Tuesday, June 26, 2007

LDS Record Search Pilot experiences

I signed up for the LDS "Record Search" Pilot program in order to see what the new Family Search might look like and how it might work, and to see what records are already available.

After I signed up, I received an email from them giving me directions to http://search.labs.familysearch.org/recordsearch/start.html and asking me to find a certain record in one of the databases that did not have an index. Then they asked for my feedback on the site and on the search I performed.

There is a search box to find historical records - but it only finds records in the databases that have been indexed to date. It also appears that it finds "sound-alike" matches to the search request, probably using a Soundex-type of search.

The individual collections are listed with three symbols - one for those that are indexed and searchable, another for those with available images, and the third denoting new databases. Partial databases are on this list, such as the 1900 US Census.

The databases that have images include at this time:

* 1900 US Census (partial) (indexed)
* 1930 Mexico census (partial)
* NY Passenger Arrival Lists at Ellis Island, 1892-1924
* US World War II Draft Registration Cards, 1942 (partial)
* Freedman Bank Records 1865-1874 (indexed)
* England Diocese of Durham Bishops' Transcripts ca. 1700-1900
* Ohio Deaths, 1909-1953 (indexed)
* Utah Death Certificates, 1904-1956 (indexed)

Note that there are no images available for the 1880 US Census Index, and it appears that you cannot find all family members using the present index. But you can use the index at http://www.familysearch.org/ for free and see the family units.

There are no images for these indexed databases (you only get transcriptions):

* Ontario Deaths, 1930-1932
* Texas Death Index, 1964-1998)
* US Social Security Death Index

I did send a comment to them about the Index list being confusing, and received a prompt reply that others had also made this comment.

I even took the opportunity to check for John Robinson Hall in the 1942 WW2 draft registrations, hoping to find the back side of the card that is not easily found on Ancestry.com. I found it (the image after the face of the card), and now my colleague Joan can learn that her JRH was white, 5 feet, 9 inches tall, 170 pounds, had blue eyes, gray hair, a ruddy complexion and no physical characteristics that will aid identification. He registered in Philadelphia on 27 April 1942 at age 56.

This web site bears watching over the months for additions, and it will benefit from everybody contributing their time and expertise at http://www.familysearchindexing.org/. The more that volunteer and do indexing, the sooner that ALL of the LDS data on microfilm and microfiche will be available to researchers. It's a very worthy project.

UPDATE 6/26: Several other genealogy bloggers have commented on their experiences, including:

* DearMYRTLE with Browse Unindexed Microfilm Online TODAY - she shows some screen shots and much detail about "how-to". Great post.

* John D. Reid with How do you search genealogy records?

* Birmingham Genealogical Society with New opportunity from FamilySearch Labs

* Becky Wiseman with http://kinexxions.blogspot.com/2007/06/familysearch-record-search-and-indexing.html which includes comments about FamilySearch Indexing also.

I'm sure there are others - please let me know who has posted them.


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Anonymous said...


I think I might give this a try. I'm also thinking about giving the indexing part a try. I'm not really sure what is involved but if I can help give back to the genealogy community and add to the knowledge that is being shared, then I believe I should.

I'll post later about my experiences with this as soon as I get a chance to test it out.

Thanks for the info!


Becky Wiseman said...

Randy, I also posted a bit about Record Search and indexing yesterday at http://kinexxions.blogspot.com/2007/06/familysearch-record-search-and-indexing.html

Becky Wiseman said...

Randy, Dear Myrtle posted a really good article on the Record Search Pilot Program at http://blog.dearmyrtle.com/2007/06/browse-unindexed-microfilm-online-today.html

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