FamilySearch and its Unique Role in the Genealogical Community
|A presentation given by FamilySearch staff "FamilySearch and its Unique Role in the Genealogical Community," at the National Genealogical Society 2010 conference in Salt Lake City, Utah. , presented by David E. Rencher, AG®, CGSM, FIGRS, FUGA, FamilySearch Chief Genealogical Officer RencherDE@familysearch.org and Jim Greene FamilySearch Marketing Manager GreeneJR@familysearch.org .|
FamilySearch is a recognized leader in the genealogical community. With that leadership role, comes a responsibility to serve the community in ways that will benefit users and contributors across the globe. This session will identify ways in which FamilySearch is uniquely positioned to serve and lead the genealogical community to the next level—a world where collaboration plays a central role.
Collaboration – Embrace it!
A colleague of mine recently pointed out that if we think of collaboration in terms of what it was like in the 1980’s and 90’s then we really don’t understand collaboration. In essence, it was collaboration without the tools. If we are still thinking of it in that era, we quickly dismiss it for its seeming endless anecdotes of failed attempts to coordinate or facilitate and the perceived low value results for high demand efforts. Today, many are quick to dismiss collaboration because others don’t measure up to their standards of quality in their research. If that is what comes to mind when you hear the word “collaboration” then think again – times are changing.
I often watch my 18 year-old son simultaneously carry on text conversations on his “phone” with fifteen or more of his friends. I long ago stopped asking, “Why don’t you just call and talk to them?” Now think about the effect you could have on a genealogical problem if fifteen or more of you were simultaneously working on the problem and sharing the results of your searches and research in a collaborative venue. What if the results of our efforts were updated in real time; logged on a master tracking device; documented (correctly!) and uploaded into a common area for everyone to evaluate our efforts? Sound far-fetched? It’s the not-too-far-distant future! A collaborative summation of search and research in original records, electronic databases, the Internet, blogs, and wiki’s incorporating evidence, artifacts, photographs, maps, and a wealth of evidentiary materials is a realistic expectation of the Information explosion.
Most of us are wired to believe that exchanging fair value for services provided is an axiom to live by – a sort of moral line that shouldn’t be crossed. If we offer our services for free, they shouldn’t be exchanged for someone else to use to make a profit. This philosophy has worked for centuries in a free-market economy. In the Information Age, the lines are becoming more blurred. For example, if the historical set of records will all eventually become digitized, indexed, and adequately annotated, then it is likely that everyone will have the same data. If everyone has the data, then the only thing that separates the commercial and non-commercial enterprises is the experience.
If you eat at Applebee’s, Ruby Tuesday’s, Chili’s, and TGI Friday’s, then you have already experienced this phenomenon – there isn’t much left to do to a piece of chicken, beef, or shrimp! You choose your favorite restaurant more for the experience and convenience than for the food itself.
Record Search Pilot was launched on 29 June 2007 and by year-end had 13.5 million images and 240 million records. An additional 21 million images and 372 million records were posted in 2008. This site will grow rapidly during 2009 and beyond as the materials in the Granite Mountain Record Vault continue to be scanned and as the cameras in the field capture additional digital images. Originally, the site was operated with a limited number of users to test the search features, image quality, layouts, filtering, and status among other features. Now, however, you may use the Record Search site from the FamilySearch.org site by clicking on “Search” and then “RecordSearch Pilot.” It is anticipated that the site will be freely available to the public and completely integrated into the FamilySearch website in the not too far distant future. It is anticipated that another 21 million images and 370 million records will be posted by the end of 2009 including much of what was previously available only as part of the Vital Records Index series.
The current record set totals available at Record Search include:
- All Regions (165)
- Canada, USA, and Mexico (99)
- Europe (44)
- Caribbean, Central and South America (15)
- Asia and Middle East (1)
- Africa (2)
- Australia and New Zealand (4)
- Pacific Islands (0)
- Other (0)
FamilySearch is uniquely positioned to organize indexing projects in a wide variety of languages and with a broad base of affiliates. This is something that few other organizations can currently accomplish on the same scale. FamilySearch recognizes the need to provide indexed records on every continent and in every country for the most valuable genealogical records.
FamilySearch Digital Imaging
The FamilySearch team currently has nearly 150 digital cameras in the field. These cameras, coupled with about 50 existing microfilm cameras continually image records of genealogical value throughout the world.
Concurrent with the capture of digital images in the field, the FamilySearch staff is busy converting existing microfilm images from the 2.5 million rolls of microfilm to digital images. Many of these images have already been posted on the Record Search site noted above and many are currently in the FamilySearch Indexing program receiving additional record treatment before being posted to the site.
Current FamilySearch Indexing Projects as of 15 February 2010
Current FamilySearch Affiliate Projects as of 15 February 2010
FamilySearch continues to provide leadership in the community to enable all of the contributors of genealogical products and services to make their unique contributions and to create an environment where all genealogists can have access to the world’s records, services and resources.