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

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Adding Memories to FamilySearch Family Tree Video now on YouTube

The new video this week on the Brigham Young University YouTube Channel is "Adding Memories to FamilySearch Family Tree." This particular video was done by my wife, Ann Tanner. As I indicated, we are in the process of adding one video a week. You may wish to subscribe to the channel to be sure and get notice of all the videos.

The State of FamilySearch Indexing

FamilySearch just published a blog post entitled, "Straight Talk about the State of Indexing." For the past two years or so, I've been hearing about the fact that the FamilySearch Indexing program would be moved entirely online. Presently, the program requires you to download a segment to your computer for access to the program. In addition, there is some talk about a mobile version of the program. A limited mobile version of the program was released and then withdrawn. There is the latest statement from FamilySearch regarding the status of a new release:
Old Indexing Program versus New Indexing Program 
What can I say? Yes, we’ve been talking about a new indexing program for nearly two years. And, yes, it has been in development for even longer than that. Clearly there were miscalculations about the complexity of the task, the amount of time it would require, and even how it would be received by our beta testers. We have learned, and we have gotten smarter. A limited number of volunteers are now doing actual indexing work in a greatly improved version of the program. But we still have a long way to go to make sure it is ready to support the large number of volunteers and variety of work. 
Meanwhile, the current indexing program is what we have to use. It has been a mostly steady workhorse for eight years, and we expect it will continue to serve us well for at least another year. The transition to the new program will be gradual and will occur in phases. We’ll be sure to keep you informed as progress continues. 
In the meantime, please keep using the current program. We have heard some stake indexing directors and group administrators are no longer teaching people how to use the current program because they are waiting for the new one. Please do not wait! Keep training people so they can be fully up to speed and engaged in indexing when the time comes to make the switch.
Since there is no firm deadline set forth in the announcement, I would suggest that everyone follow the advice and keep using the current program.

The rest of the blog post acknowledges that easy English projects are getting hard to find. Here is the statement from the blog post:
Easy English Projects Are Getting Harder to FindThis is no surprise to you if you’ve tried to find one of those favorite census or obituary projects lately. We are victims of our own success. The big, easy English collections that were once plentiful are now mostly indexed and published for researchers on Congratulations are in order! But, there’s a downside to these amazing accomplishments as well. 
The big, easy English record collections still out there are few in number and aren’t always the kind people like to index. Passenger ship lists, marriage records, military records, and such contain a wealth of valuable genealogical information but are rarely volunteers’ first choice. I liken the situation to putting broccoli and macaroni and cheese in front of a child. Nine times out of ten the child is going to choose the macaroni and cheese. 
If you can’t find what you really want to work on, will you give one of the less popular projects a try to see if you can acquire a taste for the other records as well? I promise, it’s good for you—and it makes a huge difference for researchers. It will also help to preserve the few beginner projects for the actual beginner indexers.
If you have been watching the new Historical Record Collections as they are being loaded onto the website, the statement should be no surprise to you. Here, I would suggest that the indexers began looking at the less popular options that may be slightly more difficult but the results and the benefit to the genealogical community is still there.

The blog post also indicates that non-English indexing is now the greatest need. If you can a foreign language or if you would like to learn consider indexing in another language.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

September 2015 Update of FamilySearch Blogs

I am having an interesting time keeping up with the FamilySearch Blogs. The contrast with what was the situation a year or so ago is dramatic. The good news is that they have a lot of blog posts, the not-so-good news is that they keep making changes to and we find out about the changes after the fact. At least we do find out after the fact. Here is the current list.

