Friday, August 22, 2014

Family Trees on - Post 4: Searching FindMyPast collections

Previous posts in this series include:

*  Family Trees on - Post 1: Creating the Tree, and Basic Navigation  on 198 August 2014 (in which I uploaded a GEDCOM file into a new tree on FindMyPast, and looked at the pedigree chart and the Profile for one person, with details on the "Overview" tab).

*  Family Trees on - Post 2: Navigation Aids and Profile Tabs on 20 August 2014 (in which I showed different navigation methods and the rest of the Profile tabs).

*  Family Trees on - Post 3: Source Citations on 21 August 2014 (in which I found that the source citations were incomplete).

In this post, I'm going to explore the Search function offered on the FindMyPast Family Tree Profile pages.

1)  From the Profile page, on the "Overview" tab, for my grandfather, Frederick Walton Seaver (1876-1942) in my FindMyPaAst Family Tree, I note the light blue area on the right that says:

"Search records for Frederick Walton Seaver."

My expectation was that the search function would take the information in my tree - the name, the birth date and place, the death date and place, perhaps the souse's name and marriage date and place, and search for records in all of the FindMyPast collections.  My hope was that I could attach a record on FindMyPast to persons in my FindMyPast Family Tree, and that a source citation would be provided.

2)  I clicked on the blue button on the screen above, and after several seconds, FindMyPast presented a screen of results:

There were 31 results.  None of them had a "Seaver" surname, but all had some variation of Frederick.  All of them were from English birth, marriage and death records.  None of them were for U.S. birth, marriage and death records, and none of the results were for any other record type (like census, immigration, military, etc.).

That's a major fail in my opinion.

I clicked on the blue "Edit your search" button to see what the search parameters were:

The search performed permitted name variants for both the first name and last name, did not include a year of marriage, included the year of birth and death, with a plus or minus 2 year variation, and in the World but no other place name.

I thought that I could probably select all record collections or record types by browsing the links to those fields, but they were limited to Births, Marriages and Deaths.  How do I see Census, Military, Cemetery, and other record types?

3)  The only way I found to access all record types in the world (not just England), was by clicking on the "Search records" button in the top menu bar on the screen above, and selected "Search all records."

That took me to the generic FindMyPast search form:

I had to type in the First Name, Last Name, Birth Year, and selected "United States & Canada" from the "Where" dropdown menu.  That opened the search results page before I had a chance to type Massachusetts in the field for "Enter a location:"

I had 66 matches, and there are several different records for the names and the birth year range.

I wanted to narrow the search to Massachusetts, so I added "Massachusetts" to the second location field on the screen above, and the results were narrowed to 20 matches:

I recognized several as pertaining to my grandfather.  For each match, there are blue icons to the right of the record line for "view record image" and "view record transcription."

I clicked on the "View record image" icon and saw the record image:

I could "Report image error," "Print" or "download" using the links in the lower right-hand corner of the screen, or go back to "Results" (link in top left of screen), "view full page transcription" (link at top center of screen), or "View transcription" (link in top right-hand corner of screen).

I clicked the "View transcription" link in the top right-hand corner of the screen above, and saw:

The Transcription screen provides a list of the Household Members, and then indexed information for each individual in the household.

There is no source citation for this record image or transcription.

There is no link to attach the record transcription or record image to a person in my FindMyPast Family Tree.

4)  My conclusions from this study are:

*  The Search from my Family Tree does not (yet?) search all FindMyPast record collections.  At present, it searches only English birth, marriage and death records.  That's a major fail.  I hope that this will be fixed fairly soon.

*  The Search from my Family Tree finds records that meet the search criteria, but there seems to be no ordering of the results according to closeness of the match.  For the Search, the matches were ordered alphabetically by surname and then by closeness to the birth or death year.  

*  To search all FindMyPast record collections for my grandfather, I had to go to the top of the screen and fill in the generic search form again.  That worked, and found results for my grandfather.  My expectation was those would be found when I clicked the "Search" button in my Family Tree.

*  There is no way at attach the record image or record transcription to the person in my Family tree.  I hope that FindMyPast will include this at some point in time.  

*  No source citation for a record image or record transcription is provided.  I hope that FindMyPast will include this at some point in time.

I will try to report further on the FindMyPast Family Tree feature if and/or when these issues are corrected and/or improved.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver


Anonymous said...

Hi Randy

It's Phil Moir (Technical Lead for Findmypast Family Tree Team) again. Felt like a response would be helpful. Very interesting points made, and issues found. I'll definitely investigate these, and come back to you and your readers with the results (and fixes)!

We're aiming to make the tree be a key start point for search and this needs to ensure you get to relevant results quickly, and in many of our tests that has been the case, so I need to check out the issues you have highlighted.

Some of the elements you were expecting such as attach records you won't be surprised to know is in development, and some coming soon. We'll let you know when the changes are available.

Again thanks and regards
Phil Moir

Anonymous said...

Hi Randy

We released a new version of the family tree yesterday morning, and following your post, we made some changes to the search coming from the profile page, and hope it comes closer to meeting the expectations of the Findmypast user. The link from Frederick Walton Seaver for example will bring back 7 results, from the US. At least 4 of them are definitely. 1 is for his draft registration, and the other are for Census returns 1880, 1900 and 1930. The search was changed as per your suggestion, focus more on the area which are most likely to have records (in FWs case the US), and searching across all data sets. Thank you for these suggestions.

In addition, this release also included Attach to a Tree from transcription and image pages. This has been in development for a few weeks so well timed to coincide with your observations. The ability to merge the transcription data is coming, and will contain as much source information as possible automatically.

Will let you and your readers know when this goes live.

Phil Moir (Findmypast Family Tree)