BLOG, Genealogy Problem Solver Series

Getting Started With Family Search

Getting Started With FamilySearchGetting Started With FamilySearch

I thought I would talk to you today about getting started with FamilySearch. Both beginners and more experienced genealogists can be nervous of using a website that they haven’t used before or it may be that you have used FamilySearch, but not explored it fully. Anyway I hope to help you get the most of this great free website.  The website is run by the LDS (Mormon) Church and is free to use by church members and non-church members alike. The reason why the LDS fund the website, their Family History Centres and their work in digitising genealogy records worldwide is because of their religious beliefs regarding the importance of family and ancestors. I am not a member of the LDS Church and therefore don’t know enough to comment on these beliefs further, but here is a link if you wish to know more.

Many of us are guilty of only using the parts of a website that we know well, I know I am ! So even if you have used the FamilySearch website before I hope I can teach you about some aspects of the site that you weren’t aware of.  I am going to walk you through the basics of the website and come back in future posts and look at each section in depth. Let’s get started…..

Getting started with FamilySearch – signing in

A fairly new requirement on the FamilySearch website is that you have to create an account and sign in to access all Getting Started With FamilySearchthat is on offer and let me tell you it is well worth while creating an account and signing in. FamilySearch is completely free and you won’t be asked for your credit card details at any stage. You will be asked for your name, a user name and a password, the second step asks for an email and a mobile phone number. The final step asks for your country of residence and date of birth. The reason behind asking you to open an account and to give these details is so that the church can report back to the archives and record offices who have allowed their records to be filmed and assure them that the records are being accessed by genuine researchers. This data won’t be used to contact you to promote the church in any way. You may receive the occasional email regarding new additions to their genealogy collections, but you can opt out of this if you wish to once you have an account.

When you have signed in you will be taken to a page where you are encouraged to create an online family tree. My opinion is that I don’t recommend doing this as the tree is open to all other users who can “correct’ it if they think something is wrong. As far as I can find out the idea is to connect up everyone into a great big world wide family tree. I have no real problem with that, but I do have concerns in allowing anyone to come in and correct data on another individuals tree without contacting them and discussing the issues first. I leave it to you to decide if you are comfortable with that. In future posts I will be writing about creating free family trees online with Ancestry and FindMyPast where no one but you can alter the data. I like to be in control of my research – does it show ?!!

 Getting started with FamilySearch – the tabs

You will see at the top of the page a line of tabs which if you run your mouse over them Getting Started With FamilySearchhave a drop down menu of options. The tabs are

  • Family Tree
  • Search
  • Memories
  • Indexing

Because of my misgivings about the FamilySearch tree system I will not be covering that, so we will start with the “Search” tab. The drop down menu when you hoover the mouse over the “Search” tab shows:-

  • Records
  • Family Tree
  • Genealogies
  • Catalog
  • Books
  • Genealogy Wiki

If you hoover your mouse over the “Memories” tab, the drop down menu shows:-

  • Overview
  • Gallery
  • People
  • Find

Finally if you hoover your mouse over the “Indexing” tab the drop down menu shows:-Getting Started With FamilySearch

  • Overview
  • Web Indexing
  • Find a project
  • Help resources

Getting started with FamilySearch – Summary

Next week I will start to show you how to get the very best out of FamilySearch. We will start with the first option of the “Search” tab drop down menu. This section is “Records” and is the one which you will use the most, but I have some hints and tips which will make sure you are getting the most out of this wonderful free website. See you next week !

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