Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Let's stop complaining about changes to the FamilySearch Family Tree

I live with an almost constant background of complaints about changes made to the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. Here is my primary response (in bold capital letters).

THE FAMILYSEARCH.ORG FAMILY TREE IS SUPPOSED TO CHANGE. GET USED TO IT

The whole idea of having a unified family tree program based on the wiki model is that the users of the program can make changes, add information and correct entries. What the complainers are saying is that they want their own, personal space on the Family Tree where none of THEIR information can be changed. That is the essence of the owned, private family tree. Guess what? There are already millions of those around on paper and online and where has it gotten us? It has gotten us into the mess we have today with inaccurate family trees that verge on fantasy.

Here is my first rule of the Family Tree. If you think your version of the space you see on the Family Tree is the gospel truth, then DEFEND YOUR TURF. Watch all of the entries that you are concerned about. When changes are made, revert them back to the "correct" version. Then, politely and consistently send the people who made the changes the supporting documentation you have already attached to the Family Tree as sources. Use the built-in messaging system of the program to send your explanations. This is a game of the the last man or woman standing. TRUTH WILL PREVAIL. That is, of course, assuming you or anyone else knows the truth.

I can think of a huge number of parts of my inherited genealogy where my family knew the absolute truth and their absolute truth turned out to be absolutely wrong. So what? Well it may take forty years of wandering in the wilderness before that generation dies off and the corrections are made, but there will still be those who think they have a pedigree going back to Adam. As President Harry S. Truman is commonly quoted as saying, "If you don't like the heat, get out of the kitchen." (probably first quoted in the Kingsport, Tennessee Times in the 1942). OK, now this got me going again. The quote does not appear in the Kingsport, Tennessee Times in the 1942, I just went through the entire year's digitized copies. Anyway, it is a good quote for working on the Family Tree whoever said it first.

You need to be open to change and not adverse to reconsidering your cherished opinions to work on the Family Tree. But you also need to be thorough and consistent. Add all the Memories you can to every individual. Make sure you add every possible valid source. Think about what you are adding and doing. Correct and standardize all dates and places. Eliminate duplication.

We have found that adding sources is the one biggest deterrent to irrational changes. Don't go down without a response. Always respond with kindness and sources. Do not get into a revert war where you simply change something back without comment.

Remember the admonition in Alma 7:23
And now I would that ye should be humble, and be submissive and gentle; easy to be entreated; full of patience and long-suffering; being temperate in all things; being diligent in keeping the commandments of God at all times; asking for whatsoever things ye stand in need, both spiritual and temporal; always returning thanks unto God for whatsoever things ye do receive.

Friday, October 30, 2015

What is the FamilySearch Family Tree?

The FamilySearch.org Family Tree is not just another online family tree program. There are several key features about the program that make it distinctive from other similar programs online. These differences can be summarized as follows:

  • The Family Tree is sponsored and maintained by FamilySearch, International, a wholly owned corporation, owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As such, it is not subject to the vagaries of a commercially sponsored program. The information incorporated in the Family Tree will be preserved for future generations.  
  • The Family Tree is a UNIFIED family tree. There is only one family tree. No one has their own part of the Family Tree. All additions, changes, deletions and merges are visible to all of the users of the program. Changes occur in "real time" and are visible to all users as soon as they are made. 
  • Although any part of the Family Tree can be modified at any time by anyone using the program, it stabilizes as sources (documentation) are added. As you add valid sources to an individual and family, arbitrary changes to that individual and/or family will diminish or disappear. 
  • The program is mandatorily cooperative or collaborative in nature. Because everyone viewing the Family Tree is seeing exactly the same information, you are going to become involved with all of your family members who are contributing to the information in the Family Tree. Except for your own private space for living people, everything in the Family Tree is essentially under consideration by all the users.
  • You cannot add "your family tree" to the Family Tree. In a real sense, it is already there. There is a virtual space for every person who has ever lived on the earth. You can add information, but adding GEDCOM files will almost ensure that you are adding duplicate entries. 
  • The Family Tree will become THE master source for accurate information about all the individuals included in the program. That really means everybody in the world. Millions of sources are being added monthly to the Family Tree and will continue to be added. Disagreements over the identity of any ancestor must be resolved since there is only one place in the Family Tree to record each individual. 
  • The Family Tree will fairly soon be fully functional. Up until now, much of the data in the Family Tree was still being added by FamilySearch. This will eventually end completely. For the past six to eight months, the Family Tree has been reasonably stable.
  • There will be changes made to the Family Tree program as new features are developed and as the technology in general changes. However, the core concept of the Family Tree will not change and the information will be preserved. 
  • If you want to make any real progress with researching your ancestors, you must participate in the Family Tree. The Family Tree will become the go-to place for information about the status of all research efforts worldwide. 
  • This whole process is inevitable and you can either participate or not. If you choose not to participate in the Family Tree, you will very likely be doing research that duplicates what someone else has already done or that is in progress somewhere else. 
  • You may believe that your information is too sophisticated or detailed for the Family Tree. If you do, you simply do not understand how it functions and the amount of information the program can contain. 
Yes, it takes some time and effort to understand how the program works. Yes, people who do not understand the program can add information that is not accurate. But the Family Tree is designed to allow everyone the opportunity to correct existing information. You may not agree with the changes but then you will need to document the reasons why you disagree. Ultimately, any serious disagreements will have to be solved by additional research. 

There is an end to every family line on the Family Tree. When you reach that end, there will be no further information to add until further research is done, if that is possible. 

Thursday, October 29, 2015

What do I do with my Book of Remembrance?

"FileStack retouched" by Niklas Bildhauer (who also is User gerolsteiner91. - originally posted to Flickr as folder. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons - https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:FileStack_retouched.jpg#/media/File:FileStack_retouched.jpg
Last night, I was helping a friend with her genealogy on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree when she stopped and went to retrieve her six-inch thick Book of Remembrance. She immediately began the process of showing me all the work that had been done on her lines. After a few minutes of comparing what was in the Book of Remembrance and what was now online, I realized that there were many things in her Book that were different than what was recorded online or were lacking in the online record.

The most obvious were numerous historical family photographs. None of these had been digitized or shared online in the FamilySearch.org Memories section. As she continued to bring out stacks of paper, I discovered that the family had hired a professional researcher who had provided literally thousands of names with documentation. The stack of paper that appeared was almost a foot high. The final document was a six-inch printout from Personal Ancestral File of just her family's pedigree. My friend had no idea what she had or how much of what was in front of us on paper had already been added online.

