Every time I go to an ancestor's Person Page on FamilySearch, I start to feel guilty that there is no life sketch on that person. There are often many sources, and other information that I have collected on the person, like occupations, physical characteristics, residences, and other miscellandous facts that come from the various sources I have found. But...no life sketch. That is not to say that I haven't done any life sketches, but many of my ancestor's pages are still blank, and that makes me feel guilty, especially when that section is at the top of the Person Page information.
What Purpose Do Those Life Sketches Have?
If you think about it, that small section is the culmination of all the information that you have found out about that person. It tells a story of their life that you probably already know quite well if you have been researching that person. But, how about others that are just beginning to explore their line of heritage? Being able to read a story about their ancestor's life makes that person's story come to life. It is a time of "Discovery" for that person reading about their ancestor. (Remember the "Discover, Gather, Connect" focus that FamilySearch has talked about for several years? If you can't remember, try this link.. Just to show you that I written some life sketches, I included the screenshot below on a person that I have really grown to love over the years. Maybe it was the photo of him dressed in Irish clothing in my grandmother's album with just a name, and a couple of small facts about him that pushed me to find out a lot more about him. I wanted to share that information with others. He was a pretty cool guy!
Life Sketches Now Automatically Generated?
Take a look at the above screenshot telling us about a "new discovery version of this page is available". This is something that FamilySearch has been developing for awhile now..."Discovery Pages". I personally think they are quite cool. Have you taken a look at these pages? All the information about this person has been displayed onto a single page. The "Life Summary" (in lieu of Life Sketch), immediate and extended family members, sources, meaning of their surname, and other factual information is shown. Talk about a great discovery experience for someone just getting to know this person.
Focus on the Life Summary (upper left) for a moment. It is NOT the same one that I spent "hours" writing (okay, it didn't take me that long). This story format is generated from not just the "Vitals Section" but also from the "Other Information Section". The narrative combines information from both of these sections to create a pretty nice narrative. Perhaps FamilySearch was disappointed that more people were not using that Life Sketch section and so created this auto-generated narrative for us. Personally, I don't feel as guilty now about not writing "Life Sketches". Yay!
I should make a good point about the importance of adding as much information as you can into the Other Information section. Many times we attach sources to our family members, but fail to glean out all of the information about them. For example, we often attach the World War I Draft Registration source record to our person, but fail to copy over the physical characteristics, and other information that are also noted in that record as well. Adding in "Occupation" information from census records will appear in the auto-generated Life Summary as well. So don't be in a hurry to just attach a source. Pull all the information from that source record and add those new pieces of factual information to the Other Information section.
Time to share those Discovery Pages with our family members. Look in the right lower corner of the blue banner area. You will see the "social icons" of Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, email, and page link copy. Use the social media to share information about your ancestor. The more information you have found through sources, and even personal knowledge can be displayed in the new auto-generated life summaries. Remember that as you are "preserving" that information into FamilySearch, you are also providing "Discovery Experiences" for others! Way to go!