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:
- 1-800-537-5950 (long distance in the U.S.)
- 240-5274 (Salt Lake Area)
- 1-800-453-3860, extension 2031 (Canada)
- 1-801-240-1126 (outside the U.S. and Canada)
- TTY 1-800-453-3860, extension 6149 (240-6149 in Salt Lake Area)
- Pentium Processor
- Windows 95 or NT 4.0+ (and the level 3 service pack)
- At least 8 MB RAM, 16 MB (recommended)
- CD-ROM drive
- VGAG monitor with 256 colors
- 30 MB hard disk space
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:
- Canada (all provinces)
- Latin America
- United States (all of them)
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.
- How To Guides
- Word Meanings
- Catalog Helper
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:
- Danish Genealogical Word List
- Denmark Map
- Denmark Research Outline
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.
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.
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.