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

Monday, November 30, 2015

9-Part Probate Series now on BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel

All nine parts of the Probate Series have now been uploaded to the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel. This new series covers the basics of probate for the family historian. Rather than have one long video, this series breaks the subject down into 10 and 15 minute segments.

We are now running way ahead of our goal to upload a new video every week. We now have 100 videos. Some of the older ones are being replaced or upgraded to match the changes in the programs or subjects. Please take the time to subscribe to the Channel and receive notifications of the new videos as they are uploaded.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Merge obvious duplicates in the FamilySearch Family Tree

As I work back generation by generation correcting information in the Family Tree, I tend to find some obvious duplicates. Here is an example from one of my lines:

There are two Mary Boorman entries listed, each with its own Personal Identification Number (ID number). Both of these duplicates show a daughter, Elizabeth Tarbutt, with the same ID number. It certainly appears that there are duplicate entries for Mary Boorman. The ID number is important because of the following statement from the Get Help section of the website:
The identification number (ID number), formerly called the person identifier number, is a unique string of letters and numbers identifying each person in the Family Tree. It appears on the Landscape view of the tree, the Summary card, and the Details page. The ID number does not change over the life and death of the person.

Note: The system randomly generates ID numbers to help keep track of a record. You cannot use them to determine specific information about the person or the source of the information.
What has apparently happened is that there were two different entries for the mother of Elizabeth Tarbutt for the same person; Mary Boorman LC9Z-D5B and Mary Boorman LKKM-3GH. These two entries need to be merged. In addition, this also means that there are two sets of parents for Elizabeth Tarbutt, one with a father and one without a father. The first step is to merge the two mothers.

I suggest writing down the two ID numbers of the duplicates so if something goes wrong, you can easily find either or both of them. I would begin by selecting the entry with the most information as a the target for the merge. In this case, the Mary Boorman LC9Z-D5B has the most information and children.

Open the person's Detail Page and click on the Possible Duplicate link.

In this case, the duplicate entry comes up with the search for possible duplicates.

You need to be aware of the ID numbers. The duplicate entry found by the program happens to be the same one observed previously. There are also no other duplicates found. I would then click on the Review Merge link. In this case, I received a statement informing me that the I needed to switch the Primary Person. I continue the merge by clicking on the Switch link.

The next step is very important, I need to focus on preserving the surviving information. If I do nothing and do not replace the information, if needed, then the default is that the information is rejected. The idea is to not lose any information.

I click on the Replace link to add some or all of the information to the surviving individual on the left.

Once I have added in all the appropriate fields and rejected the duplicates or ignored them, I can Continue Merge by clicking on the link at the bottom of the page.

 I should then add in a reason why I made the merge and click on the blue link to Finish Merge.

In this case, because there was a child, Elizabeth Tarbott, with an extra father designated as "Unknown" or missing, it is further necessary to delete the relationship of this child to the unknown parent, realizing that the father is known and identified. At this point the mothers in the two entries now have the same ID number.

I click on the editing link next to the name of the child.

I need to remove the child from this couple showing the wife with an ID number and no father, because I know the name of the father right there from the program. This person is not the child of a mother with an unknown father and so the relationship of the child needs to be deleted. This action will not affect any of the relationships with the known father and mother.

Once I do this, the entry is now correct for the mother and the child.

This is all there is to do with this entry right now. Of course, you may wish to check any of the other individuals in the family for duplicates.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

New YouTube Videos from the BYU Family History Library

There are several new videos on the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel.  The most recent video talks about Instagram for genealogists.

The next video is Part 8 in the ongoing series of videos on Probate. This segment is on Trusts. 

The next new video is much longer. It is a one hour class on searching on Google, catalogs and wikis.

You can tell from this photo that I am not aging well.

Make sure to make memories

Good or bad, we all have some kind of memories. But the memories I am referring to as those we save in the Memories section. We are coming up on another new year and some of us will have to make resolutions to continue adding memories to the website, but others of us have yet to begin. How about starting now to preserve some of those priceless memories for all of our family members. Uploading photos is as easy as dragging and dropping the digitized photos into the upload space on the program.

I realize that the holiday season seems like a busy time but it is also a good time for memories.

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Record Hints Require Accurate and Complete Entries

The searching functions of the online family history programs are only as accurate as the information entered into the search. This goes doubly for the entries used for the record hints. There is an old computer saying, garbage in, garbage out, that applies to the entries in each of the Partner Programs included in the LDS Account for I ran across a good example of this when someone matched a husband to my ancestor Ann Parkinson.

