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

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

The Vicissitudes of Depending on Technology


When you are trying to do an almost endless stream of live webinars, everything that can go wrong goes wrong and everything that has gone wrong will probably go wrong again. From time to time we end up apologizing to those who tune to the live webinars at the BYU Family History Library due to "technical difficulties." Broadcasting online is still a relatively new technology and there are lots of parts to pulling off a live performance.

When the technology interferes with the presentation, I feel really sorry for taking people's time. I certainly want everyone to know that we will try to rebroadcast the failed webinars.

Some of the broadcasts have had to be postponed due to pre-technology illness, but it is frustrating when we get all ready to present and there is some problem with the computers or the online program or whatever. Recently, we have been faced with Microsoft upgrades happening just as we get started. Then I have to race around the table and keep talking on another computer. When we have a plain old failure of some kind, the whole presentation has to be stopped.

This whole subject does bring up the issue of making backups. If you want to keep from the inevitable technology problems such as crashed computers and hard drives, make sure you make backup copies of everything you don't want to do over again.

Anger and Spite on the FamilySearch Family Tree


Not everything is sweetness and light on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. There are those people out there who cannot manage their frustration and anger. As a result, the comments we get on our family entries are not always cordial and civilized. I have a recent, very graphic example but it is so bad, that I do not feel that I can reproduce it here. It does not need any more notice and attention than it has already garnered.

For the past few weeks, I have been writing a series of posts that I call "Finding Francis." This series is chronicling my efforts to resolve a long-standing ancestral mystery: the parents of my fifth great-grandfather. We have been doing extensive research and as yet, have failed to find any record of his parents. Meanwhile, almost every week someone adds his parents back in from the unsubstantiated "traditional" family records. Almost all the contributors graciously accept the extensive explanations that we provide when we remove the unsupported additions. But there are some who react with anger and threats. Notwithstanding the ire and emotion, they still fail to provide any supporting sources for their repeated additions.

When I started this process, now several months ago, my daughter, who is working with me, warned me that I was starting a "civil war." That has proved to be the case. We have jointly prepared a long and very polite response to the repeated additions of the same unsubstantiated parents. The records that do exist, show that the parents being added were married in Rhode Island many years after the birth of Francis Tanner and could not be the parents. Here is a sample of the response we send to the contributors. By the way, we are still waiting for someone else to add even one more helpful source.

Thank you for your interest in Francis Tanner and the Tanner Family. Please look through Sources, Memories, and “Latest Changes” and read the following before making changes to Francis Tanner’s entry. As of May 2017, several family members are reading through Rhode Island and New York records to identify probate, property, tax, vital, church, and other historical records for the Tanner family. We are adding information to FamilySearch as we find it.
We have removed William Tanner and his supposed wives as parents of Francis Tanner. Around the start of the 20th century, Rev. Elias Tanner and Rev. George C. Tanner wrote books about the family. Over time, their speculations about the origin of the Tanner family were taken as fact and adopted in many genealogies and spread through online family trees, heritage society applications, etc. A close examination of the speculative genealogy shows problems such as one possible mother, Elizabeth Cottrill, supposedly giving birth to Francis when she was a little child. The problem is that although there is very good reason to believe that a man named William Tanner was Francis Tanner’s father, there may have been multiple William Tanners in Rhode Island, and no one has provided documentation *created at the time* showing which one was the correct father, and which of their wives was Francis’s mother. Again, as far as we can tell, no one sharing online or published family trees has provided documentation supporting these speculative relationships.
We now have access to many more records than did family historians of prior generations, so we have begun to build a case for Francis’s parents. We are finding clues in probates, property records, and the records of the Sabbatarian or Seventh Day Baptist Church. We are identifying how Abel Tanner and Nathan Tanner and others are related to Francis, since a document associated with a relative might provide the clue that could reveal the identity of Francis’s parents.
If you would like to help, here are a few of the things you could do.
* Look through the family entries on FamilySearch to see if something is missing if you’ve done research in the original records, and please share a copy.* Research related or possibly related families (Tosh, Sheldon, Tefft, Tibbitts, Babcock, Colgrove, Cottrill) using the original records of Rhode Island and New York, and add the sources to Family Tree.* Transcribe Francis Tanner’s fourteen-page will. This would require proficiency in 18th century handwriting. (See a copy of the will in “Memories.”)* Create detailed maps to show where each family lived during the 17th and 18th centuries based on original property deeds.* Research the history and records of the Seventh-Day Baptists and other Baptist denominations in Rhode Island and New York.* Find additional records or original copies of extracted records in archives or government offices.
We appreciate all who have added original records or photographs. FamilySearch gives us a remarkable new ability to collaborate, so this is a good time to try to confirm what has only been speculation for too many generations.

So what do we do about the rants that we receive? We try to answer them as politely as possible and continue to ask for further documentation. In the end, however, we are sometimes forced to merely ignore the rude and uninformative comments and, in some cases, delete them from our blogs. I realize that some people trying to work on the family tree cannot handle this sort of bullying pressure from others. We are well prepared by our background to face this kind of pressure. If you do find yourself in such a situation. It is best to go quietly about your research and develop a standard, nonconfrontational response. We have an appropriate selection in a Google Doc and simply copy the sections that apply and send them off to the contributor. Hopefully, someone will decide to do some real research and help us ultimately solve this problem.

Tuesday, May 30, 2017

24 New Videos in One Month Added to the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel

By the end of the month of May 2017, the Brigham Young University Family History Library will have added 24 new videos to our YouTube Channel. We are not quite up to one a day, but getting close. Here are a few of the new videos.


