Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Thursday, May 29, 2014

Is Genealogy Getting Easier? FamilySearch will add automatic record searching

If you have read my blog for a while, you probably have guessed that I do not view genealogy as "easy" or necessarily "fun." Fun and easy are overworked and overused in too many ad campaigns to be much use to me anymore. What is either fun or easy is open to personal interpretation. That is one reason the title of a recent blog post from entitled, "Family History Research Keeps Getting Easier!" caught my attention. But fortunately, the content of the post has important news about an important development in technology, so I can ignore the reference to "easy." 

Now that my fussing is over, I can talk about what is going on. Basically, is implementing some form of the same type of technology that has been available for some time from and That is, automatic search capabilities. In both of the other large online programs, this technology is far superior to individual searches conducted on limited information by individual users, when it works. You will notice the qualifier here. This technology can also be a constant bother if it does not work. There are several other online database or family tree programs that suggest sources but their accuracy in linking that suggested source to one of your own ancestors is so poor, the suggestions become nothing more that additional background noise from the Internet.

Now, what about We will have to wait and see. The blog post states:
FamilySearch will soon release a feature called “hinting.” With this powerful tool, the site will automatically search for records that match people in your family tree. When you go to an ancestor’s page we will show you what we have found just for that person amongst our vast collections of records. That’s right—FamilySearch does the searching, and finding, for you! 
The high quality matches the site finds will automatically be provided in the new Record Hints box added to the ancestor page in FamilySearch Family Tree. No more looking through hundreds of search results. The system does the heavy lifting for you!!! It really is that easy! 
When launched, this new hinting feature will go through the vast FamilySearch database of records and find the records for you that hinting thinks might be about your specific ancestor. Just click and confirm the ones that are correct! We think you’ll be impressed.
One thing about this type of search program needs to be remembered. These searches only work with Indexed records. Many, if not most of the records presently on exist only as images with no indexes. Any automatic search capability will only search the indexed records, leaving the resot of the searches to be made page by page through the images. Additionally, there are many of the records that are only partially indexed. No technology yet exists to search the handwritten records of the past.

This is a big step for and they are to be highly complimented. This is also a difficult field to enter when two other major online databases have already developed sophisticated technology of their own. Perhaps this new search technology is one of the trade-offs received from the partnering agreements?


  1. Instead of waiting, you can review this feature now at It seems to work rather amazingly well. It has a couple of features that appear quite helpful.

    If an internal FamilySearch source is already attached, i.e., it shows the tree icon beside it rather than the globe icon, the source does not appear in the hints list.

    Also, you can declare a source "Not A Match" and it will disappear from the list.

    You can work on attaching the sources in the hint list directly from the individual's page or click "Show All" which takes you to a page very similar to the "Show Duplicates" page. On that page you can see the entire list of hints and click a tab to show all the rejected hints.

    Most impressive of all, to me, is that it appears to use all the alternate names entered as part of the search criteria. This is a very important feature for my wife's Norwegian ancestors with their fluid surnames. Hints for Ola Nilsson Høyland show up with his name as Ola Nielsson. A big limitation with all the search engines I have seen so far is that they would never match the surname Høyland with the surname Nilsson. This one did and every single hint was correct

    1. Thanks for the additional information. We can always hope that rather than copying existing search engines they can do it better than the others.