One of the issues we had been discussing before she brought out all the paper, was the accuracy of the places recorded in the Family Tree. Many of the place names were incomplete or inaccurate. Her ancestors came from Germany as very recent immigrants so almost all of her ancestors were born in Germany. We had been struggling with the place names trying to figure out the correct information. The huge printed pedigree she produced had more correct versions of all the place names and differed substantially from what was already online.

This experience brings up a fundamental question for some members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. To what extent has the information in your "Book of Remembrance" been put into the online Family Tree on FamilySearch.org? My friend kept insisting that all the work had been "done" because she had a huge stack of paper even though she had no idea what lines had been worked on and how much of it was incorporated online. It did appear that much of what was on paper was more accurate than what had been recorded online however.

Because of the quantity of paper, it will probably take a considerable period of time and lot of effort to verify that the research information on the paper records was recorded in the online Family Tree. The next step will be to transfer the information from paper to Family Tree carefully adding the sources.

One of the very first tasks I did when I was starting out was to transfer all of the information in my own Book of Remembrance to my online file. I also subsequently digitized all of the photos and put them online also. I suggest that you dig out your "Book of Remembrance" and make sure that all the information, including the photos and documents, have been digitized and shared online on the Family Tree. You might just be surprised to see what is missing online.

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

New Probate Series on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel


This is Part One of a nine part series on Probate Law I am producing for the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel. This ongoing series will take some time to complete but the first three sessions are already online. We now have 101 videos online in the BYU Family History Library Channel. We will also be starting a new series of webinars where you will be able to watch classes live and ask questions as the class is presented.

Monday, October 26, 2015

Family Discovery Day at RootsTech 2016


There are already more than 10,000 people registered for Family Discovery Day at RootsTech 2016. I would strongly suggest that if you want to attend this event, that you register now. It is very likely that registration will be maxed out some time before the event.

Here is the description from the RootsTech 2016 Website
In addition to RootsTech, families and members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are invited to attend Family Discovery Day at RootsTech on Saturday, February 6, 2016. This free one-day event is a day of inspirational messages, instructional classes, interactive activities, and exciting entertainment to teach LDS members (ages 8 and up) how to find their ancestors, prepare and take them to the temple, and to teach others to do the same.

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Comments on a culture of family history

Culture is defined as the sum of attitudes, customs, and beliefs that distinguishes one group of people from another. I was asked a question recently about why members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are interested in family history. In thinking about the answer to this question, I began to examine the role that family history plays in the culture of the Church. I have had the opportunity to visit many different wards across the United States and into Canada. Since I am so very much involved in family history, I always inquire about the family history activity in every ward. I had an opportunity to visit a ward today and ended up talking about family history with a ward member in their "family history class" during Sunday School. This raises an issue, is pursuing family history a fundamental activity of member of the Church? In this sense, is it something generally participated in on a regular basis or is it a compartmentalized activity like attending a Sunday School class?

There is no doubt that the pursuit of family history is a basic doctrine of the Church. Here is a quote from Joseph Smith concerning the importance of the work.
“This doctrine presents in a clear light the wisdom and mercy of God in preparing an ordinance for the salvation of the dead, being baptized by proxy, their names recorded in heaven and they judged according to the deeds done in the body. This doctrine was the burden of the scriptures. Those Saints who neglect it in behalf of their deceased relatives, do it at the peril of their own salvation.”  History of the Church, 4:425–26; from the minutes of a Church conference held on Oct. 3, 1841, in Nauvoo, Illinois, published in Times and Seasons, Oct. 15, 1841, pp. 577–78.
Throughout the history of the Church in the latter days, the doctrine of proxy work for the dead has been taught again and again by each of the succeeding prophets. Today the Church has established a huge, world-wide organization called FamilySearch, International, to assist the members and the rest of the world to search for their deceased ancestors and relatives.

Rather than being a central activity of the members, in many wards throughout the Church, family history has be relegated to the status of a periodic activity evidence by a "Sunday School Class." Some wards have followed The Leader’s Guide to Temple and Family History Work: To Turn the Hearts, the guidebook for the Church leaders but othesr have failed to call Family History Consultants or involve the members of the ward in family history at all. This disparity of implementation can occur within the same stake.

What is more than evident is that the programs and resources developed by the Church through FamilySearch  now provide a way for all the members to become involved. What is lacking is a connection between what is preached as doctrine and active participation by the members. To quote Elder Alan F. Packer from General Conference in October of 2014,
As Elder Quentin L. Cook explained, “We [now] have the doctrine, the temples, and the technology.”16 Doing the work now is much easier and limited only by the number of members who make this a priority. The work still takes time and sacrifice, but all can do it, and with relative ease compared to just a few years ago. 
To assist members, the Church has gathered records and provided tools so that much of the work can be done in our own homes or in the ward buildings and the temple. Most obstacles have been removed.Whatever your past perception, it is different now! 
However, there is one obstacle the Church cannot remove. It is an individual’s hesitation to do the work. All it requires is a decision and a little effort. It does not require a large block of time. Just a little time on a consistent basis will yield the joy of the work. Make the decision to take a step, to learn and ask others to help you. They will! The names you find and take to the temple will become the records for “the book.”17
In my opinion, there is an additional hesitation on the part of local leaders to provide the support structure necessary to do this work and to personally and organizationally take the action necessary to implement the structure and resources that are now abundantly available.

As it states in the Doctrine and Covenants, Section 121:41-42:
41 No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; 
42 By kindness, and pure knowledge, which shall greatly enlarge the soul without hypocrisy, and without guile—
If you find yourself in a ward or stake where you feel that there is insufficient emphasis on family history, the solution is within yourself. Begin to do your own family history. Once you become proficient at finding your own ancestors, follow the current counsel of the leaders of the Church:
Find, Take and Teach.  Take the time to teach those around you about the way to accomplish this important work. Let the leaders do their job according to their own inspiration. This is, after all is said and done, an individual responsibility. Quoting from Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles at RootsTech 2015:
Let me emphasize with you the "find, take, teach" process. By "find," we mean to use theFamilySearch.org website or the family booklet, My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together, to find the name of one or more of our ancestors or their descendants. 
Then take these names to the temple or share them with others so they can take them.When possible, go to the temple as a family. Finally, teach our families this process, and then teach others to do the same. 
As an Apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ, I leave my blessing upon you with a promise that if you look beyond the bonds of time and mortality and help those who cannot help themselves, you will be blessed with more closeness and joy in your family and with the divine protections afforded those who are faithful in His service.
Changing the culture of the Church, if that culture needs changing, starts with the individual. Take steps today to begin your family history. Go to FamilySearch.org and get started.

