Archive for the ‘FamilySearch’ Category

“Extreme” Family History and Genealogy

Thursday, October 2nd, 2008

With the advent of digital technology, new ways of “doing” family history and genealogy are appearing, allowing individuals to more fully “experience” history, or to collaborate with others in finding their ancestors through innovative tools being developed or adapted for genealogical research. Some of these new ways are out-of-the ordinary-even extreme-in comparison with traditional methods. This article briefly shares two ways in which family history and genealogy may be called “extreme.”

EXTREME FAMILY HISTORY:

The first “extreme” we found is where individuals actually live in a recreated time period. We discovered that Lisa Cooke, Genealogy Gems, and her family participated in PBS television series called Texas Ranch House. A Web site has preserved the experience and comes complete with journal excerpts as a reality check with plenty of links to historical resources. Life on a Texas ranch in 1867 was recreated for television and Lisa’s family by outfitting the family and ranch workers in period clothing and providing them with the tools of the time to experience “what the saddle-sore, rope-burned, and sun-blistered ranch life was really like.” The site features details of the episodes where “real” life depicted the recreation, leisure time, music, cattle drives, and food of the Texas cowboys and their families. An interactive history page features games where individuals can test their skills of wrangling, roping, selecting food, cattle prodding, and cowboy slang. This area helps young people learn many aspects of history and have fun while learning.

EXTREME GENEALOGY:
Genealogical record collection on an “extreme” scale is what FamilySearch.org is doing all over the world. The current FamilySearch effort to convert their microfilm collection to digital is to create better access to the films and new records. FamilySearch operates 4500 Family History centers in 80 countries throughout the world. Dick Eastman, a popular blogger in the genealogy and family history field, interviewed Paul Nauta, Manager of Public Affairs, at FamilySearch. a non-profit organization that has accumulated the largest repository of genealogical records in the world. Dick interviewed Paul at the recent FGS conference in Philadelphia. You can view the entire interview at Roots Television by clicking here.

Facts on the “extreme” nature of the FamilySearch project:

* The bulk of the collection is still on microfilm and FamilySearch has almost 2.5 million rolls of microfilm left to digitize.

* Less than 3% of this material is digitized and indexed online.

* This microfilm collection will take 8-10 years to convert it to digital.

* 15 high speed scanners are in the Granite Mountain Records vault in Salt Lake City Utah and are being used five days a week.

* FamilySearch has replaced most of their microfilm cameras in the world with digital cameras.

* Over 200 camera teams in 45 countries are digitizing original documents five days a week.

* These teams produce 40 million images a year that FamilySearch wants to put online.

The New FamilySearch Wiki Invites Collaborators

Monday, September 15th, 2008

During the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conference in Philadelphia, visitors to the FamilySearch booth were introduced to FamilySearch Wiki, a new site where members of the genealogy and family history community can collaborate to post articles, lessons, news, events and research advice. FamilySearch encourages participation in their new “wiki” (short for “wiki wiki” which means “rapidly” in the Hawaiian language) and invite users to create an account and contribute their knowledge.

There are several tutorials and step-by step instructions to guide individuals through the process of using and contributing to the wiki. FamilySearch also suggests tasks that volunteers can do such as create a new article, categorize articles, get an idea for an article, add external and internal links to articles, suggest an article, or be a moderator.

Research guides for several countries are already included, along with forums and technical support.

FamilyLink.com, Inc. CEO Presents Keynote at Brigham Young University Family History and Genealogy Conference

Wednesday, August 6th, 2008

Shifting from the old to the new in family history research through technology 

Last week, family history enthusiasts participated in more than 100 classes, attended three keynote presentations, and browsed exhibits at Brigham Young University’s 40th annual Conference on Family History and Genealogy. Paul Allen, CEO of FamilyLink.com, Inc., opened the Thursday sessions with a keynote address centered on innovative technology tools that help accelerate the efforts of genealogists and family historians.

