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

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Quotes from LDS Speakers at RootsTech -- Do I detect a change?

I have been reading the LDS Church News and the Deseret News for the past couple of weeks as they report about the recent RootsTech 2015 Conference. I believe I detected a subtle change in the direction of the talks from previous months and years. Here are some quotes I found very interesting. Note that the quotes come from the ChurchNews not from transcripts of the talks.

RootsTech 2015: Blessings await those involved in family history and temple work
By Jason Swensen
LDS Church News
Published: Friday, Feb. 27 2015 11:29 a.m. MST

The article begins the the following statement:
Family history research can yield rich blessings — but those blessings are typically received after members accept personal accountability and get to work.
Quoting from Elder Enrique R. Falabella of the Seventy in a Spanish language session at the recent Family Discovery Day.
Elder Falabella said that experience taught him a vital lesson: Blessings often follow diligent labor. 
“Claiming blessings is like climbing a ladder — you have to climb the ladder to receive them,” he said. And so it is with family history research. 
The Church leader encouraged the audience to take three key steps up the “ladder.” 
1. Find your ancestors. 
Start by collecting the names and records of living relatives, and then gather those records of ancestors who have died, he said. Then add that information to FamilySearch and begin the indexing process. 
2. Take the names to the temple. 
Become worthy to enter the temple. Then take the names of ancestors to the temple and perform sacred ordinances on their behalf. 
“You will feel a greater connection with those on the other side of the veil,” he said. “It is a great spiritual experience to connect with your ancestors.” 
3. Teach others. 
Share the joy of family history and temple work with family and friends. 
“We have to be willing to help other people,” he said. 
By taking those three steps, members become worthy to receive precious blessings, promised Elder Falabella. Modern-day prophets and apostles have declared that faithful family history and temple work will yield blessings in “all aspects of life.” Such blessings include increased faith in Christ; a better understanding of eternal life; stronger ties to ancestors and living relatives, and an increased ability to withstand temptation. 
“It is your job to climb the ‘ladder,’ ” he said. “Blessings are waiting.”

Apparently, it now takes some work to do our family history.

RootsTech: 'Gathering, healing and sealing families'
By Marianne Holman Prescott
LDS Church News
Published: Saturday, Feb. 14 2015 9:12 p.m. MST
Updated: Saturday, Feb. 14 2015 9:12 p.m. MST

Quoting from Sister Carol McConkie of the Young Women General Presidency:
“The first step is to find the names of your ancestors,” Sister McConkie said. “This work is personal. You learn about the people in your family who came before you, people without whom you would not exist. We challenge you to seek, discover and find the names and the remarkable stories in your own family.” 
As individuals prayerfully seek, the Spirit of the Lord will guide them to find their family. After the names are found, it is important to take those names to the temple to perform ordinances on their behalf. 
“Family history work is the work of salvation, so, family history is clearly linked to the temple,” Sister Marriott said. “As you find the names of ancestors to take to the temple, you join with the Savior and therefore become unified in His mission to ‘bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and [to open] the prison to them that [are] bound’ (Doctrine and Covenants 138:42). 
“There is no greater work, no more significant way to spend your free time, than learning how to find the names of your ancestors who died without the gospel, taking those names to the temple and teaching others how to do the same thing.”
Through finding names, taking them to the temple and teaching others to do the same, individuals are able to strengthen their understanding of their true identity, give hope during hard times, and be a powerful source of spiritual protection.
RootsTech 2015: Elder Andersen adds to temple challenge
By Ryan Morgenegg
LDS Church News
Published: Saturday, Feb. 14 2015 9:10 p.m. MST

Quoting from Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles:
Explaining that there are often roadblocks with family history and temple work, Elder Andersen explained the need for perseverance. “Just like climbing a mountain, this work requires stamina, patience and diligence. As with anything important, there will be discouragement, disappointment and setbacks but there will be glimpses of eternity never before imagined. As you do your best, you will feel your abilities grow and your desire to advance this work will increase.”
My impressions:
What am I hearing? Family History takes time, effort and yes, work. I strongly agree. It may be fun, but it is not always easy. Let's get to work.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Imminent makeover of FamilySearch Family Tree

For some time now,'s Beta test site has been demonstrating a new "traditional" view of the Family Tree program. According to a very recent blog post from FamilySearch entitled, "New Traditional View in Family Tree," the changes to the main program had already been made. From looking at the website today and during the past two days, it appears that the announcement was premature. Of course, the change could come any time.

Here is a screenshot of the Beta program. So watch for the change, when it comes.

From the description in the blog post, I assume that the new interface will look pretty much like the Beta site.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

New FamilySearch Family History Consultant Video

Thanks to a heads up from Kathy Anderegg, here is a new FamilySearch Family History Consultants Video:

For what seems the first time, FamilySearch is finally getting into the issue of doing research as a basic function of family history. We need a lot more instructions like this.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

The Basic Challenges in LDS Family History

Inexplicably, many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are entirely unaware of the world-wide nature of family history interest and express surprise that "non-members" are interested in family history at all. Likewise, in light of the rapidly evolving technology of genealogical community, members with little or no interest in family history are being left further and further behind. This was pointedly illustrated to me yesterday when a patron came into the Brigham Young University Family History Library with two huge bags containing three ring binders of print outs from the Personal Ancestral File program. The patron had no idea how all of the thousands of pages of printed material containing thousands of family names could be entered into computer programs.

The patron was unaware of where digital files of the records could be found and further, upon examination of the paper records, it was evident that there was not a shred of documentation for any of the records. The immediate problem presented by the patron was how to access an family tree uploaded by a relative. The first challenge came when I discovered that she had not completely signed into with an LDS Account. Much of the first hours or so was taken up with working out logins and passwords.

