Over the past 104 years, the Church has acquired extensive knowledge about researching genealogical records; that accumulated knowledge is now available in an inexpensive form for home use to anyone with an appropriate computer.
Two new products, the Family History SourceGuide and the 1851 British Census - both on CD-ROM - were introduced at a news conference in Salt Lake City April 4 by Elder Monte J. Brough of the Seventy.Elder Brough, executive director of the Family History Department, said of SourceGuide, "This is the first of other [products] that will later be delivered, but it's an enormous precedent, important enough that Elder [Russell M.] Nelson [of the Quorum of the Twelve] has chosen to use his [Saturday afternoon] conference address to announce it and to discuss it." (Please see page 10 for report of Elder Nelson's address.)
The two new products are immediately available at distribution centers, the SourceGuide selling for $20 a copy and the 1851 British Census for $5, Elder Brough said.
"This will, for the first time, make available on personal computers a Windows- and Folio-based product with information and knowledge about how to find records and about the quality and quantity kinds of decisions you have to make as you look for ancestral relationships."
Of prime importance, he said, is the fact that for the first time, users can have such products in their homes at little cost. "In the past, to have had access to much of the information the Church has gathered, you would have had to go to a [Church] family history center."
Surveys have shown, Elder Brough noted, that many people do not engage in family history research simply because they do not know how. But the SourceGuide helps users find sources of information they need to identify their ancestry.
Asked how long the products have been in development, he said, "For over 100 years. I doubt there are many technical products on the market that you can say started 100 years ago." But the Church has been accumulating knowledge about family history research since it established the Genealogical Society of Utah in 1894, he explained.
Here are brief descriptions of the two products announced at the news conference:
Family History SourceGuide
The SourceGuide contains an assortment of guides to discovering the records and research aids in the Church Family History Library and family history centers. It is useful for those who have identified what they know about their families, have decided what they want to learn, and are ready to select a type of record to search.
Its features are "How-to Guides," "Word Meanings," a "Catalog Helper" and basic information about the Church and its family history resources.
The How-to Guides section contains about 170 different items to help the user, including maps and a wide assortment of resource guides covering various countries of the world. Hypertext links and other aids take one immediately to the section of a particular guide describing the type of record one wishes to know about.
The Word Meanings section gives definitions of words found in the How-to Guides.
And the Catalog Helper suggests the best subjects to search in the Family History Library Catalog based on one's research goal.
Required to run the SourceGuide is a computer with a Pentium processor, Windows 95 or NT 4.0 plus, 8 megabytes of RAM (16 recommended), a CD-ROM drive, a VGA monitor with 256-color-capable video card and 30 megabytes of hard disk space.
1851 British Census
The CD-ROM contains all the information that appears on the microfilm covering the census, but it is easier to read, computer-searchable and fully indexed. It gives names, ages, relationships, occupations and birthplaces.
The census covers three counties in England: Devon, Norfolk and Warwick. Elder Brough said that according to calculations, those counties have ancestral roots for a large number of Church members.
It requires a computer with a 486DX processor (486DX66 recommended), Windows 3.1 or better, 4 megabytes of RAM (8 recommended), a CD-ROM drive, and SVGA monitor with 256-color-capable video card.