English Research: Finding a Women's Maiden Name Using the GRO Site - Kathryn Grant


Critical Analysis of Researching in Depth - James Tanner

Getting People Into Family History - Bob Taylor

We have a full schedule of videos in June. Here is the latest schedule.


Of course, there may be a few unforeseen changes, but barring those, we will be online and the videos will be uploaded. In addition, there will certainly be a few more shorter instructional videos added as well.

Remember to subscribe to our YouTube Channel.





Monday, May 29, 2017

A List of Symptoms of Poor Health in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree


Actually, I spent most of my early years eating all the foods shown above (except not beer if those icons are supposed to be beer). Anyway, the idea here is to build on my extremely long analogy in the last post on the FamilySearch.org Family Tree and give a list of the major symptoms of poor health practices in the Family Tree.

I have them organized in order from fatal to mildly annoying.

No. 1 Of course, the first things on the list are the fatal red icons. 


The red icons are called "Data Problems." They should be called dead end fatal errors. Of course, the error may be as simple as a typographical error in the date entered. But when you look closer, you usually find that the first red icon is really just a symptom of more serious errors.

What do I mean by fatal errors? As Miracle Max says, they are only mostly dead. You either have the wrong person or the wrong parents. It is also possible that the dates have been incorrectly recorded. Whatever the reason, the information basically ends that particular line and may also indicate further serious errors. There is a very small chance that careful and realistic research will revive the person.



This person was also born after his mother died. Any entries concerning his parents or the rest of his lineage (which in this case goes back at least another nine generations is pure fantasy. This is where the train jumps the track folks (to mix my metaphors and analogies). By the way, it is against the rules to simply go in and change the date to "fix" the error. That is pure cheating. This is a good entry for pointing out errors because there are several more. Oh, remember, there is a whole list of these Data Problems and they are nearly all categorized as No. 1 fatal errors.

No. 2 Really bad name errors.

These aren't always fatal but as far as the Family Tree program is concerned the people with this error are invisible. Here is an example of a classic error.


Did you notice the list of red icons? Well, the issue here is the way the name is recorded. Here is a screenshot of just the name.


Hmm. This entry shows the next major error also, but right now we are looking at the nearly fatal name entry. Is this the person's name? The name field should contain only characters that are in the earliest recorded name for the person. That is it. Nothing more and nothing less. This brings us to another error with this entry that is nearly always fatal.

No. 3 Place names should be entered from the smallest to the largest jurisdiction as the place was known at the time the event occurred. Extraneous characters should never be used. 

I know this is probably three rules, but they are really about exactly the same thing: accuracy. Identifying the places is crucial to identifying the people. In this particular pedigree line, it is never quite explained how the poor Welsh immigrants became related to the royal line of England. But here the place is in these old angle brackets which used to mean the place was a guess. Here they are just plain fatal. Any entries past this point in the family tree are nothing but fantasy (drivel, junk, etc.)

No. 4 Missing sources means what follows is unreliable fantasy, not just fantasy. 

Oh well, I could give you about a thousand screenshots of entries without any sources. Some descendency lines look like a long string of purple icons because none of the entries have sources. If you don't record a valid, evaluated source for your entries, just keep doing research until you can substantiate your entries. This is a really simple rule. If you can't find a source just forget putting in the name. For example, let's suppose that you just feel that John Jone's father was named Mr. Jones. Hmm. Guess what you might or might not be right, but before you add in Mr. Jones and his wife Mrs. Jones, do some research for their names and some events in their lives.

No. 5 When the child was born the mother was there. (This is really the first rule of genealogical research, but here it means that the places where the people lived have to be realistic for the time period involved and consistent. Any inconsistencies must be resolved with source records.)

Do you really imagine that your great-great-great (etc.) grandmothers ran around from county to county in England having babies? The same rule applies to the rest of the world also. This is another fatal error for those who believe in teleportation in the early 1800s and on back in time.

Am I through with fatal errors? Oh, let's see. Making stuff up is always fatal. Claiming you have a source but never providing the source to anyone challenging your entry is not only fatal but unfair and verges on cheating.

No. 6 We are finally to something that is not quite fatal but may be on occasion. That is extending the teleportation rule to immigrants. Just because the U.S. Census record says your ancestor was born in Germany does not mean that you can stick on the first person with your ancestor's name you find in German records. 

This is a fairly common error. One of the most challenging issues in genealogical research is discovering the origin of an immigrant. It might be as easy as finding one connecting record or may take years of research. It doesn't help the situation to make believe that you have found the place of origin and stick in the first likely name. All that does is make less skeptical researchers spend time doing unnecessary research and add on more fantasy.

No. 7 Place is not standardized.

It's too bad they didn't use a different color icon for this notice. A non-standardized place name is not a fatal error. It is more like eating junk food. Most of the non-standardized places and dates in the Family Tree are inherited from paper genealogy when there were only a few limited spaces to record information on the forms. Today we are trying to create a master file of every place on the earth where an event occurred, including their historical and sometimes lost names. This aids the computers in finding the right people and helps us to make sure the places actually existed at the time of the events. Take the time to check and double check the places.

No. 8 A list of Birth Names.

This error is like have a seasonal allergy. Here is a rather short example.


