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Mocavo

Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Monday, January 14, 2013

It is time to move on from the Classic FamilySearch.org

Some time ago I wrote a post about the end of the Classic FamilySearch.org website. Last year, 2012, the old version of the site was finally taken down, about a year or so after the present (newer) website was introduced in 2010. Well, I am still getting comments on my blog post complaining about the removal of the old website. It is time to move on folks. All of the databases in the old site have been entirely incorporated in the new one. Nothing was lost, just moved around.

Most of the complaints center around issues with "finding" their information on the old site. The Classic website had searchable databases including the Ancestral File (AF), the Pedigree Resource File (PRF), the International Genealogical Index (IGI), the Social Security Death Index (SSDI), a lot of finding aids such as the geographically organized Research Guides and a few other extracted records. Other than the SSDI, none of these records were original source records. Part of the IGI contained extracted records, primarily from England, but the rest of the IGI, the AF and the PRF are all user contributed records, that is, copies of copies. Very few of these records have adequate source citations.

Now, I am not a fan of this huge pile of records for the simple reason that these records were the basis of the data in New.FamilySearch.org with all of that programs' duplicates and inaccuracies. Unfortunately, to a great extent, many of these data issues were also inherited by the newer FamilySearch.org program, Family Tree. Until this pile of duplicates gets resolved, I cannot make any progress with entering sources and data into the Family Tree program. But that is another issue.

Now, are these old records from the Classic site still available (I said they were but I am asking the question rhetorically)?

Yes, go to the present site, FamilySearch.org. Here is a screen shot with an arrow showing the link to the AF and the PRF:


The IGI has been included in the Historical Record Collections. You can now search the extracted records (essentially an index of the records) and the user contributed records separately. The SSDI is also incorporated in the Historical Record Collections. So, the whole issue revolves around a change in the location of the records and a different method of searching.

In light of the millions upon millions of original source records being added to FamilySearch.org every day, why are these user contributed records still relevant? Are we still in the mode of simply copying whatever records we find online and incorporating them in our own pedigrees? Have those who are complaining focused on the issue that there are few, if any, sources listed for these older database records? In my own case, the records in the AF, the PRF and the IGI come from my own prior submissions primarily, and I am fully and painfully aware of the limitations of what I had previously submitted.

Let's put this issue to rest. The old site is gone and the records are still available. Even the Research Guides and all the other support materials are now incorporated in the FamilySearch Research Wiki, available under the "Learn" link on the top of the home page. I am sure that this present site will see some changes in the future also. Change is inevitable and we need to adapt.

1 comment:

  1. Available? Yes. Sanitized? Yes. Usable? Hardly. The patron submitted records are a cacophony of information from about 1968 to the present, including the "TempleReady" era of particularly dubious scholarship. Without processing/ordinance data, it is impossible to evaluate the other data, because no time frame (pre-1991 or post-1991) can be established. Without batch numbers, a reference microfilm for the submission data (when such exists) cannot be retrieved. And without submitters, unless your surname is XXTR-RVT or something like it, it is impossible and disingenuous to footnote. Previously, those seriously interested in back-tracing the sources on patron submissions could do so by type of submission (individual/marriage entry sheet, family group sheet, FGRCA "Archives" summary, etc) and simply discard the "TempleReady" records. Now the entire set of on-line patron submitted records must be ignored as unusable. Sad.

    On the plus side, however, those "controlled extraction" records which relied on primary source material now point directly to the sources. However, there is no nexus for knowing where these records came from, when they were acquired from their original records custodians, how accurate the indexing is...unless those microfilm numbers [hidden within the record!] are ferreted out, logged, and double-checked.

    A hobbyist will be satisfied with an index listing. A family historian will pursue the original source material to the ends of the earth. Hot links to the LDS library catalog were contemplated and discarded fairly early in the process. Bring them back, please.

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