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

Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Analyzing Record Matches: Beware of False Positives

When using the Family Tree, Record Hints have become ubiquitous. But along with the increased availability of Record Hints, there is a concomitant increase in the number of "false positives" or suggested records that appear to apply to the individual but are really inapplicable.

If I click on the first person in the list above, I see the following:

I can further see the complete list of Record Hints by clicking on the Show Details link at the bottom of the Research Help block.

 Here is the complete list of Record Hints for this person.

Before accepting and attaching a Record Hint it is extremely important to think about it and evaluate both the information already available and the new information being offered. This individual is identified as "Jens Christian Christensen (b. around 1818, d. 20 December 1829) in Denmark. There is a Record Hint as follows for a Jens Christian Jensen:

The information suggested fails to correspond to any of the available information, which, by the way, contains a number of possible duplicates. In addition, the suggested record apparently applies to a person who has a daughter who married in Michigan in 1889. A quick check of the children listed for Jens Christian Christensen shows that none of them have a place of death. The key individual in the Record Hint is the daughter, Mary Jensen Christiansen supposedly born in 1854 in Denmark. This entry could be confusing because of the Danish use of patronymics. But what is more confusing is the name of the person in the Record Hint, Mary Jensen Christiansen. Neither of her surnames seem to apply and none of the birth dates of the children or gender of the children listed are even close.

But what is even more important than the fact that this Record Hint seems to be inapplicable is the fact that the entire entry as it exists in the Family Tree is a mess beginning with three listed spouses that are apparently duplicates.

Before you begin adding any Record Hints it is important to clean up the entries and verify the information from the already existing information in the Family Tree. For example, here, Jens Christian Christensen is not a Christiansen. He is shown as born in Kvissel, Aasted, Hjorring, Denmark, christened in Aasted, married in Taars, Hjorring, Denmark and buried in Blære, Ålborg, Denmark. Here is a copy of a Google map showing those four places:

The children in the family either have their birthplace missing or listed in Taars, Ugilt or Hormested all in Hjorring. By the way, it would be helpful if all of the place names were listed using the Danish alphabet. Those three places are all relatively close together.

It is evident that a significant amount of research needs to be done on this particular family before we can consider that one of the daughters left Denmark and got married in Michigan.

Record Hints are just that, "Hints" and should not be considered to apply unless they are consistent with the existing information. However, you should also consider the state of the existing information, if, as is the case here, it is in a shambles, you are certainly not ready to add further record hints.

Some insight is necessary here. Danish research is complicated by the issue of patronymics or the practice of naming children after their father's given name. I grabbed this example randomly based on a suggested Record Hint from FamilySearch as shown above. I have not worked on this part of my family line recently at all and cannot determine how accurate the information is without doing extensive research on other individuals, it appears to me that there are possible duplicates for this Jens Christian Christensen person. I have an overwhelming number of similar issues that are more pressing. At the moment, I do not believe that this person is even related to me and the Record Hints and there is no way to determine if any of the suggested Record Hints apply to my own family.

Results of the World Wide Indexing Event
The recent World Wide Indexing Event generated a significant response. Because I travel around from time to time, I do get to see different wards and stakes in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in different geographic areas. In this case, I had the opportunity to view different areas hear announcements about the Event and the wards' and stakes' participation in the Event or lack thereof. Some stakes and wards were fully participating while others seemed to be oblivious. Some wards and stake simply ignore any and all announcements coming from or about FamilySearch. 

The number of records indexed in 2016 was 10,447,887 as compared to the decrease in the number shown above for 2017. There was also a major decrease in the number of people participating. Overall numbers of people participating in Indexing are also down worldwide. 

I am sure that there is not just one reason for this decrease but the implementation of online Indexing is probably a contributing factor. To support the switch from a downloadable, local program to an online program is going to require a major education effort directed at the majority of those who are presently doing indexing. At least from my viewpoint on a local level, that education and awareness effort is almost entirely missing. Without a major increase in the ecclesiastical support for family history on the local level, these numbers will continue to decline. 