By definition, the birth name is the name we find on the earliest available record for the person. This list in the "Other Information" section has been automatically generated by the program and indicates the number of variations of the person's name that have been submitted by the earlier contributions to FamilySearch and its predecessors. This is basically excess fat and these names need to be deleted. They serve no purpose. If there is a genuine issue with the name of the person, you can add an alternative name, a nickname or an "also known as" with an explanation and a source or sources to explain the issue. But unless they add information, they can be and in most cases should be deleted and the "real" birth name is the one that is recorded as the primary name on the detail page.

Well, there are certainly a few other ailments that are worthy of notice or mention, but this list might give you a good idea that we need to be very aware of the health of our portion of the Family Tree and probably our own health also.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Assessing the Health of Entries in the FamilySearch Family Tree


If you go to a doctor for a health checkup, usually a nurse or assistant to the doctor will take your vital signs. These may include weight, height, blood pressure, blood work and possibly other physical tests. Usually, the doctor will then spend a few minutes going over the status of your health. However, as members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we should also be able to take the "vital signs" of our portion of the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. We might find that our part of the Family Tree is overweight and in need of a diet or has some functional issues that require immediate intervention and perhaps even major surgery. We may also find that our part of the Family Tree is exceedingly anemic and needs some supplemental vitamins and minerals.

What are these vital signs that we need to look for in our portion of the Family Tree?

Some of the symptoms are rather obvious. Here is one example of a Family Tree that is seriously overweight.


This long series of people is pure fat. Those purple icons indicate that no sources have been added and that this flight of sugary fancy going off into the 12th Century has no real basis.


This part of the Family Tree needs to go on a strict diet of research, starting back where the last supporting sources end. It might be painful, but in the end, all of this fat has to be turned to muscle or lost. 

If you look around a bit, you might find some more serious indications of a serious illness in your part of the Family Tree. Here is another obvious indication.


Those red icons may be an indication of a life-threatening disease. Here is what one of those icons has to say.




These conditions merit immediate attention, not just because of the substance of the warning, but because of the danger that the condition indicates some more serious health problems such as genealogical cancer or heart failure. None of the surrounding information in the Family Tree can be relied upon when these warning signs appear. 

Aren't there other warning signs of ill health in the Family Tree that are less serious? Of course, here is a screenshot of some less obvious indicators of ill health.




Here, the Family Tree appears to be healthy, but a close examination reveals some problems. Some of the more obvious indications include the fact that the health of this portion of the Family Tree has been neglected. There is a lack of standardization in the dates and places. The places include non-standard parentheses and the dates are abbreviated. These are both clear indicators of ill health. The blue icons indicate that some of the entries are in need of immediate nourishment and supplement. We don't really have to go much further in our examination to see that there may some serious consequences to any further growth in the Family Tree without some genealogical intervention. If this is allowed to continue, this portion of the Family Tree could be looking at a transplant or an amputation. 

Let me put that last paragraph into genealogical language rather than using my extended medical analogy. The dates and places in the Family Tree are used by the program to determine the identity of the person when doing searches for additional records supporting the entries. If the entries are incomplete (abbreviated) or have extraneous characters such as the place name in parenthesis, then the program may not be able to use the information. Additionally, these incomplete or non-standard entries indicate that no one with some training in the Family Tree has looked at this part of the Family Tree for many years, likely since the original entries were extracted from paper-based records. The information showing in the Family Tree may be incomplete or even inaccurate. The subsequent entries could be to people who are really unrelated which means that research might reveal that the line ends here or that a whole new line is necessary. 

Here is another example of a portion of the Family Tree that is in serious ill health. 




 In this case, the indications of ill health are more obscure. The purple icons indicate that there are no sources, but the blue icons suggest further record hints and possible sources. The issue here is less obvious because the health of the Family Tree at this point appears to be viable, but in reality, the patient has already died. If is necessary to make a closer observation to determine the reasons for the demise. Here is one of those indicators.



To ascertain the problem with this entry, we have to go well beyond a superficial examination. We have to do some checking of the dates and places. First, we need to examine the sources. Here is a screenshot of the sources.




Even though a superficial examination disclosed "three" sources, in reality, there are no sources. There is no real connection between the source and any ascertainable person. The first two sources listed are really duplicated. Here is what these two "sources" show.




There is nothing here to show an actual birth place. The third "source" listed is not a source at all but a reference to someone's Ancestry.com family tree. How did the entry get a specific birthplace in Virginia?

Let's look at the date; 1675. Now, using that date, let's look at the place; Goochland, Goochland, Virginia. A quick check with a Google search shows us that Goochland County was formed in 1728 from Henrico Shire and was named after the royal lieutenant governor from 1727 to 1749. See Wikipedia: Goochland County, Virginia. So, the name of the places could not have been known in 1675. So where was this person born? With a common name such as "James Turner," how do we know if we have the right person. This closer examination has confirmed my earlier diagnosis that this person was not only physically dead but virtually and historically dead also. These entries in the Family Tree are pure fantasy. 

A good Family Tree diagnostician can spot these signs of illness and death. But unfortunately, many of us are operating among the sick and dying portions of the Family Tree without ever going to the doctor to find out what is wrong. 

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Ancestors Remembered on the FamilySearch Family Tree


In conjunction with the U.S. Memorial Day holiday, the FamilySearch.org Family Tree has a special feature added called "Genealogy: Ancestors Remembered." I thought their official position was that genealogy was no longer necessary, but here it is prominently displayed on the startup page. Now, the nature of these startup features is that they are context sensitive so that what I see, you may not see.

When I sign in to the website, I got another lead to the feature.


This is the page that I got when I clicked on the view page link.


