FamilySearch announced a soft-launch of the long-awaited new FamilySearch.org this past week, with millions of new records and other features included in the current release, with more to come. What this means for users is that basically the resources previously available at FamilySearch Record Search and the FamilySearch Beta site are finally being combined into one location at FamilySearch.org. Change isn't always easy, however...
Included in this initial launch are millions of new records and images (previously available on the Beta site), over 40,000 helpful articles, 100+ interactive courses and tutorials, and a forum to ask personal genealogy questions. Registration is necessary for a few of the features (such as viewing some of the record images), but registration and use of all resources on the site is entirely free. As with any transition, however, there are some rough patches. For all of you users who are having trouble finding your favorite resources at the new FamilySearch.org, here are a few suggestions:
1) You may not usually have patience for user manuals, but in this case life will be easier if you start with the helpful document that FamilySearch has created which lays out What's New - available in both PDF and online interactive formats.
2) Searches of Ancestral File and the Pedigree Resource File are now located under the Trees tab. Currently only results from Ancestral File are being returned - records from Pedigree Resource File have not yet been added to the Website. To search those records use the previous version of FamilySearch.org.
3) The 1851 & 1881 British census transcriptions are not currently available on the new FamilySearch.org. Until they are added, you can find them on the previous version of FamilySearch.org under Advanced Search. The 1881 Canadian census is, however, available on the new site. Just browse by location to Canada, where you'll find it under Censuses & Lists.
4) The International Genealogical Index is no longer available in its former incarnation. The transcribed vital records from the records extraction project that were previously included in the IGI are now available lumped in with the other Historical Records (and no longer allow batch searches, which is a big limitation for searching/accessing these records in my opinion). Patron-submissions to the IGI are currently unavailable.
5) To access the U.S. Social Security Death Index, browse by location to United States, then filter the results to Birth, Marriage, and Death records. You'll find the U.S. Social Security Death Index near the bottom of the results.
6) The majority of the historical record collections previously available on FamilySearch Record Search and/or FamilySearch Beta can now be found under Historical Records by browsing to the locality and then filtering through the resulting databases. For example, Quebec, Catholic Parish Registers, 1621-1900, previously browsable on Record Search, can be found under the records for Canada, or here.
If all else fails... the previous version of FamilySearch.org is still available. It's linked to from the bottom of the main page with the text "Use the previous version of FamilySearch.org" or you can get there directly with the following link www.familysearch.org/ENG/default.asp
What do you think of the new FamilySearch.org? Share your comments below! If you have specific suggestions for improving the site functionality, FamilySearch would also love to hear them www.getsatisfaction.com/familysearch.