The situation encountered by this patron is far from unusual. I had at least four or five discussions with the same theme in the last two or three days. These are people that are feeling the need to "do their family history" but are confronted by the realities of technology and the complexity of inherited family history files and documents. Granted, from the perspective of the entire membership of the Church, the number of people in this situation are relatively small. But in the past, most of the actual research done in finding ancestors came from the parents and grandparents of this small percentage of the total membership. Historically, the involvement of the general membership of the Church in family history has waxed and wained. There have been many programs to involve the members that have come and gone. Much of what we hear today is only a repetition of what has been said many times in the past.

What has changed is the technology. My distinct memories of family history instructors walking into a classroom with a huge pile of large family history binders with hundreds or thousands of pages of Family Group Records, are now relegated to the category of ancient history. As I pointed out to the patron at the BYU Family History Library, I had at least as much information on my iPhone as was contained in all the thousands of pages being lugged around in two large sacks.

In light of the effort being expended to encourage more involvement in family history, perhaps it would be helpful to direct a little bit of attention to the problems faced by those who have inherited massive amounts of family history with no apparent way to handle the huge number of "relatives" in their family tree. The tragedy is that the tools for handing and dealing with this mass of data are well in hand and freely available to all the members. What is lacking is an awareness of what those tools are and what they can do to help the members.

Most of the effort being expended concerning family history is presently directed at introducing new, younger, candidates to family history, but at the same time, little effort is directed to help those facing the challenges of age, lack of technological background, and skills that no longer seem relevant. These same people and their children or other relatives are now faced with the massive job of verifying and confirming the work of the last one hundred and fifty years. Granted, they now have the technological tools to face the task, but there is little support for or attention given to their plight.

They are being told that "all they have to do is go to the Family Tree and find new names to take to the Temple," but when they do, they find a huge mass of unsourced data and they have no idea how to approach this seeming mammoth task. So, how do we attract new, younger, more tech-savvy adherents while at the same time not abandoning the huge data pile already accumulated and the task of adding sources and retaining the assistance of those who already know how to "do family history?"

I don't think we do this by abandoning the small percentage of those who know how to do the work already. There is a lot that can and should be done by every member of the Church, but there are also challenges in family history that need specialized attention from experienced, professional level researchers. I am not in any way disparaging the efforts to include a younger and larger base of involvement, but I am hoping that this can be done without abandoning the seasoned researchers and those who have the motivation to become knowledgeable.

My own past experience is very typical of the path many experienced family historians have had to follow. Although some gain their interest through the mentoring of a grandparent or parent, I have had almost no contact from others in my immediate family concerning family history. I was relatively young, even by today's standards when I began the task of accumulating and evaluating my own family history. For most of my formative years in family history, I have had virtually zero support from my known family members. It was not until I had contact with more distant relatives that I found anyone seemingly interested in what I was doing or had done.

I am somewhat jealous of the experiences of those who had a grandparent or other relative that "told them family stories" and ignited their interest in family history. It took me years of experience before I would have been considered to be even basically qualified to do family history and many more years of intensive study, classes and conferences to gain whatever knowledge I now have. My concern is that those who have spent their time following their own path to family history competency are not swept under the carpet in the rush to include more people in the effort. I know many people of all ages who have the potential to do massive amounts of research who are stymied by the lack of support for "the next level" of family history research.

The recent RootsTech 2015 Conference is an example of what can be done to support both the experienced family historians and at the same time recruit new researchers. But having a once a year conference does not help when I am faced with a never ending supply of people who have to face massive amounts of family history data and do not know where to go to find help. I can only write and teach so much in the face of a seemingly endless need.

Monday, February 23, 2015

New Changes to -- February, 2015 Edition

The increase in the number of records being attached to Family Tree
I am guessing that has a New Year's Resolution to put out more timely notice of the changes to the program. Evidence of this resolution is in a blog post dated 23 February 2015, entitled "What’s New on FamilySearch—February, 2015." During RootsTech 2015, I heard a comment made by a FamilySearch representative that they were making about three changes a "day" to the program. My subjective observations through using the program, say that the statement is likely true.

The chart above illustrates one dramatic effect of the Record Hints that were recently added to According to the statistics in the post, these are the numbers. Theses numbers do not include the 579 million new record hints that were attached to the Family Tree on 22 January 2015.
Hinting by the numbers:
  • December 23: We released 14 million new record hints.
  • January 22: We released another 570 million new record hints.
  • On average, 98 percent of the hints are accurate.
  • Because of the January 22 release, record hints were added to 120 million deceased people who did not have hints before.
  • Approximately 1 out of every 10 records attached also adds a new person to Family Tree.
  • 6 million hints are now attached to Family Tree.
  • Over a million records are being added to Family Tree each week.
  • On Sunday, January 25, we hit an all-time record high with 197,090 hints attached to Family Tree.
Included in the post are descriptions of the following:

  • Enhanced Attach Records Refinements
  • Improvements for Transferring Information to Family Tree from Your My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together Booklet
  • The FamilySearch Gallery

Findmypast collaborates with FamilySearch

As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we have received great benefits from the partnerships established by FamilySearch for sharing historical documents and other resources with other large online family history companies. One of these huge online collections of resources is on the website. and have been working together for more than a year to promote family history research. Since the website was made available to members, over 130,000 have registered. The collaboration between the two online programs is outlined in a short blog post from entitled, "Findmypast collaborates with FamilySearch to provide unique resources to LDS members."

