Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Many Are Confused: Searching In FamilySearch.org and Family Tree

FamilySearch.org Home Page
is probably the most important website in cyberspace 
when it comes to Genealogy and Family History

 The resources in FamilySearch and added daily are massive: billions of records, millions added daily, hundreds of training videos for numerous topic and levels of experience, a wiki that grows daily, the Family History Library catalog, books, and the awesome Family Tree.

My mission assignments have caused me to write this article: training new missionaries, and answering peoples questions about Family Tree.

As you look at the photo above you see a searching section. This is the most heavily used portion of FamilySearch. 

But ahah, if you go into Family Tree (as anyone will be able to around the 12th of this month - maybe sooner) you can search there also.

I am finding this confuses people. Many do not realize the differences, which is the point of this article. 

RE: Searching on FamilySearch.org: Think of searching on the home page of FamilySearch.org as a very comprehensive and focused Google. You can do genealogy records searches. There are billions of records here. They are the records that the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints has placed in FamilySearch.org. These records come from the hundred years the church has stored information, transferred it to microfilm and kept in a Granite Mountain Vault. Another source example is all records indexed by the church are placed here. An example of that was the mighty effort of volunteers to index the 1940 census. You can search by persons name and those in the 1940 census will be found there. There are many other sources whereby records are placed in FamilySearch.org. Serious Genealogists return here weekly to discover what is new on FamilySearch.org.

Anyone can search here, and it's free. Due to contractual agreements with some of our data sources you find more records if you open an account and log in. 

Note: you are not finding pedigree type relationships other than finding records of family or couple relationships. Typically you will be looking for a marriage record, a death record, a military record, a birth record, or a census record. In a census you might identify the members of a family. But their is no pedigree chart relationships and no collecting in one place the facts you know or find about an ancestor. You are basically searching for records.

RE: Searching on Family Tree:  When you click the Family Tree Link (On FamilySearch  Home Page) you enter a different world.
There are fewer records here, yet many. Here resides the names and relationships of families. For decades Church members were asked to submit their pedigree chart information. These records were input into various computer programs, moved from one to another, aggregated, and now ending up in Family Tree. The most recent years new.familysearch.org was the program used mostly by members of the Church. 

Your goal in Family Tree is first to build your pedigree, jointly with all other relatives. It is one Tree. As added value you are encouraged to document all you enter, discuss in discussions what is correct, and collaborate with common relatives the actual facts to enter into the tree.

So your search here is different. If you were a Cragun for example, you might do a search for ancestor you might know you have. There is a large Cragun family in Minnesota. Very very few are members of the Church Of Jesus Christ Of Latter Day Saints. It is unlikely the Family Tree will have them connected to the tree. 

They are likely a descendant of Enoch Cragun. He might be their great great grandfather. So they would start by adding their name into Family Tree, then add parents and grandparents. Each name they added would offer a search to see if that ancestor is connected to the Family Tree. It might not be and they would add that name to the tree as their father, grandfather, spouse, child, etc.

Each new name would entail a search, not a search for an event such as a birth - rather a family relationship. A connection to the tree.Their search is to build onto the tree, either by finding the person in FamilySearch or adding to it.

As I have previously written, everyone will soon be able to join in on building FamilyTree.(Expect from the 8th to the 12th of this month.) Keep watching for it. 

You don't need to wait to start finding the records of your people. It's fun. I challenge you to go to http://familysearch.org/ and find out who of your relatives were in the 1940 census. Who was living with them? One lady I helped found a child in a grandparents census record she had never known about. Ah, the allure of genealogy. 

And it starts by searching on http://familysearch.org/ and gravitating to family tree. 

PS: If you join on in on this endeavor you may be adding yourself to those who make genealogy the worlds number one hobby.


  1. This is interesting. I haven't used the family tree. I love Family Search. Will have to take a look.


    1. I am really enjoying Family Tree. I have been a beta tester for almost a year.