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

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Find your cousins with Puzzilla and Puzzilla Premium -- Part One

Screenshot of FamilySearch Family Tree diagram from Premium Version is one of the most powerful analytic tools available for's Family Tree program. Although, as is common for online programs, has a "free" version, tools available in the Premium version are well worth the $39.95 price tag for an annual subscription. The Premium version adds the following capabilities to the program:
  • Research Targets. Searches the chart for eligible persons who reached child-bearing age with no child records and who were born within the optional specified time and lived in the optional specified location.
  • Hints with clickable title links. A hint is a historical record with significant possibility of matching the selected person.
  • Sources with titles and some with clickable links. A source is an attached historical record containing the selected person, in the opinion of the submitter.
  • Changes made by the user, either by adding or changing the record in FamilyTree
  • Possible duplicates. A possible duplicate is another person whose identity is similar to the selected person and may be the same person.
  • Available Ordinances. Accessible by LDS user accounts.
  • Search the chart for records containing (1) a name, place, or ID number and/or (2) a birth within a specified time period.
This post begins a series about this powerful program. I will be examining both the features of Puzzilla Premium and the free version and how the information made available from Puzzilla impacts the information contained in the Family Tree. Most of the users of this program approach the program as a way to obtain "names" to submit to the Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to perform ordinances. Much of the time, the expectation is that available names are simply sitting in the Family Tree ready to be gathered like so much ripe fruit. This is a very short-sighted view of both the Puzzilla program and the Family Tree. The real purpose of both programs is to facilitate finding candidates for research that will add NEW people to the Family Tree who have not been found or added previously. Puzzilla calls these people Research Targets. Of course, this means that the user of the program will have to do some work, but no one should ever assume that finding deceased relatives will be easy. There is sometimes a trade-off between quality, i.e. accuracy, and quantity. If you are merely looking for numbers of ordinances, you will soon move away from any considerations of quality. 

Signing into Puzzilla

In order to sign into the Puzzilla program, you need a account. If you have not signed in previously to, you will need to register. Here is a screenshot showing you where to click to Sign In and to Register.

Once you sign in, Puzzilla will draw a graphic representation of the people in your direct lines. The dots, representing your ancestors, are color coded in blue for male ancestors and red (or pink) for female ancestors. You can see a screenshot of my own startup screen above. On the left hand side of the screen, there are some slider switches that activate the additional features of the program. Here is a screenshot of the left-hand side of the screen.

Puzzilla selections showing default (free) choices

This screenshot shows the features available with the free program; those ancestors who died before the age of 16 (not likely with the initial view or they would not be your ancestor) and those who were born within the last 110 years. The grayed out selections are those added by the Premium version. Of course, this information is based on what is recorded in the Family Tree program and is only as accurate as what is recorded. It is good idea to approach any information in the Family Tree with a healthy degree of skepticism. 

You must look closely at the Puzzilla tree to see the designations for those relatives who were born within the last 110 years. You can use your screen's zoom function to look closer. 

The arrow shows the gray square dot representing an ancestor or relative born within the last 110 years. If you hover over the dots on the tree representing your ancestors, you will see pop-up information about each individual. If you click on the dots, the pop-up information will remain for your reference. Here is a screenshot showing one of the individuals in my tree:

You can explore these individuals further by clicking on the buttons to show this individual's Descendants or Ancestors. You can also view the individual in the Family Tree program. If you click on the button to show this person's descendants, you will see another graphical representation of that person's descendants such as this one:

The more dots you have in your diagram, the more people there are represented by those dots, in the Family Tree program. If you examine this diagram closely, you will see a yellow line indicating your direct line relationship with this person. You can choose how may generations up and down you want to show, but you have to realize that adding generations may add huge numbers of additional people. It is less confusing to focus the Puzzilla tree on a particular individual by clicking on that individual and viewing their particular tree diagram.

At this point, you may be surprised at the number of children who died before age 16 as shown by the yellow squares. This was a fact of life in earlier times and may help you to realize some of the difficulties suffered by your relatives.

If you are looking for ancestors/relatives who may need additional research and therefore may harbor possible additions to the FamilySearch Family Tree, you need to examine those lines where the person lived past the age of 16 and shows up as an end-of-line in the diagram. Here is a screenshot with arrows showing likely candidates.

I will zoom in on one of these possibilities.

If your motivation is to find candidates for Temple ordinances, you will see that this person was born in Australia, but died in Beaver, Beaver, Utah, United States. Because Beaver, Utah was settled by the Mormons, it is very likely that he was already a member of the Church and you will need to move backward in time to find an ancestor who was not a member. We can assume that if a person was a member, it is very likely, but not certain, that his or her descendants were also members. To find individuals and families who were not members, it is a good idea to start your search with a person who did not join the Church. This may require you to go back many generations. 

How you proceed from this point in using the program will be the subject of future posts in this series. I suggest you become very familiar with the basic or free program. There is a very good instructional video available on the website. See the link to the video under the How To menu item at the top of the pages. 

1 comment:

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