A look at the FamilySearch.org genealogy form

This February, I was out in Salt Lake City for a snowboard trip, and while there, I spent an evening après-ski at the LDS Family History Museum. (I’m not LDS, but their genealogy library is a-maz-ing, and when in Rome…) Anyway, long story short, part of the experience was a “guided introduction” to the FamilySearch.org genealogy tool with my own personal church elder.

The thing about the way FamilySearch works, compared to Ancestry.com for example, is once you’ve entered enough of your family tree that it overlaps with the content of another user’s research, your content merges and you’ve basically crowd-sourced your research (for the good and the bad–errors and all). It’s nearly as powerful as Ancestry.com, but free.

The initial form that FamilySearch uses takes you through entering information about your father, your mother, your father’s father, your father’s mother, your mother’s father, your mother’s mother, etc. to build your tree. It allows you to skip family members or details that you don’t have information on (recommended so that you don’t taint others’ trees). Once you register, the form is available here: https://familysearch.org/first-run/#/

It’s a pretty nice way to enter genealogy information because it is linear and guided. The caveat is that once you leave the series of forms, by clicking out to another part of the website, you can’t go back. When you try to return to your tree, you get the bare structure of the tree, not the form. This is what happened to me in SLC when I was working with Elder Summers (and he didn’t know how to get back to it).

The other day, I was doing a “family tree research” workshop with high school students during an enrichment period and it happened to a student. I did manage to peek at the URL of another student’s browser, and try the “first-run” path and it worked for her, since she wasn’t very far. However, I am beyond that point in my use of the site that the handy-dandy guided form is not available.

So, final analysis: nice form if you can get it!