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

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Add Family History to your Stake's Youth Conference

The LDS Media Talk blog by Larry Richman, had a feature article entitled, "How to Add Family History to an LDS Youth Conference." (Note: the links from the post seem to come out in French) I have heard several references recently to Stakes that have done just that. Many of the activities have been associated with a "Trek" activity, where the youth in the Stake participate in a pioneer reenactment activity.  There are a number of useful suggestions in the following links.

I realize that many Stake Youth Activities are scheduled on an every two-year basis or even longer, so including a family history theme may be a long-term project. I suggest that whenever the planning begins for the next cycle, that the idea of incorporating youth in a family history activity or even having the entire youth conference theme based around family history will become a huge influence for good in the lives of the youth. 

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Challenges with Using the FamilySearch Family Tree Descendancy View to Find Cousins

All of the descendants of your direct line ancestors are your cousins. Under the most recent directives from FamilySearch, any of your cousins who have not had their Temple ordinances completed, are candidates. The main limitation is that for those born within the last 110 years, you must obtain permission from their spouse, parent, child or sibling. See "How to reserve ordinances for an ancestor born within the last 110 years."

While looking at the Family Tree, you essentially have two categories of "cousins:" those who are already in the Family Tree and have not had some or all of their ordinances completed and those who have yet been identified and entered into the Family Tree program.  So far, most of the attention directed at the Family Tree has been focused on those people already in the program who are missing ordinance information. For some time now, FamilySearch has marked people who appear to lack some or all of the ordinances with a "green arrow" or now, a "green Temple" icon (I will refer to both of these as a "green icon"). Who are these people?

People in the Family Tree who are marked with a green icon as needing Temple ordinances fall into three categories. Here is a summary of those categories:

  • People who have duplicates in the program where some ordinances were done with one or more of the duplicates and the remaining ordinances were done using another duplicate. In this case, all of the ordinances have actually been done and by merging the individuals, the need for ordinances, i.e. the green icons, disappear. 
  • People for whom the ordinances have been done, but because some of the ordinance information has yet to be added to the Family Tree, the person has a "green icon." There is no way, presently, to determine if this category of person's ordinances have been done. 
  • People who actually need to have their ordinances performed. 
One complicating factor is that some of the individuals in the Family Tree cannot be merged at this time. Until all of the information contained in the program is transferred to the Family Tree and all of the other adjustments made to the data, there will be a pool of unresolved and unresolvable issues with the Family Tree. The good news is that this problem pool is diminishing rapidly and may disappear in the next year (or so). From my perception, the Family Tree program has finally settled down and many of the issues have been resolved. I now have entire ancestral lines that can be worked on without a lot of program-originated issues. 

Not all of the program's problems have been resolved by any means. There is still a major issue with the accuracy of the entries. I've written about this before, Family Tree is a compilation of nearly 150 years of accumulated family history research. There are a number of very evident problems in some that are not so evident. Here is a summary of the issues with the data:
  • Many of the entries are incomplete or entirely inaccurate.
  • Many of the entries, especially those relating to more remote ancestors, like any information which can be used to determine whether or not the information contained in the Family Tree is actually correct.
  • Information from multiple families has often been combined. The effect of this is that the families contain spouses and children who are not actually related.
  • Family relationships have been created across generations where there is no actual family connection. Some of these connections are obvious, as when the dates make the relationship impossible.
  • The Family Tree contains copied information from unsubstantiated genealogies, i.e. copied from old, traditional, sometimes royal,  family history books.
 Now, when we approach the Family Tree with the idea that we are going to use the information already in the program to "find names" that are ready for Temple ordinances, we are in effect, ignoring the reality of the program. I commonly hear reports of and see examples of individuals who approach the program with the expectation that they can "click back" to a remote ancestor, show that ancestors descendents and quickly find someone who qualifies for Temple ordinances. This practice is usually referred to as "looking for green icons." Here is a screenshot illustrating the problem with taking that type of approach to the Family Tree.