Allen started his remarks by talking and signing “I love family history.” He explained that he recently spoke at a deaf genealogy conference and that there was “100 percent eye contact” immediately to the left of where he was speaking.

Allen then held up the book Pioneers and Prominent Men of Utah, and told the story of how the collection came about. He said the original organizers of the data had a difficult time gathering the information. The labor was so intense at times for them and so overwhelming, that it is written in the book: “… the vastness of the undertaking dawned upon its promoters and depressed them to almost stupidness.”

According to Allen, through technology, family historians are transitioning from an “old” way to a “new” way to do genealogy. In many cases, the “old” way was through individual effort. “We have built on the shoulders of dedicated individuals,” said Allen. “The shift now is from the dedicated sacrifice of individuals to open source or crowd sourcing where groups collaborate-where individual users contribute and work together.”

After Allen mentioned some of the projects that his company was undertaking to help connect families and bring them closer together, he said he hoped he and others wouldn’t experience a similar “vastness of the undertaking” and a depression “almost to stupidness.”

“Now the efforts are coming to a head, and the work will move forward in unprecedented ways,” predicted Allen. “This is a global work. Where we haven’t started scratching the surface is Asia. The population of North America in 1750 was 2 million. Asia had 500 million in 1750. Last week, the Chinese government announced more Internet users in China than in United States. Many of them are accessing the Internet via a cell phone. There are now about 4 billion cell phones. Think about that in terms of technology and family history. You are going to see some of the most remarkable things you have ever imagined.”

Allen announced the collaboration between FamilySearch and FamilyLink.com to publish the Family History Library Catalog-the largest single database of genealogy sources in the world-using a Web 2.0 approach. With the application of the Web 2.0 technology, individual genealogists, librarians, archivists, and others from around the world will be able, when the catalog comes online in the coming months, to enhance and extend the value of the catalog that currently has more than four million entries.

Users will be able to add new sources that are currently in the library catalog, and extend its scope of coverage. They will be able to improve the source descriptions, and even rate and review sources as to their usefulness. The user feedback combined with the intelligent search algorithm being developed by FamilyLink “will make the catalog better and better that it will become so easy that your children and grand children want to do it,” Allen said. “And our recommendation engine will get smarter and smarter as end users collaborate.”

World history has always been a passion for Allen, and he disclosed FamilyLink.com’s plans to unveil a new history site to encourage individuals to find out more about the historical context in which their ancestors lived. “We are more of an aggregator of content,” commented Allen. “Our primary goal is to broaden the interest in family history to millions of people of all ages. We want people to want to learn about their ancestors.”

Allen concluded the address by talking about the social networking sites being developed and enhanced by FamilyLink’s team. He said that his goal with the social networking sites is to “make sure your relatives are interested in what you are doing.”

FamilyLink.com, Inc. Mentioned in LDS Church Ensign Magazine

Friday, July 11th, 2008

Recently the LDS Church mentioned FamilyLink.com in the July edition of the Ensign magazine. The mentions discusses how FamilyLink.com, Inc. will enhance the FamilySearch Catalog.

The mention includes the following:

A partnership with FamilyLink.com will improve navigation on FamilySearch.org, reduce research time, and allow major search engines to comb the Church’s Family History Library Catalog. The new Web elements provided by FamilyLink.com will allow users to link directly to other sources, post comments, and make contributions such as adding missing information to a source. Some of the enhancements will be implemented in 2008.

To view the Ensign mention in pdf format, click here. The mention is on page 82.

To view the press release on the specific enhancements FamilyLink.com, Inc. will make to the Family History Library Catalog, click here.

FamilyLink.com, Inc. to Add Online Functionality and Enhancements to Popular Family History Library Catalog

Wednesday, May 14th, 2008

PROVO, UT, May 14, 2008 — FamilyLink.com, Inc has teamed with FamilySearch to improve the user experience of the Family History Library Catalog for millions of people worldwide by adding new Web 2.0 functionality and enhancements. The improvements will also enable users to spend research time more efficiently by directing them to the information that will generate the quickest results.