The entry in the Family Tree showed Ann Parkinson in Huntingdonshire, England, married and with several children. There were a number of sources all showing an "Ann" as the mother. The only problem was that when I looked for a marriage record, I found that the proposed husband lived 200 miles away with a wife named Mary. None of the many sources that had been found applied because the identity of the husband had been wrongly entered. My correction came from comparing the location identified as the birthplace of the husband with the birthplace of the named wife. It also helps to note that these people lived in early 1700s. If you focused only on the fact that there were several sources cited, you might overlook the problem.

This example points out two or more issues. First, there needed to be an initial evaluation of the reasonableness of the information. Was it reasonable that a person living in England in the early 18th Century would marry someone who lived 200 miles or more away? The answer is no, it is not reasonable. The second point is that the source entries, even though there were several of them, did not identify the wife's birthplace or even her surname. This brings up the next issue, to conclude that the wife's name was Ann, you at least need a record showing her name. In this case, as I pointed out, after finding the marriage record for the husband, it was clear that the wrong wife had been added. It is significant that once I had corrected the entries, I found the husband's wife using

This exercise left me with no husband listed for Ann Parkinson. According to the existing entries in the program she was born and christened as follows:

  • Birth, 8 March 1799 in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, England
  • Christening, 7 January 1818 in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, England

Parkinson is a very common name in England and in order to find additional information, these dates and places need to be correct or there is a chance that the wrong "Ann Parkinson" will be added to the program. Because of my discovery of the discrepancy with the proposed husband, there are now no sources left for Ann Parkinson, especially nothing showing an exact birth date and a christening date many years after the birth date. It is not impossible or even very unusual that a person might be christened years after birth, but it is unusual enough to raise an issue as to the accuracy of the entry absent any supporting sources. In this case, there are no Record Hints from which also raises an issue about the accuracy of the entry. Of course, this could be a situation where simply does not have any records, but I have been getting record hints for other family members.

The next step would be to do a search in each of the four programs. Fortunately, has provided convenient links to search in each of the programs. But remember, the programs will use the data that is present in the Family Tree and if this is wrong, the results will either not find the person at all or will suggest inappropriate matches.

As I made the searches in the four programs, I needed to rely on the birth place information. There were dozens of "Ann Parkinson" names to choose from. In order to do this properly, I had to know the names of the surrounding villages and towns. Any possible candidates for inclusion had to be from the small area surrounding the documented location of her parents.

In this particular case, none of the four programs found a corresponding record of my Ann Parkinson. This leads me to believe that the information recorded in the Family Tree is in doubt, but now I have to order the microfilm record of the parish in Ramsey, Huntingdonshire, England and examine what is recorded. The entry for Ann Parkinson is even more in doubt the more places I look without finding a confirming entry. All of this trouble could have been saved had the person recording the exact birth and christening dates added in a source for the information. An examination of the history of this entry shows that the original information came from "FamilySearch" which means that it was recorded in the records in without a source.

This example points out the need to question the entries in the Family Tree and add sources. Any entry without a source is questionable.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

A Major Breakthrough in Family History

We recently had one of our daughter's family from out of state visit us for the Thanksgiving holiday. One of the things they wanted to do was visit the Provo Temple so the children could do baptisms for the dead. During the past few months, due to the cumulative advances in the online family history programs, my daughters, my wife and I have finally begun accumulating a significant number of ancestral names of legitimate candidates for Temple work. I have mentioned in previous blog posts that's Family Tree has finally matured to the point where there a basis for reliability. Because we can coordinate our efforts using the Family Tree, we have collectively broken through several long standing (a hundred years or more) ancestral end-of-lines to find whole families.

This has been accomplished by a combination of correcting the accumulated errors in the Family Tree by adding substantial sources, while at the same time adding additional family members that have been previously overlooked due to a historical lack of record access. I need to emphasize that this has not been an easy project. It has involved countless hours of both online searching and the use of microfilm records that have still not been digitized. In fact, one daughter and her family digitized their own copy of dozens of microfilm rolls to facilitate the process. Let me outline how this project has proceeded.

