Family History SourceGuide™.
A review by Bert Nelson

On April 4, 1998 Elder Russell M. Nelson announced Family History SourceGuide in his talk, "A New Harvest Time."

Family History SourceGuide™ is a new software packaged geared towards those who are just beginning their research.

The cost is $20 US and is available to anyone at the LDS distribution centers or by phone. Extra charges and applicable sales tax may apply if you order by phone.

To order by phone use the following:

System Requirements:

Family History SourceGuide is a reference library of information at your fingertips. It includes:

  • Research outlines for all 50 states and several countries
  • Guides for doing research
  • Resource guides describing FamilySearch
  • Maps of some areas
  • Letter writing guides for some non-English-speaking countries
  • Word list of English translations of foreign words
  • Forms (pedigree and family sheets) and census work sheets
  • Addresses of major Family History Centers in the United States, Canada, New Zealand, the British Isles, and Europe
  • Areas or countries covered in the material:

    Installation takes about 5 minutes, however make sure you have turned off all anti-virus programs and any other utilities that might be running in the background. If you forget to do this the install will abort. In the box a slip of paper tells you that "If any item is displayed on the task bar next to the time [on the bottom right portion of the screen], exit or disable it." You can usually do this by right clicking on the little icon and selecting "Close" or "Exit" from the menu.

    Once installed the software is found from your Start Menu under the heading of "Family History-Family History SourceGuide"

    After a preliminary screen or two you come to the main screen that allows you to go to one of three ways.


    You can search by locality or you can just scroll down an list of offerings, which is not quite alphabetic.

    I typed in "Denmark" for a locality and the index jumps me down to the first of the offerings:
    As I single click on each one I get a brief summary off to the right in a another sub-window. This is very useful if you are uncertain as to what you are looking for.

    I double-click on "Denmark Research Outline" and the CD-ROM whirs for a second and I get a split window with a table of contents on the left and the actual research guide to the right. The guide contains the same information of the guide as the paper guide available at a Family History center, however there is a bonus with hot links to further explanation of terms or hyper links to other guides and material on the CD-ROM.

    At first you will notice that the letters for "Denmark" are lined up vertically since the guide is crammed into a smaller window than you really want. To fix this problem you click on the dividing bar between the table of contents and the guide and you can slide it back and forth much like a sliding glass door and it will reveal more of one window and less and less of the other. I slide the bar over to the left and I see the guide in a window size that is useable.

    While in the guide you have several choices. You can read it serially by scrolling down the scroll bar and reading it online or you can jump back and forth in the document using hot links on the table of contents to the left, which covers the major areas of the document. You can print the entire document, portions of the document or save to a disk file the same. The print and save options are available at the top under the "File" menu or along the bottom right with large icons. At any time you can request help by pressing on the question mark icon.

    While looking at a particular research guide you can search for a specific term within the document.

    One neat feature that I really like is the capability to print blank family sheets and pedigree charts. They left a wide left margin so you can put in your three hole punch or otherwise attach your documents together.

    Word Meanings

    Next I explore the Word Meanings portion of the software. From here you have legal terms, genealogical, and geographical terms explained. You type in the term or part of the term and the index beneath you goes to that portion of the index. Once a match or partial match is found (I typed in "Western R" and Western Reserve is found) it is displayed in the window off to the right with a cross reference list of words or terms that are hyper-linked, so you can jump back and forth between terms easily when trying to learn about a specific topic. You might call "Word Meanings" an overview of family history from A-Z. This section of the program was very interesting for me.

    Catalog Helper

    Next I click on the Catalog Helper icon on the bottom of the screen and up it comes asking me to type in a locality. One word of note: as you bring up each of the three major screens it retains the other screens you brought up, so you can have all three screens open at the same time if you want. The Catalog Helper is a help screen to help you find what you are looking for from the LDS Family History Catalog, which is only available at LDS Family History Centers. Anyway, I type in "Denmark" for the place to learn about. Then in the screen to the right you have research goals to search from e.g. Age, Birth date, emigration, etc. I single click on "Age" and then click on the button labeled, "Step 3". Step 1 was to select the place, Step 2 was to select the research goal. I am given the suggestion to look under "Church Records" and then the "Census" under Denmark on the Family History Catalog. That is it. Nothing great here, but it is a start. No microfilm numbers or specific entries are mentioned here, just a general suggestion as to where to begin your search. At the bottom I have the option to go to a related research guide about Denmark, which is useful.

    In addition to searching by location you can search by some specific topics including Huguenot Research, LDS Records, Mayflower Research prior 1700, Quaker Research, Tracing Your Immigrant Ancestory - Country of Origin and Arrival. Some might be disappointed by the lack of information provided by the "Catalog Helper", but I think you need to keep in mind that its goal is to just get you pointed in the right direction.

    So that is an overview of the product. Some may not like it since it is geared towards beginners, but remember that many would be interested in family history if they knew where to start and the Family History SourceGuide™ does that. I think this CD-ROM is ideally suited for those who have not done family history research or have just begun their search. The price is only $20.00 US and I think it's a bargain.