FamilyLink.com’s improvements to the catalog will make it searchable by major online search engines and allow users to annotate item descriptions–increasing their accuracy and enriching the content.

FamilySearch’s Family History Library Catalog is used extensively by family history enthusiasts. It is a window to the vast collection of genealogical resources amassed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the past 100 years–millions of microfilms, fiche, and books from 110+ countries throughout the world.

Genealogists use the popular online catalog to see if FamilySearch has any material that can help them in their research. Materials are then ordered on an interlibrary loan one FamilySearch’s 4,500 local family history centers worldwide.

“The enhancements FamilyLink.com will help make to the Family History Library Catalog will increase its usability and exposure. Beginners will find it particularly easier to navigate, and searching and browsing will be more rewarding,” said Paul Nauta, Manager of Public Affairs, FamilySearch.

Improved Searching

In a typical search of the Family History Library Catalog, users first identify known facts about a family and then go through a step-by-step process to locate records. Newly integrated FamilyLink.com tools will help users better identify information. Guided searches will help users decide what they want to learn about their families, point them to relevant records, help obtain and search the records, provide clues to more information, and assist with the application of the new information.

As part of the enhancement, FamilyLink.com will make searches more useful by allowing the user to browse, sort (by popularity, relevance, most used, etc.), and perform multiple searches. A new “probability engine” feature will calculate the likelihood that a particular source contains the desired item. It will also be able to search across someone’s entire family tree to determine which ancestry lines have the highest likelihood of success based on known sources.

“We are excited to work with FamilySearch and to add this extensive catalog to our database collections,” said Paul Allen, CEO, FamilyLink.com, Inc. “We have looked at doing this collaboration for quite a while. We will enhance the catalog by connecting it with new innovative tools, along with the best resources of our WorldVitalRecords.com databases, the FamilyLink.com social networking site, and our We’re Related application in Facebook. Putting all of these resources together will dramatically change the meaning of ’search’ in genealogy.”

Social Networking

Another enhancement to the Family History Library Catalog will be its increased interactivity. Every entry in the catalog will link to an online or digital source, if available. The user will then be able to link directly to the publisher, buy the book, or search for the nearest copy.

FamilyLink.com will also add an annotation feature that allows users to suggest a new source, enhance an existing source by adding a place (location) or a time period, and rate and review a source based on its usefulness.

“We know that search traffic will increase on both the FamilyLink services and FamilySearch’s site when users discover the new guided search tools,” said FamilyLink.com President David Lifferth. “Last month we had over 700,000 unique visitors and 8.5 million page views. We are predicting that these numbers will more than double after the first quarter of use.”

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Media Contact
Whitney Ransom
Corporate Communications Director
FamilyLink.com, Inc.
http://www.worldvitalrecords.com
whitney@familylink.com

Paul Nauta
FamilySearch Public Affairs Manager
nautapg@familysearch.org

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world’s largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at FamilySearch.org or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

About FamilyLink.com, Inc.
FamilyLink.com, Inc. is a family of services that includes WorldVitalRecords.com, FamilyLink.com, and the We’re Related application on Facebook. The focus of the company is to provide innovative tools to connect families.

About WorldVitalRecords.com
Founded in 2006 by Paul Allen and several key members of the original Ancestry.com team, WorldVitalRecords.com, Inc. provides affordable access to genealogy databases and family history tools used by more than 600,000 monthly visitors. The site registers 9.4 million monthly pages views and has more than 30,000 subscribers. With thousands of databases–including birth, death, military, census, and parish records–WorldVitalRecords.com makes it easy to fill in missing information in your family tree. Some of its partners include Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, Archive CD Books Australia, Gould Genealogy, Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Archive CD Books Canada, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., SmallTownPapers®, Accessible Archives, Genealogical Publishing Company, Find My Past, Godfrey Memorial Library, Find A Grave, and FamilySearch. Investors include vSpring Capital and several angel investors.

