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Add a Research Notebook: Keeping Track of Possible Historical Connections not yet proven

I LOVE this service. It Is AMAZING.

My suggestion is: add a notebook space.

I am now exploring other resources available in the service, finding tidbit facts that may or may not pan out, and would like to have those ideas saved in the system so I know where all these tidbits are. I'd rather not attach to a specific ancestor yet because the research is too early.

Second: please add a 'search' function within the people list to the degree of included fields. Maybe it's there but I haven't found it. For example, I ran across a person who was in a specific military regiment and I know I recently added that same info to a specific ancestor, but I can't recall who that was. I will now go look to see if I can search on military service, but if that is not there, please consider adding that function.

Again, these are nitpick things to make our research easier, but I hope that it is considered by the developers.

Thanks for this service. It has been fantastic and I've learned so much and developed such an appreciation for my own family history.
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this idea
  • Welcome to the community support forum for FamilySearch. FamilySearch personnel read every discussion thread and may or may not respond as their time permits. We patrons, having various levels of knowledge and experience do our best to help each other with concerns, issues. and/or questions.

    First, all suggestions should be limited to one suggestion per thread. Failure to do this is something that we all tend to do, but FamilySearch personnel will often focus on only one of the requests. The same is true of opening any case problems.

    I will cover only one of your suggestions in this response. I use separate responses for your other request(s).

    Your "Research Notebook" is called Discussions on the person's page. It is ideal for collaborating with others and noting possible sources. Speculation, as such has no place in an actual record, and yet discussions is a good place to stuff such information while a patron or patrons research the person further.

    It not only provides a place to put the original information found in potential sources, but also provides additional comment space while the source is more fully explored. Memories provides a place of any images connected with the source that may help in determining that sources validity.

    Finally, since sources fall into three categories -- primary for sources that are recorded at the time of the event; secondary for sources that are recorded after the event (such as a census record); and hints -- those sources that are not sourced themselves and fall into the area of undocumented histories (family and location), as well as hearsay ("my aunt sue said...")

    The key to any research is to seek the preponderance of evidence. Valid evidence.

    There are a number of places where genealogies have been fabricated mostly because we all want to be important is for most of us, being descended from someone famous or important to history is a way we can do that. Several organizations exist simply because people want to be descended (in the United States, at least) from groups of people, such as those who came on the Mayflower, or were part of the revolution.

    Finally, there are known frauds (those who charge money to "research" a genealogy that itself follows a fabricated line to suggest that a person is descended from royalty. The lines that alleged go back to Adam and Eve are good examples. There is no paper trail that supports the claim.

    Getting back to your suggestion, the discussion space is ideal for this purpose. It already exists and has an area where relatives can add their comments. It allows collaborating members to speculate on what might be, and provides a means by which other, more knowledgeable researchers can add their comments, such as the fact that the D.A.R. published an index of revolutionary soldiers in 1990 that no longer contained the names of many persons because (and this is citing their own comments in the forward of the three-volume index), "Omission from this edition of the name of a DAR member's ancestor would be due to conflicting data received which raised some questions about the patriot's identity, service or descendants."
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  • A "'search' function within the people list to the degree of included fields."

    This is a good example of why these need to be split apart. You may want to actually post a new "idea" for this request.

    It is a really good idea. We know, from comments by FamilySearch personnel, included Ron Tanner, that search results are ranked between 1 and 5. The highest ranked results (those with a 1) are at the top of the list while those with the lowest ranking are at the bottom.

    However, that is something that only experienced FamilyTree users know about, or have seen said in external posts, such as Ron Tanner's excellent live "Q&A" Facebook sessions (they are recorded and available on his FamilyTreeRon Facebook page.) Ron is one of the major players in the development of FamilySearch and often shares many things that are of importance to us patrons in those session. He posts the recording that is made during the session on the Facebook page under videos and those who want to view the videos of past sessions do not have to be members of Facebook

    Searches cover many aspects of FamilySearch and include the following areas:

    1) Finding people who are in the massive (now over 1.18 Billion records of deceased persons). What you are asking for is something that is being developed -- labels, but at this point, the feature is in its infancy. Ron talks about labels in his Q&A session that took place on March 22nd. See my comments at the bottom of the thread at for the link to the video as well as the time where Ron discusses labels.

    The Possible Duplicates uses a match routine that results in the ranking of possible matches and only those with a ranking of three or above are included. The ranking is based upon a number of factors, including Vital event and fact conclusions.

    2) Finding historical records (sources) that are likely about your relative. These are also ranked and the most likely are in their own section, with those 'close, but no cigar' (my comment) in a separate section below those that are most likely applying to the relative or terms of search.

    The hinting system uses a search system with the ranking resulting on whether a "hint" is generated or not. Several discussions in this forum cover the reliability and applicability of the generated hints. Hints for United States records seem (to me) to be fairly accurate.

    Various source collections can be separately searched, if they have been indexed. It is important to know that the indices are transcriptions and may contain errors in spelling and other areas of the index. At the presnt time, there is no means to correct those indices, but we have been told that a feature is under development that will give us that ability (to correct, change, or add to a specific index).

    Those two searches are to most likely to have a published ranking. At the present time, only the order of appearance in search results are a clue as to how "close" a search has been to finding what you are looking for.

    Other searches are found in the Help Center and cover, or attempt to cover keyword and phrase searches for items found in published articles, the FamilySearch wiki (which has its own search and result routines), and so on.

    Regardless, it would be nice to actually see the degree of how close to our specified search parameters the results come to matching.
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  • Finally, just a general comment. Research takes time. There are no shortcuts to fully sourcing and documenting each of our relatives that we work on. The more information we can provide, the less likely the information will be changed.

    The discussion area for each person is one of the underutilized features of the tree and yet is provides an excellent means for collaborating with others.

    Another area that you did not mention is how to best collaborate with others. Each conclusion on every fact or event for a person has a history. That history reports the last person to make a change to the conclusion, including modifying the reason statement. If the date of the change was recent. clicking on the patron's name will open up their pubic information. Most patrons are relatively private and so show very little in the way of contact information.

    FamilySearch has an internal message system, where you can leave a message for the patron. They may or may not be regular users and have the option of responding to messages sent to them. But, I have found that the messaging system provides an excellent means for collaborating with other patrons.
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