Alloway and Southern Ayrshire FAMILY HISTORY SOCIETY Robert Burns Cottage, Alloway, Ayr
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Thursday, 18 September 2014

16 September 2014 - "New Family Tree"

Our first meeting of the year was attended by 44 members and guests in the Robertson Room in the Burns Centre since, as expected, the building work at the Alloway Church halls hasn't finished. Following the reading of the notices by Sandy, Barbara Finlay, on behalf of the Society presented founder member and continuous contributor to committee work, Peter Towle, a certificate of Lifetime Membership.

Anne Doull, a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, presented a talk on the new Family History facilities that can be accessed through their new website

Anne started her talk by showing an informative short film about the history of the millions of rolls of records held by the Church in their "Granite Mountain" records centre.  It is over 100 years since they began to document the Family Trees of their own members.  There was, however, a great deal of duplication and other errors created over the years and much work has been done to make the new records as accurate as possible.

They now have 4,500 Family Search Centres across the world and have digitised some 2 billion records in order to make them available on-line.  Literally millions of Family Trees have been submitted.  

They still hold an off-line catalogue of microfilm which can be ordered and sent to a local LDS Family History centre.  The Centres are open to the public free of charge and it is possible to find your local centre from the Website. Billions of records are still on micro film only and the mammoth task of digitising them is still in progress.  The Church welcomes help from anyone and can make available the means of joining in the work – which consists of viewing a film and filling in a form to index the information.  Details of how to volunteer can be found on the Website.

The new Family Search website has changed greatly from what many of us may remember from our early days researching our families.  There are educational programs and articles available on-line and courses which can be watched without charge.  A useful Help System is available, now called the Learning Centre which gives advice on searching and includes FAQ notes.  The church has records from many countries, but listeners were warned that if, for example, German records are obtained for them – they will be in German(!) The Church are now working together with Findmypast, but to take full advantage of the links to their information it will be necessary to have a subscription with Findmypast to view their content.

Anne gave us a demonstration of the site's Search facilities, using her own family and illustrated some useful tips.  When trying to find a family remember it is important to look for their parents first, rather than their children, since parents seldom change their names, but children often do, especially daughters.  We were recommended to keep searches simple and risk obtaining many “matches” as the search results can be refined later.

There is now the possibility to store your own Family Tree on the site and have it accessible to other people browsing the web.  In accordance with best practice, no information is included about living people and moderation takes place to exclude abusive or similar material.  With the new site, rather than the many months it used to take to have your Tree included, it can now take place within hours.  There is also the facility to include photographs and memories of people along with their genealogical details in any Tree posted, showing them as real people rather than merely a list of ancestors.  Correct details for family relationships such as step-children, adopted children, guardianship and couples who are not married or are divorced can now be included.

Wherever disputes occur
between potential family members as to the accuracy of any material in these Trees, there is a process to check the original records cited to verify “whose source is the most reliable” in an effort to keep the information included as accurate as possible.

Examples were given of records available, such as the Parish Records for Maybole 1712-1854.  Some book content is also included but these need to have the usual permission from copyright holders for the publishing of the material.

Pat gave a vote of thanks on behalf of the Society for a most interesting talk which opened up new possibilities for all keen Family History enthusiasts. 

Pat & John Weston

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