The Family Tree program is presently marking some of the data problems with the red exclamation point icon. In this case, only a few generations back in my own family lines, there is a data problem where the child's birth year is later than the mother's death year. In fact, this is only one issue. This particular family has 14 children listed for this couple. Here's a screenshot of the family:

If I now view this individual, James Chattell,  in some of the other views available on the Family Tree, I can see additional problems. Here is another screenshot:

From the arrows, you can see that there are multiple problems with this particular family stretching over generations. There is no way that any of the information concerning this family can be considered to be correct unless it is completely verified. However, to make things even more interesting the main individual here, James Chattell, has 12 listed sources. Here's another screenshot:

My question would be, if we have all of the sources for this family why are there still serious data issues? Despite the existence of the source listings, the existence of the data issues calls them to question the entire family.What would happen If I switched to the Descendancy View? Here is a screenshot of the descendents who hear from James Chattell:

 Here we can see that the data issues continue. If I focus on the individual here listed as quote William Bent, b. 1826,  the child of William Bent and Maria Chattel,  I will find that all of his ordinances have been completed including the sealing to parents even though the information in the file indicates that he was born long after his mother died.

My point here is that the information in the program needs to be carefully reviewed and that "clicking back" without this sort of review process will simply result in unneeded and or duplicative ordinances.

If you are thinking, well why don't I just fix the problem, the answer is very complicated. Actually, this sort of problem showing up in the Family Tree is really an invitation to do additional research. I am presently work working on at least three, perhaps four, of these obvious problem issues at the present time. What I am finding is that the research done in the past was incomplete and despite the sources listed the issues have not been resolved. In essence, the red icons indicate a situation where the program simply is wrong. Any information derived from these obvious errors is also wrong.

The upside of the situation is that our family is finding that as we resolve these issues we are adding people to the Family Tree that actually need ordinances. We are rapidly moving beyond the time when there were a great number of green icons in the program and we are decisively moving into a time when further progress will require the resolution of these data issues as well as additional research to add individuals to the Family Tree. As an example, if I extend the current Descendancy View for James Chattell to four generations,  I find a large number of icons indicating that Temple ordinances have been reserved and are "in progress" but I do not find any green icons. Apparently all of the people reserving the ordinances, of which there are at least 33, have either realized that the ordinances should not be done because of the data problems or, what is more likely, it's simply gone ahead and clicked on green arrows previously. However, as I indicated, the supply of green icons has been used up.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Beta Version of Relative Finder now available

The above notice has appeared on the Relative Finder website.

The new version of Relative Finder from the BYU Family History Technology Lab is much easier to use and has a more comprehensive interface. Here is a screenshot of the list of my "relatives" using the new Beta version of the program:

The changes make the program more useful, but as a caution, they do not make the program any more accurate. The data used by the program still consists of the information in the Family Tree program. If that information is inaccurate, then the results showing a relationship will obviously not be accurate. Using the new Beta version of the program, I checked to see if me and my wife were related and found that the program reported that her father and I share a 5th Great-grandmother. Here is the chart showing how we are supposed to be related:

Unfortunately, in this case the remote ancestor family, the Springthorpes, is exactly that family we are currently researching and our preliminary findings call into question the relationships shown in the Family Tree. But it is interesting and may get my wife's family interested in doing some more research on this same line.

What I do find, is that Relative Finder is a good way to identify suspicious relationships shown in the Family Tree. If you look carefully at this chart, you can see that the dates from the remote ancestor don't match up at all with reality. William Springthorp on the chart was born in 1686 and died in 1751 while both John Springthorp and Elizabeth is wife, on the right hand side of the chart, were born after he died.

Relative Finder is turning out to be more useful than just a game or diversion.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

FamilySearch Update -- What's Going On Lately

Another month has rolled around and FamilySearch has put out another extensive list of updates through their various blog posts. I would call your attention to the post about the "Top Rated" FamilySearch Training and the post on Tips for Searching on the American Ancestors Website.

That is quite a list for one month. Almost as many posts as I write. 

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Family History Resources at Brigham Young University

View from Y Mountain with BYU President Kevin Worthen
Watch our new video showing what BYU is all about. With the beautiful Wasatch Mountains as a backdrop, President Worthen talks about the aims of a BYU education, the character of its students and the traditions that make us unique.
Posted by BYU (Brigham Young University) on Friday, May 1, 2015

The family history resources at the Brigham Young University (BYU) in Provo, Utah appear to be somewhat over-shadowed by its proximity to the world famous Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, but the reality is that BYU has its own accumulation of valuable resources. Some of these, like the records in the Family History Library in Salt Lake, can only be accessed by an actual visit to the campus, but many, far more than most genealogists realize, are online and freely available to those who take the time to use them.