The page features a photo of a grave marker and a link to the person's photos and stories in the Memories section. This is a nice feature and calculated to draw people into the Memories that are already in the program. There is no obvious connection to the Memorial Day holiday but the feature in relevant to a holiday that is better known now for the beginning of summer activities than its original purpose to remember our ancestors who fought in wars. Here in Utah, the holiday is called "Decoration Day" and it is common for people to spend some time visiting local cemeteries and putting flowers on the graves of their relatives and ancestors.

Historically, Memorial Day is an official Federal holiday set aside to remember those who died in the armed forces in service to their country. It was originally called "Decoration Day"  after the American Civil War in 1868, when the Grand Army of the Republic, an organization of Union veterans founded in Decatur, Illinois, established it as a time for the nation to decorate the graves of the Union war dead with flowers. See Wikipedia: Memorial Day.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Helping to Preserve Family Memories


Here is a quote I recently received from Paul Nauta at FamilySearch quoting Tim Cross.
"More than half the world is not wealthy enough to be connected to the internet. More than half the world is not wealthy enough to be remembered. They pass away, and there is nothing recorded about them, their families, and their ancestors. That’s the challenge—getting out and giving the opportunity to be remembered," Tim Cross, Family Tree Lite Product Manager, FamilySearch International.
Here is another quote from the FamilySearch blog post by Angelyn Hutchinson entitled, "Does Your Family Keep a Memory Scrapbook?"
I heard my father’s voice the other day. 
I cried. 
The last time I heard it was in 2008. It was fall when Dad died. I miss him every day. His voice sat on my shelf for almost nine years, captured on an old VHS tape that was recently discovered. 
In 1990, my father set up his camcorder and videotaped his uncle Herman, the last of my great-grandparents’ seven children. Using old photos, Herman, seated beneath the cottonwood trees in his yard on a summer day, told the story of his parents emigrating in 1901 from Sweden to Cache Valley in northern Utah. He described their lives and struggles and those of other ancestors who were gone but not forgotten to him. The details and stories that I’d never heard unfolded before me nearly three decades later as I watched the video now in my possession, and Herman’s memories became mine.
My wife and I have spent much of our lives gathering, recording and preserving our families' heritage. My wife has been spending a great deal of time recently reviewing and organizing a huge pile of boxes in our basement containing the records of her family. I have been paying one of my granddaughters to put photos and documents onto the FamilySearch.org Memories program. She is leaving shortly on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and she needed a short-term job before she leaves. Here is a screenshot of some of her efforts up to the time of this post.


She is working through some of the thousands of digitized photos and documents I have ready to be uploaded, titled and tagged.

Interestingly, very few of our close family members are likely aware or even care about our preservation efforts. My wife's family is much more involved than mine. I have almost no contact with my own family members even though I see that many others have added a substantial number of memories to my distant relatives. Sometimes, out preservation efforts seem to go unnoticed and unappreciated. But we are not looking either for notice or appreciation. We want these people to be remembered so that sometime someone will be touched by their stories.

If you or your family have not become involved in preserving family memories, please read about all the opportunities outlined in the Angelyn Hutchinson's post linked here and above.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Temple and Family History Consultants

https://www.lds.org/callings/temple-and-family-history/guide/temple-family-history-consultant?lang=eng
For administrative purposes, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is divided into large geographic areas directed by an Area Authority Seventy. The Church is then further divided into Stakes and Wards. The newly organized Temple and Family History Consultants follow this administrative pattern. There are Temple and Family History Consultants at the Ward, Stake, and Area level.

From my experience, I would guess that very few members, other than some Bishops and most Stake Presidents, could name their Area Authority Seventy. Even fewer would be aware that there are Area Temple and Family History Consultants. Usually, a married couple are called to jointly served in this calling. The Areas of the Church can consist of a number of Stakes, sometimes as many as twenty or so. The calling of Area Family History Consultants has existed for many years. Some of these Consultants have been serving for as long as fifteen years or longer. While I was serving in the Mesa FamilySearch Library in Mesa, Arizona, I often worked closely with the Area Family History Consultants. As with the other level consultants, Area Family History Consultants became Area Temple and Family History Consultants.

With the reorganization of the Temple and Family History work in the Church, the Stakes are instructed to call their own Temple and Family History Consultants. These Stake consultants are now to be supported and trained by the Area Temple and Family History Consultants under the direction of the Area Authority Seventy. As with any change, so far, few of the Stakes have begun calling Stake level Temple and Family History Consultants.

One of the most common complaints from Ward level Family History Consultants has been a lack of training. Now with the changes, there should be a direct line of support and help from the Stake level to the Wards and from the Area level to the Stakes. Resources for this training are being provided on the LDS.org website. See the links above.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Finding Francis -- Part Four


My investigations of Francis Tanner and my attempt to determine the identity of his parents are turning out to be a classic genealogical challenge, usually and inappropriately referred to as a "brick wall." I just finished spending over 13 hours reviewing one microfilm and I have a long list of others to review. This is the detail part of doing genealogical research process usually minimized by those promoting the pursuit.

Why am I writing about this situation? There are several reasons. First, I want to illustrate the amount of effort needed for a difficult genealogical challenge. Next, I wanted to illustrate the need for careful evaluation of the sources and the documentation needed to support any conclusions about the individuals involved in the research. I felt that a concrete example of the issues involved in a complex problem would be helpful to those facing a similar situation. Last, I wanted to show the time involved in doing this type of research.

For those just starting to read this series of posts and for the rest of us who can't remember what is going on at all, I will do a short review.

