Thursday, December 18, 2014

Choose How Many Generations to Search

We just added a new feature which allows you to search a specific number of generations. On the left side you'll see a new options titled "How many generations?" This controls how far Find-A-Record will search through your tree.

When Find-A-Record has finished searching through the number of generations you chose, it will show a "Load another generation" button. Clicking that button will resume the search through one more generation. If you started with 4 generations then it will search through the 5th generation after clicking the "Load another generation" button. When the search is finished through that generation it will show the "Load another generation" button again.

This replaces the previous "infinite scrolling" behavior that would only load when you scrolled to the bottom of the list. Now that you tell Find-A-Record how far to search, you can start a search and leave it alone to load automatically. Want to search 15 generations for all ancestors with record hints? Now you can.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Find-A-Record Firefox Extension

We just released the Find-A-Record browser extension for Firefox. After installing, you will see a gray Find-A-Record pin in the browser's toolbar. If you click the icon when it's gray then you will be sent to Find-A-Record with you as the starting point for generating research opportunities.

The pin will turn its normal blue and orange color when you are visiting an ancestor's page in the FamilySearch Family Tree. Clicking the colored pin will open Find-A-Record with your ancestor as the starting point.

We also have an extension for Google Chrome.

Friday, October 3, 2014

Retiring the Record Search

We regret to announce that we will be retiring the Record Search feature of Find-A-Record before the end of October.

In September 2013 we set out to solve the problem of searching geographically for genealogy records. After many months of exciting and hard work, we took our solution to RootsTech 2014 where we received overwhelmingly positive feedback. But we soon ran into two problems:

1. Only some genealogists really understood how useful Find-A-Record was.
2. Acquiring and processing both the record data and the geographic data was much more expensive and difficult than we anticipated.

We decided to build the Research Assistant to tackle the first problem by showing how the Record Search data was useful for research. The Research Assistant is now much more popular than the Record Search and it no longer relies on the record data.

Inside our desire to search geographically for records was a more fundamental desire to make genealogy research easier and more approachable for beginners. The Research Assistant is an important step forward in that direction and there is still much more we can do. By retiring the Record Search, we can focus our resources on enhancing the Research Assistant and decreasing the barrier of entry for aspiring genealogists.

Find-A-Record Chrome Extension

The Find-A-Record Chrome Extension is a popular tool for making Find-A-Record features quickly accessible from inside FamilySearch and Ancestry trees. Because the Record Search is being retired, the features of the Chrome extension will be dramatically simplified. Ancestry trees will no longer be supported. The only feature that will remain is linking to the Research Assistant from an ancestor in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

If you liked the birth, marriage, and death record search features of the Chrome extension then we recommend trying the RootsSearch Chrome extension as a replacement. It behaves in a similar manner while supporting many more genealogy websites.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

New Options for the Research Assistant

Today we added options to the Research Assistant. Now you can limit the search to specific portions of your tree via a drop-down menu on the left side.

As the help page explains:
  • Ancestors - Only searches through your direct ancestors. These are the people that would appear in a pedigree or fan chart. This does not include descendants, collateral lines, nor additional spouses of ancestors that you do not descend from (i.e. your great-grandfather's second wife).
  • Descendants - Only searches through your direct descendants. This does not include spouses.
  • Ancestors and Descendants - Searches through both your direct ancestors and descendants. This does not include collateral lines, additional spouses of ancestors that you do not descend from (i.e. your great-grandfather's second wife), nor the spouses of descendants.
  • Cousins - Searches through your ancestors, descendants, and the descendants of your ancestors (cousins). This does not include spouses.
  • Everyone - Searches through anyone connected to your tree. Gives preference to your direct ancestors and descendants, while still allowing collateral lines to be visited if you don't have many direct ancestors and descendants or if they don't have many research opportunities that we can find.
How will you use these new options? Are there other options that you would like to have?

Monday, September 1, 2014

Using the Research Assistant to Participate in the LDS Youth Temple Challenge

LDS youth were recently extended the temple challenge by Elder Neil L. Andersen. He challenged the youth to take their own names to the temple - every time they go. The hardest part of this challenge is finding names that are ready for temple work.

The Find-A-Record Research Assistant makes it easy to find names that are ready. Just sign in with your FamilySearch username and password. Once you're done signing in, the Research Assistant will immediately begin searching your tree for many types of genealogy research opportunities.

For the youth doing temple work, they're just interested in the LDS ordinances of baptism and confirmation. So we can turn off all of the other categories by clicking on the checkbox next to them.

Now the list will be filtered to only show us ancestors that are ready for their baptism and confirmation to be reserved. If you descend from LDS pioneers then it could take a few minutes to find someone.

Click on one of the results to see details about the ancestor and the ordinances that are ready to be reserved.

Click the blue "Reserve Ordinances" button to continue the reservation process at

Watch out for warnings about possible duplicates, such as in the image below. This means FamilySearch has detected a very similar person that already has their ordinances done. It's best to ignore these and leave them for more experienced genealogists to resolve.

Watch the demo below for further help using the Research Assistant to find LDS ordinances.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

View a List of Record Hints for Your Ancestors in FamilySearch

In the Find-A-Record Research Assistant, you can now see record hints for your ancestors. Record hints are generated by FamilySearch as a list of suggestions for records that match your ancestor. They help you quickly find your ancestor in the billions of records that FamilySearch has.

Record hints are in the green Sources category and are turned on by default. They will begin to appear in your list of research opportunities.

If you just want to see record hints, you can turn all other opportunity types off.

Click on one of the "Record Hints" cards to see a list of collections with matching records. In the example below, Reita Luvilla Thurman has three possible record matches in "Utah Marriage, 1887-1966", "Utah, County Marriages, 1887-1937", and "United States Census, 1940".

Click the "Review these matches" link to see review the list of matches in FamilySearch and attach the proper sources.

You can read more about Record Hints and how to properly review them on the FamilySearch blog.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Research Assistant Update: Disable Specific Opportunities

Last week we announced impending updates to the Research Assistant's opportunity list. Based on feedback, we made some changes to the design and released it over the weekend.

Our goal with this update was to allow users to turn off specific opportunity types. Previously, you could only turn off an entire category by clicking on the buttons at the top of the page.

Now the list of categories is on the left side of the page. When you click on a category bar it will expand to show you all available opportunity types in that category.

Click on one of the opportunity types in the category list to disable it. Click it again to re-enable it.

Click on the checkbox in the color bar to disable or enable all opportunity types in that category.

This update makes it easier to focus on the type of work that you are interested in. It also paves the way for adding many new types of opportunities, such as record hints.