The first step was enlisting the help of some of my daughters, the ones with children old enough to begin spending the time to investigate the family lines (the youngest was 11). Next we chose certain lines that needed attention. This decision was based on an examination of the Family Tree where we found several undocumented lines. The key here was beginning the documentation at the most recent level. For years now, I have been working back on all my lines systematically adding sources and making corrections. This activity has provided a basis for making educated and reasonable decisions concerning the reliability of the information in the Family Tree. This initial work supports the accuracy of the extension of the lines. Absent this kind of systematic attention to each generation, it is impossible to accurately determine the succeeding generations and any attempts at using the unreliable ancestral record for descendancy research is foolhardy.

It has been a combination of the use of all of the FamilySearch partner programs,, and that has provided some of the pivotal links that have opened the lines to further investigation. I am not neglecting, but the research we have been doing is presently centered on England, Australia, Denmark and Sweden. We have found that the programs complement each other and supply records lacking in the other partner programs. The increased accuracy of the hints obtained from all four programs has also been a major factor in breaking through the long standing obstacles to research. We are still relying heavily on the availability of microfilm copies of many of the necessary records. We cannot rely solely on what is presently online. The process has also taken many hours of intense analysis on maps to assure ourselves that we are identifying family groups and not adding names solely because they match.

We have used social networking to support our efforts by coordinating the research and keeping up to date with any new discoveries. We have also used the "Watch" function of the Family Tree to alert us to changes made by those who continue to add irrelevant or incorrect information without doing any basic research. We can then coordinate our collective response to the unwarranted changes.

In short, we have applied basic research practices with an emphasis on recording sources and relying on documentation to move from one generation to another. The payoff to this meticulous process has been the steadily increasing numbers of new additions to the Family Tree. The great benefit of the Family Tree is that all this combined research can focus on exactly the same documentation while not excluding the possibility that those outside of our effort will find additional information that is also valuable. If we were to try to do this by relying on a "private" family tree, we would be deprived of the assistance of those who are interested and could possibly contribute.

This entire effort is based on the framework established by the Family Tree and its direct relationship to the underlying need to advance Temple work. We could have focused on any other method of collaboration, but none of them provide the necessary direct contact with the need to do the ordinances.

We are mindful of the ongoing limitations of the Family Tree. We are not ignoring the fact that there are still family lines that are blocked by our inability to merge obvious duplicates, but in the lines we have chosen, this problem does not appear and we have successfully merged any duplicate records. I am ofter overwhelmed at the amount of work that still needs to be done. I am also saddened and often discouraged by the lack of interest of those around me in the progress that can be made through a concerted effort. There are a some people who recognize the potential and take advantage of the Family Tree, but they are few and far between.

Using the knowledge gained from this experience, I have also been able to help several people in the last few months to also break through major ancestral obstacles and extend their family lines. I am most thankful for the progress that has been made by FamilySearch and the other partner programs in supplying some core resources that enable this progress.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

On Evaluating the Information in the FamilySearch Family Tree

As a veteran of many years of representing clients in court, I have become increasing skeptical of any factual claim. Of course, this attitude has carried over into my family history research. Lately, I have run across accounts of people who consider the entries on the Family Tree to be the "gospel truth" for the rather simple reason that the website is sponsored, indirectly, by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In short, they place the reliability of the entries on the same level as a religious belief. This is certainly not the position of the Church or of FamilySearch.

To have such a simplistic attitude towards the entries in the Family Tree, the user has to ignore the icons with warnings and cautions. See Data Problems. But even taking into account these automated warnings, it is essential that anyone using the program spend some time and effort to assure that the entries are as correct and reliable as possible.

This is especially true if the user is contemplating relying on the entries back more than five or six generations. It is important to understand that as we go back on any given line, the accuracy of each successive generation depend heavily on the accuracy of all the proceeding or supporting generations. It is also important to understand that all of the information in the Family Tree came from individuals submitting the information to the Church, the Genealogical Society of Utah and FamilySearch for over 100 years. None of the information entered into the Family Tree is verified by anyone at FamilySearch or the Church.

At the initial level, you need to focus on whether or not there are any sources substantiating the information in the Family Tree. Historically, adding source citations was not emphasized so many entries lack any such citations to where the information was obtained. The bare fact of the matter is that any entry without a substantiating source citation is automatically subject to question. My own experience is that it is also necessary to review any source citations that appear. It is not uncommon that the sources do not pertain to the person to whom they are attached. It also not uncommon to find that the information in the Detail Section is different than that recorded in the sources.

