Casefile Clues

22 October 2013

Why FamilySearch's "United States, Public Record Index (FamilySearch Historical Records)" Is Not Included in Announcements

I regularly include in this blog notices of databases and image sets on FamilySearch that have been newly released or updated.

I choose not to include any notices on this blog about "United States, Public Record Index (FamilySearch Historical Records)."

I realize this database can help researchers find relatively current people as it contains information from 1970 through 2010. I realize that it comes from publicly available information. I'm not opposed to public records--far from it.  The concern I have about it is that when an entry is located in this database, there is no way the researcher can tell from where the original reference was obtained. There is no way to know where to "get more."

If I were working as a private investigator or a bill collector, etc. that would be great.

But I'm not.

I'm a genealogist and sound genealogy methodology indicates (at least to me) that I use sources whose validity I can adjudicate to the best of my ability. It is difficult for me to do that when FamilySearch does not tell me where they obtained the information. The only information regarding "source" on the FamilySearch site are the following statements (current as of this posting):


  • These records were generated from telephone directories, driver licenses, property tax assessments, credit applications, voter registration lists and other records available to the public. 
  • These records have been gathered from multiple sources.
That's too generic and there's no reason why the source of "publicly available information" can't be made to researchers. Saying the original sources are "unavailable" seems highly unusual to me.