Today's tip is about the inelegantly named "Standard Finder" that's currently in development in the labs at Familysearch.org. For those of us doing research in Europe (and other locations) where the borders changed frequently and place names were transliterated between different languages, the Standard Finder is a potentially great resource. It should help simplify how you do place name search in the Family History Library Catalog by providing a list of the standardized entries for place names in the catalog.
If you've heard my talk on organizing your family history research, you know that I'm a big fan of controlled vocabulary (i.e., stating something the same way each time) and authority files (keeping lists of what those standardized place and surnames are).
For example, when researching my Kirschstein line, I found a Hamburg departure record saying my great-grandfather Bruno left from Rawitsch, Prussia. Today that's Raciwz, Poland, as a quick Google search will tell you. But searching the Standard Finder, I also learn other variant names I could be searching, what the LDS standardized name is, a (current) country code, GPS coordinates, and a mysterious "Identification Number" that currently doesn't have hot links yet. Double-click on the image below for a legible screenshot:
|FamilySearch's Standard Finder in action, with the search term "Rawitsch, Prussia."|
The Web site states, "Standard Finder is a FamilySearch Labs application which provides access to standardized information for names, locations, and dates. These databases are used by several FamilySearch applications to assist researchers in searching for exact spellings as well as for indexers who enter information used for RecordSearch.
As can be imagined, the immensity of the data being collected and cross-references is enormous and will not always be correct. If you come across information you feel is incorrect please use the feedback link so we can continue to make corrections to better this data for future work. As you search please remember too that historical perspectives affect the usability and correctness of the data.
As a standalone application, Standard Finder can be of assistance to researchers in determining proper spellings of locations, checking if locations exist as well as determining alternate name spellings/variants to expand research."
So before your next search on a place name in the LDS Family History Library Catalog to see if they have microfilm on a location of interest to you, search the Standard Finder first to see if you have the standardized place name correctly identified.
Comments and feedback about Standard Finder are welcomed at: firstname.lastname@example.org.