Puts Family History Research Tools in the Beginners Hand.
Family Search and the Family Historian
by Nick Thorne, The Nosey Genealogist.
I have been on a Family search quest for several years now. Some of the foremost websites that I have used include the familysearch.org, run by the Latter Day Saints and often referred to as LDS; Ancestry, operated by the Generations Network; The Genealogist.co.uk; Genes Reunited and Findmypast.com.
FamilySesarch, however, is one of the biggest genealogy organizations in the world and as such is an important online tool for any family historian. Countless millions of us will search the records, resources, and services of this website to learn more about our family history each year. For more than a century the people behind it have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide. Today, the users of the site are able to freely access the database, including the International Genealogical Index as well as church member contributed material, online at FamilySearch.org, or through over 4,500 family history centres in 70 countries.
The Internet resource is provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whom you may be more familiar with as the Mormon Church. Their commitment to helping people make a connection with their ancestors comes from their belief that families are meant to be central to our lives and that family relationships are intended to continue into the after life. From this they therefore believe that all family members including those living, past, and those from the future, share an enduring bond which stretches across the generations.
Their website does not require you to share their beliefs at all, but is open to all of us to use what ever our creed, or culture is. It is a very useful resource for anyone engaged in the detective work involved in tracing one's family tree.
-The International Genealogical Index and Hugh Wallis.
Once you have keyed in your ancestor's name into the search box you will be accessing a compilation of entries from baptism and marriage registers drawn from parishes and their equivalent from all over the world. Although it is a site run from the USA, for those of us with UK roots it still very relevant as it represents us well with index records. Some English counties in particular having excellent coverage.
The site, however, has certain issues in the way that you can search it. One of which is it is not always simple to find your ancestors even when they are there to be found in the IGI - which, of course, is not always the case. The reason why you may not find them is because to search by last name only is not permitted by the site's search engine, unless you search within a single batch of records at a time or, across the entire country! You will probably understand that a search for a last name across the whole of England is a very tall order indeed. Remember it is not even a search of single county, let alone a town that we are talking about here. If you have a rare name then perhaps it might be OK to do, but if you are looking for a Smith or a Jones then you are asking the impossible.
I have learnt that there is a way around this problem. It is to use a really handy website set up by an enthusiast to aid the family history researcher find their way around the FamilySearch site. What is more, it helps us know what registers are available on the IGI. The secret weapon to crack open the Family Search site is the website maintained by Hugh Wallis: http://freepages.genealogy.rootsweb.com/~hughwallis/IGIBatchNumbers.htm
The possible ranges he allows you to access are the Births/Christenings and Marriages for the British Isles, Canada and the USA. I really can not recommend this tool highly enough to you. With it you may select a geographic location, see the churches and chapels for that area and then, by typing in the last name of your ancestor, it will use the search engine on FamilySearch to allow you to easily examine all the batches for that surname in the town or area that you are concentrating on.
-Some Issues With the IGI.
Please remember, when doing your research, that the International Genealogical Index:
- is incomplete - and this applies not only on a parish by parish basis, but to within parishes as well where gaps may also be found
- is compiled from several different types of record including by members of the church supplying information that can be inaccurate and not only from the original parish register
- has countless mistakes due to problems with interpreting handwriting and the fore mentioned member submitted entries
- does not, except for a few cases, cover burials;
- is only an index and as such should not be considered a substitute for looking at the original record.
A short while ago, as I tried to get back a generation from where the census records on line had stopped in 1841, I found I was having to turn to the Parish Records. For my Scottish line I was able to use the easily accessed old parish records (OPR) on Scotlandspeople.gov.uk website, but for my English line the lack of scanned records meant the challenge of learning how to break into this area of family history research was a fascinating test for me.
The FamilySearch website, I found, is a useful way of finding ancestors but has its flaws. By using the specialist search provided by Hugh Wallis you, like me, may be able to access records of your ancestors that otherwise you would not be able to find. Once you have located them on the IGI, however, you should endeavour to go to the main source of the original material at the relevant archive or County Record office and not assume that everything you read on a website, including the LDS site, is a hundred percent correct!
If you've been searching for your British Isles ancestors, as have I for several years now, then you too have probably hit some brick walls.
You probably concentrated you efforts on all the easy connections in your family tree and put aside all the frustrating ones to do later. I know how you feel as I continuously came up against all sorts of brick walls when I do my own family history. In the beginning I didn't know how to get past some of them, even though now I realise that they were relatively easy to crack. It is annoying as I missed out on a lot of leads that I would otherwise have found and followed sooner.
That is why I have published the
Family History Researcher English/Welsh course:
I don't just sell my valuable information... I also give it away!
You can access to some of my Free stuff here.
To start off take a look at the podcasts to the right... and then the video: Brick walls
Also, there are Articles added all the time to my Blog: "The Nosey Genealogist".
If you sign up to my Free tip of the week, at the top of the page, I'll send you weekly some useful advice and recommendations, so scroll up there now and fill in your name and email address. I never spam and I will not sell your details to anyone else.
To listen now press play.
Podcast: 1.Five Golden Rules.
Podcast: 2.Stumbling Blocks.
Podcast: 3.Non Conformist in the Family?
Podcast: 4.IGI and Using Hugh Wallis' site.
To download to your computer, right click on the named link (e.g. 1.Five Golden Rules.) and then "save target as"
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