FamilySearch Teams With FamilyLink.com, Inc. to Bring German Collection Online

Tuesday, May 13th, 2008

PROVO, UT, May 13, 2008 — FamilySearch recently announced an inaugural project in concert with FamilyLink.com, Inc., to digitize and index a valuable German genealogy collection containing over 3.5 million names from the period of 1650-1875.

The Brenner Collection contains 3.5 million names on more than 750 rolls of microfilm, representing between 900,000 and 1.5 million images. A final count will be determined once all of the records have been indexed. The complete Brenner Collection database is scheduled to be online at WorldVitalRecords.com by the end of this year, although segments of the database will be launched in the interim.

“The genealogy market for German records is hungry for online data. FamilyLink.com was selected for this project because of the company’s focus on international vital record sets,” said Paul Nauta, Manager of Public Affairs, FamilySearch.

The FamilySearch Records Access Program (RAP), announced in 2007, works with record custodians and companies to preserve and publish the world’s genealogical records faster, more effectively, and efficiently. Under the RAP agreement for the Brenner Collection, FamilySearch will digitize the records, and FamilyLink.com will create the indexes. When completed, the index will be available for free at FamilySearch.org and WorldVitalRecords.com. Access to the images will be free to FamilySearch members and WorldVitalRecords.com subscribers.

“This is our first project with FamilySearch, and we are excited to collaborate with them,” said Jonathan Burton, COO, FamilyLink.com, Inc. “This database will be an invaluable part of our growing German collection. Certainly it will be priceless to the descendants worldwide of the families listed in these records.”

The Brenner Collection was discovered in a Bavarian barn and includes data from approximately 97 parishes primarily within the vicinity of Ansbach, and also other places in Mittelfranken, Bavaria.

“I love that that these German records have found a home on our site,” said Paul Allen, CEO, FamilyLink.com, Inc. “This collection will be a highlight of the German records coming soon on our site, and will provide important links to information for those with German ancestry.”

Using the extracts found in the Brenner Collection is comparable to searching the original parish registers, with the exception that these records have been alphabetized and arranged in families by FamilySearch over a ten-year period.

“The Brenner Collection is a fabulous collection because you receive information on such a large section of the population. No other microfilm collection exists of this material,” said Warren Bittner, German collection management specialist for FamilySearch. “You would have to go from village to village to receive the same information that you can now find in one place.”

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Media Contact
Whitney Ransom
Corporate Communications Director
FamilyLink.com, Inc.
http://www.worldvitalrecords.com
whitney@familylink.com

About FamilySearch
FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization that maintains the world’s largest repository of genealogical resources. Patrons may access resources online at FamilySearch.org or through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, and over 4,500 family history centers in 70 countries. FamilySearch is a trademark of Intellectual Reserve, Inc. and is registered in the United States of America and other countries.

About FamilyLink.com, Inc.
FamilyLink.com, Inc. is a family of services that includes WorldVitalRecords.com, FamilyLink.com, and the We’re Related application on Facebook. The focus of the company is to provide innovative tools to connect families.

About WorldVitalRecords.com
Founded in 2006 by Paul Allen and several key members of the original Ancestry.com team, WorldVitalRecords.com, Inc. provides affordable access to genealogy databases and family history tools used by more than 600,000 monthly visitors. The site registers 9.4 million monthly pages views and has more than 30,000 subscribers. With thousands of databases-including birth, death, military, census, and parish records-WorldVitalRecords.com makes it easy to fill in missing information in your family tree. Some of its partners include Everton Publishers, Quintin Publications, Archive CD Books Australia, Gould Genealogy, Immigrant Ships Transcribers Guild, Archive CD Books Canada, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation, Inc., SmallTownPapers®, Accessible Archives, Genealogical Publishing Company, Find My Past, Godfrey Memorial Library, Find A Grave, and FamilySearch. Investors include vSpring Capital and several angel investors.