Monday, October 30, 2017

Revealing the Hidden Duplicates in the FamilySearch Family Tree

There are a huge number of "hidden" duplicates in the Family Tree. These duplicates are not discoverable by the Family Tree "Possible Duplicates." You need to be aware that these duplicates exist because they are not obvious.

The individual shown above has three Record Hints. This is his current family as it appears his detail page:

Here is what I see when I click on the "Possible Duplicates" link.

The key here is the phrase, "No results found." This, unfortunately, does not mean that there are no duplicates. Some of the time you can rely on this statement, but if there are any outstanding record hints or any records at all available on the website, then the statement is not necessarily accurate.

So now, look at the first screenshot above. It shows three Record Hints available. This is a screenshot of the first hint listed.

When I click on the Review Attachments link at the bottom of the page, the following screen appears:

Normally, you would think that this Record Hint or source was already attached to the individual and ignore it. But you need to click on the little Detach icon.

This screen shows that the record is attached to Israel Jones with the ID #MFQC-CYK. Guess what? This is the same person but it is a duplicate entry. Now, I copy the ID number because I need to use it to look for a duplicate using this ID number. Before doing anything else with the source, I go back to the Possible Duplicate screen. You do not want to do anything like detaching the source because then you will lose the duplicate.

Now I click on Merge by ID and enter the copied number into the search field.

Here is a screenshot of the Duplicate screen.

You then proceed with the merge just as you would if the program had found one. You will note that you will find that almost every other family member now has duplicates. Like this:

You can now copy the new duplicate's ID numbers and go through the process again and again and again. Each time, you may find more record hints and more duplicates. I have written about this several times, but it always amazes me how many duplicate keep showing up.

But wait, you aren't through. You need to process all of the Research Hints and look for more records, especially those that show they are attached to the person already. One bonus of this problem is that I keep adding family members and sources. But without knowing the connection between Records and duplicates, you might stop long before you were through. It doesn't seem to matter if you review and add all the sources from the Record Hints and then merge all the duplicates or do them one at a time.

In this particular case, I spent most of a day adding records, adding individuals, doing the research on the new individuals and then merging all the newly discovered duplicates. Here is what the family looked like when I finished. I lost count of the merges, but I think there were over twenty. Another hint, reload or refresh your pages frequently to show the new people, records, and merges.

There are five new children for the family tree. Too bad I'm not related to these people except one of the daughters.

Sunday, October 29, 2017

Helping Those Who Cannot Help Themselves

Because of where I live, I know many people who are very old, even by anyone's standard of old age. Because of their age and physical and/or mental limitations, they cannot easily work on a computer and because of these limitations, finding names to take to the Temples is simply impossible. These are good people who have served The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in many capacities throughout their lives. But eyesight limitations, lack of short-term memory and other disabilities keep them from learning and using the Family Tree.

Many of these people are still able to go to the Temple and participate in doing the ordinances. They also have a desire to do this work for their own families but do not have family members who are actively doing their family history.

My heart goes out to these faithful brethren and sisters who long for the opportunity to provide saving ordinances for their families without the ability to do so. As I am able to help them with finding names from their own families through the Consultant Planner, I have "adopted" several of these people and find names for them from their ancestors and relatives to take to the Temples.

Now, here is what I see.

I see many more of these people throughout the Church who are only prevented from taking their own names to the Temples by age and disability. I also see a lot of younger people, even the youth of the Church who are ignoring this opportunity to serve in a meaningful way. Imagine the impact on the lives of both the youth and the older members, if the youth took the time and made the effort to learn what was necessary to help and then spent some of their time sitting patiently with the older members helping them find their own names to take to the Temples. This mentoring program could change both lives for the better.