Blogger, Guest. “Grandparent Are Truly Grand Parents.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “How To: You Don’t Have to Know Everything about Family History.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Clarke, Gordon. “Partner News – September.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Clayton, L. Whitney. “Elder Clayton: Teach People Not Lessons.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Davidson, Rose. “My Happy Grandfather.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Decker, Steven. “FamilySearch Worker Receives over 50,000 Family Photos.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
FamilySearch. “Common Questions from Stake Indexing Directors.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Greener, Glen N. “How Will Your Descendants Know Their Ancestors?” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Past Persecuton Makes Irish Information Difficult to Discover.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Howard, Hadley Duncan. “Probate Records: A Window into Your Ancestors’ Lives.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Hyde, Jesse. “Hinting Leads to Success.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “How to Support New Indexers.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Worldwide Indexing Event 2015 Report.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Jensen, Fran. “You Can Help Save the War of 1812 Pension Records.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Judson, Michael. “Thirsty for International Records? Help Is on Its Way!” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Kuehn, Duncan. “Using Old Newspapers to Find Your Ancestors’ Court Documents.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Manfredi, Paola. “Family History Center Directors and Priesthood Leaders Working Together.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Mayer, Jan. “All The Love They Could Give.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
McBride, Lisa. “Relative Finder: New Ways to Connect with Cousins.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
McMurdie, Greg. “Honor Grandparents by Holding a Family Tree Gathering.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Nauta, Paul G. “2016 RootsTech Innovator Showdown Offering $100,000 in Prizes!” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “FamilySearch Makes 2.7 Million Historic Records from the 1915 New Jersey State Census Freely Searchable Online.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Popular RootsTech Event Open for Registration.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “State Library, FamilySearch Partner to Make Genealogy Records Accessible.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Nixon, Brett. “Non-English Indexing Help Urgently Needed!” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Pysnak, Sylvie. “Teach Yourself and Others: New Online Training Now Available—September 15, 2015.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Ross, Richard. “I Don’t Think We Should Go in There.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Sagers, Diane. “Not So Funny Freddy.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Shelley, Savannah Kate. “10 Ways Family History Can Help You Sanctify the Sabbath.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Bonding through Detective Work.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “I Accepted the Challenge: Orem Young Women.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Sorenson, Yvonne. “Czech Archives Online Part 1. Brno and Litoméřice Webinar.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “The Family History Library Announces Free Classes for October 2015.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Sparks, Jay. “An Unexpected Surprise.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “A Recipe to Repeat.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Steele, Logan. “Growing Up Famous.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “New FamilySearch Collections Update: September 8, 2015.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “New FamilySearch Collections Update: Week of September 14, 2015.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Steve Anderson. “52 Questions in 52 Weeks: Writing about Your Life Has Never Been Easier.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Memories of Our Grandparents.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “National Teddy Bear—September 9, 2015.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “What’s New in FamilySearch—September, 2015.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Williams, Darris A. “Get Started With Find, Take, and Teach.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Get Started with Find, Take, and Teach.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Get Started with Find, Take, and Teach.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Stories That Inspire: Dead Ends and Brick Walls—Some Tips and Tricks That Just Might Help.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Woods, Debra. “myFamily Youth Family History Camp – Camper Response.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “They Live to Be Played With: How I Brought Toys to Life.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
Wright, Matt. “Help Unlock Family Stories as a Preservation Missionary.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “New Feature: Search Genealogy Records on the Web’s Largest Sites.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.
———. “Preserve the Stories of Grandparents Forever with These Expert Tips.” FamilySearch Blog. Accessed September 29, 2015.

Monday, September 28, 2015

How Digitized Books are Changing the Family History Library

The real challenge of libraries today, including the world famous Family History Library, is the rapidly increasing area of digital technology. The increase in mobile computer devices and the ease of acquiring and reading books and other materials online, are eroding the traditional paper base of local and even national libraries.

As an example of the types of devices available, there is the "all new" Kindle Fire which costs $49.95, about the cost of a ticket to many sporting events. The ad for the new Kindle includes the statement, "Enjoy more than 38 million movies, TV shows, songs, books, apps and games." How many local libraries have an inventory of close to that number of anything?

The libraries are reacting by creating their own online, digital libraries. Some, like our local library, even check out tablets and other devices to their patrons. The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah is no exception. Over 200,000 of the books in the Library and its partner libraries have already been digitized and the number keeps increasing. The physical effect of this movement from paper to digital copies has affected the number of books on the shelves.