Relatively recently, FamilySearch implemented a program of providing "Record Hints" for the individuals in the Family Tree. These Record Hints are limited to the indexed records in the Historical Record Collections. The more indexing that is done, the more Record Hints will be come available. I have found these Record Hints to be extremely valuable. The suggested records are not 100% applicable to the individuals, but they are accurate enough to be very useful in adding and correcting information. I strongly suggest that all Record Hints be evaluated and added where applicable. FamilySearch encourages adding all the Record Hints because that helps the program find more accurate records.

As an example, I have been systematically working back on my Parkinson line. Here is a screenshot showing how far I have gone. I am presently adding sources to the Charles Parkinson line back in the mid-1700s.

I have substantially verified the entries back to Charles Parkinson (b. 1766, d. 1846) and his wife Hephzibah Newton (b. 1773, d. 1856). when I started there were no source records for anyone of the family members past Charles' grandson, my Great-Great-Grandfather, Thomas Parkinson (b. 1830, d. 1906). The purple icons on William Parkinson and his wife indicate that there are no sources attached. As far as I am concerned, I do not consider any of the information past Charles to be reliable. In fact, Family Search has detected a situation where a child was born after the mothers' recorded birth date, hence, the red exclamation point. Here is the Detail Page for William Parkinson.

Right off, I can see a major problem. This person was not baptized (christened) on his birthday. One of these two dates is wrong. The second issue not so obvious. Could he have been christened in Great Raveley, Upwood, Huntingdon, England? In short, was Great Raveley a parish? I ask this question because of the use of the word "Huntingdon." Huntingdon is a market town. Upwood is also a town in Huntingdonshire. So for the birth and christening place we have the names of three different towns. The county is Huntingdonshire. It is mistakes like this that make me question the accuracy of any of the entries. Do we even have the right person considering we are back into the mid-1700s?

As I already mentioned, there are no source attached to this person, so I am forced to search for sources to verify the information. If I were to simply assume that "everything in the Family Tree is correct," I would be way off base with this entry.

I will begin my search in the FamilySearch Catalog. I immediately find that there are entries for the following in England, Huntingdonshire:

  • Great Raveley
  • Little Raveley
  • Raveley (Great)
  • Raveley (Little)
  • Upwood
  • Huntingdon
and so the investigation begins. Because of the ambiguity of the entries, I am forced to examine records for all six places. Needless to say, this correction process has been going on for years and will likely continue for more years. 

The only way that the Family Tree will become a "book of all aceptation" is to make all of these changes and corrections. Meanwhile we also have to watch all of these ancestors so that our hard earned research is not erased by someone who has not spent the time to review what is already in the record. 

Monday, November 23, 2015

RootsTech 2016 Family Discovery Day Keynote Speakers Announced

I received an announcement of the speakers at the FamilySearch RootsTech 2016 Family Discovery Day Session on Saturday, February 6, 2016 at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah.  The Family Discovery Day at RootsTech is FREE for all LDS families and members and will provide opportunities to learn how to find family names, prepare and take those names to the temple, and share that experience with family and friends. 

This year, as last happened last year, there is a limit to the number of free tickets that will be issued. So I suggest that you reserve you tickets early. The information that I have been given is that more than half the allocated tickets have already been reserved. 

Here is the announcement of the speakers:
At Family Discovery Day, you will experience:  
  • Inspiring messages from General Authorities, Church leaders, and popular LDS speakers, including Elder Dale G. Renlund of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles; his wife, Sister Ruth Lybbert Renlund; Primary general president, Sister Rosemary M. Wixom; and Young Men general president, Brother Stephen W. Owen.
  • Interactive activities in the expo hall, where families and friends can create a visual family tree, call grandma and record an interview, and scan photos to share with family.
  • A selection of classes designed to teach you how to discover family names, prepare them for temple blessings, and teach others how to get started on building connections with their own families.
  • A closing event with special guest entertainers to be announced soon.
Family Discovery Day at RootsTech is the perfect place to discover and share family connections through technology. Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced family historian, Family Discovery Day at RootsTech has something for you.