As the post indicates:
Together, we’ve published millions of records including major collections of births, marriages and deaths covering America, Australia, and Ireland, the United States Federal Census Collection, and the British Army Service Records.
The post goes on to explain:
In the last year, Findmypast and FamilySearch have worked tirelessly to digitize millions of exclusive collections from England, Australia, and the United States. Digitizing these records not only preserves the content for future generations to enjoy, but also gives researchers enhanced access to more records to help uncover their family history. 
Findmypast is also currently digitizing the 1939 Register for England and Wales. This important document, which is exclusive to Findmypast, contains the only complete record of the UK population between 1921 to 1951, as other official documents and censuses were destroyed during WW2. FamilySearch members will automatically have access to this crucial historical document.
In addition to the number of members who have signed up for, the post notes:
This collaboration has resulted in more than 16 million ancestors being added to family trees on Findmypast. LDS members who have not signed up for access to Findmypast can do so today by visiting Both sites are now working to integrate their family trees, hints, and other features that will help connect families from the past, and present, and for the future.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

A Deeper look at AmericanAncestors Databases

Recently, the New England Historic Genealogical Society entered into an agreement with to make the resources of the website available to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for free. As part of the limitations of that partnership, lists twenty-five online databases in its collections that are not available to LDS members for free. As with each of the partner accounts, members should become familiar with exactly what is and what is not included in such an account.

The collections on that are not included as listed in an online article entitled, "Welcome to Your American Ancestors Affiliate Account!" At a meeting yesterday of the Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group (UVTAGG), it was mentioned that some of the listed collections are available elsewhere. Here is the list:

  1. American Canadian Genealogical Society Index of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1840-2000
  2. American Genealogist, The
  3. Beekman Patent, The Settlers of, Vols. 1-8 [Dutchess Co., NY]
  4. Connecticut Nutmegger
  5. Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to N.E. 1620-1633, Vols. I-III
  6. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume I, A-S
  7. Massachusetts State Census 1855
  8. Massachusetts State Census 1865
  9. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910
  10. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911-1915
  11. Massachusetts Vital Records Index, 1916-1970
  12. Massachusetts: Grand Lodge of Masons Membership Cards, 1733-1990.
  13. Mayflower Descendant, The
  14. New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1847-present)
  15. New Hampshire: Miscellaneous Censuses and Substitutes, 1640-1890
  16. New Hampshire: Births to 1901, Deaths and Marriages to 1937
  17. Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine
  18. Rhode Island Census Collection: 1865-1935
  19. Rhode Island Roots
  20. Rhode Island Vital Records, 1636-1850
  21. Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements, 1831-1920
  22. U.S. City Directories (forthcoming)
  23. Vermont: Miscellaneous Censuses and Substitutes, 1778–1822, 1840
  24. Vermont Vital Records to 2008
  25. Virginia Genealogist, The
I checked several of the collections through online searches. For example, I found a few back copies of The American Genealogist, digitized and available on Google Books. A complete set is also in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. You might also check on for additional library locations. See The American Genealogist.

Another example, the third item on the list is a book. 

Doherty, Frank J. Settlers of the Beekman Patent, Dutchess County, New York: An Historical and Genealogical Study of All the 18th Century Settlers in the Patent. Pleasant Valley, N.Y.: F.J. Doherty, 1990.

It is available, digitized online, in the Books section of the website. 

I suggest that if any of these collections are of interest to you, that you do a thorough search online for an alternate source either digitized or sitting in a library near you.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Inside the FamilySearch Mobile Apps - The Family Tree App

The FamilySearch Family Tree app (application or program) is available for both Android and iOS (Apple) mobile devices. You can download the free app from either the Apple App Store or Google Play. From time to time, it is a good idea to review the way these apps work because they are changing just as much as the main program is changing (perhaps more). 

There are now millions of these apps available for smartphones. Interestingly, I was in a group of genealogists (which will remain unnamed) all of whom were members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the question was asked as to how many had smartphones. There were over 100 people present and only about half raised their hands. When asked how many had downloaded the two apps, Family Tree and Memories, there were not even half of those who had previously raised their hands with smartphones that raised their hands. This is probably a very good indicator the the gulf between the younger population and those who are serious about genealogy. Although I doubt that the percentage those who have installed the FamilySearch apps among younger smartphone users would be much higher. I also understand that there may be some significant upgrades to both programs in the not-to-distant future.

This will be a series of posts over the next few days (week or so?) about the apps. This is a screenshot of the Family Tree app startup screen. You need to be signed into the app with an LDS account. 

If you click on one of the icons, you can see a slide-out window with different detailed information about that particular individual. The following screenshot shows the detail view of the ancestor. You can click on a field and edit the information.

The next screenshot shows the sources. Right now, you cannot add sources using the Family Tree app but if you click (tap whatever) on a source, the program takes you to the original source on Family Tree.

You can slide the menu items under the photo and basic information, to show additional menu items. The next screenshot shows the photos associated with this ancestor.

One of the menu items allows you to add a story about the individual ancestor. If you select the stories link, you can see any stories that have already been uploaded. If you would like to add a story, you can either key it in using the virtual keyboard or you can dictate the story and let the program use its voice recognition module. You can turn on the microphone at the left of the space bar on the keyboard. It works OK, but you have to speak clearly and very slowly. If you have an external keyboard for your tablet or iPad, this feature would work better.

If you select the link for Audio, you will get this dialog box advising you to use your smartphone to enter the story into the program. The program will record between 10 and 15 minutes of audio. If you have a longer narrative, you will have to divide it into chunks to fit.

You can save off a number of reports by selecting the Charts link. The types of charts presently include, a pedigree chart, a family chart, a family chart with sources, a fan chart and a portrait pedigree, all in PDF format.

Another link on the sliding menu bar is the Ordinance link. You can view the status of the ordinances for any individual in the Family Tree except living people.

Using your device's particular gestures, you can zoom in and see the icons much closer.

Back to the sliding menu, there is a family view with each of the children.

You can also view a history list. As you can tell, many of the features of the full online program are now available in the app.

Another selection allows you to record an audio file of a story and attach it to the individual. There is about a 10 to 15 minute limit for audio recordings.

I already mentioned the stories section, but here is a screenshot of the stories. There is a green plus sign at the bottom of the screen allowing you to add a story. Remember, you can dictate the stories using voice recognition.