First of all, it is important to realize that Brigham Young University is a major university with outstanding academic departments in many areas. It was founded by and is maintained and supported by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As part of this heritage, BYU is one of the few universities in the world that actively supports and teaches the fundamentals of family history. This emphasis is based on fundamental Church doctrine but the expression of that doctrine at BYU has both a spiritual and very practical expression.

Family history related resources at BYU originate primarily from various campus sources. Here is an overview of some of these resources. Bear in mind, that you may want to explore the resources that are available on campus.

The Center for Family History and Genealogy
Here are a few of the online resources from the Center:
The BYU Family History Library
There are too many links from this website to list here in one blog post. Here is a link to the Alphabetical List of resources.

BYU Harold B. Lee Library
The BYU HBLL (BYU loves acronyms) has books, serials (periodicals), microforms, government documents, maps, graphics, audio files, film and video. There are over 10 million items in the main library.

BYU L. Tom Perry Special Collections
Special Collections acquires, preserves, and makes available for use printed materials (280,000 books, pamphlets, prints, etc.) and a vast array of items comprising manuscript materials (8,000 manuscript collections including diaries, journals, papers, music scores, university records [including records of retired faculty], and 500,000 photographs).

The BYU Family History Technology Lab
The BYU Family History Technology Lab is part of the Computer Science Department and is involved in the research and development of novel or useful family history programs. Their projects currently include:
Independent Studies Department
Check out the listing of both credit and non-credit courses in family history.

History Department
BYU offers a BA degree in Family History

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Nauvoo Community Project 1839 - 1846

The Nauvoo Community Project is sponsored by the Brigham Young University's Center for Family History and Genealogy. In conjunction with the LDS Church Historical Sites, the Project is working to identify the residents of Nauvoo, Illinois from 1839 to 1846. The aim of the Project is to, whenever possible, document each resident from birth to death in the records of the time.

This project has been underway for some time now and the database is searchable.

New FamilySearch Certified Programs

In a blog about Partner News, FamilySearch announced six new certified programs. The blog is entitled, appropriately, "Partner News - May." Quoting from the announcement:
FamilySearch is pleased to announce Familienbuch, Fast Photo Game, Match Game, Multiple Parents, Multiple Spouses, and RootsBid are now certified by FamilySearch. “Certified” means the product is compatible with and has features that conform to our strict standards of quality. FamilySearch works with a variety of partners to help provide you with as many ways as possible to find, add, and share about your family members.
The short descriptions of the new programs is as follows:

Familienbuch 6.0 bietet eine umfangreiche Verwaltung der Familiendaten. Viele Einzeldaten können übersichtlich und einfach erfasst werden. Daneben stehen umfangreiche Auswertungern und Listen zum Ausdruck zur Verfügung.

Click on pictures of your ancestors before time runs out, while avoiding non-ancestors. Fast Photo Game was created by two young women and their father for the Personal Progress program.

Match Game
Play the classic match game with pictures of your ancestors with Match Game. Click on a card to flip it over. Then, click on another hoping to find the same ancestor. If they are a match, you get points. If not, you lose points and the two cards flip back over.

Multiple SpousesWeb
Multiple Spouses lets you search for ancestors who have more than one spouse in the Family Tree. The app searches the first 32 ancestors of the person whose FamilySearch ID is entered. This is aimed towards patrons who are looking for “step-ancestors” of whom they can search for their ancestors.
Multiple ParentsWeb
Multiple Parents lets you search for ancestors who have more than one set of parents in the Family Tree. The app searches the first 32 ancestors of the person whose FamilySearch ID is entered.

RootsBid is a community-driven site allowing participants to submit and bid on family history projects around the globe, especially in specific locations that are inaccessible to the individual requesting assistance, or research skills and resources are lacking.

Using RootsMagic with and

RootsMagic is a full-featured, genealogical database program for both Windows and Mac OS X operating systems. The program is also Certified and can read and synchronize information from the FamilySearch Family Tree. RootsMagic supports all of the LDS features. One new, outstanding feature of RootsMagic 7 is its ability to provide access to the automatic hinting features of both FamilySearch Family Tree and the Record Matches.

To understand what RootsMagic is providing to the user in connecting with the record hints, it is necessary to understand what the two online programs are doing. Family Tree has billions of records both digital and on microfilm. The microfilmed records date back to 1938 when the Genealogical Society of Utah (the predecessor to the FamilySearch) began microfilming genealogically important records around the world. There are approximately 2.4 million rolls of microfilm in the FamilySearch collection. This record acquisition project is still operating, now with digital cameras, and millions of new records are being added each year. There is also another ongoing project to digitize all of the existing microfilmed records. Both the records that are converted from microfilm and the records that are being acquired with digital cameras are being put online for free access in the Historical Record Collections.