Temple and Family History Consultants should be looking for these types of opportunities. I am constantly asking those around me for opportunities to help and my biggest frustration is their lack of response. Many times, leaders with good intentions, call the "youth" as Consultants and then fail to provide them with the training they need to actually help people find names to take to the Temples. I mourn the loss of these wonderful opportunities.

Many of the leaders are not even aware of the need for mentors for both the youth and the disabled and they fail to teach and support even those Temple and Family History Consultants that do exist. When we pray for the needy, the sick and the afflicted, how about doing something for them instead of just praying?

Saturday, October 28, 2017

FamilySearch Microfilm: The Aftermath

The announcement by FamilySearch a couple of months ago that they would be discontinuing microfilm shipments to the Family History Centers caused quite a stir among a very small subset of the larger genealogical community both those who are and those who are not members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. From my own experience, I am guessing that the vast majority of the members of the Church have never set foot inside of a Family History Center, much less ordered a roll of microfilm. However, for that small minority of both members and others outside of the membership of the Church who have been actively involved in using microfilm copies for research, the decision to discontinue shipments had a rather major impact.

What is happening today with respect to the availability of the FamilySearch microfilmed records? Well, we can see that additional records are being digitized and almost constantly being added to the Catalog. FamilySearch representatives have stated that any microfilm roll that had been ordered during the past five years has already been digitized and is now in the Catalog. Granted, as was always the case, some of these digitized records are only available for viewing while using a Family History Center or Library computer, but they are available.

About a month ago, the BYU Family History Library posted one of my videos entitled, "No more microfilm rentals? Where do I go to see the digital copies?" that explains where and how to find these digital copies.

But now that the dust has settled, where are we today? I have been closely monitoring some of my active research areas on the Catalog. Here is a screenshot of one section of the former microfilms listed in the Catalog:

This set of South Kingston, Rhode Island, Town Council records 1704-1943 has been completely digitized, but the little key icons above the camera icons indicate that the digitized images are only available for viewing in a Family History Center. True, I don't have to order the microfilm, wait and then travel to the Family History Center to view the microfilm, but I do have to travel to the Family History Center to view the digital images. However, in looking at other entries, I find that most of what I need is now online and visible from my own computer. For example:

There are still some microfilm rolls that have yet to be digitized and are therefore only available in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, but that has also always been the case, especially with films that were restricted for one reason or another.

In summary, those films that have had the highest demand are now available. Those films that have not been in demand may still have been digitized. Some films are only viewable in Family History Centers and some are only viewable in Salt Lake City at the Family History Library. For most of us, this isn't much different than it has always been but now, we can access many more films online for free than was ever dreamed possible.

Friday, October 27, 2017

Royalty in the FamilySearch Family Tree

From time to time, I have written about the phenomenon of those who trace their ancestry "back to Adam." As I have also noted, these fanciful genealogies are abundantly represented in the Family Tree.  Here is a screenshot of the person page for one of the many copies of "Adam" in the Family Tree.

Here are the data problems.

Hmm. Looks like I have my work cut out for me in correcting these entries. Oh dear, they are Read Only. But I guess my question is why are they here at all?

As interesting as the multiple entries from Adam and Eve are to all of us, we have an even more pervasive problem: The Royal Lines in the Family Tree.

As the screenshot at the top of this post shows as an example, Isabella de Taillefer d'Angouleme Queen of England supposedly had 127 children with 14 husbands. Hmm. This makes Adam look like a minor problem in the Family Tree. Here is an example of Isabella's profligacy with one of her husbands:

Unfortunately, without scrolling, these screenshots do not do justice to the entries.

This is not an isolated instance of excess. There are actually people spending time on these entries and adding more information. Rather than embarrass some user, I would simply note that there were twelve changes made to this person, yesterday, the 26th of October, 2017 adding even more information.

The irony of this all is that I was contacted yesterday from a potential patron at the BYU Family History Library that wanted information about researching royal lines in Europe. What am I supposed to say to this person?

