What’s New On FamilySearch—December, 2015

December 11, 2015  - by 

Each month, FamilySearch publishes a list of new changes and updates to the FamilySearch.org website. This list includes changes to Family Tree as well as other parts of FamilySearch.org. In some cases, these changes will also be published as individual articles where the need to do so exists.





Recently Released

Chinese, Japanese, and Korean Photos on the Home Page

The background photos on the home page are now localized for our Chinese, Japanese, and Korean users. For example, if the user’s browser language is set to Chinese, the user sees the home page in Chinese characters with photos of Chinese people. Users whose browser language is Japanese or Korean will have a similarly personalized home page experience.

This allows our users who speak Chinese, Japanese, and Korean to see family scenes that give them a more personal connection for their experience on FamilySearch.


Whats new 5 Chinese


Whats new 6 Japanese


Whats new 7 Korean

Marriage Date or Place Isn’t Standardized

A new data problem message lets you know if a couple’s marriage date or place has not been standardized. This data problem message only appears on the Person page.

When you enter a date or place into Family Tree, the system shows you how the date or place should be formatted. That is called the standard format. When you use the standard format, it improves people’s search results.

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To standardize the date or place, do the following:

  1. On the person’s page, go to the Family Members section, and find the marriage information.
  2. Click the edit icon by the marriage information.
  3. Under Marriage Events, click the Marriage you need to standardize.

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  1. On the upper right of the box that opens, click the Edit
  2. To standardize the information, click the Click here to select

A list appears. The first item is usually the date or place you want.

  1. If the information matches, click the standardized information in the list.
  2. Add a brief explanation of the change you made. (For example, “Standardized the marriage place.”)
  3. Click Save.

That should remove the data problem message from the Research Help section.

The Memories Gallery Is Now Available to 25% of Users Worldwide

The Memories Gallery is a page where, in one place, you can upload, view, and organize all the Memories items you have contributed. To see if you have access to the gallery, hold your cursor over Memories at the top of the page. If you have the gallery, it appears in a drop-down menu.

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The Memories Gallery brings five areas of the site into one location, making it easier to upload, create, and organize the memories you contributed. The gallery lets you easily organize memories into albums and provides quick filters for viewing memories by type (photos, documents, stories, and audio files). You can also arrange your memories by Newest Added and Title (A-Z) and can quickly find a memory by typing in information found in the tagged name, title, or description.

The gallery also introduces a new function that allows you to select one or more items in the gallery and then provides a toolbar or right mouse click for performing various operations like Add to Album, Change to Document, Change to Photo, Delete, Open in New Window, Add Title, Tag People, and Download.

Another important item added to the gallery is the ability to drag and drop files from your computer directly into the gallery. You can also click the + icon at the top of the gallery to upload memories or to create stories.

Gallery Screen: This shows the Select feature, which lets you select images. (You click the little circle on the top right of an item, and the system adds a blue check mark.) In this case, the images were selected so they could be changed from a photo to a document. (Before the document feature was added, many users contributed images of documents as photos. This lets you correct them if you would like to.)

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If you click on the plus icon at the top of the screen, it opens a screen, which lets you add items to Family Tree. You can either drag and drop the items or click Choose Files. You can also create a story from this screen.

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Memories: My Favorites

You can now mark photos, documents, stories, and audio recordings as favorites.

  1. To mark a photo or document memory as a favorite, open the item you want to mark as a favorite.
  2. Look for the outline of a light gray heart. (It is underneath a photo or document; it is on the right lower side on a story.) When you hover over the heart, you will see the message, “Add to My Favorites.”

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  1. Click the heart. The heart turns red. When you hover over it, you see the message that the item has been added to your favorites.

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On the gallery page, you can see how many items you have marked as favorites. The number is listed in the upper left corner at the end of My Favorites.

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Memories: Sending Messages from the Contributor Card

It’s easy to send a message to a user who submitted a photo, document, story, or audio recording.

Open the item. Find “Contributed By.” (On photos and documents, it’s at the bottom of the item.)

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This is the name the user has chosen to display in FamilySearch.org. Click the name, and the contributor card is displayed.

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If the person has given contact information to FamilySearch.org, you will be able to send a message.