The major challenge to this digital movement is the U.S. Copyright Law. Libraries have been digitizing out-of-copyright books for some time and there are huge collections of these books online. But what about all the books still under copyright? There are movements underway to make all of these books also available. For example, if the Family History Library has a copyrighted book, they can digitize that book, put the physical copy of the book in storage, and then allow one person at a time to "check out" the book and use it online. If the Library has multiple copies of the book, if all of the copies are "retired" to storage, the number of useful digital copies can be increased. Of course if the book are put in storage, the physical copies of the book will no longer be available on the shelves in the library.

The FamilySearch Catalog then becomes the main access point to the books, instead of a visit to the Library on West Temple Street. This is still not entirely true. There are still books left to be digitized and some people will still prefer to look at the paper book. As far as the libraries themselves, the actual use of the books will probably increase now that researchers do not physically have to visit the Library to use a book. Libraries often look to their registered borrowers as patrons since they have no real way to measure whether someone coming into the library actually uses a book or other resource. Usage of a digital book website, such as the books on, can be measured.

The net effect of this shift in usage means that, overall, the libraries will have to provide a broader spectrum of services to continue to attract in-house patrons, but it also means that the physical book collections will appear to diminish. There is always the possibility that people will continue to use paper books, despite the convenience and availability of digital copies. Just as overall book sales in the U.S. have remained constant, but ebook sales have grown to about 22% of the overall book market, libraries will be experiencing the same shift in usage. See, "E-book share of total consumer book sales in the United States from 2009 to 2015."

The trend in the Family History Library has been to expand the computer stations as the books are converted to digital. That trend will likely continue.

Sunday, September 27, 2015

FamilySearch Family Tree adds direct searching in partner sites Family Tree adds direct searching from your ancestors in the Family Tree to the partner websites. You have to be careful with the results and evaluate each suggested source carefully. The searches also assume that the information in the Family Tree is correct. This type of searching is not quite as accurate as letting the programs suggest record hints.

I suspect, and will verify this, that they will only work if you are already registered with an LDS account. However, they may allow searches but require you to log in to see the results. I cannot tell because I have an LDS account.

Here is a screenshot of what happens when I search using

I have to go to church and then to the BYU classes, so more later.

Think About Attending RootsTech 2016

Here is a brief overview of the upcoming RootsTech 2016 Conference to be held on February 3rd through the 6th, 2016 at the Salt Palace in Salt Lake City, Utah.  There are 241 classes listed so far with 203 speakers and other activities and keynotes are still to be announced. The exhibitors floor has been dramatically increased for this coming Conference and I will be writing away all during the conference.

You can build your own schedule from the offerings, but I would suggest that you leave plenty of time to view the exhibitors and talk to people attending.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Looking at the Hope Chest App in the FamilySearch App Gallery

Lately, I have been looking at Apps in the FamilySearch App Gallery. One App that has gotten a lot of attention over the past year or so is the Hope Chest App. Unfortunately, when I tried to click on the Get Started link to the App from the App Gallery, I got the following screen:

Thinking this might be a browser problem, I switched from Chrome to Firefox and got the same screen. I then did a Google search for the program and found it in the Chrome Web Store.

I added it to my Chrome browser and at that point I wondered how many people would know how to use a browser app? I then went back and clicked on the link to the videos and reviewed the Introduction video.

When I followed the instructions and went to the Family Tree, the icon appeared in my Chrome browser bar.

Clicking on the App icon gave me a dropdown list of options. I soon discovered that to get to most of the features, I needed to pay for the "Plus" version for $10. I decided to see what else the program might do before paying the extra charge. I then got the following screen:

I decided to "just do search." I then got the next screen:

At this point, I was wondering why the App Gallery did not have a little more information about the difference between the "free" version and the paid version?

I clicked on the "Start Search" link button and nothing happened. OK, I know a lot of people are happy with the program, but it didn't work for me. By the way, the Introductory video did not match the menus that appeared when I tried the program. It looks like to me that the program has evolved into a paid program only.

I guess my evaluation of the program is incomplete, based on what I have seen so far I did not pay the $10 price of the App.

Friday, September 25, 2015

The new Family History Center is in the Home

For some time now, I have been working with one of my friends on his Mexican ancestry. As we work through the Mexican Civil Registration records and parish records from this ancestors' home, we have been consistently finding records of his family enabling him to take their names to the Temple for ordinances. All of this research to find his family has been done on digitized records available from the Historical Record Collections.