Here is the kind of entry we are up against. This example is from given as a record hint to Henry III, Plantagenet.

Hmm again. This entry seems to lead some credence to the whole issue. But here is what is in the Family Tree for poor dead Henry III.

He is apparently buried in two different places? By the way, according to the Family Tree, Henry III only had eight wives and 22 children. With all these children, no wonder why so many people are related to royalty. Now, don't get me wrong. I realize that kings and queens had children and that someone has to be related to them. But are you really going to claim you are a descendant of these messed up royal lines?

By the way, Henry III has only 58 possible duplicates that show in the Family Tree.

Which of these 58 duplicates is your ancestor? Further, the entry is "Read Only" and cannot be changed.

By the way, Henry III is buried in Westminster Abbey.

I really don't have any suggestions for a solution to this problem, but it would be a start to try to prune off all this mess and keep a closer watch on the royalty that does really exist. How about not allowing any entries before 1500 without review for a start?

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Brandon Stanton at #RootsTech 2018

The opening Keynote address on March 1, 2018, at the annual #RootsTech 2018 conference will be Brandon Stanton of Humans of New York.

Quoting from FamilySearch:
If you’ve never heard of Brandon Stanton, you’re in for a treat. This influential photojournalist has been collecting fascinating photos and stories of random New Yorkers for the past seven years and sharing what he’s captured with the world on his popular Humans of New York blog and in his best-selling books. Stanton has also been named as one of Time’s 30 Under 30 changing the world. Stanton’s captivating images highlight the fact that everyone has a story worth telling. Come see for yourself why his inspiring work has attracted millions of followers.Join us for Stanton’s exciting keynote address at RootsTech on Thursday, March 1, 2018.
Here is a short promotional sketch of Brandon Stanton:
Brandon Stanton studied at the University of Georgia and worked as a bond trader in Chicago before starting “Humans of New York”—a photography and storytelling blog—in the Summer of 2010. Over the course of seven years, HONY has built a devoted following of over 20 million fans on several social media platforms. He has appeared on Ellen, Good Morning America, Nightline, MSNBC, and CNN, and he has been featured in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Los Angeles Times, Huffington Post, Mashable, and dozens of other media venues. He has also been named a "person of the week" on the ABC Evening News with Diane Sawyer, and a Time Magazine “30 Under 30 Who Are Changing the World,” and has photographed President Obama in the Oval Office. He has taken his work to some of the world's most remote and troubled regions, and he has used the storytelling power of his site to raise money for several life-changing altruistic purposes. He is the author of two #1 New York Times bestsellers, Humans of New York (2013) and Humans of New York: Stories (2015) and the children’s book bestseller Little Humans (2014).

Light Keepers at #RootsTech 2018

Light Keepers is a new LDS workshop experience for all women of faith and particularly LDS women. Light Keepers: A Family History Experience for Women will take during #RootsTech 2018 on March 1, 2018. Here is the content of the announcement:

