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Friday, Sep 19, 2014
Lifestyle Stories

‘What’s new?’ is always a question when researching online


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With FamilySearch regularly adding millions of indexes and digitized records to its website, how in the world is a genealogist to keep up with what’s happening?

The site actually makes it easy to follow what’s going on with its digital records publication; as with most genealogical ventures, however, it’s a matter of knowing where to look.

The first step is to check the News and Press section of the website at http://tinyurl.com/pceo3r9. From this location, researchers can subscribe to a feed or check archives to see what records have been completed or when additions were made. This will help family historians determine if anything has been added since they last used a set of records.

There’s every reason to be excited about the work at FamilySearch. They have 6.875 billion historic records on microfilm and are in the process of digitizing — and eventually indexing — all of them. They report that these records contain an estimated 20.6 billion names.

Its hard to get your head around the numbers, but all of this is happening with more than 200 digital record preservation camera teams working in 45 countries to produce 100 million new digital images for online publication each year. The indexing program includes English, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Spanish and Swedish languages with the promise of “more language interfaces and international projects coming.”

FamilySearch uses thousands of volunteers from around the world to make its searchable records available. These volunteers transcribe (index) information from digital copies of handwritten records to make them easily searchable online. The site wants more volunteers — especially those with multiple language skills. If this is your cup of tea, check it out at https://familysearch.org/indexing.

Experienced and professional genealogists for years have cautioned hobbyists or new researchers that they won’t find all of their ancestors and relatives online. In a few years, we may find ourselves modifying our admonitions. Although we still will encourage researchers to experience the thrill and fun of onsite searching through old ledgers at the courthouse, those with tight finances or health restrictions that limit travel and lodging will appreciate the digitized records they can access.

FamilySearch is the online service of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). And did I mention FamilySearch is free? Can you beat that?

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In February 2015, for a one-time genealogy event, the popular Roots Tech will hold a joint conference with the Federation of Genealogical Society (FGS). Registration for this historic merging will open in late August, so now’s a good time to start making plans.

The two groups will share keynotes, activities and the exhibit hall while running their educational sessions separately.

The sessions will be in the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, with four downtown hotels offering reduced rates Feb. 7 to 19. The conferences will be open Feb. 11 to 14. Full hotel details are available at http://tinyurl.com/kbe6vs4.

Those not interested in attending sessions for both groups can register just for the FGS sessions and for a small fee can upgrade to cover Roots Tech. Roots Tech has not yet released its independent session fees. Details on the FGS portions of the program are at http://tinyurl.com/mchln2h.

Sharon Tate Moody is a board-certified genealogist. Send your genealogical methodology questions and event announcements to her at stmoody0720@mac.com. She regrets she is unable to assist with personal research and cannot respond to requests for locating or researching individuals. Past Heritage Hunting columns are available online at tbo.com, search words “Sharon Tate Moody.”

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