Emily W. Jensen: Revamped site, Roots Tech conference among new FamilySearch developments

Published: Friday, Dec. 17 2010 7:30 a.m. MST

SALT LAKE CITY — Technology is zooming forward, and the genealogy site FamilySearch.org is zooming right along with it.

LDS Church-affiliated FamilySearch is replacing old dusty files and yellowing genealogy sheets with ever-expanding online family tree lines. And they're available at no cost.

“As an organization we have a commitment to make as many records available for free,” FamilySearch product manager Robert Kehrer said Wednesday at the FamilySearch Bloginar Presentation, which can be accessed at the FamilySearch wiki site by searching “FamilySearch Bloginar December Presentation.”

One day earlier, the FamilySearch.org beta site went live, replacing the old classic.familysearch.org.

“We’ve put the search form front and center as that is the core reason why we are here, since we are called FamilySearch,” Kehrer said while demonstrating, via the online presentation, how to navigate the new site. “We’re trying to make the search through collections as quick and easy as possible.”

The new FamilySearch site includes a section titled “Changes at FamilySearch.org,” where users can learn why the site modernized, what’s new for family history enthusiasts — including an interactive guide to navigating the new site — and how to find additional help.

Wherever possible, users are advised to replace their bookmarked Internet sites to the old FamilySearch pages with the new FamilySearch.org pages.

Kehrer also provided a sneak peek at the upcoming refinements to the site, including upgraded filters, better search exactness controls and even a digital microfilm experience where users looking through records that are available but not indexed. They can scroll through the images and try to find the information they are looking for.

Paul Nauta, FamilySearch public affairs manager, referenced a new conference called "RootsTech," which is “focused on finding and applying technical innovations in genealogy." It is coming to Salt Lake City on Feb. 10-12, 2011.

Conference sessions include utilizing social networking to further genealogy, using technology devices in family history and even participant-formed brainstorming sessions.

Nauta described RootsTech as a place where genealogists, innovators and bloggers can come together to share their expertise.

For more information on the conference and to register, click into Rootstech.org. Early registration is $99, compared to the $150 standard registration.

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