In returning to the App Gallery, I recognized that I should have written more about a long time ago. This is especially true since the program now connects to the Family Tree. is an online unified family tree very similar to the Family Tree program. Here is a quote from their "Vision."
WikiTree is designed to balance privacy and collaboration so that living people can connect on one world tree to common ancestors. 
We privately collaborate with our close family members on modern family history and recent connections. As we go back in time, the privacy controls loosen. Collaboration on deep ancestors is between distant cousins who are serious about genealogical research and careful about sources
Because all the profiles are connected on the same system our collaboration is creating a single family tree that will eventually connect us all and thereby make it free and easy for anyone to discover their roots.
Here is another brief quote about how the program works:
WikiTree is for family history collaboration. This happens at two levels. 
At the modern level, the collaboration can be private and tightly-controlled. Use WikiTree to collect and organize your personal family history and privately collaborate with family members. If you invite non-genealogist family members they might not move beyond this level. 
At a deeper level, we are connecting our personal family histories with a growing worldwide family tree. As we go back in time our collaborations become wider and more public. To keep order, we trust each other to abide by a Wiki Genealogy Honor Code
It's possible for all this to happen on one single, shared family tree because every profile has its own Trusted List and privacy setting.
Here is a view of my own Navigation Home Page:

 You can customize your home page to show less information. It did not take me long to connect to the existing people in the WikiTree. I have to admit that I have not yet entered much information into the WikiTree, but I am intending to add more. I am particularly interested in connecting to any existing research on certain family lines so it will take me a while to get enough information into the WikiTree to get back that far. I am also interested that searches the WikiTree.

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Privacy and the FamilySearch Memories

Posting photos and stories online is an extremely valuable adjunct to the bare bones of information contained in a family tree. As many people try to inaccurately point out, genealogy is a names and dates and "family history"is much more. Actually, genealogy is much more than names and dates and always has been. The reaction against doing "genealogy" is a cultural manifestation of an attitude that has developed in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints over the past 100 years or so.

But putting all that aside, the activity of adding millions of photos and stories to the Memories section involves some considerations of privacy. As I express in my post entitled, "Privacy and life online -- A Genealogist's Viewpoint," The concept of "privacy" is very complex. It is currently a concept that is the basis for continued controversy on a national and local level. Some of the most complex legislation and Federal rules are directed at preserving some limited aspects of "privacy." The program is designed to create a "private space" around every living person in the program. Anything entered into that private space cannot be viewed by anyone else.

But as we are finding out, there are definite limits to the concept of privacy. First of all, dead people do not have any privacy. Privacy, in whatever form you want to believe it exists, only applies to living people.

The basic information in a family tree does not intrude on anyone's privacy. There is nothing in the information about births, deaths and marriages that is not very public information. Where privacy concerns do become important is when we get into the area of photographs and stories. The Memories section of is directed at sharing exactly these types of documents. The information in the Memories section is "open to the public" and can be discovered with a Google search. However, that is not true for untagged photos or stories or for photos of living people. The basic concept here is that if you don't want something broadcast to the world, do not put it online.

However, there is one interesting issue about putting photos online. If you put up a photo depicting several people, some dead and some living, and then you tag the dead people, the entire photo is discoverable online and of course, the living people are seen in the photo. If you would like more information about the Private Space on and the Memories section issues, see the following list of links:

Here is a quote from the Adding Photos link above,
You can add memory items for a living person to Family Tree. However, you should be aware of local privacy laws and obtain permission from any living person before posting the item in Memories.
  • Go to the Person page, and click the Memories tab to add a photo, document, story, or audio file.
  • In Memories, linking a living person to his or her memories can only be done by ID. The Find search function does not look for living persons.
  • Tags are linked to ID numbers, not people by name. You will only be able to see items linked to the living person you created in your private spaces or those you have the rights to see.
  • Notes: Living and confidential people are managed in a private space. Only you will be able to see and modify this person. However, anyone could potentially see the photos, documents, stories, or audio files that are attached to this person. For more details and information regarding Private Spaces, please see Understanding Private Spaces (98224).

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Where is FamilySearch online? is well known as a huge online family history website, but that is not the only place FamilySearch has an online presence. It has been a long time since I reviewed all the FamilySearch websites, so I thought I might check to see what's out there in FamilySearch-land.

FamilySearch has a significant presence on, and It has recently begun adding more content on also. In fact, is also becoming a hot spot for family history. In fact, the increasing interest in family history Pinterest boards has motivated me to start pinning to something besides my own Photography board more frequently. There is also a FamilySearch page on

Here are some screenshots of the social networking side of FamilySearch.

Here is the FamilySearch page on

And here is another screenshot of the FamilySearch site.