Attendees will be introduced to the basics of family history by passionate and energetic experts, and they’ll learn simple, fun ways to incorporate it into all aspects of their busy lives.  
The Light Keepers experience includes an all-day workshop, a free workbook, a catered lunch, a fantastic keynote session, prizes and giveaways, access to the expansive RootsTech Expo Hall, admission to the evening event and the after party—all for just $159.00! (If participants want to attend Light Keepers and RootsTech the cost is $279.00.) There are 250 seats available. Light Keepers Schedule:
General Session: 8:30 a.m. – Keynote: Brandon Stanton, Humans of New YorkWorkshop: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. - Includes catered lunchFree Time: 4:00–5:00 p.m. - Opportunity to tour the gigantic Expo HallOpening Event: 6:00 p.m. - “Celebrating the Greatest Generation”After Party: 7:00–10:00 p.m. - Mingle with family history experts and receive personalized help from experts in the room. The link to the event is
SPECIFIC registration link - above registration link is different than the traditional RootsTech link. Ambassadors Allison Kimball and Rhonna Farrer are the creators behind the workbook and are the featured presenters for the Light Keepers event. 
The workshop experience helps participates learn how to access the power of family history in their lives to fortify their lives and homes; all through stories. It's designed to help those who participate to see their family history in new and creative ways. This event is particularly helpful for those who have had the desire to do family history but just didn’t know where to start and what to do. 
The workshop is geared toward LDS women (temple work will be discussed). However, all women of faith are invited to participate.
The workshop focuses on four areas:
CONNECT … the Why
  • Spirit of Elijah
  • One by One
  • FamilySearch
  • The Ministry of Angels
  • My Family: Stories That Bring Us Together
  • Sacrifice and Blessings
  • Temple and Covenants
DISCOVER … the What
  • One Tree, My Tree
  • Partner Apps and Resources
  • Indexing: Not Forgotten
  • Research
  • Records
  • Oral Histories
  • On the Go: Micro Tasks
  • Photographs
  • The Power of Stories
  • Finding Stories in the Records
  • Journals
  • Histories and Biographies
  • Accepting the Invitation
  •  Family and Food Roots
GATHER … the How
  • Family Tree Gatherings
  • Gatherings: Online
  • Historical Connections
  • Simple Celebrations
  • Tangible Memories
  • The Sabbath Is a Delight
  • One Great Work
The workbook follows these areas and is filled with prompts and space for participants to write down their own personal thoughts as they begin their own journey with family history.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Church Service and Full-Time Senior Missionary Opportunities

It has been my privilege, for going on 14 years, to serve as a Church Service Missionary for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Presently, as I have mentioned in previous blog posts, my wife and I are called to serve as full-time missionaries in the Washington, D.C. North Mission as Record Preservation Specialists. During my time as Church Service Missionary, I have served in Mesa FamilySearch Library and, most recently, in the Brigham Young University Family History Library.

As I have grown older, I have seen many of my contemporaries retire from their jobs and professions. In many cases, these retirees have felt disoriented and lost without the daily discipline of a work environment. Some have extended families and soon learn that their children and grandchildren have their own busy lives. Others spend time with hobbies or take on part-time jobs to keep busy. In some cases, a planned retirement activity, such as extended travel, is not as important as once expected. For those who are members of the Church, it is important to seriously consider the service opportunities available both full and part-time as missionaries.

I know a number of dedicated people who have served as Church Service Missionaries in a variety of callings while living in their own homes and surrounded by family members, who have served far longer than I have. In talking with these people, I find that in every case they are enthusiastic about their callings and are grateful for the opportunities to serve.

In my case, I have had wonderful experiences and opportunities come to me and my wife as we have served in the area of family history. But the opportunities to serve both part-time and full-time are extensive and varied. Many of my friends have served several full-time missions in various full-time missions around the world. The opportunities are limited only by physical condition and willingness to serve.

A recent article in the Church News entitled, "8 Myths of Senior Missionary Service" talks about some of the common misconceptions about serving. I have noticed how, as a senior citizen, I am invisible to most people in our society. While serving as a missionary, I become a person again and can interact with people of all age levels. By the way, there is really no limit on the age of Church Service Missionaries. For more information about serving a mission see

Monday, October 23, 2017

Duplicate Storms on the FamilySearch Family Tree

The issue of duplicate records on the Family Tree is far from resolved. However, instead of being generally spread all over the data in the program, they are clustered together in family groups like thunderstorms moving across the countryside. When these duplicate record thunderstorms are in progress, I can spend hours merging the duplicates in one family.

How does this occur? Where do these storms of duplicates come from?