What is most remarkable about all this research is that it has all been done right in my friend's home on his computer. The records he needs to find his family are all digitized and on In fact, for the Mexican records he is using, those records are not available anywhere else online. Previously, it would have taken weeks and several trips to the nearest Family History Library to find these same records on microfilm. Now they are available instantly and free online. As FamilySearch has been saying recently, the new Family History Center is in the Home.

This experience is not unique. In fact it is apparent that FamilySearch is working hard to make this happen in many places around the world. If you live in Utah, especially if you live along the Wasatch Front, you probably have a Family History Center only a few minutes away from your home. But in many places around the world, people are not as fortunate. They may have little or no access to the records they need to find their family. For this reason, is expanding their digitized records internationally.

There are still some challenges. Many people around the world only have access to the Internet through a tablet or smartphone. the real challenge is to have the programs and records available on these devices with ways to have the information transmitted to the Temples electronically so cards can be printed at the time the members go to the Temple to do the ordinances. I can guess that in the near future, there will be facilities to handle people who do not have ready access to desktop computers and printers.

But the future is already here for many of us. We can do the research, find our lost ancestors, reserve the names and print the necessary forms to take the names to the Temples right from our homes.

For some time now, FamilySearch has been promoting the concept of Find, Take and Teach. That is, find your ancestors, take their names to the Temple and then teach others how to do the same. When this process moves into the home, there is a great savings in the time it takes to do this work. However the key here is that the work be accomplished. We now have the resources. We we need is the will power to get moving and do the work. If you are wondering how this might be done, I suggest starting with the series of steps outlined in detail in The Family History Guide. This website takes you through a series of steps so that you can learn exactly how it is done.

In addition, for the time being, many of us still have Family History Centers with trained missionaries and volunteers that can help.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

The New Provo City Center Temple

Photo by James L. Tanner
I frequently drive by the new Provo, Utah City Center Temple being constructed on the corner of University Avenue and 100 South by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The building is nearing construction. The Open House will be held from Friday, January 15, through Saturday, March 5, 2016, except for Sundays. We are most interested in seeing how they are going to manage the parking in downtown Provo during the Open House.

The building has been beautifully restored. Quoting from the official Temple website:
The Provo City Center Temple will recapture the historic beauty of the former Provo Tabernacle through meticulous preservation and careful study of the design of the original structure. Interior components that survived the fire including wood moldings, newel posts, and balustrades, will be used as models for the production of rich woodwork and other design elements used throughout the temple.
Again according to the website,
The Provo City Center Temple will be dedicated in three sessions at 9:00 a.m., 12:00 noon, and 3:00 p.m. on Sunday, March 20, 2016. All sessions will be broadcast to the stakes and districts in Utah. 
It is interesting. I can drive from the south end of the Utah Valley, north to Ogden in an hour or two and pass by ten Temples. There are seven of them within an hour of my home.

Share your photos and videos in the RootsTech 2016 Opening

FamilySearch is requesting submissions of family memories in the form of videos and photos to be used in the RootsTech 2016 Opening Kick-Off video. One lucky submitter will win a full RootsTech 2016 Conference Pass worth more than $200.

Here is a quote from the announcement in a FamilySearch Blog post entitled, "Be a Part of RootsTech -- Submit your Family Memories."
Discovering new connections, linking generations, and celebrating families is what RootsTech is all about. Families across cultures, countries, and continents are full of universal connections. This year, RootsTech wants to share what draws families together by compiling clips of your family videos and photos. Selected footage from those who submit will be used to create the RootsTech 2016 Opening Video, and shared with families from all over the world during the event. 
What Kind of Footage Can I Share? 
If you have taped the first steps of your son, a family adventure, a beloved tradition, your grandson’s graduation, your grandmother’s funeral or your grandfather teasing the grandkids, we want to share your meaningful moments as part of our event. No memory is too old or too new! Pull out the footage your parents have stored of you as a child and share with us your first day of school or at a new job. Footage or photos of your family spending time together at a reunion, a birthday party, or moving into a new house are all memories we would love to see!
Here is an example from the post:

FamilySearch concludes by saying:
Submissions will be collected from now until October 15, 2015. To submit, click on the submission button below, which will take you to a simple submission form. Fill in the necessary information and attach your video. We will then notify you if your video has been selected!