OK, but FamilySearch also has a lot of other Internet presence. You might want to check out the FamilySearch article on Wikipedia. Of course, FamilySearch has two Apps in the iTunes App Store and the Google Store. Here is a screenshot of one of the ads in the iTunes App Store.

There is a substantial amount of family history content on the website also. You may have to search a bit to discover all the resources.

Here are some other links to FamilySearch related websites:

There are probably quite a few more, but they get buried in the huge number of Google responses to a search for FamilySearch.

Friday, November 20, 2015

On Honesty in Family History

Quoting from on the Articles of Faith,
The Articles of Faith outline 13 basic points of belief of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Prophet Joseph Smith first wrote them in a letter to John Wentworth, a newspaper editor, in response to Mr. Wentworth's request to know what members of the Church believed. They were subsequently published in Church periodicals. They are now regarded as scripture and included in the Pearl of Great Price. [Link added]
I would like to quote Article 13:
We believe in being honest, true, chaste, benevolent, virtuous, and in doing good to all men; indeed, we may say that we follow the admonition of Paul—We believe all things, we hope all things, we have endured many things, and hope to be able to endure all things. If there is anything virtuous, lovely, or of good report or praiseworthy, we seek after these things.
One of my ancestors in the Family Tree was converted to the Church during her lifetime and received all of her Temple ordinances and was sealed to her husband while still living. All this was accurately recorded in the Family Tree. Notwithstanding this fact, someone deliberately changed the data to enable the program to authorize her ordinance work to be done again in November, 2015. When this occurs, we are quick to excuse this behavior as done through inadvertence or ignorance. But in this case, the person would have had to disregard what was in the record and deliberately change information showing that the work had been done.

We lock our doors and cars to prevent stealing. Perhaps we need some procedures to prevent what is essentially the same thing from happening in the Family Tree. Another not uncommon practice is that of creating a "new person" with almost the same information, but ignoring the need to merge the newly created person so that the ordinance work can be done over again. This is not a new practice, we have been seeing this happening for many years. It is just so obvious now.

When I have reported this issue to FamilySearch, I get a standard response that excuses the action as a problem with duplicates etc. This is not what is happening. There is a way to "lock" entries or make them "Read Only." Perhaps this is something that needs to be expanded to the people who did their ordinance work during their lifetime?

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Digital Collections at the Church History Library

The Church History Library is located just east of Temple Square and about a long block and half from the Family History Library. The Church History Library (CHL) is not at all the hive of activity you might experience in the Family History Library. The CHL does have a significant collection of books and other records on open stacks, but most of the documents held by the CHL are archival in nature and are kept in closed stacks. You have to visit the CHL to gain access to most of the records and sign in as a registered researcher. However, during the past few years, there has been an effort made to put some very significant collections online.

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has also produced a series of church history websites. These include the following:
There are also a number of history related sites on
It is not obvious from a visit to the CHL website that there are also quite a few resources available. If you click around long enough, you might find the following:
There is also a page of Featured Collections, the current collections are as follows:
It is interesting to me that several years ago, I offered the Church History Library an extensive collection (approximately 4000 photos many on glass negatives) from Eastern Arizona with photos dating back to the 1860s and they expressed absolutely no interest and so the collection went to the University of Arizona. It looks like they may have expanded their interests more recently.

There may be more digitized collections but that is all I could find. 

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

The Mountain West Digital Library

This short explanation of the Mountain West Digital Library (MWDL) is a good introduction to this relatively unknown resource among family historians.
We provide free access to over 960,000 resources from universities, colleges, public libraries, museums, historical societies, and government agencies, counties, and municipalities in Utah, Nevada, Idaho, Arizona, Montana, Hawaii, and other parts of the U.S. West.
However, you need to browse through the MWDL's extensive list of partners to appreciate the resources of this remarkable online record hub. As is the case with any library, you can only begin to appreciate the contents by browsing the shelves. In this case, a review of the digital collections will certainly stimulate your interest in the website.

For those who have ancestors who lived in the Mountain West, I suggest that this is a rich source of photographs and histories of the entire area. There are thousands of images that could be of major interest to you and your family.

Here is an early view of Provo from the East Bench. I wonder which street is shown as crossing the entire city. There are no streets that run uninterrupted from the Bench across the valley today. Some of my older local readers may remember the old Provo High School.