One of the major challenges is to index all of these records so that the information in the record images is searchable. Many of these records have already been indexed and therefore searchable. Others are still in the form of microfilm images which must be viewed to extract the information on the records.

In 2012, FamilySearch released the Family Tree program to the public. In 2014, FamilySearch added the automatic record hint function. Essentially, the program searches indexed records for connections with your ancestors in the Family Tree. Here is an example of some of the Record Hints for an individual in the program:

Clicking on the Record Hints brings up a series of screens that allow you to evaluate the record to see if it applies to your ancestor and then attach the record as a source to the people in the Family Tree mentioned in the record. Family Tree and the entire website are free to registered users.

The entire program is based on adding your ancestors to a family tree. As soon as you begin adding your family names, the program begins to find suggested records through the Record Match and Record Detective programs. As you continue to add ancestors and their family members to your tree, the program constantly adds suggested Record Matches. These matched records come from the huge collection of fully indexed records on the website. At the time this was written, had just over 6 billion records with more being constantly added.

Here is a screenshot of part of my family tree on

The arrows point to some of the icons indicating that there are Record Matches available for these ancestors. I presently have over 14,000 pending Record Matches for the individuals in my family tree on  Here is a screenshot of some of the records that are available.

Now, back to RootsMagic.

The RootsMagic program is your own copy of your family tree showing your own research about your family. It is not an online family tree, but is stored on your computer. However, the program shows you the Record Hints and the Record Matches. Here is a screenshot with arrows pointing to the little "light bulbs" indicating possible record hints in these two online programs.

When you click on the light bulb link you get a window indicating how many record hints are available and how may are outstanding in each of the two online programs.

In this case I have 2 total record hints from and 21 from The large difference in the number of record hints reflects the fact that has been adding Record Matches far longer than and the fact that has over 76 million members worldwide and their record hints include Smart Matches to people who share your ancestor in their own family tree.

If I click on the light bulb link to the pending record hints, I can view the record hints in either or Here is a screenshot of some of the pending Record Matches for Samuel Shepherd on

There are many more details to the process of adding these records to your family tree in RootsMagic and/or adding the records to your ancestors in either the Family Tree or to your family tree on

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Taking a Look at Evidentia

From time to time, I will be highlighting apps in the App Gallery. At the time of this post, there were 95 different Apps, some variations in the same program, in the App Gallery. Some of the Apps in the Gallery are relatively simple utility programs but others are full-blown, very involved, programs. Additionally, some of the Apps are free and others have either a subscription cost or a purchase price. Of the 95 programs listed, you also have to look carefully if you are concerned about whether or not the program is FamilySearch Certified.

Evidentia is one of those programs that is a fully-developed major application. Here is the a description of the program from the Evidentia website.
Evidentia makes it easy to collect information, analyze evidence, highlight missed connections and feel confident with your conclusions. Evidentia does not replace your current genealogy software, but instead is meant to supplement and complement your research. 
On their never-ending quest for the whole story, genealogists of all skill levels use Evidentia to compile, evaluate, and analyze evidence. 
Evidentia enables you to see the “big picture” by isolating relevant claims in a straightforward, visual layout. Looking at each piece of evidence individually and in relation to other pieces of evidence helps you reach a sound conclusion.
After watching two of the Evidentia videos, I decided to download the free version of the program and try it out. My first impression is that the program will address several issues with the maintenance of the Family Tree that I have been handling previously on an ad hoc basis, including providing a platform for consistently adding reasons for changes to the data I discover from research.

The first thing the program asked me was whether or not I wanted to synchronize my data from Evidentia with Dropbox. This was a good sign. It means that the programmers realize that data from any program is an issue and that storing that data in an online program, such as Dropbox, can solve a lot of file update and transfer issues.

I will have to take some time to get into the program, but it looks like a solid basis for improving sources and the conclusions drawn from them. Evidentia also links to FamilySearch and imports and exports sources and reasons.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Update on the Status of the Mesa FamilySearch Library

I received some information today that indicates that Mesa FamilySearch Library may not re-open for an extended time. There are apparently some further issues that need to be resolved and even if those issues are resolved, work will not begin on the structure in the near future. Sorry to be so vague, but essentially all I can deduce is that the Library will remain closed for an extended period of time.