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Focus on the App Gallery: Three for printing

There are presently 107 apps in the App Gallery. If I were to write about one a week, it would take me more than two years to write about each one. Also, if I tried to do that, some of them would have been removed and others added by the time I got through. So, I guess I have to pick and choose what I write about. So this time, I thought I would write about a few of the apps in the same post. So, here it goes.

This App or program is the one used at the Brigham Young University Family History Library to print fan charts on their wide-format printer. Here is the description of the program from the App Gallery:
We have a wide variety of charts to view your genealogy. Whether you are looking for a fun chart, or a chart to display on your wall, or a working chart to do research, we have a chart for you! 
All of our charts are very easy to create. Simply login using your FamilySearch user name and password, and select the type of chart you want. We gather your data from FamilySearch and create the chart for you. 
All of our charts are FREE! 
Once you've found the chart you like, take it to a print shop to get it printed, or allow us to print it for you for a small fee. To have us print and mail the chart, simply press the Print button after you've created your chart. 
Our charts make great gifts. When ordering a printed chart, enter the person's address you are gifting it to. 
For those of you who keep your genealogy data elsewhere, we can create your chart with a GEDCOM file.
 I don't print out any of my information because it changes so rapidly and so often. But this is a very useful app for those who do want paper copies of their Family Tree ancestors. The key here is finding a large format printer for the output. Some of the quick-print stores have this service but unless there is one near you, you might have to find one online.

Here is another chart company with free charts. Of course, neither company actually prints the charts so basically they are program for creating a chart and, as I noted above, it is up to the user to get the file printed. Here is their explanation:
Welcome to TenGenChart 
Create your chart here. 
TenGenChart is a service that is currently focused around delivering large circular pedigree charts to those interested in seeing most of their family tree in a single glance. With our pedigree chart, you can easily see where your genealogical efforts will be best spent. 
See our products page for a current list of the items we offer. Also make sure to check the downloads page for blank documents anyone can enjoy. 
Uses for products from our site
  • Blank Pedigree Charts: for handwritten or calligraphy.
  • Filled in charts: when merged with your account.
  • Future plans include a worksheet with links for finding missing people.
For those of you who have accounts, make sure to click on the My Charts link to see what options there are for you. Our goal is to help you make the most of your time. With our chart, you can see the generations where your efforts are best spent.
Our family's graphic design business used to print wide-format prints. Depending on the quality, the paper or other media and the size, they can be quite expensive. I would assume that giving away the layout for free would perhaps evolve into a printing business. Just a guess.

It looks like this post has a printing theme. This next app is also a printing utility with sample charts. This seems to be the least complicated of the apps so far. Here is their explanation of the program:
Easily create beautiful, modern family trees in minutes.
Download for free or pay for a full-size print.
Start by choosing a template below.
That's it. You can download part of the Family Tree but that is the entire program. You might like their artwork so take a look.

That's enough for now. I have cut the time needed to review all the Apps and still have a lot of them to highlight.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

The Family History Conundrum

I often hear broad statements about the existence of a general interest in family history. Many such statements made both in person and in print, talk about how a large percentage of the population is interested in family history and that vague interest is extrapolated into an interest in "doing" family history. The idea is that if we can just arrive at the right combination of incentives, a much greater portion of the population would become actively involved in researching their families.

Compare the following statements and reflect on what you think the average response would be:
  1. Are you interested in learning about the history of your family?
  2. Are you interested in sitting all day in a library staring at microfilm rolls?
  3. Are you interested in learning about the sacrifices of your ancestors and their stories?
  4. Would you like to spend years looking for one of your ancestors without success?
You can probably see where I am going with this. The reality of actually doing historical research is far different than the common depictions of the subject. If you go to the larger family history oriented websites, you will see photos of smiling people, gathered around the computer, apparently enthralled in family history, that is, unless the photos show people having fun outdoors or in some other situation. Yes, family history is about families, but it is only rarely a "family" activity. I do have members of my immediate family (meaning my children) who are interested in and participate in family history research, but almost all of the communication about this research is done online. One of my daughters was involved in a huge microfilm project and had the participation of her husband and children as well as other family members, but that was a very unusual occurrence. 