First of all, it is always the case that these duplicates are NOT found by using the default duplicate search available on the Family Tree program. These clusters of duplicates are focused on individual families that are apparently duplicate free. The storms appear unexpectedly when I begin adding in information obtained from records either provided by record hints or through research. Most of the time the initial duplicates appear as records that have already been attached to someone even though the records appear to apply to the person being researched. In every case, the duplicate cannot be seen by doing a duplicate search but only appears when the ID number is copied and the merge is done from the ID number. Finding one such duplicate usually sets off the storm and one merge immediate produces more records and even more duplicates. The only solution is to continue merging duplicates until they run out.

This entire process is often additionally frustrated by inaccurate Record Hints. I find these duplicate storms most commonly in English records that have been subjected to International Genealogical Index or IGI extraction. The situation with these records is also further complicated by extraneous family members who do not belong to the target family. Many times, accurate IGI records are mixed in with inaccurate ones. Sometimes these duplicates are obvious. Here is one obvious example:

The obvious duplicates are the two children with the same names, places, and dates. However, a search for a duplicate on Mary Ann Gwillium, KWJX-WRK does not show a duplicate:

 What will probably happen with this family is that I will merge the two obvious duplicates by using the ID number and then begin to do some basic research to see if there are any additional children etc. and I will begin to find a huge storm of duplicate entries for all of the family members that will take me many hours to unravel. The duplicate above is merely the first hint of rain in the coming storm of duplicates.

Here is a screenshot showing that the two entries really were duplicates.

This situation can go on for hours of research and merging.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Reflections on Genealogy Conferences
Conferences are a traditional way of promoting, socializing and instructing people in large and small groups. Gathering together for a variety of reasons seems to be a common human trait dating back into antiquity. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that one of the earliest recorded of such "conferences" was held by the patriarchs of old as related in Doctrine and Covenants, Section 107: 53-54:
53 Three years previous to the death of Adam, he called Seth, Enos, Cainan, Mahalaleel, Jared, Enoch, and Methuselah, who were all high priests, with the residue of his posterity who were righteous, into the valley of Adam-ondi-Ahman, and there bestowed upon them his last blessing. 
54 And the Lord appeared unto them, and they rose up and blessed Adam, and called him Michael, the prince, the archangel.
Fast forward to the present and we have "conferences" for all sorts of activities both religious and decidedly secular. The annual RootsTech Conference has its origins as follows:
RootsTech is a family history and technology conference and trade show held annually in the Salt Palace Convention Center, Salt Lake City, Utah. It is the successor to three former conferences: the Conference on Computerized Family History and Genealogy, the Family History Technology Workshop[1] and the FamilySearch Developers Conference.[2] Wikipedia: RootsTech
I attended the first RootsTech Conference held in Salt Lake City, Utah in 2011 as a blogger and continued to attend each of the annual conferences up to and including the one held this year in 2017. As circumstances mandate that I miss attending in person at RootsTech in 2018, I have been reflecting on the entire concept of holding trade shows and conferences.

Over the past few years, genealogy conferences have been impacted by technology. A few years ago, FamilySearch began promoting a series of much smaller, local conferences called Family Discovery Days. In essence, these smaller conferences which include media from the larger conferences and other media sources, are in "competition" with the larger conferences. Since these smaller conferences are held in venues, i.e. Ward and Stake Centers of the Church, they have very low overhead. Larger conferences, by their nature, need larger venues and that means a much greater expense. In most of these larger conferences, paid attendance is mandatory.

Is RootsTech a conference or a trade show or both? Trade shows sponsored by a market organization or large company are not going away. The largest such conference in the world is the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Nevada. As the news in Salt Lake City, Utah has shown recently, the fact that one of these larger trade shows move from one city to another has a major impact on the local economy. But both trade shows and conferences cannot plan on unlimited and continual growth in attendance. This is particularly true for a special interest conference based on genealogy. This is especially true when all of the major genealogy conferences are competing not only with local conferences but also a major growth in online webinars and video presentations.

