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

Saturday, April 30, 2016

Exploring the New Look of the FamilySearch Research Wiki -- Part Three

I have often referred to the Research Wiki as the most valuable genealogical resource on the Internet and I am still of the opinion that it still. The upgraded format resolves many of limitations and issues I had with the previous version.

The Research Wiki is organized in a way that is completely analogous to the way genealogically important records are created and preserved around the world. Records are created in response to events in a person's life, such as birth, marriage and death. There are an almost endless number of different kinds of records that can be created. The records are most commonly created either by someone who was present at the time of the event or had some kind of duty to record the event. Those responsible for making these records create layers of jurisdictions that correspond to geographic locations of the various events in a person's life. These jurisdictions pile up like pancakes.

At the top of the pile are records created at the national level such as military, census and tax records. The next level down is the state or province. At this level in the United States, we find birth, death and other similar records. Moving down in the jurisdictional stack in the United States, we find counties with the records that are usually created and maintained in the county, such as marriage and land and property records. Proceeding downward, we get to municipalities, including cities, towns, villages and other similar divisions. At this level we have records of school districts, churches, voting districts and other such organizations. The bottom layer consists of personal records; journals, diaries, letters, Bible records and other such items. In order to do effective research, it is necessary to search for records at every one of these levels and all other possible records.

The Research Wiki is organized in the same way as records are created and maintained. For almost every topic, there is a corresponding layer of information for each layer of jurisdiction. Here are some screenshots showing these layers of information in the Research Wiki. I will start this example with a reference to Land and Property Records.

Here is a screenshot of the United States level of the Research Wiki with an arrow to the link to Land and Property Records.

By clicking on this link, you can see the general reference to Land and Property Records in the entire United States. You can start with any other country and find references to records organized like this in layers. Here is the article for United States Land and Property Records.

At the bottom of this page (out of the screenshot) there is a list of all the states. If I choose one of the states where my ancestors lived, such as Arizona, I can see more information that is specific to Arizona.

Now, the Arizona page has a further list of all the counties in the state. Here is a screenshot of the list.

Now, if I go further, I could click on Apache County and see even more resources for Land and Property Records depending on the status of the information contributed to the Research Wiki.

You can see that searching for information in the Research Wiki involves learning about the available records in different layers of the organization and digging down into the references to find even more records. You can also search the Research Wiki by topic, but it is more effective to research by jurisdiction and start at the bottom or top.

Stay tuned for next installment of this series. Here is a link to the previous post.

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