Is all this a problem? Do we really need to have the active participation of our family members to make doing family history worthwhile? Are we to become despondent because no one in our immediate family is interested in what we do or what we find? On occasion in the past, I have hired some of my grandchildren to work for me and scan documents and transcribe texts. This has worked out very well. But I really can't say that the grandchildren became interested in doing family history because of these experiences. 

I am not intending that this post come across as negative. My premise is that I have been doing family history for over thirty years without the help and cooperation of my extended family and as long as they don't actively interfere or prevent me from doing the research, it really doesn't make a lot of difference. I would guess that over my lifetime, my family (excluding my wife and children) has not been much involved in very many of my optional activities. Some families are entirely different. One of my good friends attributes her interest in family history to her involvement with her grandmother. My motivation came from outside my family. 

I think that family history is mostly a very personal activity. Early on, I would have benefited from having a mentor or even from taking a few classes, had I know of their existence, but I don't think that the lack of interest on the part of my extended family has anything to do with why I began doing my family history or kept doing it for over thirty years. I certainly did not begin doing family history because it was "fun" or even enjoyable. It was mostly a lot of work. 

That is the key. Family history is work. In our society, we do things to avoid work. There is only a small percentage of the population who think that doing work in their "leisure" time is rewarding. Most people who work very hard at their job or profession, think that they should do something else to "get away" from work. Sitting at a computer or doing research in a library are not high on the list of things to do. That is likely one of the reasons family history is seen as a "retirement" activity when many people are no longer actively working at a "job." 

Why then do I do family history? I do what I do precisely for the reasons that it is hard work and very challenging. If it were merely fun or easy, I would not be much interested. I also like to work. I would rather be doing something productive than taking "time off" for unproductive activities. So how do you convince people that come home from a long day at the office or other workplace or spend the day caring for a family of young children, that they should spend their "free time" doing repetitious, sometimes difficult, exacting, and very challenging family history work?

The larger question is how many people do you think you can convince that doing this family history work (work, work, work) is worth spending their precious free time doing?

Perhaps we would have more success in involving people in family history if we took a more realistic approach to the subject. Maybe we need to start with the idea that family history is challenging, rewarding and fulfilling, but involves a lot of really hard work and quite a few very difficult skills. I am reminded of some of the recruitment campaigns for the U.S. Marines. How about The Few, The Proud, The Genealogists or something like that? 

Monday, September 21, 2015

New Video about Using FamilySearch Record Hints

 This new video from the Brigham Young University Family History Library covers the basics of using FamilySearch Record Hints to add sources to your ancestors on the Family Tree. If you have had any questions about the need to add these record sources, you need to watch this video for more complete instruction. The BYU Family History Library YouTube channel now has almost 100 videos. You may wish to subscribe to receive notification of future uploads.

A new introductory video to The Family History Guide

 I've written a number of posts recently either mentioning The Family History Guide or about the guide. During the past couple of weeks, I taught 16 classes about the program. I condense the information that I developed in teaching the classes into a video presentation. Because of the rapid change in the website this video is already slightly out of date. The main difference is that the developers have added class training materials. As with the other videos on the YouTube channel for the BYU Family History Library, we are reviewing the videos constantly and will update those that need to be updated. If you have any suggestions for future topics for videos please leave a comment. You might also consider subscribing to the channel to receive notification of future uploads.

Name Clouds and Duplicates from the GenusTree App

One of the benefits of looking at new computer programs (or apps as they are now called) is that once and while you find something interesting and occasionally, a program will "stick." What I mean by that is that the program becomes one that you depend upon for information or use as a tool. Since I am not usually in the "review" mode, I don't usually make evaluations of programs but I do talk about new ones and highlight their features. I have been going through the now 107 apps on the App Gallery and picking some to highlight.

