country) for a record.

8)  Clicking on the orange (Cleanup) button results in:

Clicking on one of these items encourages me to fix duplicate names, standardize places, check alternate names, etc. in FamilySearch Family Tree.

9)  The "Research Assistant" tool in Find-A-Record requires access to the FamilySearch Family Tree.  The concept of finding a pertinent record is a good one, but it requires searching a number of record collections on FamilySearch.

This may be a wonderful tool for inexperienced researchers who have added their ancestral families to the FamilySearch Family Tree.  For me, it doesn't help a lot because I've already looked in the suggested databases and not found any records using Find-A-Record.  Often, there are ten or more collections suggested; it would be better if the Find-A-Record tool searched all of the suggested collections and listed the results in an order based on some algorithm.

The Find-A-Record tool only deals with online resources at the present time.  A comprehensive tool should also consider traditional ("offline") resources in manuscript, published, microform and records in repositories and archives (e.g., home, church, school, society, court, town, state, etc.).

I will look at the other two links on the home page - for Searching a geographical area, and for downloading the Chrome Extension, in later posts.

The URL for this post is:  http://www.geneamusings.com/2014/07/using-find-record-to-add-information-to.html

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

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