Thursday, August 28, 2014

Getting the most out of FamilySearch–The Help menu

The first section of the FamilySearch webpage I want to talk about is the HELP section.  Most people don’t bother to access the Help menu until they have a problem.  There are some pretty cool things in the Help menu if you just take the time to look.  If you click Get Help in the extreme upper right corner this is what you will see:

FS 1Screenshot from FamilySearch


The Quick Start to FamilySearch is a short video that gives you a general overview of the Family History Library (FHL) and FamilySearch (FS).  It is very interesting.  You will learn some background information and some cool statistics.

Getting Started is a step by step tutorial with videos. This is an excellent resource for people just starting out.  There is so much information out there that you can become overwhelmed and frustrated.  This tutorial is a great way to get started.

The Help Center is easy to navigate because it is divided up into 8 major topics, Family Tree, Memories, Search, Indexing, FamilySearch Account, Genealogy Assistance, Family History Center, and Mobile.  When you click on one of the topics you will be taken to an easy to navigate menu of helps specific to that topic.  At the bottom of the main Help Center page you will see the top 10 FAQ and the entire FAQ is searchable.

The Learning Center is AMAZING!  There are hundreds of videos by the top CGs, AGs and professional genealogists from around the world on every topic you can imagine.  They are divided by skill level, location, and subject so it is easy to navigate.  There are also quick lists for Most Popular Courses and New Courses.  At the bottom of the main page there are links to the 5 Minute Genealogy series (21 episodes) which is great for the beginner.  Information is presented in small chunks that isn’t overwhelming or intimidating.  The videos go all the way up to very advanced so there is something here for everyone.

The Research Wiki is where I go when I am researching a topic or a place that I am not familiar with.  There are almost 80,000 articles and the number is growing.  The section is community supported which means if you are reading a page and you have information that you feel would be helpful to other researchers you can add it.  There are also some links over on the right side that will help you get the most out of the Wiki.  Since the Wiki survives on volunteerism, you will also see some links where you can help with specific projects.

The Contact Us section shows you all the different ways you can contact the FHL for help.  You can call them on the telephone, chat with them via instant messaging, send them an email or be referred to someone local that can assist you.  Remember that the FHL is on Mountain Time and their help center personnel are only available during the FHL’s normal operating hours which you can see HERE.  If you want to contact them after hours then email is best.   One thing that a lot of people don’t know is that someone from the FHL can remote into your computer to assist you.  If a FS technician wants to do this they will walk you through the process.  Every time you contact FS via email it will be logged into a ticketing system and you can track your “cases” via the My Cases link. 


Copyright © 2014 Michele Simmons Lewis

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