In the next post in this series, I will show the Memories app and watch for any changes in both programs.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Major increase in LDS Church Articles about Family History

Both the Ensign magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and the LDS Church News have run an increased number of features and articles about family history. In addition to reporting about the recent RootsTech 2015 Conference, there have been an unprecedented number of articles about other family history subjects. Here are some links to recent family history themed articles:
In the February, 2015 Ensign, you should review the following articles:
  • Loving Those Who Have Gone Before Us
  • "My Days" of Temples and Technology
  • One New Temple, Three New Opportunities
  • How Family History Changes Our Hearts and Minds
  • Turning Hearts: From Family History to the Temple
It would seem to me that there is an important message here just in the number of article on family history. Maybe we all need to do more in discovering our family history and finding our ancestors who need Temple ordinances. Is the message getting through?

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Fun and Challenging FamilySearch Family Tree Games on Ancestor Guru

I recently got a suggestion from a reader about a fun and challenging games and puzzles website connected to's Family Tree program. The interface for this small website is spar, but the games are really intriguing and engaging. The website is the Ancestor Guru.

There are presently four games. Here is a screenshot of the Scrambled Tree game:

This game could be a real challenge to someone who was not well acquainted with their first five generations of ancestors. I think this is what has been missing from genealogy. I realize there are other game websites out there, but most have taken the physical board game or trivia pursuit type of approach. For a sample of other "fun" projects, see Family History Activities for Children: 3-11.

Here are some additional links that might be of interest:

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Cast of Studio C at New Family History Discovery Center

Some of the cast of the wildly popular Brigham Young University cast of Studio C took a visit to the new Family History Discovery Center at the Joseph Smith Memorial Building in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Address and Parking Information:

Joseph Smith Memorial Building

The FamilySearch Center is located on the main floor of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, adjacent to Temple Square.

15 East South Temple Street
Salt Lake City, UT

Parking Near the Library

There are several public parking lots near the Family History Library. Parking fees vary from $3 per day and up. Street-side, metered parking is also available and is free for two hours on Saturday and free all day on holidays.

Click here to schedule a visit. The Discovery Center is open by appointment only. 

Free LDS Access to American Ancestors Explained

One of the new programs added to the list of partners is the New England Historic Genealogical Society website, The sign in process is the same for this and the other partner websites. You need to log in to with an LDS Account. Access to the various partners is only free to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. If you have trouble signing into obtain a "free" account or if you get a notice about charges after signing in, I suggest you read my post about signing into entitled "Trouble with obtaining an LDS Account to" The instructions that apply to, apply to all of the other FamilySearch partner programs listed.

There are certain important things you need to understand about each of these "free" accounts. Each of these partners, including, may have previous contractual obligations to other entities, such as archives or other repositories, that impose restrictions on the records available to a "free" account. As a result, there may be certain accounts which are not available.

In the case of, the limitations of the "free" subscription for LDS members are explained in a webpage entitled "Welcome to Your American Ancestors Affiliate Account!" Quoting from that webpage:
An Affiliate Account on offers qualified participants online access to hundreds of databases and millions of names, courtesy of NEHGS’ partnership with Family, as well as an introduction to a variety of additional genealogical services provided by New England Historic Genealogical Society.
The webpage also explains how to view a list of all the databases on Here is the explanation:
Select “browse” and "databases" to see an alphabetical list of available databases, which can be searched by database name as well as location and date range. 
Each database entry provides links to database search, information about the database, a database browse section where databases can be stepped through on a page-by-page and volume-by-volume basis, and a means to select any database as a “Favorite.” Favorite databases may be searched as a group in Database search.
 There is also a list of the databases or collections that cannot be viewed by those with an affiliate account. Here is the list:
  1. American Canadian Genealogical Society Index of Baptisms, Marriages, and Burials, 1840-2000
  2. American Genealogist, The
  3. Beekman Patent, The Settlers of, Vols. 1-8 [Dutchess Co., NY]
  4. Connecticut Nutmegger
  5. Great Migration Begins: Immigrants to N.E. 1620-1633, Vols. I-III
  6. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume I, A-S
  7. Massachusetts State Census 1855
  8. Massachusetts State Census 1865
  9. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841–1910
  10. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911-1915
  11. Massachusetts Vital Records Index, 1916-1970
  12. Massachusetts: Grand Lodge of Masons Membership Cards, 1733-1990.
  13. Mayflower Descendant, The
  14. New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1847-present)
  15. New Hampshire: Miscellaneous Censuses and Substitutes, 1640-1890
  16. New Hampshire: Births to 1901, Deaths and Marriages to 1937
  17. Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine
  18. Rhode Island Census Collection: 1865-1935
  19. Rhode Island Roots
  20. Rhode Island Vital Records, 1636-1850
  21. Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements, 1831-1920
  22. U.S. City Directories (forthcoming)
  23. Vermont: Miscellaneous Censuses and Substitutes, 1778–1822, 1840
  24. Vermont Vital Records to 2008
  25. Virginia Genealogist, The
The remaining list of resources are available to those with an affiliate account. In future posts, I will be highlighting some of the features of the American Ancestors website, so stay tuned.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

What does LDS Free Access Mean?

Note: Please see comments below or attached.

It appears that that free isn't necessarily free when applied to the partnership "free" access accounts through for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In some cases, the partner websites search for and list resources that are available only with a higher level of membership or are only available on other subscription websites that are not included in the free subscription.

Now, I am not looking a gift horse in the mouth. During the recent RootsTech 2015 Conference, FamilySearch announced "free" access to the New England Historic Genealogical Society's American Ancestors website. Since I have multiple lines of New England ancestors, I signed into the program and received an "Affiliate" membership. I immediately began searching for my ancestors in Vermont and Rhode Island. After five separate searches, I had yet see even one record. Every search either came up with no useful records or with the notice that I did not have the level of access to see the records. There was just enough information to determine that the record might be appropriate, but the full records were not available. I was told that I had to pay for a Basic Membership.

