If you’ve used FamilySearch recently, you’ve noticed more than a few changes.
In December, www.familysearch.org announced it had added “millions more scanned, historical documents and indexes that are published more frequently.”
There are certainly listings from more census records, not just 1880, for example.
And the new format appears to separate family records from copied town records by putting family trees at the bottom of the page.
The old site originally listed records submitted by church members (the records had not been checked for accuracy) separate from the International Genealogical Index births and marriages copied from town records. Researchers easily could judge what they thought was the most reliable, and what they believed needed corroboration.
But a few years ago, FamilySearch started including both family records and town records in the IGI, meaning that researchers had to pay attention to notice which was which.
Some people like the new site and its information on sources, but some prefer the old format, saying that the previous search brought up more specifically what you asked for.
The good news is that you can use the new site or click on the tab for the previous site if you liked that one better — or use both.
I looked up Jotham Moore, who was from York and Mount Vernon and Parkman. I entered only his name and a place, “Maine.”
The new site offered me some useful entries from Maine, then trailed off into other states with every Moore who even had “J” as a middle initial, then wandered back into Maine, and so forth. That meant I had to look at a lot of entries to make sure I had all of the Maine ones. I started to lose interest.
The old format brought up just the eight entries that pertained to Maine, saving time.
Some users have told me they don’t want to see England and everything else if they have specified a place in a search.
But keep in mind that the new format does offer an advanced search where you can specify censuses versus vital records and such.
Both formats have their uses, and I’m sure there are many genealogists who hope that FamilySearch will continue to offer the choice.
I’ve noticed that both FamilySearch, which is free, and the paid database ancestry.com have added more Maine records in recent months.
What I’ve also noticed is more examples of inaccurate indexing. Whether because the indexer for a particular town couldn’t read the penmanship, or they simply weren’t familiar with the local names, I don’t know.
But using records that require an index makes us dependent on good indexing, and it’s frustrating to find names that are garbled.
I’m concerned that in an effort to get records to the world quickly, some entities may be rushing the process and letting too many cooks spoil the pot.
At the same time, I certainly appreciate there being more records available.
The Internet offers so much, but don’t let websites keep you out of libraries.
You can use ancestry.com free at Bangor, Ellsworth and Oakland Public Library, and at Maine State Library in Augusta.
Family Search Centers such as those at the The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Bangor and Farmingdale have great resources and access to countless items available through the Family History Library in Salt Lake City — plus local LDS volunteers to help you.
Camden Public Library has announced its new affiliation with FamilySearch.
The new affiliation, library officials said, means that library patrons in Camden will have greater and more convenient access to the wealth of genealogical resources available through FamilySearch.
FamilySearch is extending access to its collections by circulating microfilms of the historical records through select public libraries. (Do you know of others in Maine?)
“It is a priceless resource for local residents interested in discovering their family trees,” said Heather Bilodeau, director of the library’s Walsh History Center.
So, patrons in Camden will be able to borrow LDS microfilm from Salt Lake City to use at their town library.
The Walsh History Center is open noon-4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday on the second floor at Camden Public Library.
“The History Center is a good place to start, or continue, your search for your family tree,” said Bilodeau. “We help a great many residents and visitors throughout the year.”
Bilodeau can be reached at the library at 236-3440 or e-mail email@example.com.
FamilySearch has more than 200 camera teams filming historical records in 45 countries on any given day.
There is a nominal fee of $5.50 to order a microfilm. Once it arrives, patrons use the microfilm reader at the Camden Public Library to view it.
Library staff can help patrons see what films are available, place film orders and answer research questions. Patrons also may search the Family History Library Catalog at www.FamilySearch.org to see what records FamilySearch has available to order through the library.
FamilySearch is a nonprofit organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
There are 4,600 family history centers in 70 countries, including the newly affiliated Camden Public Library.
The Brewer Historical Society will present a program on “Brewer Schools” with Superintendent Dan Lee at 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 8, at First United Methodist Church, Main Street.
Those who attended Brewer schools over the years are specially invited. Refreshments will be served.
Send queries to Family Ties, Bangor Daily News, PO Box 1329, Bangor, ME 04402; or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.