FamilySearch Wiki:Success Stories

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Welcome to the FamilySearch Wiki Success Stories page! Here you may want to include experiences where the Wiki has helped you; or someone you know find some genealogical research database or resource. Please feel free to add and contribute, but if you have an especially lengthy experience, consider creating a separate page in the FamilySearch Research Wiki, and then include a brief summary here and link to the rest of the article. Thank you for using the Research Wiki, and we wish you many successes in your research!

2011 Success Stories

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2010 Success Stories

Found Norwegian Great+Grandparents because of the Wiki

"I was 'messing' around tonight in the wiki and FOUND birth records and marriage records of my great-great-great grandparents in Norway and 4 of their children, including my great-great grandfather! I found the info by a simple search of Norway and following some of the page links they had! The records are all in Norwegian (which I cannot read---YET) but there is also a Norwegian to English I think that is going to lead me to the names of my great-great-great-great grandparents on two lines! The names are actually there I just need to learn the Norwegian genealogical words to know who is who! AMAZING stuff!" (This story was received from Monica in Colorado after I taught a webinar about using the Wiki, -Fran)

Native American and Canadian First Nations Research

I am a Research Support missionary.  I like doing Native American and Canadian First Nations emails.  Last September, I would sometimes spend hours looking for information to answer one of these.  The last two or three months, I have found that I can usually find Wiki pages that will supply all the information that the patron needs, especially with links to other websites.  I often answer these emails in minutes now and with better information.

Norwich Diocese Research Success

In February 2010 a collection of Parish registers from the Diocese of Norwich was published online as an image only collection. In all microfilm conversions to digital images there are difficulties in ensuring that all of the images for each parish are as they should be. 

The Norwich Diocese contains many parishes  with the same village or parish name and covers parishes in Suffolk Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire and even some parishes whose county has changed from the historic county to an administrative county.

Wiki is the means by which researchers can be made aware of any issue relating to the images and of the many existing transcriptions in the county of Norfolk. It has grown in content in order to provide those supporting the collection users with questions and users themselves. It is evident that many visitors to the collection are now using wiki pages help locate "missing" parishes. At present about 76% of parishes have images online; the remaining parishes are described and only those parishes with microfilm available can be published at present or in future. The exisiting content is designed to be functional but also forms a platform for local contributions to expand and enhance it. The wiki is open to all with an interest in these Diocesan records to contribute their knowledge to. 

Norfolk and Suffolk contain a large number of surviving Saxon and Norman round tower churches and as the images are added to each parish over time wiki begins to impart the history of small communities and their faith. It is to be hoped that the building of content is forming a foundation for future researchers to learn and be able to teach of this heritage from a popular part of England.

German Research Confidence

Sister Millie McCuen, FamilySearch Worldwide Support Research Missionary:  Yesterday I got a call from a woman who was looking to hire a professional to help her with Germany research.  She said she would rather do it herself but had no maps to follow and no documents to help her keep track of all the changes in Germany. I showed her the FamilySearch Wiki and went through the browse by countries list until we found the Germany portal. Then she found the Germany page and was really excited at all the information.  When she saw the map and I showed her how to click on it and make it bigger and how to use the historial guidelines she was thrilled. She decided with the help of the Wiki she would try and tackle her own family history research.  

Germany/Prussia Research Vocabulary Success

9/24/10 Sister Menzel, Arizona: While constructing an email for a patron who needed Germany/Prussia research help and specifically how to to read and translate old German Gothic script I suggested several things including the online classes in “German Kurrent“.

Also, in the FHL under “Research Help” I clicked on “Articles” and with a few clicks can download a 60 page booklet on Germany Research under “Resource Documents”. I also found a template for the German Gothic Script under Resource Guides.

I next suggested she go to the Wiki and enter “German Vocabulary” in the search box. This page (German Research on the Internet - an Overview -complete handout) is loaded with research helps, links, vocabulary, handwriting, and you name it. This is by far the BESTWiki page I’ve ever seen!

2009 Success Stories

Finding the Utah Death Records

While teaching a class on the FamilySearch Research Wiki at the Family History Library, one class attendee mentioned that she wanted to learn how her grandfather died. I asked where her father died. He died in Utah. We searched under the search terms "Utah" and "death." The results page led us to an article containing a link to online vital records for Utah. We searched the online database for her grandfather's name, and within only a few minutes, had the answer to her question! He had died in an avalanche. She left the class now knowing where she could locate that record online, and was surprised to find the answer to her question so quickly!

Wiki to the rescue

Recently I was working at the research desk in the Family History Library. A patron came into the library in hopes of finding information about her American Indian ancestors. She wanted to find the records for the school that her ancestor attended. She asked, “I want to find the Carlisle Indian school records.”