Now, this has happened to a lot of people when signing in to but the problem turns out to be the fact that they did not take all the steps necessary in the signup process. However, with the American Ancestors Affiliate Account, apparently you cannot see any of the records. You do get access to their online training and store, but cannot see any of the actual records online. Here is a screenshot of the notice:

With the other programs free means free access to the database; apparently, in this case it does not. If I am mistaken, please let me know how to correctly access the information on the website. now taken off-line

In a significant step towards the resolution of the current limitations of the Family Tree, the program was finally taken off-line. Here is a screenshot of the notice:

This notice appears if you try and access The significance of taking down the old program is outlined in the notice. As FamilySearch points out, data testing, transfer, and retesting will take another year to complete. Essentially, this means that data is still being transferred from the program and users of the Family Tree can expect to see changes being made in additional data being added by FamilySearch.

The resolution of the limitation issues imposed by will be put off until this data transfer, etc. process is completed. Of course this does not mean that changes to the program will cease, it merely means that the process of cleaning up the data presently in Family Tree can proceed more rapidly once the old program is taken down completely.

Much of the frustration expressed by users of the Family Tree revolves around the difficulties of resolving duplicate entries and inconsistent or wrong data in the program. Presently users can make only limited changes to the Family Tree.

It is especially good news to see progress being made towards this resolution.

Monday, February 16, 2015

#RootsTech Update -- Discussion about the LDS 110 Year Rule

In doing Temple ordinances members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have been asked to observe what is called "the 110 Year Rule." The rule is currently stated as follows:
110 Year Rule:

To do ordinances for a deceased person who was born in the last 110 years, the following requirements must be met.
  • The person must have been deceased for at least one year.
  • You must either be one of the closest living relatives, or you must obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives. If you are not a spouse, child, parent, or sibling of the deceased, please obtain permission from one of the closest living relatives before doing the ordinances. The closest living relatives are an undivorced spouse (the spouse to whom the individual was married when he or she died), an adult child, a parent, or a brother or sister.
Verbal approval is acceptable. Family members should work together to determine when the ordinances will be done and who will do them.
 If you work with patrons at a major Family History Library or Center as I do, you will quickly understand the need for such a rule. Many times, people who are unrelated to the deceased person will find the availability of the ordinance work and perform the ordinances. This often causes extreme emotional distress to the close relatives who cannot understand why someone who was unrelated or even only distantly related would do the Temple work for someone else's father or mother, brother or sister, etc. Unfortunately, in the scramble to find "Green Arrows," the Rule is frequently ignored.

At the recent RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, there was an undercurrent of discussion about this subject. I find this the topic of discussion constant among Church members as they focus on doing their family history. In fact, I was asked a question about the Rule just last night at a presentation my wife and I did in a ward here in Provo.

I have heard that the standards for complying with this 110 Year Rule may be tightened considerably by adding the requirement that the permission required be in writing and submitted for review before the work can be done. In addition, the identity of any person violating the rule will be available to FamilySearch and follow-up discipline may be imposed for any violation, including cutting off access to

From my standpoint I certainly agree that more stringent measures should be taken. I have personally had to deal with grief-stricken members whose own parents' ordinances were done without permission and only shortly after death. I laud any efforts to tighten the requirements and impose penalties for violations.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Free for LDS — Family History Websites

During the past year or so has been entering into a series of strategic partnerships that add millions of searchable records. For most of that time I have spent a great deal of time helping members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to take advantage of these wonderful, free opportunities to expand their family history research. The first major websites that were free to LDS members were, and

Because of its high visibility in the media, was at first, the only one of the three well known to members. The advantages of both and were and still are mostly unknown and ignored. I am still finding members, even those interested in family history, who are entirely unaware of the free access to all three programs.

Now, we are just finishing #RootsTech 2015 and there are two more programs on the list that are free to members: and The process of redeeming the free memberships is exactly the same as it has been for more than a year. Even during #RootsTech I have been solving the problems of members who have failed to completely register for the free programs.

During the next few days, I will be writing and posting a series of articles about each of the free-to-LDS websites. With each post, I will explain, step-by-step how to sign into to take advantage of the free programs. You may want to make this known to your Ward or Stake.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

#RootsTech -- New Genealogy Software Offers for LDS Church Members

Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are benefiting from both old and new strategic partnerships negotiated by FamilySearch and announced at the #RootsTech Conference. In a Deseret News article by Trent Toone entitled "RootsTech conference expecting to draw more than 20,000 people," dated February 12, 2015, the following announcements were made:
RootsTech 2015 includes a few welcome announcements for LDS Church members. As it did last year, FamilySearch has negotiated with its partners to provide more resources for church members. 
FindMyPast has agreed to offer church members a 75-percent discount for an upgrade to the full World subscription (type in the code "FSROOTSTECH15" until Feb. 21). 
FamilySearch Family Tree database is now accessible on 
The New England Historic Genealogical Society will give church members free access to is also granting free access to LDS Church members., BillionGraves and RootsMagic are also offering benefits to church members. More information on these new resources will be forthcoming.
The Saturday Family Discovery Day free activities planned for members has been closed because of the overwhelming response. However, there will be live streaming of the event on on Saturday, February 14, 2015. Watch for the time to be announced in your local area. The Saturday presentation will include the following:
The list of LDS Church leaders speaking includes Elders Quentin L. Cook and Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; Elders L. Whitney Clayton and Allan F. Packer of the First Quorum of the Seventy; Elders Kent F. Richards and Bradley D. Foster of the Second Quorum of the Seventy; Sister Linda K. Burton, Relief Society general president; Sister Bonnie L. Oscarson, Young Women general president; and Brother Tad R. Callister, Sunday School general president. 
Other Family Discovery Day speakers include Olympic silver medalist Noelle Pikus-Pace and popular blogger Al Fox Carraway. Singer David Archuleta and cast members from BYUtv's "Studio C" will perform at the closing event.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

BYU Family History Technology Workshop Today

Today I am attending the Brigham Young University Family History Technology Workshop. I will be writing my impressions on Genealogy's Star. Check it out. Will write here again as I get time during the next few days.

