A word of caution while searching
Thank you for your interesting article in the December issue about the FamilySearch website, run by the Church of the Latter-day Saints, and their world-class record depository in Salt Lake City, Utah.
I would like to highlight three points. Firstly, the reason that Family History Centres exist in the first place is because Latter-day Saints believe in posthumously baptising all ancestors of current day Mormons into the Church, ‘ by proxy’, hence their involvement in preserving genealogical records.
This practise is to the great benefit of non-Mormons, as explained in the article, as the Church makes its Family History centres available freely to all, regardless of religious affiliation (or not).
Secondly, as a result of many people using the site in a haphazard fashion, researchers must realise that many results found on familysearch.org are, at best, secondary sources of information and, unless primary documentation is attached, must be verified – as always – with original sources.
Some people use the website to patch together family histories of likely sounding/located ‘nearly’ relatives and assume connections. If you find an apparent match in someone
else’s genealogical chart, I advise that strong caution be exercised until you have checked for accuracy. Many personal charts are scant due to lack of investigation and confirmation.
Thirdly, for the many amateur genealogists located overseas (myself included), it would pay to check with your local LDS Family History Centre to find out the process for ordering microfilms which can be sent to many countries, not just the UK. In New Zealand, we can order online, selecting the Family History Centre we wish to view the films at, and then receive automated updates as to the progress of our order. As noted in the article, records are available to explore at your chosen Family History Centre for 90 days from receipt.
LDS Family History Centres and the main archive in Utah are extremely important resources for the family historian and I, for one, am so grateful that they are freely available. As the records collection and archiving work of the LDS Church continues, I expect to see Family History Centres rise in prominence to become primary research venues. Melanie Pemberton Fisher, Auckland, New Zealand
Editor replies: All very good points, Melanie. As I say in my feature this month about online parish records, it is always sensible to exercise caution and common sense when dealing with transcriptions. Especially when some records in the IGI ( International Genealogical Index, the original FamilySearch database) have been generated from people’s personal research.