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Teaching all day at the Mesa FamilySearch Library Conference

I will be teaching five classes today at the Mesa FamilySearch Library Conference and renewing friendships with all my friends from Mesa and the surrounding area. The conference is being held at the Tempe LDS Institute of Religion on the Arizona State University Campus. I will be back writing as soon as I am done this evening and tomorrow. Take some time to read some of my posts in Genealogy's Star or look at photos on Walking Arizona. Thanks.

Friday, October 23, 2015

Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah 30 Years Old


FamilySearch pointed out in a blog post entitled, "Mormon Family History Library Still Connecting Generations of Families after 30 Years" that the "new" Family History Library building in Salt Lake City, Utah is now thirty years old today. Here is the announcement from the post:
FamilySearch’s Family History Library (FHL) in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah, will celebrate its 30th anniversary on October 23, 2015. When the new facility was completed back in 1985, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was already considered the foremost authority on family history research. During the past three decades, the library has been recognized by genealogists as the top research and collections library in the world—a designation it still maintains—in part, because it has evolved to keep pace with the changing demographics and demands of family researchers and the communities it serves.
 In conjunction with the announcement, there was a very interesting infographic showing how some of the technology used in the Library has changed over the years.


You may have to click on the image to read all the details. But the changes reflect not just changes in the technology, but the growth of the interest in the Library itself. I have experienced these changes firsthand over the years. When I started my research in the Library over thirty years ago, I spent most of my time looking at the vast accumulation of Family Group Records. Now, that huge collection is digitized and online. As I grew more sophisticated in my needs, now most of my interaction with the Library is through the FamilySearch.org Catalog. I still look at microfilm ordered from the Library, but most of my use of the facility is from outside of the physical Library itself through the Internet.

From my own observations this week working at the Family History Library, I find that the number of visitors to the Library itself, aside from online contact, remains very high. Despite the increase in electronic access, a visit to the Library is still a very high priority among researchers. It is true that the landscape in the Library has changed from a sea of microfilm readers to an ocean of computers, but the need to be in the Library doing research is still a high priority.

Quoting from the blog post and Director of the Library, Diane Loosle,
“The Family History Library in Salt Lake City is unique in all the world,” said Diane Loosle, director of the world-renowned library. She explained the focus of the library has always been to increase access to the world’s genealogical records and help patrons make personal family discoveries.

“To the family historian, this library is like Disneyland,” said Loosle, “There’s no place like it. People dream for years of coming. It is the largest facility of its kind and the largest of FamilySearch’s 4883 family history centers globally. Many people begin their journey of discovery at one of our facilities.”
Note the exact number of Family History Centers worldwide. This shows a significant growth from previous approximate numbers.  The post also gives some insight into the numbers of records that have been digitized and the numbers left to digitize. Here is another quote.
About 25 percent of the 2.4 million rolls of microfilm stored at the Granite Mountain Vault have been digitally published online. The Family History Library itself has about 1.5 million rolls on site. As physical films are digitized, they are removed from the library. Insofar as possible, the records teams plan on digitally publishing all of the microfilm online for 24/7 access.

In 1985 family history research was a very individual experience requiring each person interested in a specific record to scroll through microfilm or search microfiche. In 1985 over 600 microfilm and fiche readers were housed in the Library. Though microfilms and fiche still play an important, though less frequently used role, a large portion of today’s research is now computer-based. Today the Family History Library boasts 550 Internet-enabled patron computers while still providing access to over 200 film and fiche readers. The Library also offers free access to film, book, and photo scanning equipment to help patrons digitally preserve and share family records.
The increased usage of the Library has come from the growth in the number of local Family History Centers as well as the ability of users to access the Library's records online. Again quoting from the post:
“We know that many people will never have the opportunity to visit the Family History Library in person,” said Loosle. “So FamilySearch has been expanding its reach. We want everyone who desires to discover their ancestors to be able to do so, no matter where they live.” 
The physical makeup of the Library is also changing. On my visit this week, I noticed that all of the books have now been removed from the first floor of the Library. The post explains what is happen to re-configure the facility.
Visitors to the Family History Library find an amazing collection of resources collected over 120 years and hosts of friendly people with expertise available to help them. The Library delivers with an impressive cadre of 45 full and part-time staff, and perhaps unprecedented for libraries, 550 full- and part-time volunteers or “missionaries.” The volunteers hail from all over the world, many of them dedicating up to 18 months—at their own expense—to help patrons make successful discoveries.

The main floor of the library is specifically designed to assist inexperienced patrons in getting started. The floor has been outfitted with computers supported by volunteers trained to assist beginners. Volunteers and expert reference staff are also available for more in-depth research on the other floors dedicated to records from certain areas of the world.

On its lower level, for example, is found the largest number of Chinese clan genealogies outside Mainland China. This level is also used for storing family histories, and overflow films, and books available by request. Requests for digitalization of these and other personal books can be requested here, and is done at another facility in Salt Lake or at many of the Family History Centers and affiliate libraries.

“The library is not a repository for original documents as is the case with specialized archives; it is not an archive in that sense,” noted David Rencher, chief genealogy officer for FamilySearch. “But it accepts donations of published works of genealogical significance.” Books and serials are continually added to the library’s shelves—over 600,000 in fact—and the library is heading up an initiative with other public libraries to digitally publish historic books of genealogical relevance online—over 225,000 have been digitally published online to-date.
I appreciate this update to the Library's holdings. Despite the significant number of books online, it is still a valuable experience to visit the Library and review its still-to-be-digitized collections.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Editing Family Relationships Now Easier on the FamilySearch Family Tree


Editing family relationships on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree just got a lot easier. The new options are available from the little edit icon in the Family View for each individual. This is a dramatic improvement over the previous procedures. This new view and feature is not automatically present yet. Some of the users get invitations to use the new feature. By all means, take advantage of this new feature.

Another new development that goes along with the feature is that the "Delete Person" option is no longer available. Here is a screenshot of the change:


FamilySearch.org posted an article on the subject entitled, "New Features in the Family Members Section Make Correcting Relationships Easier." I would also suggest that you review this blog post. Here is a list, from the post, about the new features:
When you click an edit icon, here are some of the changes you can make using the fly-out:
  • Add or modify marriage information for the parents.
  • Change the parents for a child. (Hint: To change a parent for all the children listed, use the edit relationship icon for the husband and wife.)
  • Change an incorrect spouse.
  • Add or change the relationship type (such as biological, step, or adopted).
  • Add sources that show that the relationship is correct.
When you click a Wrong Person or Wrong Parents link, you’ll have the option to remove or replace the incorrect person.
 If you haven't seen these new developments yet, they are being phased in and you may see them soon.


Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Back to the App Gallery


The FamilySearch.org App Gallery keeps growing. At the time of this post, it has 111 apps listed. To see all the apps at once, you have to click on the Categories link and view All Categories. It is important to realize that this is simply an advertising listing of the apps. Many of the apps (programs) listed are free but some involve purchase or subscription. Some of the apps are certified, meaning that they have a special arrangement with FamilySearch to work with the FamilySearch.org website in some way. There are presently 67 of the apps that feature the green certified FamilySearch icon.

The new introductory screen on the App Gallery highlights the "New and Noteworthy." The tag line says, "These are apps either just added to the App Gallery or ones you should pay attention to." Is this a suggestion that we don't need to pay attention to the rest? The new and noteworthy section has 8 apps including FamilySearch's own Family Tree app. Perhaps this is a rotating section like specials at a supermarket? Interestingly, as far as I could tell none of the apps featured were especially "new."

55 of the Apps are Web-based. This means that the apps or programs do not reside on your computer but are only available with an Internet connection. However all of these will likely work on any device, Mac, Windows, mobile or whatever as long as there is a connection to the Internet through a browser.

Five of the apps are also FamilySearch "Partners." The current list of "Partners" includes Ancestry, MyHeritage, Findmypast, Family.me and AmericanAncestors. The Partners account for about ten of the apps.

38 of the apps involve "LDS Features." Some of the apps listed with LDS Features are not FamilySearch Certified. If this seems confusing, it is to me also.

I really like the idea of listing programs or apps that help with family history. I am not sure what the criteria is for listing a program or not listing a program. For example, there will be two classes at the RootsTech 2016 Conference on the Evernote program, but that app or program is not listed in the App Gallery. There will also be two classes on "Apps" for family history. Neither of the class descriptions mention which apps they will be talking about however.

I certainly suggest that anyone involved in family history in more than a casual way become familiar with the Apps in the App Gallery. Some of them are invaluable tools that assist us in compiling our family history.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Searching the LDS Church History Library Website


I recently posted about some of the resources on The Church History Library website and shortly thereafter the Brigham Young University Family History Library posted this instructional video. We have been adding more than one video a week to the BYU Family History Library YouTube.com Channel. I would suggest that you might want to subscribe to receive notifications of newly posted videos. You can even get email or text notifications if you can stand more email, otherwise the notices are posted on the YouTube startup page in a column on the left-hand side of the page.

Sunday, October 18, 2015

Cedar City Library among first in nation in Obituary Collective


In a FamilySearch Blog for 16 October 2015 entitled, "Cedar City Library Spearheads Obituary Collective in Utah," Steven Decker, the Director of the Cedar City Public Library, introduces EPOCH (Electronically Preserving Obituaries as Cultural Heritage), an obituary database sponsored by the Orange County (Florida) Library System that is projected to become a nation-wide collective. Quoting from the FamilySearch blog post:
The Cedar City Library in Cedar City, Utah is among the first in the nation to enter an agreement to participate in this program. They join Orange County, the Tulsa Oklahoma City-County Library, and the Brooklyn New York Public Library in this effort. The service is free and permanent “making libraries the logical partners in this project,” Bachowski points out. 
EPOCH content is community generated. That is, community members submit the content to each obituary. The site is monitored and content that is libelous, defamatory, or salacious will not be published. Likewise, though viewers are allowed to comment on obituaries, no comments will be posted without approval of the original writer of the obituary. 
EPOCH’s goal is to cooperate with one key library in each state to sponsor and promote the program throughout the state. What spurred Bachowski and her associates to develop the system? “So much information – so much cultural heritage is being lost because, in many cases, obituaries are not being published.”
 The EPOCH project is described on its website as follows:
Created by the Orange County Library System with a grant from the Institute of Museum and Library Services, EPOCH (Electronically Preserving Obituaries as Cultural Heritage) is a website that allows anyone to create and publish a free obituary online. 
In an effort to involve the community in their own collection of local history, EPOCH allows family and friends of the deceased to submit a detailed obituary of their loved one and share a meaningful memory with the residents of the community. 
Publishing a tribute with EPOCH is done by simply creating an account using a valid e-mail address. Every tribute can include an unlimited amount of text content and up to 15 items of media, including photo, video, and audio files. A tribute can be created by anyone for anyone who has passed away, regardless of their location of residence or when the death occurred. 
Our goal is for EPOCH to be a readily accessible service nationwide and we are currently seeking partner libraries and organizations in every state. We are very pleased to announce our first EPOCH partner library, Tulsa City-County Library, who will be the official EPOCH collaborator for the state of Oklahoma. Brooklyn Public Library has also partnered with EPOCH to be the official collaborator for the state of New York, and is looking forward to offer Brooklynites a platform to preserve and honor the memories of their loved ones.
Obituaries have always been difficult to research. Many are available online through newspaper digitization projects such as the Library of Congress' Chronicling America project, but current obituaries are sometimes only available for a limited period of time. Many newspapers only maintain online databases for a few months or so. This present project is one way that these limitation could be overcome in the future.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

The Church History Library


There is a contrast between a visit to the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and the nearby Church History Library. But it for those members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints whose families have been member for some time, the Church History Library is also a valuable source of family history information. But you don't have to visit the Church History Library in person to take advantage of its vast resources. Many of the historical and family history important documents are being digitized and put online.

Two webpages you should visit are the Library's Digital Collections and Online Resources. You will be surprised at the wealth of information available. Another valuable page is the External Research Databases page.

It is easy to become overwhelmed with the number of online resources, but it is also important to start looking and searching.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

Discover Your Pioneer Ancestors


The FamilySearch.org website is a portal to a vast online collection of information about the early pioneers of Utah and other parts of the Western United States. Some members remember their pioneer ancestors each year around the 24th of July and then promptly forget them for the rest of the year. FamilySearch.org has a link to the Church History Library where many journals, diaries and other important documents are located. The list shown above is available for each registered user of the program on the Pioneer Ancestors page on FamilySearch.org. This is another of those pages located in the website that is buried and can only be found through a Google search for the terms "familysearch pioneers."