Francis Tanner (b. 1708, d. 1777) is the last ancestor in the John Tanner (b. 1778, d. 1850) line. John Tanner was a prominent early member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and he has thousands of descendants. Since the late 1800s, there have been some very influential surname books that showed his ancestral Tanner line to end with a "William Tanner" whose birth date and place were unknown. The surname books have been mentioned in early posts in this series. Speculation about William Tanner's wives has usually closely followed the sketchy information in the surname book series. There is presently no documentation yet discovered connecting Francis Tanner to either of this parents. Although, the entries in the Family Tree regularly add parents with no supporting documentation. Here is the latest iteration.


Francis' will (attached as a FamilySearch.org Memory) names a brother Nathan Tanner. Nathan Tanner's birth record is available and attached to his entry in the Family Tree. The birth record states that his, Nathan's, father's name was William and his mother's name was Elizabeth. The present theory is that since Nathan and Francis were brothers then it is possible that Francis' parents were also William and Elizabeth. The question is whether the William named in the surname books is the same William and the father of the two brothers. One of the wives reported a married to William Tanner is named Mary Babcock. A marriage record from New England has a William Tanner marrying a wife named Mary in 1692. There is reportedly a will of a Job Babcock dated in 1715 which I have not yet found, that names Job's daughter as "Mary Tanner." This would rule out the William Tanner who married Mary Babcock as the father of Francis and William. By the way, all of these documents are attached to the entries in the Family Tree.

My latest research turned up a deed from Mary Babcock to George Hazard dated on the 18th of December 1696. This would seem to rule out the Mary named in the marriage record in 1692 being Mary Babcock or she would not have been able to convey property in her own name.

I have yet to find a connection between anyone named William Tanner with a wife named Elizabeth and Francis Tanner.

Regularly people add another William Tanner to the Family Tree with a wife named Elizabeth without adding any additional documentation. Here is one of our standard responses.
Thank you for your interest in Francis Tanner and the Tanner Family. Please look through Sources, Memories, and “Latest Changes” and read the following before making changes to Francis Tanner’s entry. As of May 2017, several family members are reading through Rhode Island and New York records to identify probate, property, tax, vital, church, and other historical records for the Tanner family. We are adding information to FamilySearch as we find it.

We have removed William Tanner and his supposed wives as parents of Francis Tanner. Around the start of the 20th century, Rev. Elias Tanner and Rev. George C. Tanner wrote books about the family. Over time, their speculations about the origin of the Tanner family were taken as fact and adopted in many genealogies and spread through online family trees, heritage society applications, etc. A close examination of the speculative genealogy shows problems such as one possible mother, Elizabeth Cottrill, supposedly giving birth to Francis when she was a little child. The problem is that although there is very good reason to believe that a man named William Tanner was Francis Tanner’s father, there may have been multiple William Tanners in Rhode Island, and no one has provided documentation *created at the time* showing which one was the correct father, and which of their wives was Francis’s mother. Again, as far as we can tell, no one sharing online or published family trees has provided documentation supporting these speculative relationships.

We now have access to many more records than did family historians of prior generations, so we have begun to build a case for Francis’s parents. We are finding clues in probates, property records, and the records of the Sabbatarian or Seventh Day Baptist Church. We are identifying how Abel Tanner and Nathan Tanner and others are related to Francis, since a document associated with a relative might provide the clue that could reveal the identity of Francis’s parents.

If you would like to help, here are a few of the things you could do.

* Look through the family entries on FamilySearch to see if something is missing if you’ve done research in the original records, and please share a copy.
* Research related or possibly related families (Tosh, Sheldon, Tefft, Tibbitts, Babcock, Colgrove, Cottrill) using the original records of Rhode Island and New York, and add the sources to Family Tree.
* Transcribe Francis Tanner’s fourteen-page will. This would require proficiency in 18th century handwriting. (See a copy of the will in “Memories.”)
* Create detailed maps to show where each family lived during the 17th and 18th centuries based on original property deeds.
* Research the history and records of the Seventh-Day Baptists and other Baptist denominations in Rhode Island and New York.
* Find additional records or original copies of extracted records in archives or government offices.

We appreciate all who have added original records or photographs. FamilySearch gives us a remarkable new ability to collaborate, so this is a good time to try to confirm what has only been speculation for too many generations.
The constant changes in this family will keep occurring as long as people fail to read the documents and sources attached and also fail to do any additional research before adding in a new set of parents.

Monday, May 22, 2017

DNA and the FamilySearch.org Family Tree


I recently received the results of my DNA test with Ancestry.com. Interestingly, FamilySearch.org only recently introduced the Consultant Planner that includes a fan chart showing family origins. Here is my fan chart from FamilySearch.org.


This fan chart is part of the Consultant Planner but to see your own chart, all you have to do is invite yourself and accept the invitation. See the following video for instructions.


FamilySearch Consultant Planner by Judy Sharp

In my case, there is a significant difference between the information in the fan chart and what I received as a result of the DNA test. This creates a quandary. What do I do with the DNA results? How do the results help me with my current research in Rhode Island and England? I will continue to explore these questions in this blog and in Genealogy's Star. 

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Quick Links to all the Temple and Family History Resources Online

http://thefhguide.com/
If you look closely at the startup page of The Family History Guide, you will see a tab entitled "Misc." The resources in this tab are valuable for a number of reasons, but the most valuable for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the selection designated "LDS."

