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New FamilySearch: A Database to Capture Your Imagination

The New FamilySearch is being gradually rolled out. If you are aware of a correction that needs to be made to your existing FamilySearch data but you don't have access, how do you correct it? Judy Rosella Edwards tells us how.


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Not everyone has access to the tools in New FamilySearch (NFS). That's a shame, because they are truly wonderful. The search capabilities are astounding. The pop-ups that help complete addresses properly with correct spelling and country designation are something to behold.

Limited Access is Available Now

Eventually, NFS will be available to the public. But, for now, change access is limited to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and within certain districts.

So when do you get to access this snazzy new system? For those districts with access, the system can be accessed from any computer with Internet access. Users who cannot or prefer not to make changes on their own, can contact the Family History Center in their district and request a Helper make changes. However, a request must be accompanied by the church member's Helper access number.

That number "assigns" the changes and any additions to the person who is submitting information about their own relative. When each person logs in to the new system, they are greeted by a tab labeled "Me and My Ancestors" that brings up the user's own family. They can look at other individuals in the database. But every change is matched up to the individual making the change.

The exception is that changes made on behalf of someone else must be matched up to that person's Helper access number. Otherwise, depending on what change was made, only the original user would be able to make further changes to the Helper's data.

Nevertheless, if you are aware of a correction that needs to be made, there is a process in place. First of all, the New Family Search is designed to encourage the citation of proof for every aspect of your ancestor's life and death.

The designers of NFS had their thinking caps on when they designed the citation tools. For every birth, marriage, and death, there is an option to click in order to cite your source. To encourage users to cite sources, a drop-down list suggests sources from five categories:

Before considering correcting what is already in Family Search or the other four databases being include in the New Family Search, verify your evidence. If you don't have cited evidence in your existing data on your own computer, it probably isn't in New Family Search, either.

As I mentioned in a previous article, you'll want to begin by merging the duplicate data already in New Family Search. And, yes, passworded access does grant you the ability to do that, when your district comes on line.

Gear Up Now

So, gear up and do plan to visit New Family Search when it is available to you. And, do plan to perfect it.

I recommend looking up all your direct ancestry line in the current Family Search. No doubt, you will find duplicates. Ask yourself how much proof you have of your existing data. If you aren't ready to cite the source for every birth, marriage and death, then start there.

The Heart of the System

Once you finish finding your proof for every one of those items, then you are ready to start the real business of genealogy. You will find the New Family Search database is quite ecumenical. Event Information includes christening -- even adult christening. There are fields for a baptism, blessing, bar mitzvah, bat mitzvah or, just in case you want to include something else, there is an "Other" option where you can create your own event.

If you add a christening event, a pop-up window will ask for the date of the event. You get four choices: On, About, Before, or After. Its obvious this database is hungry for details!

The date should be formatted as day, month, year, such as 11 May 1845 for May 11, 1845. If you type it in a different format, a pop-up will present the property formatted date for you. You either ignore it – please don't! – or click on the date and it reformats itself for you.

The next field is one you will see all over the place in New Family Search. This, in my opinion, is the biggest boon to genealogy in a long time. This field is for citing your source.

Before you groan, let me explain how simple and consistent New Family Search is about citing sources. It almost makes you want to cite sources, it is so easy to work with!

First, every time you type in a date, you will see a [Select a source] box, filled with a drop-down list.

This is "no-typing" citation!

Okay, maybe I exaggerated a bit, but not entirely. For every citation, you select from a standard list -- but, if the choice you need is not there, you can invent it!

Let's say we want to record a christening that we can prove through a church record. This is a church record from the church where the person was christened. Remember, this is ecumenical. This information can be entered for anyone and any church.

Clicking on a Details button calls up a window for entering the source information. This database has a superb memory. The system remembers that Church Record was selected from the previous drop-down list and carries it over to the first field on the Details screen. Here, you will have three more drop-downs to choose from. See, less typing!

The first item is the Source Detail. You're not going to believe what you won't have to type. The list is long, but while you're waiting for this fabulous new system you'll want to look up this information and be ready to add the citations. The list is the same for every Detail window:

Adoption papers
Anniversary announcement
Baptism record or certificate
Birth announcement
Birth record or certificate
Burial record or certificate
Cemetery record or headstone
Christening record or certificate
Citizenship record
Court record
Death record or certificate
Family Bible
Family genealogies
Funeral program

Handwritten information
Honor roll
Insurance policy
Journal or diary
Land record or deed
Marriage record or certificate
Medical record
Military record or discharge
Mortgage record or deed
Newspaper article
Ordination record or certificate
Passenger or voyage record
Probate record or will
Report card
Social Security record
Society membership
Tax records
Voting Record

This database makes it easy to cite any kind of source you can unearth, short of a tablet of a cave wall. You can cite numerous media types. Granted, this is another long list. But I decided to share it because it such a thorough list it even includes 8 mm home movies! So, be thorough and include:

Cassette tape
Compact disc
Electronic document
Reel to reel
Web Site
Written correspondence

For each of these items, there is a field for Title, Author, and Publication Information. The good news is, you don't need to be in possession of every item. In fact, it makes it easier to pass out the family collectibles and still know where they are. Think of it as an inventory system.

Again, all you need is a mouse. Choose Archive, Church, Individual, Government Office, Library or School from the drop-down list. Regardless of which you choose, there are fields for an address.

The last section is for Page Number, Actual Text and a Comment. So you could type in "Big oak trunk" just so you know where the movies are. I have been adding the death certificate number in the Comment field. There are lots of options.

This database just inspires genealogists to use their imagination. There is room to add occupation and retirement, caste name, even a move to another residence.

There is more than enough room for all of life all in one easy-to-use database. Watch for it in your area.

Source Information: GenWeekly, New Providence, NJ, USA: Genealogy Today LLC, 2009.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Genealogy Today LLC.

*Effective May 2010, GenWeekly articles that are more than five years old no longer require a subscription for full access.

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