Future of FamilySearch.org Explained at Seminar


The future of the FamilySearch Family Tree application—often referred to as new.familysearch.org—will allow users to add sources, fix records, and communicate with fellow researchers, according to Ron Tanner, a product manager for FamilySearch.

Brother Tanner delivered the keynote address, “The Future of FamilySearch,” to about 300 participants attending a family history seminar at the Riverton FamilySearch Library in October 2010.

In his address, Brother Tanner focused on changes currently being made to the current Family Tree application and its transition from a “My Tree” system to a more open system in order to improve accuracy and reduce research duplication, which will make it easier to receive “help from millions to save billions.”

With regards to the future of the current FamilySearch.org, all of the site’s existing features and data, such as the International Genealogical Index and other historical records; Record Search pilot; research wiki, forums, and indexing; a blog; and the Family Tree application are being consolidated into one site to replace all the others.

The beta version of the replacement Web site is available at beta.familysearch.org. Brother Tanner encouraged Internet users to visit the site and leave feedback so that changes can be made before the beta version replaces the current FamilySearch.org Web site, which is to happen before the end of the year.

The main goal of the Family Tree application is to reduce duplication in both research and temple ordinances. With these changes, Brother Tanner said the Family Tree feature hopes to create a collaborative, conclusion-based, online family tree system that allows anyone to make changes, explain why, and provide evidence for their conclusion.

The system will be closely monitored. Whenever any changes are made, an e-mail notification will be sent to those interested in that ancestor. A history of all changes will also be found on the particular ancestor’s file as well as the ability to undo changes.

Through a discussions feature that was added in May 2010, family history researchers could discuss the differences found in research and come to a consensus. Similar updates to the site will take place quarterly. A notifications feature is being added by the end of 2010. Additional updates are planned throughout 2011.

Brother Tanner believes the changes will help fulfill the vision explained by Archibald Bennett, the former secretary of the Genealogical Society of Utah, set forth almost 63 years ago.

“A universal system of intelligent cooperation will bring together on one record sheet every fact in existence regarding a particular family,” Brother Bennett said in a 1947 Church News issue. “This wealth of data will insure accuracy and banish error. Expensive and time-consuming duplications in research and repetitions in ordinances will be eliminated. No sooner will a new fact be uncovered in any part of the world by a researcher than it will be communicated to the Archives center and be assigned to its proper place, on some family record.”

Watch for the Family Tree system updates by reading the “What’s New” document at new.familysearch.org. For more information about the replacement for www.familysearch.org, visit their beta version Web site at beta.familysearch.org.

Beta.familysearch.org, shown below, is being prepared as a replacement for FamilySearch.org.