My first reaction was a big, silent “gulp” because I have no experience in American Indian research. I had no idea where the Carlisle school was located so I asked her if she knew what state the school was in. She replied, “Pennsylvania.”

I knew that a lot of instructions for American Indian research had already been added to the FamilySearch Research Wiki, so I was hopeful that the article about Pennsylvania American Indian records would help me be successful in assisting this patron with her search.

From the home page on FamilySearch Research Wiki, I clicked on United States, then I selected Pennsylvania, and finally American Indians.

There are no words to describe how excited I was to see an explaination of the “Carlisle Indian Industrial School” right there on the first page. In addition, there was a link to the web site for the school that contained a complete history of the school. The patron and I reviewed all the information on the Wiki about the school and the availability of records for the school. Thanks to the FamilySearch Research Wiki, the patron left that day with the knowledge she needed to continue the search for her ancestors who attended the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. -Fran 19:12, 26 May 2009 (UTC), originally posted on Friday, February 20th, 2009 at 4:12 pm on the FamilySearch Labs project: FamilySearch Alpha - Blog.)

"Let's give it a test"

On Saturday I was working at the Family History Library. When I am working I try to introduce the Wiki to everyone who asks for research advise. This is especially true when the person is visiting from out-of-town.

On Saturday I helped one lady a couple of different times but the third time we talked I discovered that I hadn’t told her about FamilySearch Research Wiki. She was thrilled to learn about the Wiki and also about the Forums that are linked from the Wiki. After the introduction she said, “Ok, let’s give it a test.” Then she said that she wanted to find out how to use the ward maps with census records for Pennsylvania. I didn’t know if any information about using the ward maps with census research was in the Wiki, so we went looking.

First we looked at the pages for Pennsylvania Census records, but nothing was mentioned about using the ward maps. Next we looked at the page for Pennsylvania Maps. Right at the bottom of the page was an explanation for using the city ward maps when doing census research. The article also linked to the catalog entry for the maps that are available at the Family History Library on microfilm and microfiche!!! She was thrilled with what she learned about using the ward maps. Evidently she had been trying for a long time to find out if ward maps were available and how to use them. Within a few short minutes, the Wiki answered her question. She loved what she saw and was anxious to share the news with friends back home. -Fran 19:12, 26 May 2009 (UTC) (Originally posted on Monday, March 9th, 2009 at 9:14 am on the FamilySearch Labs project: FamilySearch Alpha - Blog.)

Wiki Links to FamilySearch Historical Records

A patron came up to the desk asking for help with getting a copy of a death certificate. She had found two records in an index to death certificates on a microfilm that included 1949. The name was right and the year was right, so she wanted a copy of the certificate. She had brought the film with her because she didn't know what to do next. She was really confused about the next steps because she didn't even write down the information that she found in the index.

We loaded the film on the reader at the reference desk and found the two records she was after. It appeared that both entries were for the same individual because they had the same name, same certificate number, same date and county of death.

The next step was to look in the catalog to see if we have the actual death certificates. I really didn't think we would have them because the year of death was 1949, but we looked in the catalog anyway. Wow, we actually have the certificates on microfilm in a collection that included records from 1949. There are 1200+ films in this collection, but the ONE she needed was at the Vault.

She was okay with having to order the film because she was going to be here until this coming weekend.

She started to leave, but I said we should try to find another resource for the records. I asked her if she knew about the Wiki. She didn't know anything about the Wiki, so I explained it to her and gave her the website address.

We looked on the Wiki to see if the records were available anywhere else.

Right there - listed in the vital records section for the state she needed was a link to FamilySearch Record Search! And the collection in Record Search included the actual images!!!!

Less than a minute later we had a printout of the death certificate she needed.

She decided that she didn't need to order the Vault film.

She was thrilled, and said that I had "made her day" and then she said that I had made her week because she had been looking for things all week and this was the first thing she found.

I said, "No, it wasn't me, it was the Wiki."

She said, "Oh, that's right."

We reviewed the Wiki again and emphasized the fact that she can do all of this at home with her Internet connection. She was thrilled.

Needless to say, she left the counter with a big smile on her face. -Fran 20:41, 26 May 2009 (UTC)

2008 Success Stories

Assignment Withdrawn... Work on the Wiki Instead!

Some Family History Library employees were just learning how to contribute to the Research Wiki. On May 29th, one of the employees, Sylvie, was asked to accept an assignment in a staff meeting. She cheerfully responded, "I don't have time for that. I am addicted to the Wiki!" Her manager withdrew the assignment and told Sylvie that she could spend all day working in the Wiki.