Here is a screenshot of the LDS page.

http://thefhguide.com/lds.html

This section of The Family History Guide contains links to a huge number of resources for individual members as well as those with family history callings. Near the bottom of that webpage are two choices that link family history articles from the Church publications and family history videos.

http://thefhguide.com/lds.html

Members might remember that The Family History Guide is now the official FamilySearch training partner.

In addition, there is a section under the Training menu item for Consultant training.

http://thefhguide.com/index.html
This section gives even more resources for helping, teaching and training in family history.



The Family History Guide can be an invaluable resource for expanding and emphasizing family history in your ward or stake.

Friday, May 19, 2017

Digging into sources in the FamilySearch Family Tree - Part Seven


I feel like I am just getting started writing about sources in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. Here is a definition of a source from the FamilySearch.org Help Center article entitled appropriately, "Sources in Family Tree."
Definitions
  • A primary source is a record created at or near the time of an event by someone with personal knowledge of the event. Examples of primary sources include birth certificates, death certificates, census records, newspapers, letters, journals, tax lists, court documents, or church records. Published books can be primary sources if they contain accounts based on personal knowledge of an event.
  • A secondary source is a record created after the time of an event by someone who did not experience the event personally. Most histories are secondary sources.
  • Sources can also come from personal knowledge about a person or from interviews with living relatives or other oral sources. 
  • A citation is a reference that describes the source and how to find it. Citations for oral sources should include who provided the information. Citations are important because they help users know where information came from and how reliable it is. They can also help users find more information.
 OK, this is the "widely accepted" method of categorizing sources; i.e. primary vs. secondary. But there is a serious issue with this simplified and mostly inaccurate method of classification. For example, the definition above uses a "death certificate" as one of the types of records assigned to the category of "primary source." Here is an example of a death certificate. This one is the death certificate of my Great-grandfather I have used many times before.

The right-hand side of the certificate is filled in by the attending physician. The information fits the definition of a "primary" source, that is, "a record created at or near the time of an event by someone with personal knowledge of the event." However, some of the remaining information does and some does not fit this definition. The information concerning the date of birth, the age at death, the birthplace, the names of his parents and their birthplace was all supplied by "Mrs. Roy Fuller." The burial information was filled in later and may or may not have been added by someone who had personal knowledge of the event. So is this a primary source or not?

We may or may not know the identity or relationship of Mrs. Roy Fuller to the deceased (who happens to be my aunt and Henry's daughter), but we certainly do not know the individual who signed the certificate at the time it was filed. Classifying this entire document as a "primary source" glosses over the questions that can and should be raised about the reliability of each of the items contained in the document. If we just look at the document, we can see that part of the document was typewritten and part was hand written. So the document was created sometime after the events recorded. We can assume that the doctor wrote the handwritten portion after the creation the typed portion. The doctor was then reporting events in the past, either by memory or from notes. This may be true due to the fact that the portion of the document signed by the doctor is undated.

So, how reliable is this "primary source?" I would suggest that reliability may have nothing to do with when the information was recorded. However, proximity in time to the event does increase the possibility of reliability. For these reasons, I usually do not find that the distinction commonly made between primary and secondary sources to be of much use or significance.

How then do we approach a record such as a death certificate? The answer is simple. All historical conclusions are tentative and are subject to revision as additional historical records are examined. We could use Henry's birthdate from this death certificate by adding it to our own "family tree." But it is entirely possible that a subsequently discovered record could modify our understanding of the actual birth date. In some cases, we may never find another birth record and the date will become accepted because it is the only record we have. This is not the case with Henry Martin Tanner. We have 13 sources listed that address his birthdate.

Now here is a test. Is a U.S. Federal Census Record a primary source? By the way, the real answer is that the question is irrelevant because a census record does not fit the category of either a primary or secondary source. The main reason being that the person who supplied the information is not identified so we have no way to determine the status of the information. In Part Five of this series, I set out a series of questions that we should be asking about the reliability of any record or document we use in our genealogical activities. Rather than classify documents or records into categories, it is a much better practice to go through the process of asking questions.

By the way, using the terms primary and secondary is not the only classification method. All of the other methods of classification have the exact same limitations.

Previous posts in this series

http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/05/digging-into-sources-in-familysearch_10.html
http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/05/digging-into-sources-in-familysearch.html
http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/04/digging-into-sources-in-familysearch_26.html
http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/04/digging-into-sources-in-familysearch_23.html
http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/04/digging-into-sources-in-familysearch_19.html
http://rejoiceandbeexceedingglad.blogspot.com/2017/04/digging-into-sources-in-familysearch.html

Thursday, May 18, 2017

Helping Others with the FamilySearch Family Tree Just Got Easier



The new Consultant Planner on FamilySearch.org is available to those who are helping others with their family history. Of course, this includes all of the Temple and Family History Consultants at every level and as you can see, we can also see our own Consultant Planner. Here is a recent, short video about the Consultant Planner by Judy Sharp from the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel.


FamilySearch Consultant Planner by Judy Sharp

This video covers most of the important features and answers many of the questions about the Consultant Planner. I have been using this system since its introduction and I find it to be a tremendous aid in helping and supporting others in their family history. 

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Instructions for Web Indexing now in The Family History Guide


At least locally, there has been a downturn in Indexing activity. Part of this downturn may reflect the uncertainty surrounding the introduction of a web-based Indexing program from FamilySearch.org. As I posted a short time ago, web indexing has now been introduced.


