It was shaping up to be a very interesting week. The Family History Guide website had just been officially released on Monday, July 27, and it debuted on the FamilySearch App Gallery the same day. Wednesday of that week would be an opportunity to see it “in the wild” at a booth at the BYU Family History Conference. (OK, BYU is not really that wild.) How would genealogists, from raw beginners to experts, react to this new family history venture? As the architect of The Family History Guide, I was curious, and I was about to find out in person …
Let’s go back a few weeks in time to the Conference, and I’ll do my best to remember two of the many conversations we had there (names are changed for privacy).
Conversation 1, with David, a family history beginner:
David: “So what is this Family History Guide thing – what are you selling?”
Bob (that’s me): “It’s actually free – it’s an online learning and resource center for family history.”
David: “Does it help beginners?”
(And here I’ll interject that you can click any of the links or icons in this blog to try the actual website features we’re talking about.)
Bob: “Yes. For example, the Get Started section has links to articles and videos that introduce you to family history concepts and terms, as well as computer basics if you need them.
And when you’re ready, you click Projects. Each of the 7 Projects has Goals, Choices, and Instructions you can work on at your own pace. Click a Goal to open them up.”
David: “Seems pretty simple – I click to open or close a Goal I’m working on. Now these blue icons – what do they do?”
Bob: “They’re links to articles or videos that help you with the learning concept you’re working on. This one explains the new FamilySearch Family Tree Landscape view.”
David: “Nice that I can watch the video when I need it, instead of hunting for it online.”
Bob: “There are over 1,000 links to articles, videos, and websites in The Family History Guide, all integrated into a smooth and friendly learning system.”
David (looking at his watch): “I’ve got to run to my next class – where can I find The Family History Guide online? I want to start using it and share it with my brother in New York.”
Bob: “It’s at www.thefhguide.com – and remember, it’s free.”
Conversation 2, with Rachel, the Director of a large Family History Center in California. She had been standing behind us as I gave the online tour to David, so she saw the brief tour.
Rachel: “What else can you show me about The Family History Guide?”
Bob: “Let’s take a look at the QuikLinks feature in Project 4: Discover the United States. In the left side of the screen you see a list of the 50 U.S. States – these are QuikLinks to Search screens for FamilySearch records for each State.
To the right of each state name you see ‘A’ for Ancestry, ‘P’ for Findmypast, and ‘H’ for MyHeritage. So if you want to quickly see the Ancestry records available for Louisiana, for example, you just click the ‘A’ to pull up the results, instead of navigating through several Ancestry screens to find the Louisiana search page. Same idea for Findmypast and MyHeritage. And there are QuikLinks available for most of the 35 country pages in The Family History Guide.”
Rachel: “Those QuikLinks are amazing – so much faster! Now I’m wondering – is there any way to keep track of what I’ve been working on in The Family History Guide?”
Bob: “Yes – click the Project Tracker link in the left side of any Project page. This downloads a word processing file you can use to track your status on each of the Choices for each Goal in the Project.”
Rachel: “Great – sounds very useful. Now I’m really interested to see if we can use The Family History Guide to train Family History Consultants and help patrons at our Center.”
Bob: “We will soon be completing a training program on the Family History Guide at the Sandy Granite Family History Center. Over 50 Family History Consultants will be trained so they will be ready to help patrons use it. Imagine a scenario like this: a Family History Consultant is helping a patron, when a second patron asks a family history question. The Consultant quickly refers the second patron to a pertinent section of The Family History Guide, and when the Consultant returns to help the second patron, the reply may very well be, “Thanks – I’ve got it now.”
I’ve done a lot of the talking in this blog, but I’ll let James Tanner, noted genealogist and family history blogger, provide the conclusion. Read his recent blog entry on The Genealogy Star to see what he thinks about The Family History Guide and what he plans to do with it.
Thanks for listening – together we can reach that 90 percent of us who have yet to experience the joys of family history work.
This article was written and submitted by Bob Taylor, CEO – The Family History Guide, LLC.