Monday, February 9, 2015

What are FamilySearch Memories? contains a major section entitled "Memories" that allows users to upload a variety of family history media items. The different media currently supported include:
  • Photos in a variety of formats
  • Stories in text format accompanied by a photo
  • Documents in a variety of formats
  • Audio files in two formats
Sometimes users are not sure which of the categories to use for a particular type of media. This post contains a short explanation of each type of media item with a discussion of what records may be appropriate for each type. With each type of media I will also include a reference to the types of documents that are inappropriate.

FamilySearch photos should be images showing family members, preferably ancestors. You can add photos of live people to the Memories Photo section but only you will be able to see the photo even if it is your ancestor or relative. If someone else adds a photo of a living person, you will not see that photo. Quoting from the Help Center about photos of living persons:
  • The photo itself is still public. If you share the URL for the photo through email or social media, anyone would be able to see the photo. If Google indexes the photo from that social media, it may be found by a Google search. This may also happen if at some time Google picks up the living person where only the deceased person was tagged in the photo in FamilySearch.
  • If you have a photo with two or more people in it, one who is deceased, and you tag all of the people in the photo, then others who navigate the tree and see the deceased person's photo will also see the photo of the living persons on the PHOTOS link for that deceased person. This is true of photos of living persons too. Be sure if you add a portrait for a living person that the photos associated with them on their PHOTOS link on their Person page DO NOT have living people in them. These will be seen.
  • If you use FIND in Photos, it checks the living status of people in the photo and if it finds there is a living person in the photo, it will not return that photo as part of the search results.
  • If you find a photo of yourself on Family Tree and do not wish it to be posted there, please contact FamilySearch using Get Help at the top of any page to report it.
There is also a limit as to the number of generations of ancestors that are supported by the program. Here are the limitations from FamilySearch:
Scope of Interest includes:
  • Children and spouses.
  • Parents, siblings, and spouses.
  • Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and spouses.
  • Great-grandparents, their children, and spouses.
  • Great-great-grandparents, their children, and spouses.
Photos are limited to .jpg, .tif, .bmp and .png file types up to 15MB in size. The most common of these is the .jpg format. If you have an image which does not fall into one of these approved file types, you can use several free online programs to convert the files to an acceptable format. For Windows users, I suggest, and for Mac users I suggest Google's Picasa. Picasa will open all of these formats and export them as .jpgs.

You will want to review the rules for uploading stories.

You can either write your stories into the form online or copy and paste in a text file created in another program. Stories only accepts text files. Here is a screenshot of the Add New Story page:

You will want to review the rules for uploading stories.

Documents are items other than photos of ancestors or family members and text files. Documents should be attached or linked to the individuals recorded in the document. They can be uploaded as .pdf, .jpg, .tif, and .png files up to 15MB in size. Here is a screenshot with an arrow pointing to the link containing the upload guidelines.

Audio files are limited to about 15MB of file size. This is approximately 10 to 15 minutes per file. The files can be either .mp3 or .m4a file types. If you do not know about audio files and file types, I suggest that you use the FamilySearch mobile apps for your recordings. Using these apps allows the files to be directly uploaded to the Memories section.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Find your ancestor in FamilySearch Passport Application Collection? Indexing is crucial is constantly adding new collections. The total number of these monster genealogy sources is now at 1920, with 13 collections either updated or added since February 1, 2015 and the date of this post. A while ago the United States Passport Applications, 1795 - 1925 was added with 2,038,874 images. If you had ancestors that traveled outside of the United States, this is a valuable source of detailed information. I got interested as my wife started making searches for her ancestors.

It looks like only 959,931 of the applications have been indexed so far, so you will likely have to browse through the collection to find your own ancestors. I decided to do searches by surname to see how many of my ancestors traveled outside of the country. The images are split between National Archives and Record Administration numbers M1372 from 1795 to M1490 for applications from January 2, 1906 to March 31, 1925. I looked at both sets of documents and found that both were organized initially by date. This means that the index is going to be crucial in finding any particular ancestor's application unless you just happen to know when the application was made, which is not very likely.

This issue dramatically points out the need for indexing for some types of records. You can get along pretty well in some collections even if they are entirely unindexed, but in this case, a lack of an index, even a surname index, puts most of the information beyond your grasp.

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with legacy ancestors in the Church, this is an interesting website because so many of our ancestors went on missions for the Church and to foreign countries.

Here is a sample application for one of my Tanner cousins, Freeman Dan Tanner (b. 1878, d. 1943). It is interesting from this application to get a physical description of the person.

Some of the later applications have photos. This will be a collection to return to as the indexing gets more complete.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

My #RootsTech Week

The week of February 9th to the 14th, 2015 will be a busy one for my wife and I. Here is a summary of our schedule:

The Media Center is directly behind the FamilySearch exhibit as you come in the main entrance of the Exhibit Hall. Here is a map of the Exhibit Hall with an arrow showing where the Bloggers will be parked. I understand that there are about 55 Bloggers this year. I am waiting to see the complete list. We are called RootsTech 2015 Ambassadors and I think it is the first time some of these Bloggers will have a RootsTech experience. 

Please drop by and talk a while if you see me in the Media Center or stop me as I walk around. I plan to take a lot of photos this year, I decided that as a professional photographer I should make the effort. I hope to be able to upload a lot of photos as we go along. 

See you there or whatever. 