GenusTree is described as follows:
Get to know your ancestors in the context of their entire family, not just isolated parent child relationships. Visualize your family in new ways. Have fun with facts and statistics about your family tree.  
  • Isolate and see a single generation without moving up and down your tree.
  • Create dynamic and graphical name trees to show what names are in your tree and how often they occur.
  • Find duplicates to cut down on duplicate research.
  • See your family lines plotted on a world map.
  • Completely free.
  • No Ads.
  • Users can submit feedback to request new features in the app.
 The startup screen for the program is pretty spare:

There does not seem to be any information about the app, as such. The first option is the name cloud that appears at the beginning of this post. Name clouds were the rage a few years ago, but have moved into the background of postings online. They are still interesting.

The second option is to "Find Duplicates." This turns out to be a rather unsophisticated list of matching names and could be useful but really is not. This could be a problem if the user tried to merge the people based on this matching.

Matching people with the same name and different birth dates is not useful.

The last feature, "Find Generation," has no instructions and was supposed to find all my cousins. I have hundreds (thousands?) of cousins but the program only shows about five.

This app is a good start, but not awfully useful.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Classes and Training available from The Family History Guide

One of the most common problems expressed by Ward Family History Consultants is their lack of training. Many Ward Family History Consultants are called without any explanation at all as to their duties or what they need to do to become knowledgeable enough to teach other Ward members. The Family History Guide has been created to address that problem in a professional and highly organized way.

The developers of the Guide have added a completely developed set of lessons and instruction aimed at teaching individuals and groups to their already valuable website. You can access these helpful materials by clicking on the Classes and Training link on the left-hand side of the Get Started page. The materials include an overall Training Strategies document and well-developed presentations and training modules.

There is a fully functional Microsoft Power Point presentation.

I only very occasionally cover exactly the same topic on both of my blogs unless there is a definite overlap between the two venues. In this case, I feel that it was about time that someone addressed the topic of family history in an overall, organized, structured and sequenced fashion. There have been a multitude of "get started" guides to family history, but this is the first to do so in a professional level that integrates the newest websites and resources online as well as basic instruction.

To use the materials, read the instructions first. Go to

Saturday, September 19, 2015

The RootsSearch App -- Finding Records You Weren't Looking For

The RootsSearch App is not one of those listed on the App Gallery, but it likely should be. It has been around for a while and has been recently expanded. From the listing in the Chrome Web Store, here is a summary of the functions:
Search across multiple genealogy sites for matching records.RootsSearch allows you to search the most popular genealogy websites for records relating to your ancestors. 
When viewing an ancestor in an online tree or a record from a genealogy website, RootsSearch allows you to search for matching records on other genealogy record sites. 
RootsSearch works on:
  • Ancestry
  • BillionGraves
  • FamilySearch
  • Find A Grave
  • findmypast
  • Genealogie Online
  • Open Archives
  • WeRelate 
RootsSearch allows you to search on:
  • American Ancestors
  • Ancestry
  • Archives
  • BillionGraves
  • Chronicling America
  • FamilySearch
  • Find A Grave
  • Fold3
  • Genealogie Online
  • Genealogy Bank
  • Genealogy Gophers
  • Geni
  • Google
  • Mocavo
  • MyHeritage
  • Newspapers
  • NLA Trove
  • Open Archives
  • USGenWebWeRelate
  • WikiTree
  • World Vital Records
The program is a Chrome App and the icon appears on the Extensions bar next to the top of the browser window. If I navigate to a website such as's Family Tree, I can search using the entries from any one of my ancestors. For example, here is the entry for my Grandfather Harold Morgan with an arrow pointing to the RootsSearch icon.

When I click on the icon, I get the following screen:

If I click on the More Sites link at the bottom of the listings, I get a long list of other available websites with sliding tabs to enable or disable searches in each website.

I could click down through the list and enable as many websites as I can handle.

Here are the results when I click on the RootsSearch icon for my grandfather:

Obviously, the list is longer than appears on the screen.

When I click on Chronicling America, the Library of Congress digital newspaper website, I got the following results:

The program is a little cranky and I had to click several times to get it set up to work, but when it works it is very impressive. Here is the article highlighted in the upper-left from the St. Johns Herald for 25 November 1915.

Sometimes I think I am going to drown in all the data out there to gather.