As a result, The Family History Guide has been quick to add links to the instructions for learning about the web-based program. The Family History Guide is the official FamilySearch training resource. The instructions for the Indexing program begin in Goal 2 of the Indexing Project. Hopefully, with these readily available and structured instructions for using the program participation will begin to increase.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Uploading and downloading from the FamilySearch Family Tree: A very bad idea either way


I had an interesting experience recently. I was asked to help a patron in the Brigham Young University Family History Library with some trouble she was having with a large file. I asked her what she was trying to do and she explained that she was having trouble with her genealogy program on her computer at home. She couldn't work with the file and had been told that it was too large. After further discussion, and repeatedly asking what she was trying to accomplish, she indicated that she wanted to make sure that her file was uploaded to the FamilySearch.org Family Tree. I asked her about the size of the file. She indicated that there were approximately 33,000 names in the file. She had been told, that perhaps she had exceeded the size of a file allowed by the program she was using. I assured her that this was probably not the cause of our problems.

While this discussion was going on, I noticed that she was using two different computers. For some reason, which was never made clear, she had decided to "download" her portion of the Family Tree to a flash drive. For this purpose, she had started to download indicating that she wanted to download 100 generations with all of the associated information. For this purpose, she was using a different program than the one she had at home.

As a side note, I am purposely avoiding using the names of the programs. I will explain why this is being done later in this post.

Apparently, she thought that she was downloading her portion of the Family Tree or approximately 33,000 names. The program she was using indicated that there were over 350 million names left to be downloaded. In other words, she was actually attempting to download approximately 1/4 of the entire Family Tree.  At this point, I was totally puzzled as to what was going on. If she wanted to make sure that all the names in her personal file were in the Family Tree then I could not see any reason for downloading what was already in the Family Tree. Of course, her flash drive was totally inadequate for attempting to store 350 million names. In addition, the process would probably take several days and could not be completed in the Library because the library would close.

This experience was one of many similar situations have confronted over the years since the FamilySearch.org Family Tree was made available. Two of the most frequent questions I hear are about how to download information from the Family Tree or about how to upload a GEDCOM file to the Family Tree. There are two or possibly more programs that have connections to the Family Tree that would allow you to download portions of the Family Tree. There is also a roundabout way to upload a GEDCOM file to the Family Tree. I am purposely avoiding writing about either process in detail.

The basic problems with both uploading and downloading files involve duplicate entries, inaccurate entries and the time involved. Some of the information in the Family Tree is verified and correct. On the other hand, some of the information is entirely fictitious and/or incorrect. Because of this fact, there is no way you can rely on the accuracy of information downloaded from the Family Tree unless you do so one entry at a time.

Those people who assume that the information contained in their own personal file is free of duplicates and absolutely correct are fooling themselves. In addition, a personal file of any size will likely contain a considerable number of duplicates of people already in the Family Tree. Even if you believe that no one in your family has ever had contact with the Family Tree previously, you cannot be sure that some of your family records are not already in the Family Tree unless you check every name. Time after time people who have had no connection at all with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have found that some of the relatives are already in the Family Tree.

What about the person with thousands of names that wishes to share them with the Family Tree? The best way to do this is to purchase one of the programs that connect directly with the Family Tree. I mentioned earlier in this post that I was avoiding using the names of the programs. The reason for this is because the issues of either uploading or downloading information from the Family Tree are really program independent. None of the methods of either uploading or downloading information avoid the problem and the challenge of examining each and every entry individually. The Family Tree was built this way intentionally. Can you imagine the mess that would be created if people could easily upload GEDCOM files? We already have a mess in the Family Tree and don't need any help adding to the mess.

So bite the bullet. The restrictions on uploading and downloading files are there for very good reasons. Get busy comparing your own file with the information in the Family Tree. You can find some good programs that will help you avoid retyping all the entries, but the process will still involve examining each entry. You may find your own file is inaccurate, or you may need to correct the entries in the Family Tree, but this is how the process works.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Investigating FamilySearch Family Tree Lite


If you find yourself trying to use the FamilySearch.org Family Tree on some tablets or smartphones, you might get overwhelmed with navigating an interface that is not suited to a small screen. In addition, there may be features that you do not need. You may also face the situation where your internet connection is slow or almost non-existent. In these situations, you will likely appreciate the new FamilySearch.org Family Tree Lite edition.

The blog post shown in the screenshot above describes the program in more detail. The link to the new program is the following:

https://familysearch.org/tree/lite/

It may take a few minutes and some clicking to get used to the program. To move backward in time through generations involves clicking on a person and then looking at that person's family. You may find yourself lost and have to return to the beginning by clicking on the "Me" menu option. Here is a screenshot of the program as it appears on my iPhone 7.


Right now, it appears that the only way to access the program is through a browser directly on the internet. I see no reference to a FamilySearch app or shortcut. However, if you have an iPhone, here are the instructions for adding a website, such as this one, to your home screen.
Here's how to add a website shortcuts on the iPhone/iPad Homescreen:
  • Open Safari.
  • Type in the web address.
  • After the website loads, tap on the share icon at the bottom.
  • In the share sheet, tap on Add to Home Screen.
That short process added an icon-link directly to the program. I am sure there is a similar process on Android devices.

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Five in One Week -- The BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel

We continue to be very busy at the BYU Family History Library on the beautiful springtime campus of Bigham Young University. We keep posting new videos to our BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel.  There are five new videos posted in the last week. We have many more in the planning stage and look forward to the opportunity to share more topics with our vast audience of viewers. 

The webinars are scheduled while the rest of the shorter instructional videos depend on the presenters to organize and record their presentations for uploading as they are used to teach the missionaries or for other purposes.

