Learn Something NEW Every Time…

Each time I attend a seminar, or a conference, or take a class, I learn something new.  Each book I read, I learn something new.  Each CD or video I watch, I look for evidence of records that could enable me to solve a hard-to-research ancestor.

Let me share with you a recent experience:  A local seminar handed out a class list at the Family History Center in that city.  One class in particular caught my eye:  New FamilySearch, an 8 hour class presented totally on one day–a Saturday.  And I was available on that Saturday!  So I arose early, didn’t even have to set my alarm clock, for I was up and wide-awake a full hour before the alarm went off!

I arrived at 8:00 am sharp, with my laptop computer and my lunch.  As I walked into the computer lab, there were two other people there before me.  A man and his wife.  We waited a few minutes and the man introduced himself and his wife and informed me that I must be the only student.

The only student?  What a wonderful thing!  Me, a computer lab, and two instructors–all to myself.  Genealogy dreams are made of this…

[What an odd character I am, you must realize by now.  The only dream sweeter  to me than two instructors and hands-on access, is the dream of being accidentally locked into the Family History Library overnight–the whole Library and its collections to myself!]

When I asked how to log onto the wireless, the man said, “Oh, I don’t think you can follow on the screen because I am going to use my own ancestors to show you how.”

“Oh, NO!” said I. 

The reason I came was to do the class on my own computer.  “I have already been through 2 classes of 4 sessions each  at the Family History Library where the instructors showed a power point on the screen–no computer lab and no computer experience.  I came to do what you show on my own computer.”

They helped me log in and I spent the next 8 hours learning.  They showed me how on the screen and I did it myself on my laptop.  Part of the time, I did my own ancestors.  Part of the time I did theirs.  And I learned how to do it myself.

Why is it so important to me to actually click the mouse?  Like many genealogists today, I learn better by doing.  Up to 95% better–by hearing, seeing, and doing the steps.

In my opinion, new FamilySearch is one of the most complicated research tools we have. 

  1. First, nothing is individual.  Every entry ties into other entries through-out the databases.  If you make an error, that error is duplicated over and over again. 
  2. Second, all of the data are family oriented and tied together, with father and mother shown together, not as individuals.  You cannot follow your surname line alone, like much of the research done in the past.  You can only follow the father and mother together. 
  3. Third, you cannot access everyone in the database.  Only the dead can be manipulated in the records; the living are blocked from view.  The “historical” persons, shared as ancestors by  the majority of us, will soon have their own “frozen” pages where no changes are allowed by the computer. 
  4. Fourth, you can change only what you have added.  What is added by others, you can only discuss, sharing what you know about the ancestors on the discussion page. 
  5. Fifth, the screen will show what everyone has contributed–entry-by-entry.  It is all there for you to examine.  It is all there for you to choose  what you want for your own family tree.  On your own tree, you  can have it any way you want.
  6. Sixth, soon you will be able to scan in photos and  documents which support your conclusions.  With the idea that seeing the documents will convince others that your stuff is correct.  You already know that if two people share the same name and are not the same, no document will change that.  The Research Process requires careful analysis comparing each of the data against each other.  Genealogy proof is not just choosing what appears logical or reasonable.  Your ancestors are not just data on a sheet either.
  7. Seventh,  your analysis must accommodate  father/mother duos.  And here, if you make an error, you compound it by multiples!  Each generation grows 4 times, not just double.
  8. And on…

Eliminate duplication.

The most beautiful aspect of the whole system is that it does eliminate duplication of effort.  The computer cannot accommodate duplicates.  Current testing is to eliminate the many, many duplicates that are in there now, merging these duplicates into one unit.  And where combining has just created additional errors, they can be re-separated out  into former units–to be merged more carefully the next time.

When the databases are merged into a reasonable size, they will be opened to the world at large–so other genealogists can add their knowledge, their photos, their documents to build a world family tree.  Communication between submitters is by email or telephone–with instructors suggesting that you stick to email.  Less explosive that way!  You know how we tend to think our stuff is correct when there is conflict with dates, names, places, relationships, and documents. 

It is my humble opinion, that a good sense of  humor at the ready is your best tool!   Your favorite genealogy evidence guru, Arlene Eakle  http://arleneeakle.com

PS  Did I forget to tell you that before I had much knowledge of this complicated genealogy system, I was asked to teach it?  I’m still laughing as I try to learn before I instruct others.

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