Thursday, October 14, 2010

Family Tree Tab on FamilySearch Beta - Historical Records

One of the three major Search tabs on the FamilySearch Beta site is the Family Tree tab - with a Basic Search (shown below) or an Advanced Search tab:

I put "Zachariah Hildreth" in the search fields to see what turned up.  Here is the results page:

There are two sets of records here - "Trees" which lead the searcher to entries in the Ancestral File (this will probably be how a user gets into the New FamilySearch Family Tree in the future) and "Historical Records." 

In the "Historical Records" section it provides links to three records, and a link for "All 1464 results."  I clicked on "All 1464 results" to see what they found in the available historical records:

The list of historical record matches is in the center panel of the page, displaying 20 at a time.  The record collection that holds the record is shown below the person's name.  Over on the left sidebar, there is a list of categories with the number of records found in each category.  For instance, "Census & Lists" has 115 matches.   A user can click on the category and see only those records. 

From the list of matches, the user can click on the little down arrow to the far right of the name and see a "Quick Look" of the indexed information about that person - as shown below:

I really like that "Quick Look" feature - it is a time saver because the user can analyze the indexed data and decide if that is the record desired.  However, if the user wants to see the fully indexed record, they need to click on the name of the person:

The record above has  more useful information than the "Quick Look" index information - including the FHL Microfilm number, the image number, a link to the record image (if available), and the capability to save the record image.

This particular record has an image available, so I clicked the "View Image" link and saw the Massachusetts Death record in 1910 for one of Zachariah Hildreth's children, Elizabeth (Hildreth) Chaffin:

Why was this particular record found in the search for Zachariah Hildreth?  Because he was listed as the father of Elizabeth in this record, and the FamilySearch Indexing project indexed the parents names. 

For Massachusetts researchers, this is a tremendous research benefit.  In my case, I have the birth records of many siblings of my direct ancestors but do not have marriage or death records for them because it was difficult to search the Massachusetts record indexes on microfilm (first a film of the index to get a volume and page number, then a film for the specific record, and scroll through hundreds of pages) and then on the NEHGS website (with only the name, date and town indexed).  A caveat here - the Massachusetts Birth, Marriage and Death collections on FamilySearch are not yet complete.

If the search produces too many results, then the user can click on the "Advanced Search" link and add more detail in order to narrow the search.  If I were searching for Elizabeth Chaffin, and knew her husband's name, I could add the spouse's name.  If I were searching for Elizabeth's birth record, I could add one or both parents, or her birth date and birth place, if known. 

1 comment:

Lineagekeeper said...

I use FamilySearch Beta constantly. In fact, one tab in my browser is always open to the site.

Like you, I had struggled for years to find the B-M-D documents for many of my ancestral families in the Massachusetts records. The Indexing project by FamilySearch has to a large degree resolved that issue. The records seem to "pop" off the page when I use the advanced fields and add additional search criteria.

How's the best way to use FamilySearch Beta? Just use it and don't hesitate to use populate the advanced fields to aid in your quest.

Then take 30 minutes a week to index additional records for the site as a volunteer indexer as a way to pay-it-back and pay-it-forward to the FamilySearch Indexing and user community.