Once you sign into the website, you will see a list, like that above, showing some of your ancestors who are identified as pioneers. It should be pointed out from the list that most of the people listed had spouses and children who also crossed the Plains to Utah between 1847 and May 10, 1869, the time period considered as determining who was and who was not a pioneer. These seem to be missing from the list. It is possible that they simply limited the number of entries on the list to some arbitrary number.

However, lately, there has been a movement to include "pioneers" who join The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from all parts of the world and even in the present time. Here is a screenshot showing that part of the "pioneer" page that talks about these more modern pioneers.


If you view the Trail Stories you will find a wealth of information about the people in your ancestor's company. Here is a screen shot of the page for George Jarvis 1823-1913. Note the list of links to original documents and journals.



This is certainly a website worth exploring. 


Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Unique records at the BYU Family History Library


Most genealogists sooner or later become aware of the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. What might not be quite so obvious is that there is another major family history collection in a huge library just 45 miles to the south in Provo, Utah. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah is probably the largest such facility in the world. It is very likely that the Family History Library at Brigham Young University in the Harold B. Lee Library on campus, is the second largest such library in the world.

What are the factors that make a library useful? More particularly, what are the factors that make a great family history library? As a subject, genealogy sections in both public and private libraries are not all that common. Genealogy or family history is a very broad subject. It involves many academic and practical disciplines. The places where pertinent records can be found include such diverse repositories as libraries, archives, historical societies, genealogical societies, court houses, warehouses, union halls, corporate record departments, cemeteries, churches, and a myriad other locations around the world. When we look at a facility that is dedicated to family history research, we need to consider exactly what the facility has to offer concerning a core selection of records dedicated to family history and how many other records that might be of interest are also available.

Brigham Young University is one of highest ranked universities in many academic areas in the United States. It has over 28,000 full-time undergraduate students and over 3,000 graduate students. It was founded in 1875 and is one of the oldest such institutions in the western United States. I have written about the library in other blog posts, but it bears mention that the main Harold B. Lee Library is a major research facility and ranks in the top 50 of spending of university research libraries.

It is important to realize that the BYU Family History Library is sitting inside of the main library on campus and patrons have full access to the entire university's library resources; maps, books, manuscripts, digital records, microfilm and so forth. The BYU Family History Library also has approximately 130 volunteer and Church Service Missionaries plus the paid staff of the Library to help with research. The Library also offers an expanding schedule of classes. See the BYU Family History Library Facebook Page.

What I think is interesting is that compared to the crowds at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, the BYU Library is mostly used by students (which is natural and expected) but what I think is surprising is how few of the people living right here in Utah Valley know about the facilities of the BYU Library. I am always talking to people about the library and they are often unaware of its existence.

Now a few words about both the Salt Lake and Provo libraries. These two facilities are both owned and operated by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and its wholly owned corporation, FamilySearch International, Inc. The FHL in Salt Lake is located in a dedicated building on West Temple in downtown Salt Lake City. The Provo Library is in the middle of the large BYU campus. Parking is at a premium and visitors must walk from the available parking areas to the library. However, except for the distance, the BYU Library is handicap accessible. From my experience, parking at the BYU campus is not a whole lot different than finding a parking space in downtown Salt Lake, most of which is fee based. BYU parking is free. The BYU Library is open from 7:00 am until midnight Monday through Friday. It is open from 8:00 am until midnight on Saturday and closed on Sunday, except the Family History Library is open from 10:00 am until 7:30 pm on the 2nd and 4th Sundays of each month. The Salt Lake FHL is open on Monday from 8:00 until 5:00 pm, from 8:00 am until 9:00 pm on Tuesday through Friday and on Saturday from 9:00 until 5:00 pm and closed on Sunday.

Both libraries are closed on major holidays and BYU Library is closed between semesters. It is always a good idea to check the library schedule when you are planning a visit. The BYU FHL is staffed by volunteers and missionaries until until 9:00 pm or until the library closes on other days when it closes earlier.

Many of the records at the BYU Family History Library are unique. It is a research facility and there is assistance in finding the available items, but the library, other than the Family History Library, is mainly for experienced researchers and students. My personal experience is that both libraries have a lot of people to help, but finding a specialist in any particular area will depend on the schedule of those with that particular experience. You may wish to investigate the availability of help in any specialized area by talking to the library staff before coming.

Monday, October 12, 2015

How Accurate are the FamilySearch Family Tree Record Hints?

Not too long ago, FamilySearch.org implemented a feature in the Family Tree of offering "Record Hints." Here is a screenshot showing an individual in the Family Tree with some Record Hints indicated:


As you can see from this entry, my ancestor was supposedly born in Fletton, Huntingdon, England. However, this is not a "standardized" place entry. The standard place name is "Fletton, Huntingdonshire, England." If the place name is not standard, or at least standardized, then the Record Hints are likely less accurate. I standardized the entry so now it looks like this:


Now, I will check the Record Hints. It is important to verify the accuracy of the information you find already present in the Family Tree before attempting attach record hints because the information in the tree may be wrong but match the Record Hint. This means that someone used a wrong record to enter the information in the first place. The first suggested record is not my "Elizabeth Chattell."

This suggested Record Hint is for a family in Manchester, about 120 miles from Huntingdonshire. 


I marked this "Not a Match." I had already found a British Census record for my family in Huntingdonshire. Why did the program suggest a Record Hint for an inappropriate family? The answer to this question involves some of the most complex issues in existence facing family historians and those who develop the programs. My Elizabeth Chattell (or Chappell) was born in Huntingdonshire. She married a James Parkinson, who was also born in Huntingdonshire, about 120 miles from Manchester in Lancashire. My Elizabeth and her husband James, did have a daughter named Sarah born in 1833 also born in Huntingdonshire, not the girl in Manchester born in 1831. Here is the 1841 England, Wales and Scotland Census Transcription of the family from Findmypast.com:


At this point, there is another not-so-obvious issue. The location of the births of two of the children, including Sarah is "Cambridgeshire" not Huntingdonshire. Don't we have the same problem with this being yet another James and Elizabeth Parkinson family? It might help to know that Huntingdonshire is a non-metropolitan district of Cambridgeshire as well as one of the historic counties of England. Huntingdonshire lost its county status in 1974. See Wikipedia: Huntingdonshire. So now we have two questions: why does FamilySearch find a family in Lancashire for a match and why does Findmypast.com show the children born in the modern county of Cambridgeshire?