Finding Ordinance Work that needs to be done on FamilySearch Family Tree

Many members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have found themselves challenged by their leaders to "take a name to the Temple." The motivation for such challenges is generally very positive and the idea is to increase both Temple activity and family research and history. If you take some time to review the history of such challenges, you will find that they have run in cycles for the past one hundred years or so. For an interesting history and commentary on this phenomena, see the following:

Allen, James B., Jessie L. Embry, and Kahlile B. Mehr. Hearts Turned to the Fathers: A History of the Genealogical Society of Utah, 1894-1994. Provo, Utah: BYU Studies, Brigham Young University, 1995.

As far as I can discover, this book is the only comprehensive and readily available source for information about the history of Temple submission policies over the years. I have attended classes at the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference on this topic, but I am not aware of any other source where this much of the history is consolidated. One overriding theme of this history is the effort by those involved in Temple and family history work to avoid duplication of ordinance work in the Temples.

There are several important principles that need to be observed in searching for available ordinances in the Family Tree and that are often ignored either through ignorance or lack of true interest. The very first thing you (and we all) need to do is to ask the following question:

Where did all the names in the Family Tree come from?

It is clear from even a cursory review of the names, dates and places in the Family Tree that they have been accumulating over the past 150 years. If you have any questions in this regard, I suggest you login to and review the  the 5,337,178 images in the Family Group Records Collection, Archives Section, 1942-1969 Collection.  There is nothing like reviewing these submitted family group records to give you a perspective as to the amount of work that has gone on previously in submitting the names that now appear in the Family Tree. As you are reviewing the records I would strongly suggest that you note that the records all are marked with the Temple ordinance work done. Here's a screenshot of a random sample record:

If you look at this record carefully, you will see that all of the Temple ordinance work has been completed for this family. No, I am not related to this family. These particular Tanners came from Switzerland. You can click on the record to see it more clearly.

The fact is nearly every one of the records presently in the Family Tree are there because people have already done the Temple ordinances for them.

It is true that there are opportunities to do further research and produce new information about people whose temple ordinances have not been done, but assuming that the "Green Arrows" are all available for Temple ordinances ignores the fact that these names were entered into the Family Tree record by people who intended to do the ordinances themselves. It is important also to remember that the names in the present Family Tree program have been there for over 10 years, available online for people to review. In actuality, most of the Green Arrows are obvious duplicates where one record has the ordinance undone and the other duplicate record shows where the ordinance was done.

I have an old saying that I use quite often, you can't plumb a dry well. This means, quite simply, that the records in the Family Tree have to come from someplace. If you did not do the research and you did not find the names by your own effort, what makes you think that someone else did the work and simply left it for you to take the names to the Temple?

Now, that said, it is entirely possible that some of the opportunities for Temple ordinances have been overlooked. But it is much more realistic to view the Green Arrows (or green temple icon) as research opportunities rather than opportunities to take names immediately for ordinance work.

In past posts I have shown how Green Arrows can be nests of duplicates. I fully realize that as long as there is a supply of apparently available names that people will conclude that is necessary to do the work over. I am also perfectly aware of the cyclical nature of the "duplicate record problem" that has been discussed since the late 1800s. I just feel that it is somewhat of a tragedy that we now have the tools to find many ancestors who have been either overlooked or unavailable and yet we spend an inordinate amount of time redoing work that has already been done.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Researching: How do I do it?

Here is another in the series of videos from the Family History Library at Brigham Young University. I guess from the shot above, it doesn't look too interesting but you still might want to check it out. There are about 78 additional videos on various family history subjects on the BYU Family History Library Channel. Check it out.

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

FamilySearch Memories -- Size limits and file types change

The Memories section has been updated to add additional file types and an increase to the allowable file sizes. Here is a screenshot the the Photos section showing the increases;

The file types now supported for photos include:

  • .jpg
  • .tif
  • .bmp
  • .png
The size of the files that can be uploaded has increased to 15MB. This change should allow higher quality TIFF images to be uploaded. In looking at the size of most of my photos, I see that the size of my original files can be much larger than the allowable limit, but I usually process and store my photos as RAW images. The JPEG images I use for online viewing are usually much smaller. 

Stories are still text based. That means that a story or narrative needs to be copied to the Stories section as a text file. You can create a text file by entering the information, story or narrative into the Stories section directly or by saving a word processing document as a .txt file.

There has also been an increase in the file formats and size requirements for the Documents section of Here is a screenshot showing the additional file types and size requirements:

The screen for the Photos is now the same as the one for Document, however, the file types are slightly different. The documents sections allows the addition of pdf files. The size of acceptable files is now also 15 MB. 

There has been no substantial changes in the file types or file sizes for Audio files. 

In many cases, depending on the digital file size, this should allow more photos and documents to be uploaded without worrying about the size of the filea.

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

How helped to find a missionary

Last night at the Brigham Young University Family History Library I helped a patron with an interesting family history challenge. I will refrain from using any names, but the methodology is what is important anyway.

The patron's family had a traditional story that back in the 1800s his Great-great-grandfather and family had joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints while in the Southern part of the United States. They had been converted by a missionary who then invited them to move to Utah. Ultimately, the missionary ended up marrying one of the daughters in the family and the missionary's sister ended up marrying one of the sons in the family. The patron was interested in finding the missionary's family and history to verify the story. The patron's question was whether or not there were records that could verify the details of the story and particularly to find out about the missionary.

We began the search by looking at the Family Tree program to get some basic information about the ancestral family. His ancestors had settled in the Salt Lake Valley. In fact, he knew exactly where the house had been located. We found a U.S. Census record for the ancestral family that showed they lived in the Midvale area, but the question was whether or not there was way to tell what LDS Ward they lived in. The idea was to search the Church records for information about the missionary and his family to see if we could find a record of his mission and verify the marriage to the daughter and other facts from the story.

