Family Search - What Do You Get For Free?

Family Search – What Do You Get For Free?

Family Search Read thisFamily Search recently sent out invitations to “rewrite history“. You may have received this email if you are a registered user on their site. There are apparently over 72,000 volunteers worldwide that are going to come together for three days, July 15th to July 17th. The goal is to enter vital information from historical record images into the search database.

When my email arrived, I clicked on “Yes, count me in.” All I have to do is type what I see on a historical record, and I can help keep a valuable source of information free for everyone. Minutes later I received an email congratulating me on being a member of the winning team. Now, all I have to do is download the software before the big event. They even encouraged me to recruit a few friends to help.

FamilySearch relies on volunteers to keep its #genealogical research FREE Click To Tweet

Family Search has made this process easy. Perhaps a bit too easy. How do they know that my friends and I can read these documents without making an error? We are human after all, and who is going to double check their accuracy? Imagine, that everyone on the winning team makes one mistake. Now the database has accumulated over 72,000 inaccuracies in just three days. Indexing is quite a big responsibility. Correct me if I am wrong, but don’t we all expect accurate results in our family search efforts?

Family Search – Popular Genealogy Websites Part 2

Family Search logoLast week’s post gave an overview of the most popular paid genealogy website, Ancestry. Now let’s take a little closer look at the most popular free genealogy website, Family Search. As a complement to its 4,745 Family Search Centers worldwide, this site is another way to help you connect the dots between the past and the present. It is not the easiest to navigate so I would recommend starting on the sitemap page to get an idea of what resources are available.  You can also get the Unofficial Guide to at Amazon.*

A 3:1 Ratio

Upon closer inspection, Family Search is more about how you can help them, than how they can help you. Although, it ends up being mutually beneficial for many. Religious beliefs drive Mormons to conduct genealogical research. Curiosity and a desire to connect to my heritage and culture are what motive me. Entirely different reasons may encourage you to dig a little deeper into your roots. The bottom line is that we all contribute to this free source to get us started.

Search – How Family Search benefits you the most

You have the ability to search billions of historical records.  Some of these files have digital images associated with them that you can view immediately.  Others direct you to a partner site (paid site) to be able to see the supporting historical documents.  Also, some catalogs are loaned to and viewable in the many Family Search Centers around the world.   Genealogies, otherwise known as family trees, are available online.  Users submit information about their ancestors which become public trees.  There is also a collection of more than 200,000 digitized genealogy books and publications available. Finally, Family Search WIKI is a resource to help you find supporting information about your ancestors in 245 countries.

The Family Tree, Memories, and Indexing – Get a little give a little

Now that you have benefited from the search tools available on Family Search, what do you do with the information you have gathered?  You volunteer to build their record database of course.  They give you links on the search page and family tree page to their partners (paid sites) for records information.  Once you find the files on the paid sites, you can add them to your Family Search tree as sources.   So, is the site free or are you growing their collections from the transfer of information from paid sites?  Next, you volunteer to build their memories database.  You upload your family photos and share family stories.  You might even add an audio file with interviews or your family history.

Family Search IndexingIndexing makes records searchable online.  Family Search realizes indexing with volunteers who have no particular skills.  All you need is a computer, internet connection, and a bit of free time.  The goal for the worldwide indexing event this week is to have at least 72,000 volunteers index as many records as possible in 72 hours.  There are currently 284 global indexing projects, of which 26 relate to Italian document translation and indexing.

Volunteers help expand the database while keeping the site FREE

Now let’s address the earlier question of accuracy in indexing.  Free is a great starting point for genealogical research, but it is important to keep in mind that the information available is only as accurate as the person who enters it.  Family Search does its best to quality check all entries before indexing records.  Two volunteers (indexers) key in every record. When both entries are the same, they are indexed.  When their answers don’t agree, a third volunteer (arbitrator) determines which entry is correct.  There are currently over 11.5 million indexes awaiting arbitration.  The key thing here is that everyone who indexes information on this free site is a volunteer.  Is there room for error?  Yes, there is.  Always support your findings with the appropriate historical documents.

Do you support contributing to this free site?  Have you volunteered as an indexer or arbitrator for Family Search?  Do you subscribe to a paid site too?


*This is an affiliate link and by clicking on Amazon and Grammarly from my blog post I will receive a small fee for sending you there AT NO ADDITIONAL COST TO YOU.

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I am a proud third generation Italian American dedicated to promoting the richness of Italian cultural heritage.

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