We encourage all of you out there to share and view the videos and subscribe. 


What Every Family Tree User Should Know about Name Finding Apps - Kathryn Grant


FamilySearch Consultant Planner by Judy Sharp

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Family History Training Presentations

https://www.lds.org/topics/family-history/leader-resources/family-history-training?lang=eng&old=true
There are a wealth of resources for family history callings and support on LDS.org. These are three PowerPoint presentations ready to be used to teach members, Temple and Family History Consultants and Leaders and Councils. Each of these can be downloaded to your own computer and used to teach the appropriate group. 

Each of the presentations is about 15 minutes long without any discussion time and comes with a prepared script that can be used by the presenter. You may need to check out the setup because the presentations have embedded videos. You will need a device to show the presentations that will support both Microsoft PowerPoint videos and sound if you use the inserted video segments. 

They could be shown on a monitor or projected onto a larger screen. Since I do presentations practically every week and sometimes many times during a week, I am prepared with my own projector and computer. I also take an assortment of "dongles" or connectors that can connect my computer to HDMI and VGA cables depending on what might be available from the devices that are available where the presentation is to be presented. 

Screens often become a challenge. I have shown my presentations on walls or whiteboards when a screen was not available. If there is a small group, you can show the presentation right on your computer or iPad or tablet. 

I had to import the presentations into Keynote on my iPad to view them and see the included video presentations. 


Friday, May 12, 2017

A Suggested Checklist Before Adding to Existing Entries in the FamilySearch Family Tree


Lately, a number of people have been adding family members to my direct line entries in the FamilySearch.org Family Tree without adding any supporting sources and without bothering to read or review any of the existing sources, comments, life sketches, or Memories. This is nothing I can't handle. In fact, my daughter and I have developed several "standard" responses stored in a Google Docs file that we can copy and paste into the comments sections when we remove the unsupported and in almost all cases, totally inaccurate additions.

But the experience of constantly reviewing the entries is bothersome and annoying. If you are interested in the details, you can read my previous posts on "Finding Francis." Consequently, I decided to outline a suggested checklist of steps everyone should take before adding information to an existing entry in the Family Tree. You may think this is presumptuous of me to even think that someone might have to do anything before adding what they "know" to be absolutely correct information, but my personal experience compels me to attempt the project. 

Here we go.

Step No. 1
Starting with yourself, become familiar with your own family lines. Read the entries. Look at the sources. Review any Memories attached to the individuals.

This might seem to be a simple step but there are far too many people who jump into the Family Tree back where the lines end in blanks and start there to do some "research" to fill in the blanks. Those blanks in the Family Tree signify where researchers have been unable to find the next generation for over 100 years. In addition, just because there are generations and generations of people in a particular line does not mean any of those entries are correct or actually related to you or your family. In reviewing part of the Family Tree for a patron at a local Family History Center last night, I quickly determined that the people listed just two or three generations back were unsupported by adequate sources and lacked any credibility. However, I had neither the time nor the inclination to correct the entries since the corrections would involve some serious research over a long period of time. Unfortunately, I was limited to advising the patron that there was "some work that needed to be done to verify the entries."

One corollary to this step is that when there are no supporting sources for the information in the Family Tree, the information has to be assumed to be incorrect, incomplete or imaginary. The crucial information in this corollary must show a connection between the two generations.

While you are reading, looking and reviewing, you should also be thinking and asking questions. Look for the consistency and patterns of the dates and places. Make sure the entries you are considering are not duplicates.

This leads us to the next step.

Step No. 2
Once you have read, reviewed and looked at all the existing information, determine if you can find any additional sources, memories or other supporting information about the individual and his or her family.

If you don't understand what has already been done, then don't start adding in "your" information. You need to make an assessment of the status of the existing research about each individual you are considering. Remember, I am writing here about "existing" entries, not new information that you may have about your family. What is in the Family Tree is the accumulation of over 150 years of research and when there are extensive lists of sources, Memories, and notes, this means that the research that has already been done is worth considering. What it does not mean is that the research is correct. The conclusions of the past are not binding on the present. We have at our disposal an almost infinitely greater amount of information than was previously available.

Step No. 3
Do your own research.

Before diving into an established entry and starting to add information or making changes, do your own research. Verify the sources listed. Look at the original documents attached. Make sure that the entries are supported by valid conclusions. Be ready to defend your own conclusions with validly supplied documentation. There is always the possibility that you may disagree with the conclusions made that produce the existing entries. Check to see how many people are watching the entry you are considering changing. Be aware that all of those people may have done a lot of research about your family and may have good reasons for watching the entries.

Step No. 4
Once you have gone through all of the preceding steps, make your addition, change or correction including adding all of your supporting documentation and sources.

Don't be surprised if the people who are watching those entries respond in some way. They may have more information than you have already reviewed or not. If you add information or make corrections without explaining what you are doing or without supplying any additional documentation or sources, you can expect that your changes will be reversed sooner or later.

If you are used to working in the Family Tree, you might recognize that all of these steps can take just a few minutes or many days, weeks, months or years of research. Some information merely missing from the Family Tree and is now readily available. I do not usually expect any responses at all to adding new, previously unknown and unrecorded information to the Family Tree when I add the source for the information. But when I am working on existing, especially traditional, family lines, I always expect to be challenged when my research shows a change in the lines that varies from the "accepted" dogma.

Don't be surprised if you find yourself in the middle of a complicated and very difficult to untangle mystery. That is one of the real joys of being involved in family history.