Sad news.

Friday, May 22, 2015

Taking a look at Rootsmapper

There are now 95 apps listed in the App Gallery. Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting many of these "apps" and commenting on their functions. I do not intend to "review" these programs, but I will try to explain how or why they might be useful. I have chosen the program as my first highlight.

Some people, like me, are graphically oriented. I remember things better when I can visualize them. has a very visually oriented interface that shows you within seconds the connections your family has with other countries. Here is a YouTube video explaining the program:

Here is another video explaining how to use the program:

Getting Started with Indexing from FamilySearch

FamilySearch has just released a cute new video about getting started with Indexing. We need to be reminded about how valuable Indexing is to the entire genealogical community.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

FamilySearch Partner up for sale

From time to time, I have a blog post that has interest to both readers of this blog and my older blog, Genealogy's Star. Today, there is an article about the potential auction sale of Since this could impact members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have a "free" account with, I suggest this link to read the article:

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

A Closer Look at FamilySearch Community Trees

I recently wrote about the addition of the Community Trees website to the Genealogies section of The Genealogies section of the website is located from a link in the pull-down menu below the "Search" tab at the top of each of the pages of the website. There are four huge collections in the Genealogies section. Each of the four collections has its own idiosyncrasies.

In this post, I am focusing on the Community Trees section. This is the only one of the four sections that has been and continues to be operated as a separate website, quasi-independently of  The complete website has a number of different sections as shown on the startup page above. One unique section contains both the audio recordings and transcripts of oral histories containing records of 5,379, 468 individuals, mainly from the Pacific area islands and Africa. There are presently 13, 968 different sources. Here is a screenshot showing the top 30 places where the oral histories were recorded:

I am not sure that the people living in these areas or who have immigrated from these area are aware of this unique resource. The Oral Histories section the Community Tree website also has an interesting collection of headstone records. The records on Community Trees are exhaustive and complete for the areas covered, but they are also very specific and limited in their coverage. Dismissing the websites because you do not immediately see its scope of its usefulness, is a mistake.

Some of the core collections of the Community Trees involve huge accumulations of sourced members of European royal families. This is a resource many people could well take advantage of, especially considering the number of ancestral lines on the Family Tree purport to include royalty. It might be interesting for those people who have copies of copies of records to see what is and what is not in the sourced records. You may want to take a look at the following collection: Royal and Noble Families of Europe.

It is possible that adding the ability to search this valuable website to may increase interest in the actual website. I suggest that you review the scope of the website before making any searches.

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

What Happened to the FamilySearch link on

If you have used recently, you should be aware that the program has been "updated" with a whole new look. The content and look of the individual detail pages has changed. Here is a screenshot of the new look:

I have been getting a lot of comments about the "new look," as I do with the major change in any of the major genealogy websites. However, there is a real issue here. Previously, the detail page for each individual in my family tree gave me the option of connecting that individual with the Family Tree. The link allowed me to share information between the two programs and add family members from Family Tree to my family tree.

This link does not appear in the new design of the individual detail pages. I have searched carefully in every menu and link but cannot find the previously available connection? Anyone out there know if the link is available and if so, its location? I hope there is no serious reason for the link's disappearance.

Monday, May 18, 2015

LDS App has extensive Family History resources

The LDS Library app for mobile devices has added a huge library of Temple and Family History resources. Here is a screenshot of the place to download the app from

The Temple and Family History resources appear as a selection on the main Library menu list of icons. Here is another screenshot from my iPhone showing the icon:

There is an extensive library of resources in this one section of the app. The list includes the following categories:

  • Family Discovery Days
  • Member's Guide to Temple and Family History
  • October 2010 Ensign
  • Preparing to Enter the Holy Temple
  • Endowed from on High
  • Getting Started
  • Member Experiences
  • Priesthood Leadership
  • Indexing
  • Missionary Work
  • Server Others
  • Beginning Research
  • Church Service Missionaries
  • FamilySearch Facts

You may not have noticed this section on your mobile device and perhaps others have not either. Please take the time to alert others about this valuable Temple and Family History resource through Facebook, Google+ and other social media outlets.