It is still a great opportunity for any genealogist or even those with a passive interest to attend RootTech in Salt Lake City, Utah. But as shown by the cancellation of the UK's major conference, Who do you think you are, the fact that a show attracts crowds does not necessarily mean it will not feel the effects of technological changes.

Friday, October 20, 2017

The Family History Guide: Now an official public charity organization

I recently announced that The Family History Guide is now an official 501 (c) (3) corporation, i.e. a publicly approved U.S. Internal Revenue Service charitable organization. Quoting from Wikipedia: 501(c)(3) organization:
A 501(c)(3) organization is a corporation, trust, unincorporated association, or other type of organization that is exempt from federal income tax under section 501(c)(3) of Title 26 of the United States Code. It is the most common type of the 29 types of 501(c) nonprofit organizations in the United States. Many charitable non-profits in the United States that Americans commonly know of, and often make donations to, are 501(c)(3) organizations, ranging from charitable foundations to universities and churches. These organizations must be approved by the Internal Revenue Service to be tax-exempt under the terms of section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code
501(c)(3) tax-exemptions apply to entities that are organized and operated exclusively for religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational purposes, or for testing for public safety, or to foster national or international amateur sports competition, or for the prevention of cruelty to children, women, or animals. 501(c)(3) exemption applies also for any non-incorporated community chest, fund, cooperating association or foundation that is organized and operated exclusively for those purposes.[1][2] There are also supporting organizations—often referred to in shorthand form as "Friends of" organizations.[3][4][5][6][7] 
26 U.S.C. § 170, provides a deduction, for federal income tax purposes, for some donors who make charitable contributions to most types of 501(c)(3) organizations, among others. Regulations specify which such deductions must be verifiable to be allowed (e.g., receipts for donations over $250)
I left in all the links and footnotes in case you wanted to know more.

The practical reality is that organizations such as The Family History Guide rely on contributions to exist. A huge project like this one cannot survive on the efforts of a handful of devotees. Some such organizations rely on a few large grants from major contributors, but many subsist on the smaller contributions from individuals. The fundraising organization for the website is The Family History Guide Association which also owns and operates the website.

Contributing to The Family History Guide Association will help to preserve and expand this valuable website.

Please consider going to the website and becoming familiar with the program. We are reasonably sure that becoming aware of the program will quickly show you how valuable this website already is and what it can become with generous contributions.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

The 2017 Worldwide Indexing Event
The Worldwide Indexing Event starts tomorrow, October 20, 2017, and continues for three days over the weekend. 

You may take indexed records for granted. Whenever you search on or any other genealogy website, you are taking advantage of indexing done by someone else. Without that effort, you would be reduced to searching records in the "old way" page by page and line by line. By providing an index, you are helping yourself and others find valuable records about your own and their own ancestors. 

Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Google Photos to FamilySearch Memories Pathway Now Available

You can now move your online photos directly from Google Photos into the Memories section of The connections have also been expanded to allow the same additions from Instagram and Facebook.

All you have to do is to click on the the green plus sign from the Gallery View and the links to the three other websites is now available. If you are using Google Photos free, automatic backup systems to store your photos online, you will immediately see the advantage of being able to move photos from Google Photos directly into the Memories program. There is also an option to use the file names as titles.

In my case, I have all my hundreds of thousands of images backed up on Google Photos and this new development with expedite moving the appropriate images onto the Memories program and then linking them by tagging the individuals to my ancestors and relatives in the Family Tree. The advantage is that now, when I capture an image on my iPhone, that image is automatically backed up to Google Photos. Then is it a simple process to move that image onto the Memories where I can tag the images and attached them to my ancestors.

The Family History Guide Now A 501 (c) 3) non-profit charity

Note: this announcement also appears on my Genealogy's Star blog website.

The official FamilySearch training partner, The Family History Guide, has achieved IRS 501 (c) (3) status. This means that anyone donating money to support this fabulous, genealogical training and now, charitable resource, can get a corresponding deduction from their Federal income taxes.