In light of the upcoming dedication of the new Provo, City Center Temple on March 20, 2016, here is a photo of the Provo Tabernacle from 1900.

Taken from east side of University Ave looking northwest to Tabernacle corner. Buggies and carriages arriving at the Provo Tabernacle for a conference. This caption is included: "People attended conference at Provo Tabernacle in buggies and carriages in pre-automobile days"
You might want to take some time to browse around in this online library.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

BillionGraves Introduces Version 2.1 of their website

Some time ago, introduced BillionGraves+, a paid version of their popular online grave registration program. Now, they have introduced a substantial addition to their website with searches that include access to large databases of supporting records. You might want to check this out.

Old Version of to Go Away

On December 15, 2015, all of the present accounts will move to the new website. I have noted that many users are still using the "old site." I suggest you move to the new website before you wake up and find that you are already there. You can switch to the new website by logging in to the program. Once you are in the program, you can click on your name in the upper right-hand corner of the screen and get a drop down menu that will include a link to the new website.

This is not an issue as to whether or not you like either the old or new website. Technological changes often dictate website updates and it is inevitable that the content and page views will change as the websites are updated. All of the larger online genealogical database companies have updated their websites so far this year.

By the way, expressing your shock, disagreement, displeasure, etc. online will not do a bit of good.

Monday, November 16, 2015 Memories Updated With Major Changes

The Memories function on the website is undergoing some major changes. These changes appeared briefly on my wife's computer but disappeared after she got a few screenshots. I found the changes on the Beta website and was able to get a few more screenshots. I am assuming that what we saw today was not the final release. But since it showed up unannounced on my wife's computer, I assume it will be rolled out, perhaps in stages, to the general public.

The biggest change, shown above in a menu shot, is that the Photos, Stories, Documents and Audio files have been consolidated into one section called the "Gallery." Here is another screenshot of the Gallery.

There are icons at the top of the page that let you choose all or some of the document formats: photos, stories, documents or audio.

Here is a copy of the startup screens, probably on the first startup.

There is an icon change for showing when a photo is not tagged.

Clicking on the little head takes you to the page to tag the photos which seems to be the same as the one we have been working with for some time.

The Gallery view seems to be a welcome change and a good step towards making the process of working with uploaded files a little easier.

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Exploring the Books

For a while now, I have been watching the numbers of digitized books grow rapidly in the Books collection. As I write this post, there are 243,583 digitized books in the free online collection. I have seen this go up over 2,000 books in the last week or so. Here are the numbers according to the language of the books:

  1. English  (202,706)
  2. German  (18,509)
  3. Undetermined  (10,964)
  4. French  (6,061)
  5. Dutch  (2,546)

This huge collection does not have a very complex or sophisticated search function. Here is a screenshot of the "Advanced Search."

In this case, since the books are digitized, the search function is searching every word in every book. So if I do a search for my Great-grandfather, "Henry Martin Tanner" (including the quotation marks to search for just that term), I will find every book that has his name. Here is a screenshot of the search:

The program found six books containing information about my Great-grandfather. If I click on the first book, I get a downloaded copy of the entire book. You may have to wait a while, depending on the speed of your Internet connection. 

This book can now be saved off onto my own computer as a PDF file and then searched or read at my leisure (that is, of course, assuming that I have any leisure). Some books are restricted because of licensing or copyright considerations. These books show a notice that looks like this:

This means what it says, there are limitations on the availability of the book and it must be read in a library, either the Family History Library, a Family History Center or other participating library. By the way, some people have commented that this notice comes up frequently and they do not use the collection. That is their loss. Most of the books are freely and immediately available.

These books come from a long list of libraries. Here is the list.
In the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, as the books are digitized they are being removed from the open shelves to make way for other books that have not be available or to make room for other uses of the Library. 

You can also find the books through the FamilySearch Catalog. Here is a screenshot of the Catalog search:

I am searching again for my Great-grandfather in the title of a book. Here are the results:

You may want to search both in the catalog and in the Books section of the website since the Books search searches the contents of the books also.

It is a good idea to search for the names and all the variations of the names of all of those people you are searching for. 

The website indicates that the Family History Library has around 356,000 books although this number may be out-of-date. If this number is correct then it should not take too long for all the books to be digitized. All of the books are being digitized, not just those that are out-of-copyright. The copyrighted books can be "checked out" digitally for use in the Library, hence the restrictions. 

You may want to start searching the digital books collection regularly for additional entries.