List of LDS blogs begins to grow

In a recent post, I indicated that I was surprised at the lack of blogs specifically oriented towards family history in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I am aware of quite a few bloggers who have blogs about family history and are members of the Church, but few that overtly publish the intent of their blog. My goal is to raise the awareness of the entire genealogical community to the part that the Church plays in that community. My further goal is to raise awareness of the marvelous genealogical tools that have been made available to Church members as well as freely shared with the entire world.

Since posting the original comments, I have added five blogs to my list. The list is available under the tab that now appears at the top of this blog.

Here is the current list:
  • Blogs -- link to the blogs is located at the bottom of the start-up page
  • Revealing Roots and Branches - The generations on either side of me link me to my past and my future. My view of family history involves revealing the roots and the branches. Throughout this blog you will find perspectives related to the doctrines of temple and family history work from revealed revelation given to living prophets of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS - Mormon).
  • Packhams' Pixels - We are missionaries of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The term “pixel” has taken on a new, personal meaning for us as we “focus“ on our work of capturing digital images of vital records for Family Search. Here we want to “capture images” of our lives to share with you, our friends and family.
  • The Stephen Sherwood Letters - Letters, notes, and pictures on his life and family. A blog to share the life of Stephen Sherwood, my great great grandfather, and provide tips to help you find your ancestors.
I am still surprised at how short this list is and would like to add to it.

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Where are the LDS Family History Blogs?

There are over 3,000 online genealogy related blogs according to a list maintained by GeneaBloggers. I started this LDS oriented blog back in October of 2013 and I recently wondered how many other family history (read genealogy) blogs oriented to LDS readers there are out there in the huge online world. By the way, this blog is not listed by the GeneaBloggers website. Now don't misunderstand what I am saying, there are hundreds, perhaps thousands of blogs posted by members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. There just do not seem to be a significant number of them that focus on family history per se in the Church.

I did a Google search for the following terms: "mormon lds genealogy blog family history." I found very few online offerings other than blogs published by itself or from the Church. I did find a blog post by my daughter, Amy, on The Keepapitchinin blog. But that blog would be considered a Mormon History blog rather than family history. As I paged through the results of the search (which I normally would not do), I did find several blog posts referencing the Church and family history. I also found a few blogs and blog posts from the FamilySearch or Family History Centers around the world.

I became some what concerned when my own blog did not show up in the search but I did run into a link to Genealogy's Star, my other blog. After reviewing four or five pages of results, finally gave up. I went back and examined the format and content of this, my own, blog and realized that I do not use the terms "Mormon" or "LDS" very frequently or at all on my website, so I added in some info to my tag line. I also went back and did my search using the complete name of the Church.

This second search turned up a different list of results but none of them revealed blogs dedicated solely to family history and the Church. The second search also failed to turn up the present blog. Well, I am glad that somebody has found my blog despite the fact that searching online does not seem to turn up this or any other Church oriented family history blogs.

Here's what I suggest. I certainly do not wish to compete in any way with the list generated by GeneaBloggers, but I think it would be nice to have a list of blogs from bloggers who wish to be known as LDS family history bloggers or whatever. I would think that any such blog would have a prominent statement that their blog was so oriented.

I will compile such a list, if you, the readers, will send me the links. You can put the links in comments or send me email directly. I will then start a separate page on this blog listing all the Church oriented blogs I receive. The page will appear as a separate tab below the heading of this blog. Do not bother to send me links to blogs that do not prominently announce their orientation. Just because you are member of the Church and write a blog does not mean you write about family history in the Church.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Issues with RecordSeek Tree Connect

For some time now,'s utility, Tree Connect, has been a gateway to move source citations from online databases, such as and and from many other websites, into the source fields of's Family Tree. The Tree Connect utility acted as a browser app and was extremely useful in moving source citations into the Family Tree by automatically copying most of the pertinent information form the third-party source.

During the past few weeks, I had noticed that Tree Connect was not functioning predictably. Eventually, the program stopped connecting to at all. I also began to get comments from other users about their inability to use the program.

I have tried the program, Tree Connect, several times with different websites and with different browsers and have been unable to connect to FamilySearch. Presently, the program does not seem to be working at all. This is extremely unfortunate as it was a unique path for copying useful data into the Family Tree. I do not find any program, free or purchase, that replaces the lost functions of Tree Connect. I am working out how to move the information from these other programs into the Family Tree by copy and paste, but no matter what I have figured out so far, involves more steps than Tree Connect.

