The process of opening up free access to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the three large subscription genealogy programs, Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com and findmypast.com, has already begun. It is inevitable that many who try to use these programs because of their newly obtained "free" access will be unfamiliar with their operation. Fortunately, there are a huge number of online helps and resources concerning the operation of each of the programs. It is also possible, the local FamilySearch Centers will implement classes on all three programs. But it is also entirely possible that many members will feel frustrated in their initial efforts to use the programs.
The reason for this post is to provide a short explanation of each of the three programs and further provide links to instructional materials available for each.
It is very likely that help for learning about Ancestry.com will be readily available from most active genealogical researchers. In one of my recent presentations, where almost all of those present were members of the Church and involved to some extent in genealogy, nearly all of the participants expressed some familiarity with Ancestry.com. However, it is nearly certain that as the invitations go out to members, that many will have little or no experience with the program. The program itself has a very extensive Learning Center. Here is a screen shot of my opening screen with an arrow showing the link to the Learning Center. You should be aware that the personal version of Ancestry.com has many more features than the Library Edition available for free use in libraries and FamilySearch Centers.
Clicking on that link brings up a drop down menu with several selections including First Steps. You can spend many hours learning about the program just from these menu items. In addition, you can find thousands of videos about Ancestry.com and genealogy on YouTube.com. Simply do a search for Ancestry.com from the search field in YouTube.com. There are presently 555 videos on the Ancestry.com channel.
In contrast to the large number of genealogist familiar with Ancestry.com, MyHeritage.com is relatively unknown by members of the Church. In the same meeting I mentioned above, only about 10% of those attending the meeting had experience with or even knew anything about MyHeritage.com. The way MyHeritage.com works best is quite different than Ancestry.com. To take advantage of the search features of this program, it is very important to upload your genealogical data into a MyHeritage.com family tree. This will require members who already use some other program to store their genealogical data to create a GEDCOM file. Fortunately, there are step-by-step instructions from MyHeritage.com about how to create a family tree. When you first sign into the program, MyHeritage.com will take you through a series of steps to get started. You can, of course, begin entering you data directly, but if you already have information in another program, you will have to export that data and then import that same data into a new MyHeritage.com family tree.
The Help center for MyHeritage.com is located at the bottom of the startup page. Here is a screenshot of the startup page with an arrow showing the location of the Help center.
The MyHeritage.com Help center has Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) Forums, video tutorials and other valuable information. Here is a screenshot of the video tutorial pages for an example:
In addition, although presently, the coverage of MyHeritage.com on YouTube.com is not as extensive as Ancestry.com, there are a still a significant number of videos on the program. Just search in the YouTube.com search box for the name of the program. I would also expect many FamilySearch Centers to begin teaching this program in the near future.
Unless you are from the United Kingdom or directly involved in research in England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand or Canada, you probably have had little contact with findmypast.com. I find the program to be relatively unknown in the United States even among experienced genealogists. This lack of awareness does not reflect on either the size or importance of this program. In the UK, the parent company, D.C. Thomson Family History (formerly brightsolid) is extremely well known. There are quite a number of D.C. Thomson Family History related websites, the one involved in the FamilySearch agreement is findmypast.com. Here is a screenshot showing the startup screen of the program and an arrow indicating the link to the Help & advice link.
Here is a further screenshot showing the Help page:
Just as with the other programs, there are a significant number of videos about the program on YouTube.com. Do a search for "findmypast" to see a large number of instructional videos.
In the future, I will be doing Webinars, classes and instructional videos on all three programs, so watch this blog for links.