FamilySearch: Past, Present, and Future

discovery-center_telescope1659944 New Features

FamilySearch is offering ever more innovative ways to engage interest in family history, simplifying their website search, and offering helpful tips to assist users, according to Brian Edwards of FamilySearch in his presentation at the BYU Genealogy Conference in July. Some of these features are in place while others are still being developed.The personalized homepage of FamilySearch, is a treasure-trove of innovation with boxes of information feeds selected specifically for the user.Information boxes include:

  1. Educational information provides help for doing your family history.
  2. Updates to people in your family tree include recently added pictures and stories of your relatives.
  3. The Recommended Task box provides suggestions from FamilySearch that could relate to your ancestors’ records. Each suggestion has the option to review and attach the information to an ancestor’s record, dismiss the suggestion, or look through other suggestions. The Review and Attach function will help clean up data issues and records by comparing the suggestions with your records, and then you can choose to merge the suggested information or reject it as a non-match. The Review and Attach items are distributed by difficulty based on how often a user visits FamilySearch. The Dismiss button neither rejects nor deletes hints; it simply drops the suggestion from your list.
  4. Recent Searches lists the last 50 names you looked at on FamilySearch.
  5. The To-Do List is a customizable space where you can add items you would like to remember as you work on your family history.
  6. The obituary section lists names of family members found in obituaries. You can look through them and attach those records to your ancestors.

The website gallery shows lists or thumbnails of pictures to help you determine what is missing, such as dates of photos, places photos were taken, and documents. Click on the calendar icon to add dates and places to documents and photos.

Improved Family History Apps

Two improved mobile apps for Family Tree and Memories have been sized and arranged for Android or IOS devices. Audio is a new feature in the Memory app. You can now take your phone to an older relative, record memories, and save them directly to FamilySearch. You can take photos using the app and upload them directly to the cloud or website. Once the photos are uploaded to the website, you can make some adjustments within the website.

New Family Discovery Centers

The Family Discovery Center located in the Joseph Smith Building on Temple Square has been so popular that it is expanding to other venues—the bottom floor of the Family History Library is being remodeled to create a similar center to provide engaging and interactive experiences to youth and those who are dabbling in, interested in, or slightly curious about their family tree, time periods of their ancestors. People can also learn about new opportunities to contribute to family history work. Smaller discovery units will be placed in various family history centers around the world, and a mobile version is being packaged to take to stake centers for activities.

Future FamilySearch Innovations

Future innovations are well underway, Edwards said. Helping others love family history is important, he added, and FamilySearch is working on a more user-friendly portal to provide step-by-step instructions to assist researchers in finding names for temple ordinances and extending their family trees.In addition, Tree Buds is a new feature that will reveal problems in Family Trees so families can sort through and help correct data.The FamilySearch website in enhancing the fan chart feature by creating color-coded fan charts by date of birth and place of birth as a guide for users’ research. It will be similar to the Grandma’s Pie app created by BYU Students.The Hints feature on the Family Tree app is becoming more and more precise. Currently, the app is at about 98 percent accuracy according to Edwards. However, the accuracy depends on location, so always check the data before accepting the hints. For example, because of the Scandinavian patronymic naming system, Scandinavian hints are less often correct. International search and hint improvements are underway. Currently, because so much of the information in FamilySearch is for North America and England, most of the hints are for those places.FamilySearch is also developing methods for attaching unindexed images to the Family Tree app. They are also working on more efficient ways for multiple people to work on the same line of ancestors so people can more easily collaborate. “New ways are coming for people to form communities for sharing and collaboration—bit by bit and piece by piece,” Edwards said.More efficient search methods are also being developed for searches all across the FamilySearch website. Badges at the top of the person pages already show links of the person to sites as the Mormon Pioneer Overland Trail, Mormon Battalion, Pearl Harbor, etc.For more updates on exciting new developments in FamilySearch, check in often.

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