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Saturday, October 08, 2005

ScanStone Secrets Revealed

Marina's Genealogy Blog spotted some new information on the FamilySearch website about the ScanStone project. The LDS folks have posted online some of the presentation materials used during last month's FGS Conference held in Salt Lake City. (You'll have to supply your own narration.)

The one to read is David E. Rencher's "A Sneak Peak [sic] at the Near Future" (PDF), which offers a glimpse of what is to come for volunteer indexers. Skip ahead to page 12 to see what the indexing of a Georgia death certificate will look like.

Later on, Rencher lists the "Areas of Focus for FamilySearch Indexing":

  • Creation of a significant digital image set of records.
    • United States: State vital records
    • Canada: Vital records
    • Pacific: Vital records
    • Europe: British parish registers
    • South America: Vital and census records
  • Creation of complete record sets with broad scope
On page 21, we learn that an entire roll of microfilm can be digitized in about 30 minutes. Ten scanners have so far been employed, but fifteen more are expected to come online, and efficiency is expected to triple by this fall. When the project hits its stride, over 32 million images will be scanned per month—about 370,000 rolls per year.

Also of interest is the Austro-Hungarian Map Project, which will "[a]llow a link from the ancestral birthplace to historical Austro-Hungarian Empire maps that allow users to examine detailed maps of the event location." In other words, if you were to search the IGI and find a relative who was born in some unpronounceable town in eastern Europe, the event location would be linked to a map of the area. The second bulleted project goal—"Develop a searchable database of historical geo-referenced digital maps accessible via the web interface"—is vague enough to give hope to the non-Austro-Hungarians among us.

(For more on the Austro-Hungary Map Project, see Building a Globally Distributed Historical Sheet Map Set of Austro-Hungarian Topographic Maps, 1877-1914.)

The last item on Rencher's agenda was the BYU Family History Archive—a growing collection of digitized family history resources, many of them published only recently. In some cases, one can now jump from an FHL Catalog entry (the entry for this Haskell genealogy, for example) to a PDF image of the actual source.

All in all, Rencher gives us an exciting glimpse of the future. I just wish he'd said what will happen next week on Lost.

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