For the aspiring to the veteran genealogist, there are few things better than locating a name or key piece of information in a historical record. In those moments we feel our ancestors truly exist.
The breadth of historical records now accessible online is mind-blowing. There’s a new generation of amateur genealogists, including myself, that may happily live their lives without ever using a microfilm reader.
Now, these records are easy to find but sometimes aren’t as easy to understand. To help users navigate a record and have more research opportunities presented to them, FamilySearch has included a “Learn More” link with every collection. This link is almost always overlooked. Sometimes record hints will bypass the main page of the collection altogether, but for those that want to know a little more about the record they’re using, clicking that link reaps great benefits.
The main page of a collection looks something like this:
Underneath the “Description” will be a link called “Learn More.”
By clicking that link, you will be directed to a wiki article about that specific collection, like the page below.
This brief wiki article describes the information found in the collection, often including sample images with helpful translations for foreign languages. Along with the sample images are links for help with foreign genealogical words or even tips on reading handwriting. Articles may also include interesting information and insight about the records themselves or their locations.
Another incredibly useful part about these articles is the research suggestions. Tips and tricks may remind you to look for variant spellings of an ancestor’s name or direct you to a pre-narrowed search of the Family History Library catalog. A favorite feature is the related websites and articles sections. Here you will be connected to useful articles on the wiki and other free internet resources.
Basically the “Learn More” articles are doing the heavy lifting for you. In an age where online historical collections and record hinting make finding your ancestors about as easy as using the microwave, these articles are an example of one more thing you don’t have to do for yourself.
Take a minute and use the “Learn More” link the next time you are about to go pursuing through a collection. There just might be something there that will fill in the missing piece of the puzzle and allow you to find that key bit of information.