If I attach the FamilySearch.org Record Hint to my family, it is simply wrong. It is not a reference to my family at all. But on the other hand, if I attached the English 1841 Census record, it is correct even though the name of the birthplace is technically inaccurate (we record the name of the place as it existed at the time of the event). In both cases, to utilize the Record Hint or the search results, I have to know additional information. In the first case, I must recognize that Lancashire is a long way from Huntingdonshire. This fact alone is enough to call the record hint into question. In the second instance, I need to know the history of Cambridgeshire and Huntingdonshire.

Now, was the Record Hint for the Manchester, Lancashire family wrong? Is there something wrong with the program when it suggests this family? Not at all. But the answer does involve the need for the researcher to examine each Record Hint very carefully. But at the same time, this type of situation points out the need to study the information offered carefully in the context of all of the other possible records for any given family.

Assigning a percentage accuracy to a search engine's efforts is helpful in understanding the effectiveness of the process but it is also misleading, if the researcher relies on the stated accuracy rather than using his or her own judgment and looking at the records in the historical and geographical context. 

Saturday, October 10, 2015

FamilySearch Family Tree Opens New Doors for Everyone

The FamilySearch.org Family Tree is not just for experienced family historians. The Family Tree has grown into a multi-faceted experience with opportunities in family history for all ages and all experience levels. Unless you have been closely watching the development of the program, you probably haven't noticed that the entire website has been changing and is almost entirely different than it was, say, two years ago. Some people complain about "all the changes" but change is inevitable and as the program evolves, it adds a better user experience and increases in functionality.

One of the "entry level" features of the Family Tree is the Memories section that gives users the ability to add photos, stories, documents and audio files to every individual ancestor. The "drag and drop" function to upload the files should be familiar to anyone who uses any one of the online social networking programs. In fact, FamilySearch has a Memories App for both iOS devices and Android devices that can be used to add photos directly to the Family Tree's Memories. The addition of ancestors' photos and other documents has greatly expanded both the utility and the appeal of the website.

For those who care to be a little more involved, the Family Tree has the need of many activities that can be easily learned. New users can take advantage of the Record Hints to add appropriate records as sources for individual ancestors. More experienced users can then analyze and extract the information from the sources and make needed changes in the data. Users soon realize that adding or correcting information in the Family Tree should be supported by sources. They also learn that the Family Tree is a unified program; everyone has the opportunity to add, correct, delete or merge data. Changes at this level should not be viewed as an attack, but rather as an opportunity to collaborate and make the Family Tree better. Those who do make changes, should be careful to do so only after careful consideration of the sources already provided. If an inappropriate source is added, it can be detached with an explanation.

At every level of the program, changes should be explained and in some cases, justified. Since its inception, the Family Tree has allowed the users to add millions of links to source records, thus enabling subsequent viewers to verify the conclusions made about family members and their relationships.

Whatever level you choose to be involved, even if it is only has an observer, the program is designed to provide you with valuable information about your ancestors. One of the more recent developments is a series of colored icons that notify users when there are either opportunities to add information through research or when there are problems with the data already recorded. You should look at these icons as an invitation to spend some time improving the quality of the Family Tree for all users. If you are unsure how to deal with a particular issue raised by the icons, please take the time to seek help from your local Family History Consultant or Family History Center volunteers.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

Ancestor dies from lion bite -- Family History and Newspapers

Although the number of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who had ancestors who "crossed the plains" as pioneers, is dropping as the total membership of the Church increases, there are still a lot of people who find that they have one or more "pioneer" ancestors. This is true even for those members who are now scattered across the world.

One fascinating source of information for those whose ancestors passed through Utah is the Utah Digital Newspaper Project. This is one of the most extensive such free projects in the U.S. In doing a recent search, I found this article about one of my uncles, Roland Ray Tanner, the brother of my great-grandfather Henry Martin Tanner.
R. R. TANNER DIES FROM INJURIES R. R. Tanner, 66, 304 Herbert avenue, special policeman, died Saturday afternoon at his home as the result of being bitten by a lion in Liberty park last Saturday during the Lindbergh celebration. Scores of persons were horrified at the time when Tanner, reaching through the bars to pet the beast, was suddenly attacked. Instead of offering his mane, the animal bared his teeth in anger and with a roar sank them into the officer's hands and tried to draw him within reach of the vicious claws. A second animal started forward and was about to join in the attack when a man, whose identity was never learned, seized an iron bar that was lying near and came to Tanner's assistance. He succeeded in beating the enraged beasts until they withdrew and the victim was released. Tanner was rushed to the emergency hospital and though he had suffered somewhat from shock and the loss of blood, it was believed he would recover. Infection set in however, and he died, despite every effort to save his life. In political activities he served as county attorney of Beaver county, sheriff of Beaver county, chief deputy United States marshal for the Second judicial district of Utah, in 1894 and 1895. He was elected state senator from the Eleventh senatorial district and was twice appointed to serve as a member of the state board of equalization. Later he became chairman of the Democratic party of Beaver county. Impressive funeral services were held at Beaver Monday afternoon at 1 o'clock in the East ward chapel under the direction of the Deseret mortuary. Prayers were made by O. A. Murdock and Walter S. Tolton. Music was furnished by a mixed quartet. Solos were sung by Miss Lucile Huntington and Gps Fernley The speakers were J. F. Tolton and George Parkinson. The chapel was filled with old friends and neighbors. The floral offerings were many and very beautiful. Interment was made at Mountain View cemetery. The grave was dedicated by Carl Tolton. Mr. Tanner is survived by his wife, Mrs. Rhoda Alice Tanner and daughters, Mrs. Zella Hatch of San Diego, Miss Iva Tanner and son Paul Tanner of Salt Lake City. Three brothers, Scot Tanner of Milford; Shep Tanner of Beaver; Henry Tanner of St. Joseph, Arizona and a sister Mrs. Julia Tyler of East Highlands, Cal. Among those who attended the services from1 here were Mr. and Mrs. Scot Tanner, Mrs. Eph Smith, Mrs. Nels Schow and Mrs. Merril Edwards.
Just think what gems might be lurking in the pages of the local Utah newspapers about your pioneer family. Try searching for them with several different names. R. R. Tanner is Roland Ray Tanner, b. 9 September 1861, d. 10 September 1927. The article was in the Beaver County News for 16 September 1927. Here is a copy of the original article;



Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Why does FamilySearch.org have name and date standardization?