If there is anyone out there with more information, I would be glad to publish it. I would gladly pay for an app that would do what Tree Connect did. Maybe, due to changes in the online programs this function is no longer feasible.

Friday, May 15, 2015

Relative Finder moves onstage

Launched as a app in 2011 and then limited to members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Relative Finder program has not only moved onstage, it has moved to center stage. The program was initially developed by Professor Thomas W. Sederberg a computer science professor at Brigham Young University about 15 years ago. Full development of the program and its ultimate certification by FamilySearch involved Professor William A. Barrett, another computer science professor and a group of undergraduate computer science students at the BYU Family History Technology Lab.

The idea behind the program is simple but the execution is quite complex. The program examines up to 14 generations of your ancestors on the Family Tree program and calculates a chart showing your relatives and their degree of relationship. The explanation of how the program finds your relatives is as follows and is taken from the Frequently Asked Questions section of the program:
Q1. How does Relative Finder find relatives? 
A. When you join Relative Finder or update your tree in Relative Finder, it downloads and stores 14 generations of your family tree from FamilySearch. Relative Finder also periodically downloads 14 generations for each person in the public groups. Each person in FamilySearch is assigned a PID (an 8-character string of the form K3Y4-BCD). If Bill is logged in to Relative Finder and he wants to see how he is related to Mary, RelativeFinder compares the PID for each person in his tree to the PID in each person in Mary's tree. If the same PID is found in both trees, the person with that PID is called a common ancestor, meaning an ancestor of both Bill and Mary. If Bill and Mary have one common ancestor, they will usually have many common ancestors; for example, the parents of a common ancestor will also be common ancestors of Bill and Mary. A Nearest Common Ancestor (or, NCA) between Bill and Mary is a common ancestor for whom none of their children is an ancestor of both Bill and Mary. Relative Finder reports a NCA for which no other s are more closely related to Mary.
There is a basic limitation of the accuracy of the program, again noted in detail by the Frequently Asked Questions:
Q4. Why are wrong relationships showing up between famous people and me? 
A. The main reason for this is that the data in FamilySearch is not always correct. So, if you know you are descended from a famous person, but Relative Finder does not report that relationship, it may be that the correct connections are not recorded in FamilySearch. Additionally, FamilySearch data is constantly changing as users add information. It is common for a single deceased person to appear multiple times in FamilySearch, and each of those records has its own PID. Relative Finder only stores one PID per person and if your ancestor has more than one version in FamilySearch it is possible that the PID that we have stored may be different than the PID in your FamilySearch tree. Furthermore, if a user merges two records, only one PID is assigned to the resulting individual. Relative Finder does not update its list of famous people very often, so it can happen that the PID that Relative Finder is storing for a given person may have been replaced by a different PID for that person, thereby introducing errors into the relationship report. We are hoping to refresh the PIDs for famous people each month, but it is a time consuming process and we have other priorities.
Essentially, as the FAQs also explain, the occurrence of errors in Relative Finder is an open invitation to correct the information in the Family Tree program.

When I enter by login and password into the Relative Finder the program comes up with 12,845 ancestors from 43 generations. Here is a screenshot of the first of 195 pages of relatives:

Obviously, there will likely be a huge difference in the number of relatives the program will find dependent on the amount of information there is in the Family Tree about your particular family.

There is one interesting fact in the FAQs that I took notice of. Here is the quote:
Q7. Why am I not getting any results when checking for relatives? 
A. Check FamilySearch to verify that you are connected to your parents and grandparents. 90% of people with FamilySearch accounts are not connected to all four grandparents. Generally you need at least 1000 ancestors in FamilySearch before many relatives appear in Relative Finder. Also, some geographical regions are less likely to yield many relatives.
This suggests to me that the real challenge of the Family Tree is getting more users to add in their grandparents.

One interesting feature of the program is to create a group. We have learned that Wards have created a Relative Finder Group for an activity and have "discovered" unknown relatives. I am not quite sure what I am going to do with thousands of more relatives, but it is interesting.

Relative Finder is set up with a number of predesigned groups for the users to select. Here is a screenshot showing the groups:

I suggest signing into the program and playing around with it for a while. It is amazing who you might be related to, but until you are sure that Family Tree is accurate, I wouldn't count on the relationships to heavily.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Valuable Updates to the Family Tree Training Lessons and Videos

There are extensive and valuable updates to the Family Tree Training Lessons and Videos. This series of Lessons is found in the Learning Center link under the Get Help link in the upper right-hand corner on each page of the website. Most of the changes are to Levels One (Beginning) and Level Two (Intermediate). I believe that you will find these lessons to be extensive and cover almost every aspect of the Family Tree.