Click Send a Message, and fill in the message form that appears. You can put up to 10,000 characters in the message. When you’re ready, click Send.

Search: Find a Collection on the Main Search Page

A collection name search field has been added immediately below the world map on the main search page. Many researchers know exactly which collection they want to search by name. Having this field present on the main page eliminates the need to go to the published collections list, wait for all the collections to load, and then filter or scroll to find a collection. It will make finding and searching a single collection much faster.

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Any text entered in the Collection title field will be used to filter the historical record collections by name, and the matching collections will be listed below the field. The Browse all published collections link is associated with this field and, if clicked, will take the user to the page listing of all published collections.

Search: It’s Now Easier to Fill in the Search Name Boxes

At the end of each name field is an exact search check box. Users had to tab twice to get from the first names to the last names. This has confused users, and even experienced users start typing the last names when they are on the first exact search check box.

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The tab order has been changed to make it easier to fill in the name fields. When you enter the first names and then tab, you now skip to the Last Names field. Enter the last names. If you want to mark the exact search check boxes, just tab again. The system will take you first to the exact search check box for the given names and then to the exact search check box for the last names. To mark a check box, just tab to the box, and press the space bar. If you use a screen reader, the exact search check boxes will be labeled so you will know which check box you are marking.

This change will greatly increase user efficiency in entering data into the search form and reduce user frustration.

Search: Thumbnail Gallery for Historical Record Images

What is it?

1) Thumbnails: Everywhere that historical record images are visible, you will be able to view a single image full screen, or you can view a gallery of thumbnails for all surrounding images on that film or in the waypoint level (waypoints are images that have been marked has having the same year or location or other similar content).

2) Image and Index: Everywhere you can view a single indexed image, you will be able to view both the image and the indexed data together. The indexed data is listed below the image.

3) Navigation: Everywhere you can view an indexed image, you will be able to navigate to next or previous or jump to a specific image.

4) Film links from FS Catalog: If you are using the FamilySearch Catalog to view an indexed film with images, you will be able to take three specific actions from the catalog title page:

  • Jump to the indexed records found on that film (search icon).
  • Jump to the gallery view of images from that film (camera icon).
  • Jump to film ordering (microfilm icon).

5) Info Display: The information tab below each image will display both the catalog data for the image and the citation information

6) Record Restrictions: The thumbnail gallery will respect all record restrictions (Must-Log-In, FHC-Only, images on 3rd party sites, etc.). You will see the same messaging and dialogs that are currently present in the image viewer. From the FamilySearch Catalog, only completely unrestricted images will display the camera icon if you are not logged in. If you are logged in, you will see the camera icon based on your access rights. In a future release, we will display the camera icon for all catalog users. We will present access options for those who do not have user access rights.

Why is it important?

1) FamilySearch has a plan for the future that includes digitizing and publishing all the available microfilm in the Granite Mountain Record Vault. When that is done the published roles of microfilm will no longer be copied and circulated. This feature is a big step forward in making the “digital microfilm” experience more efficient than a microfilm reader.

2) There are hundreds of millions of new images that will be published very quickly as soon as this feature is available.

3) The new feature enables image navigation and the dual display of indexed data and images everywhere indexed historical record images can be viewed.

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Search: Links from Catalog Titles to Records and Images

What is it?

When you use the FamilySearch Catalog to view an indexed film with images, you will be able to take three specific actions from the catalog title page:

  • Jump to the indexed records found on that film (search icon).
  • Jump to the gallery view of images from that film (camera icon).
  • Jump to film ordering (microfilm icon).

Why is it important?

There are hundreds of millions of images that will now be published by film roll and will be accessible only from the FamilySearch Catalog. This feature greatly increases the value of the FamilySearch Catalog as a finding aid, making it much more efficient to get from the items in the catalog to the online digital data.

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Place Research Tool

The Place Research Tool allows you to look for places that are important to your research. Go to this URL to give the tool a try: https://familysearch.org/int-std-ui-research/. If the place name you enter is found, you will see some information about the place, such as its official name and any variant names, such as The Big Apple for New York City, or the Big Easy for New Orleans. It will also pin your place on a map and provide the latitude and longitude. You can look by name, by jurisdiction, or by location.