Recently the FamilySearch.org Family Tree started showing red icons with a warning message that dates and places were not in standardized format. Many users are confused about exactly what the message is supposed mean and what they are supposed to do. First of all, it is important that you understand the message and what it is asking before blindly changing both names and dates. The instructions for entering standardized dates and places is easily found in the Help Center. The link to the Help Center is in the upper righthand corner of every page on the website by clicking on the "Get Help" menu link.


Here is a screenshot of the drop-down menu that appears with an arrow pointing to the Help Center.


If one of the Frequently Asked Questions does not address the standardization issue, then search for "standard date name" and the article will come up. You can also go to the article by clicking on this link to Entering standardized dates and places.

Carefully read and follow the instructions. The most important statement on this page is as follows:
Note: FamilySearch recommends you use the name of the place at the time of the event. This matches with sources and facilitates hinting. FamilySearch is working to connect historic names of places with their modern names.
This is extremely important because it allows you, the program and other researchers to find records that match the individual being researched. Historical records are very often associated directly with the location as it was at the time an event occurred. This is particularly important in Europe and countries where the international boundaries have changed many times over the years.

The key to keeping your place names correct is in this statement in the article:
Instead of clicking the standardized place, click somewhere else on the screen. The system leaves the place as you type it but connects the place with the standardized place.
This is really a simple procedure, but it is crucial to the way the program works. The answer to the question in the title is simple, it enables the program to find your ancestors.

We teach people not classes

Most of the Family History Consultants I have talked to over the years have told me they had been called to teach a "Family History Class." I have learned a hard lesson during my long life. We can only teach people, not classes. Family History is highly individual in nature. We teach people one at a time in an appropriate setting. Classes can be instructed and shown, but teaching comes to the individual. The Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts states, at page 20,
Consultants take the initiative to reach out to members, especially those who are not comfortable using technology, by:
  • Helping a few individuals or families at a time to work on their own family history so they can perform temple ordinances for their deceased relatives. The most effective place to do this is in members’ homes. The ward council could determine specific individuals or families for the consultant to work with. The high priests group leader assigns these families to the consultant. 
  • Answering family history questions from ward leaders and members. 
If a "class" is going to be held, the Guide counsels us to do the following:
Lessons are generally conducted as workshops in which members actually complete their own family history work, either on the computer or on paper. Where feasible, class participants should have access to computers. Many meetinghouses are currently being equipped with wireless Internet connections.
This is how teaching family history is best accomplished. I teach a lot of classes, but I am most careful to teach people, individually, whenever possible.

If you are called as a Ward Family History Consultant, you should be contacting Ward members directly and offering to help them find their ancestors. Let's suppose that you were called but no one bothered to tell you what you were supposed to do or how to go about being a Family History Consultant. The simplest way to "get trained" is to go online and carefully study the following guidelines, manuals and lessons that are aimed specifically at training Family History Consultants. You do not need to wait until the Bishop or the Sunday School or whomever "schedules a class." You do not need to have a dedicated space in the building for Family History. Notice what it says above, "The most effective place to do this is in members’ homes." All you have to do is start offering to help.

The first place I suggest going is to carefully read the Leader's Guide to Temple and Family History Work, To Turn the Hearts. A PDF copy is on LDS.org. Read the entire Guide and study the scriptures quoted.

Next, go to LDS.org and sign in and go through this entire section: Family History Topics. Pay particular attention to the section on Family History Callings. Carefully review all of the videos especially for Family History Consultants. There is a link here to the Leader's Guide. If you want to be an effective Family History Consultant and be able to help people go through all of the FamilySearch Tree Training in the FamilySearch Learning Center.

Now, for instructions on FamilySearch.org and how to do research, go to TheFHGuide.com. This new website will provide you with an excellent understanding of how to go about teaching family history and give you the tools to do so.

If you want to magnify your calling as a Family History Consultant, you will have to use your own initiative. You can call on your local Family History Center and others for help, but you need to take matters into your own hands and do your job. Don't wait for someone to tell you what to do. That may never happen. Get busy and do it.

If you are reading this blog post and know a family history consultant, you just might want to give them a copy of this post. It might help to know where the instructions are located.


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Keeping up with online family history record collections

I wrote a post about some of my experiences lately with the FamilySearch.org Historical Record Collections. I just got a list of the newest additions to those collections in an email from FamilySearch. Usually, this list also appears in a blog post from FamilySearch within a few days of receiving the email notification. I usually don't mention this list but I wanted to illustrate that these collections are very rapidly evolving and expanding. The records you need could be added at any time so it is a good idea to check back and see if there is anything you are personally interested in reviewing.

In addition, as the Record Hints expand on FamilySearch.org's Family Tree, there are new collections added to the hints. What is and what is not included is not necessarily announced anywhere. But additions to all the collections eventually will benefit the ability of the programmers to add Record Hints. It is important to understand that the growth is only made available if the records are indexed. Record Hints do not come for records that are not indexed so indexing is a vital part of this whole process of making the records available. This list shows the effects of indexing. Many of the listed records are added indexed records.

Here is the most current list.

New FamilySearch Collections Update: October 5, 2015


COLLECTION
INDEXED RECORDS
DIGITAL RECORDS
COMMENTS
991,910
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
0
13,738
Added images to an existing collection
47,380
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
0
1,377,861
Added images to an existing collection
178,391
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
33,063
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
0
279,461
New browsable image collection
25,786
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
873,918
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
424,219
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
29,690
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
3,961
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
79,821
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
11,394
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
0
724,182
Added images to an existing collection
0
17,580
Added images to an existing collection
176,344
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
352,726
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection
1,067,147
1,067,143
Added indexed records and images to an existing collection
94,859
0
Added indexed records to an existing collection

Monday, October 5, 2015

Putting the Historical Record Collections in Focus

This last week or so I was asked to help a patron at the Brigham Young University Family History Library with research into her Italian ancestors. After a short review of the status of her family research, we began by searching the FamilySearch.org Catalog for the place where her ancestors lived. Starting with a general search for "Italy," we looked for "Places within Italy" and found the province where her family lived.


There were a lot of choices, but she already knew that her family came from Udine.


We clicked on the link for Udine and saw the records available for the province.


A further click on the "Places within Italy, Udine" gave us a much longer list. We found the town where her ancestors lived, "Varmo."


One more click took us to the FamilySearch Records for Varmo. There were seven different Civil Registration records for this town in Italy.

We compared the records to the time period when her ancestors lived in this town and began looking at the each of the entries. The first set of records were Civil Registration Records listing births, marriages and death records among others.



Fortunately, the records were digitized and in the Historical Record Collections as indicated by the link in the statement in red. We began our search by looking at the records in the Historical Record Collections.