The "Sandbox" activities give you an opportunity to practice with sample data from the Family Tree without making changes to the actual, live Family Tree program. To begin learning how to use the Sandbox, you can start with 1. Using The Navigation Sandbox.

Here are the lessons that have been updated on Level One Navigation:
The following lessons in the Level One Adding Information -- Part 2 have also been updated:
There are some significant changes to the Temple problems and Sandbox Activity for Reserving Names also. 

There are also significant changes to Level Two. Here is a list of the changes in the different sections:

Duplicates and Family Relationships -- Part 2
IGI (International Genealogical Index) Sources

The Photos section has had some additional changes.


I just sat through a class with Leland Moon, the developer of all these lessons, and I can assure you, even if you think you know how Family Tree works, you need to review the new lessons. Get busy.

Look at the numbers in the FamilySearch Historical Record Collections

When you look at the list of the Historical Record Collections on, you will see a lot of different markings and numbers. The above list is sorted by the last date updated by clicking on the title of the column.

First is the little camera icon that indicates that the collection has actual images of the records. Here is a screenshot showing the icon:

Next, is the a number in a column headed by the term "Records." This is a general and not a specific designation. Almost every collection is going to have a different method of counting entries as "records." You could also conclude that this number represents the actual number of "records" in that particular collection. That is NOT the case. Here is an example. "The United States Passport Application, 1795-1925" is listed as having 959,931 records. By clicking on the name of the collection, you will get a page giving more information about the collection. Here is the page for that collection:

You can see that there are actually 3,038,874 images. So how may records are there and what does the number in the column on the list page indicate? The answer is that the number shown in the list is the approximate number of "indexed" records. You can see above where it states, "Some index records have been published and more will be added as they become available." If you View the Images in this Collection, you will see all 3 million plus images, but if you search the collection you will only be searching the indexed images.

If you work your way through the collections, you will find many that are completely indexed. However, you will also find many where the indexing is only partially done or where there is a notation to "Browse Images" indicating that no indexing has been done. Searching the Historical Record Collections requires you to search the actual images when the entire collection has yet to be indexed.

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Updated List of AmericanAncestors Collections that are not available to Affiliate Accounts

If you signed up for the "free" LDS Account to the website, you are listed as having an "Affiliate Account." I previously posted a list of 25 items that are available with a regular New England Historic Genealogical Society that are NOT available for free to the Affiliate Accounts (LDS initiated accounts). I recently received a list of 32 Collections that are not available and that updates my earlier post. I received this as part of the Affiliates Monthly Newsletter for May, 2015. Here at the Collections that are only available with a regular account:

  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-B
  7. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume II, C-F
  8. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume III, G-H
  9. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume IV, I-L
  10. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume V, M-P
  11. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume VI, R-S
  12. Great Migration: Immigrants to New England, 1634-1635, Volume VII, T-Y
  13. Massachusetts State Census 1855
  14. Massachusetts State Census 1865
  15. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1841-1910
  16. Massachusetts Vital Records, 1911-1915
  17. Massachusetts Vital Records Index, 1916-1970 (forthcoming)
  18. Massachusetts: Grand Lodge of Masons Membership Cards, 1733-1990.
  19. Mayflower Descendant, The
  20. New England Historical and Genealogical Register (1847-present)
  21. New Hampshire: Miscellaneous Censuses and Substitutes, 1640-1890
  22. New Hampshire: Births to 1901, Deaths and Marriages to 1937
  23. Pennsylvania Genealogical Magazine
  24. Rhode Island Census Collection: 1865-1935
  25. Rhode Island Roots
  26. Rhode Island Vital Records, 1636-1850
  27. Search for Missing Friends: Irish Immigrant Advertisements, 1831-1920
  28. U.S. City Directories (forthcoming)
  29. Vermont: Miscellaneous Censuses and Substitutes, 1778-1822, 1840
  30. Vermont Vital Records to 2008
  31. Vital Records from the NEHGS Register
  32. Virginia Genealogist, The
As I indicated previously, some of these databases my be available from other websites either for free or for subscription. I suggest that you look carefully at each of the collections listed and do a search to see if you can find another source for the unavailable ones.