Sunday, July 19, 2009

"FamilySearch - The Old, The New, The Future" with Ann Montgomery

The Saturday meeting of the Computer Genealogy Society of San Diego featured Ann Montgomery on the subject of "FamilySearch - The Old, The New, and the Future." There were about 80 in attendance at this meeting, with about 20 guests. You can see the summary of her talk and her CV here.

Ann's presentation combined a Powerpoint introduction to FamilySearch with going online to demonstrate all of the links, menus and tabs on the home page. This worked well because of the excellent wi-fi- signal at UCSD in the classrooms. Ann is a former schoolteacher, and currently teaches genealogy classes, so she treated the audience like eager students ready to learn - with lots of interaction through hand raising and questions and answers.

1) For The Old, Ann went across the menu tabs with dropdown menus on the home page, plus the links on the home page below the search box. She noted that it takes only one or two clicks to get anywhere in the website. The Family History Lesson Series, the FamilySearch News Releases, the Family History Library Research Series, the African-American and Jewish Resource pages, and the recently added Family History Library Catalog lessons were highlighted. Several of these were "new" to me.

Ann spent some time in the Family History Library Catalog, and in the classic Advanced Search (IMHO that is really a misnomer!) databases - the IGI, Ancestral File, Pedigree Resource File, the transcribed census records, etc.

2) The New part of the talk was mostly concerned with the BYU Family History Archives collection, FamilySearch Indexing and the result of the indexing - the FamilySearch Record Search Pilot site. Only a few in the audience were involved in the Indexing project, and a significant portion of the audience was not aware of the Record Search site.

Ann mentioned New FamilySearch, but noted that Gary Hoffman had talked about it last month at the CGSSD meeting, so she didn't show much on the site.

3) The Future portion of the talk was about the projects in the FamilySearch Labs site. She said that FamilySearch Alpha will probably be the new "face" of FamilySearch - using the Search link there goes right to the Record Search Pilot site. There are Forums on the Labs site to discuss research and new FS, but you have to have a username. In the Research Wiki, she mentioned finding research articles, but not finding information about countries, states and counties - too bad, because it would have impressed many attendees (but then, many states and counties are not written up yet...).

Ann logged into the Family Tree portion of new FamilySearch and showed us around a bit, noting that it, like new FamilySearch, is available only to LDS members at this time. The Standard Finder was briefly shown (and noted that it is a place to get Geocoding information). She said something like "Life Browser would be wonderful but is not on the current agenda." The Pedigree Viewer can be used to see how pedigrees in new FamilySearch will be displayed. They have sample charts, or anybody can upload a GEDCOM file to see what their pedigree chart looks like (they don't keep the GEDCOM files).

All-in-all, Ann's talk was full of information and I know everybody at the meeting took home something useful from it.

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