I suggested that we needed to find a source that mentioned their Ward. The first one that came to my mind would be an obituary telling where the funeral was to be held. This is a very common part of any Utah or other LDS members' obituaries. We searched the Utah Digital Newspapers, but had no success in finding the information or any reference to an obituary. I asked him if he had an account with He said he had signed up but hadn't looked at it. I suggested that with all the records in the fastest way to find the families' Ward was to use

In a very few minutes, the patron signed in and we had entered the pertinent information into to start the search. Almost instantly started supplying Record Matches for the ancestral family. After adding a few records to the family, up popped a reference to his Great-grandmother's obituary. It was more of a death notice than a full blown obituary, but it told the Ward where the funeral was to be held - a Ward in Sandy, Utah.

This is an important point. When you are doing family history research, you need to be aware of the contents of records and think outside of the box. I knew two things. Obituaries in Utah often contain information about the Ward where the funeral is to be held and that had a huge collection of newspapers. Putting those two together helped to find the Ward.

We subsequently found that the BYU Family History Library had extensive microfilm copies of the Ward records and after spending an hour or so searching the microfilm, we found a record of the missionary's family and Church activity including the fact that he served as Bishop of the Ward. The records confirmed many of the details of the family story. We ran out of time and I left the patron still looking for the mission record. But we found how to do that on a page in the Research Wiki entitled, "LDS Missionaries."

Thanks to for finding a valuable record so quickly.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Big News About MyHeritage and FamilySearch

You may wish to read my other blog, Genealogy's Star, for some information about an announcement from and The two posts so far are:

MyHeritage SuperSearch now searches FamilySearch Family TreeAnswers to some questions about linking MyHeritage and FamilySearch Family Tree

You might be as surprised as I was.

FamilySearch Family Tree Record Hints adds links to other websites

In checking out some of the Record Hints from the Family Tree, I found that the hints now include links to websites other than In the example I found, the link went directly to a entry for a relative.

Here is a screenshot of the Record Hint for Martin Ray Tanner with an arrow pointing to the link to the entry:

I found this particular link by clicking on the brown search icon in the Descendancy View. Clicking on the link, brings up the entry on for Martin Ray Tanner.

Notice the fact that the entry gives me 19 additional links to other relatives' memorial pages. The automation of these searches is regularly growing more extensive.

Researching Early LDS Records

Those with ancestry in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints may find that they have a lot of names in their pedigree, but how much of that research has been well documented? This question is asked in the Research Wiki article entitled, "Tracing LDS Ancestors." Here is the entire question in context:
If your LDS ancestors have been researched before, are they well-documented? Do your family group records show one or more sources of information for each event? Don't just settle for copying someone else's research, cite the evidence that proves it! Careful documentation reduces errors, unwanted duplication, and may help uncover an overlooked ordinance.
If your LDS ancestors were done in the way I did my own research years ago, you will find a majority of the source references are to "family group records" or "personal knowledge." Very, very few of the events in the lives of early LDS members have been documented at all but this is rapidly changing. Hundreds of thousands, if not millions of valid source entries are pouring into the Family Tree program. This is especially true since the introduction of the Record Hints feature of the program.

If you go to the Family Tree to review your LDS heritage and you find that few of your ancestors have been documented, I suggest that you begin with the Research Wiki article cited above. Here are several quick references to LDS sources for information about your ancestors:
Remember to add these sources to the appropriate ancestors in Family Tree. 

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Using FamilySearch's Community Trees Program

Very few family historians know about the FamilySearch Community Trees website and it is seldom mentioned or promoted by FamilySearch. The Community Trees website has two sections of family history information the community trees themselves and oral genealogies. Here is the description of the Community Trees project from the website:
Community Trees are genealogies from specific periods and localities that have been linked according to family lineages. Many trees include associated documents and images. Each community tree is a searchable database that allows views of individuals, families, ancestors, and descendants and gives various options for printing. 
The scope of projects may involve members of a small villages or townships who work together to form a family tree of all known residents of the community for a given time period. Some are projects involve genealogical and historical societies that work with FamilySearch to index several sources of data to link them to common, lineage-linked genealogies of a targeted geographic area. 
The scope could also be focused on a particular record set and locality. The goal may be to identify and reconstitute all families of a particular place from a village, county, or even a country. Many of the current projects were produced by FamilySearch's Family Reconstitution team and are for communities from medieval times. 
GEDCOM downloads of the community trees may be available, depending on restrictions that have been set for access to the records. No information for living people is usually available in the public views of these community trees. Edits and corrections to the databases are usually restricted by project partners; please contact these partners to offer suggestions, corrections, and new information. Some partners may have additional information or enhanced versions of the genealogies on their own websites. These databases will be updated if they are a work in progress.
These files are comprehensive, but very focused and therefore limited in scope. They are helpful if the community trees cover the time and place where your ancestors lived, otherwise, they are only interesting. This is essentially a grab bag. If you happen to have ancestors in these studies, then you will find a lot of information. If not, then nothing. Some of these files are updated regularly but some are completed and no more information is being added.

For some areas, Community Trees contains the definitive information on a subject. For example, the oral histories pages may contain the only recorded information about the genealogy of the area where the histories were recorded. Here is a partial list of the places covered in the oral histories:

  • Austral Islands
  • Cook Islands
  • Fiji Islands
  • Ghana
  • Leeward Islands
  • Marquesas Islands
  • Nigeria
  • Samoa
  • Tahiti Islands
  • Tonga
  • Tuamotu Islands
  • Tuvalu Islands

In the Community Trees portion of the website, here are some of the more interesting and comprehensive genealogies:
  • Paget's Heraldic Baronage
  • British Isles Families with Peerage, Gentry, and Colonial American Connections
  • Royal and Noble Houses of Europe
  • Iceland Historical Family Trees
  • Early Irish Families
  • Jewish Families (Knowles Collection)
  • Peruvian lineage-linked families
You need to look carefully at the lists of studies on this website.