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To see more information, click on the small green icon by the entry. You’ll see something similar to this:

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If your place is not found in the database, you can use the feedback link at the bottom of the page to request it be added. You can also use the feedback link to request new features or tell us how much you enjoy using the tool.

Why is it important?

The Place Research Tool will provide jurisdictional information to help you know where to look for records for the place results. In many cases, historical information is provided which will help you know how the place has changed over time. More information about the places will be made available as we expand the capabilities of the tool.

Coming Soon

The New Personalized Dashboard!

We’ve created a personalized experience to help you do your family history work and discover your families. When you sign in, you have an option to see a dashboard created specifically for you. You get it when you sign in to FamilySearch.org and set the dashboard as your home page.

The dashboard provides information and suggestions that are specifically about your family history:

  • My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together: If ancestors are missing in your first four generations, the system may suggest how you can add them.
  • Recommended Task: These are tasks you could do based on your family history. For example, the dashboard may show record hints for people who could be your ancestors.
  • Activity: This section shows you memories and sources that have recently been added to your ancestors. It shows you what was added and who added it. You can choose to see memories, sources, or both. If you want to see an item that was added, click View Documents. And if you don’t know who the ancestor is, click View My Relationship, and Family Tree will show you how you are related.
  • Your To-Do List: Create a list of things you want to follow up on, such as: “Call Aunt Mary about John Call,” or “Find Johann Schulz family in 1850 census.”
  • Feedback: On the right side of the page is a feedback button. Please share what things you like about the dashboard and what things could be improved. We are going to continue to experiment with the features, so your feedback is important to make the dashboard more helpful.

Whats New 1-Welcome to FamilySearch

You’ll see even more features as you scroll down the page:

  • Recently Viewed Ancestors: To quickly return to an ancestor you were looking at, click the person’s name in the list of recently viewed ancestors. If you don’t see the person in the list, click See More.
  • Free Help: You’ll see the name and contact information for the closest family history center. You’ll be able to get addresses of other family history centers. And you can contact Family History Customer Service or use Live Chat to get the answers you need.


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How to See the Dashboard

To see the dashboard, sign in, and click this message at the top of the screen:

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The dashboard is being released gradually, so if you don’t see the message yet, keep watching for it. You should see it within a few weeks.

Remember, you don’t have to use the dashboard. We know this dashboard doesn’t meet the needs of everyone. So we aren’t automatically showing the dashboard to every user. If you think you’d like to use it, you have to click the message.

If you try the dashboard and decide you don’t want to use it, just click the FamilySearch logo to go to the home page. Then click Exit Experiment at the top of the screen.

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  1. I have been an enthusiastic user of the experimental expanded options under Search Records, but the avalanche of variables (Family Search-Ancestry-FMP-My Heritage- record types Civil (birth/Marriage/death) Religious (Christening/Marriage/Burial) – spelling variations etc overwhelm me.
    Do you have any advice to give on where to draw the line, especially for those of us who are short of time and brain?
    ” Of the making of many sources there is no end, and much reading is a weariness of the flesh!”

    1. David, I would suggest you do what you can to add the sources from FamilySearch first. If you run out of time, someone will come along and add the sources from the other sites. I love being about to add as many as 60 sources to a person. It paints such a wonderful picture of their life. I have grown to really love these ancestors. Remember we must do our best and that doesn’t mean “do it all”. I have to remind myself that my grandchildren need work to do also.

  2. I was wondering why FamilySearch doesn’t allow people to have more than one family tree. I would like to keep my Irish side and Slovak side separate.

    Also, why can’t you make a tree “private” at FamilySearch

    1. Kelly, the idea is that FamilySearch has one large family tree that everyone can contribute to. You can make a private tree on ancestry.com!

      1. …and, the tree will be around longer than any personal database or private company.

        You can submit a gedcom file of your family to the Family Tree and it will help you decide which people are already in the tree. OR, you can submit a tree as read-only to Genealogies and it will be preserved.

        If you use a desktop software like RootsMagic, fAncestral Quest, or Legacy you can sync your tree to the Family Tree. That way you get the best of both worlds.

  3. The background photos for other locales is a great idea. Perhaps some thought could be given to mixing up the background photos in English/RoW too, add a few variations to each of the existing photos/topics? After a few years of the same photos, it gets a little stale compared to the other dynamic content on the site.