There were, at the time, 1,262,279 images. These images are not yet indexed as there are no search fields. However the records are organized by location. We clicked on "Browse Records" and moved into the record collection.


We clicked on Udine, to show the records in that location. After scrolling through a long list of place names, we found Varmo.


We then found a chronological list of record sets that we could search. Within minutes we were finding her family members. We continued to find new people to add to her ancestry until she had to leave.

 This is remarkable. She had no idea the records for her ancestors were in the FamilySearch.org website. Neither did I for that matter. I had been asked to help her because I could read Italian. But, guess what, I hadn't needed to know one word of Italian to find the records. We found the digitized records by doing a search in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Later, when looking at the new additions to the Historical Record Collections, I found a very interesting fact. The entire Udine Collection had only been added a few days before this patron began her search.



There are several lessons to be learned from this. First, a search of the Historical Record Collections can be started from the FamilySearch Catalog. Second, the list is growing every day and just because you looked yesterday, does not mean the records are not there today. Third, the records can be successfully searched without an Index. Fourth, the records are freely available. Fifth, I didn't need to know Italian to find the record.

What about reading the record once found? Well, that did take a little work in Italian. But, I could have used a Google Translation Search or a dictionary or an Italian Word List online. All of these would have been sufficient to read the records, had I needed them. Which I did not. Another lesson to the missionaries at the BYU Family History Library is the fact that any one of them could have helped this lady. We did not have to wait for someone who could research "Italian" records.


Sunday, October 4, 2015

A Lesson From Elder Clayton: Teach People Not Lessons



For all of us who regularly spend time helping people learn how to do their family history, this recent blog post about the experiences of Elder L. Whitney Clayton illustrate some important principles. Here is the link to the entire blog post.

Elder Clayton: Teach People Not Lessons

I hope that I can implement these lessons in my own teaching. 

What's New on FamilySearch -- October, 2015 and Comments

Every so often, FamilySearch sends out a list of the new features and other news in a blog post. This month's offering is from Steve Anderson and is entitled, appropriately, "What's New on FamilySearch -- October, 2015."

There is a note that you can now register for RootsTech 2016, but I will be doing a post on that on my Genealogy's Star blog and so I will only mention it here.

Some of the new developments on the FamilySearch.org website would probably go entirely unnoticed if it were not for these announcements. Not that they aren't helpful or needed or whatever, but they are rather obscure. The first note is about the fact that they added a date to a printed family group record or a pedigree chart. That is always helpful, but since I don't print stuff off, I probably would not have noticed.

Feedback for Auto-Indexed Records

This particular addition to the FamilySearch.org website is a good step towards improving the accuracy of the searches. Essentially, FamilySearch has added the ability to tell through feedback, when a Record Hint is inaccurate.  I didn't have any trouble finding a record hint and I also had no trouble finding one that was in error. Look for the tab to report the error at the bottom of the page. Unfortunately, I couldn't give a screenshot example because FamilySearch.org is not working while I was writing this post.I could not see the suggested record hints, but I could tell that they were in error. For example, 1901 England and Wales Census when my ancestor was living in Utah. Further unfortunately, people keep adding this record and as a source without looking at the other sources of the information in the details that clearly show the ancestor living in Beaver, Beaver, Utah in 1901.

Memories: The People Page Now Has a Help Tray

FamilySearch is adding a Tips Icon at the bottom of many of the pages on the website. They have extended this feature to the Memories section. The People Page now has a help tray.

 On

 all you have to do, is click on the tips lightbulb.

Feedback for the Recently Improved 110-Year Rule Request Permission Form

This is another change you would only have seen if you used the 110 Year Rule Request Permission Form.  Here is what they have to say:
In August, What’s New on FamilySearch announced that the form to request permission to perform ordinances for people born in the last 110 years was improved. People had been confused by some of the questions on the old form and were having their request rejected because they weren’t filling out the form correctly. Many areas have sent feedback that the new form is much easier to understand.
FamilySearch also indicates that there will be making the ability to change relationships much easier in the future. It looks like this will be a very helpful addition. For details, please review the blog post. There are several other developments mentioned in the blog post. Some of these I have already mentioned in previous posts such as the ability to directly search Partner websites from a person's detail page.They also indicate that the Memories page will be redesigned.

Personalized Home Page

Research indicates that about 25% of the users have been introduced to the Personalized Home Page. I've had this for some time, but I must admit that I don't spend a lot of time looking at it since I am usually going to a section of the website directly. However, I certainly find it more appropriate and useful than the old design. Right now, if you have the Personalized Home Page, you can opt out.

Mobile Apps: Record Hinting and Manage Relationships

FamilySearch is announcing a major upgrade to the Mobile Apps. Here is their description:
If you are using a mobile app and there are record hints for people in your pedigree lists, you will see a blue icon (the same as the web icon) on the person’s details header. Click the icon to see the list of record hints. 
You will be able to see that an ancestor has a possible record to review. You can attach the record as a source. If you find new ancestors in the record, you can add them to the tree. In the future, we will provide a feature that will expand the list of persons with hints. 
The ability to edit, delete, or remove spouse relationships or parent and child relationships using the mobile apps is coming.
I always think that it is very risky to announce programming changes in advance since no timetable is specified. During the past year or so there have been multiple announcements about the implementation of a new indexing program for FamilySearch apparently they are still having problems implementing such a program.

Portions of FamilySearch.org Will Soon Be Available in 42 Languages

Here is the explanation of what this entails:
The following portions of FamilySearch.org will soon be available in 42 languages: the start page and booklet tool for the My Family: Stories that Bring Us Together booklet; log in; create and manage an account; and the Temple section. 
Many Church members who want to participate in family history work don’t speak one of the ten languages currently supported by FamilySearch.org. There isn’t enough budget to translate the entire site, so we selected pages that would allow members to create an account and log in, enter their family into Family Tree, and reserve their family names to take to the temple. 
If users have selected a preferred language, the sections that are available in 42 languages will display in the user’s preferred language. If the user has not selected a preferred language, the system will detect the language of the browser and display the sections in the appropriate language. 
To help users recognize those portions of the website that have not been translated into 42 languages, we left the header and footer for those sections in just the ten languages.
There seems to be a major push towards internationalization of FamilySearch and of the websites. I am guessing that is significant amount of their resources are going into broadening the reach of the website. We will probably see development such as this occurring with more frequency in the future.

There are also references to increased access to the My Family booklet and the War of 1812 Campaign. More on these later.