By keeping the website free, the developers hope to fulfill their mission to get more people involved in family history by providing training and research guidance on a major scale with a free website. Up to this point, the website has been self-funded with all the support coming from the people who have developed and maintained the website so far.

The Family History Guide has been vetted by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and made available to over 5,000 Family History Centers throughout the world and on LDS.orgThe Family History Guide already has users in over 150 countries and most recently released training paths for, and, as well as maintaining its support for This week they are rolling out a national pilot project to recruit, train and utilize Regional Training Specialists to serve in specific geographic regions throughout the United States (initially). These individuals will extend the reach and facilitate quality training and presentations for the website.

The actual entity that supports the website is The Family History Guide Association
There are links on the Association's website to an explanation about how to donate.

Monday, October 16, 2017

Review Existing Sources in the Family Tree Before Making Changes

If you are concerned about changes to anyone in the Family Tree, then you need to "Watch" those individuals. There is also a section in the Settings menu under your name when you are registered that will allow FamilySearch to send you email notifications every week of any changes to any of the people you are watching.

 The notification can be quite extensive depending on the number of people you are watching.

 This particular screenshot is actually the shortest list I have received in months.

Now, the real issue here is the changes that are made that contradict the sources attached to the individual. In the case of David Nathan Thomas shown above, there is some dispute in the existing records as to the date of his birth. However, there is a christening record and a census record that both agree as to the place of his christening and birth. In this instance, the change that was made changed the birthplace without adding any additional sources to substantiate or contradict the existing sources.

I did correct the change.

In my experience, almost all of the changes made to the Family Tree that invoke some kind of dispute, are made without citing any supporting source for the change. For some time, there have been suggestions and discussion about requiring a source before making any changes. Of course, the requirement should not apply to changing back or reverting an improper change. The difficulty, of course, would be to distinguish between a correction and a change to existing data.

 On the website, where FamilySearch gathers comments about all of their programs, the section on changes to the Family Tree has over 6000 comments. The topic of requiring citations or an explanation at least has been discussed extensively for many years. From my own experience, this is the number one complaint about the Family Tree. Perhaps, it is about time to start addressing this issue in a meaningful way.

Sunday, October 15, 2017

The FamilySearch Family Tree SourceLinker

The Family Tree is rapidly becoming more reliable with the addition of millions of source citations from records provided by Record Hints. As with almost everything about the Family Tree, there is always some background grumbling and criticism. The main issue is that some users seem to think that anything they see from FamilySearch is somehow accurate and applicable when the Record Hints are clearly hints that need to be reviewed and evaluated for applicability to any particular family or individual.

We recently attended a local Family History Conference in Springville, Utah. Even though I was teaching one class, we took the opportunity to attend two classes presented by Robert Kehrer, Senior Product Manager for FamilySearch's Search Experience. His classes are always excellent and provide a lot of information about the operation of the website. Some of the new features highlighted involved the FamilySearch SourceLinker. This is the program that attaches the sources supplied by the Record Hints to the Family Tree.

When you click on the blue Record Hint icon, you get a summary of the suggested source. In this case, I clicked on a Record Hint for my Great Grandfather, Henry Martin Tanner. the hint is from the Utah, Missionary Department Missionary Registers, 1860-1937. After looking at the hint and making a preliminary decision that it applies to my ancestor, I can click on the "Review and Attach" blue button.

This is a screenshot of the SourceLinker page. The idea is to evaluate the information and, if appropriate, link the source to your ancestor. One new feature pointed out by Robert Kehrer is the ability to change the person of focus. This feature helps to add the source to multiple people who may be in the Family Tree but not directly related to the default focus person such as in-laws, cousins or others that may appear on the record. Here is a screenshot showing the link to the drop-down menu listing possible other people who could become the focus person.

Changing the focus person adjusts the relationships to allow the record to be added to additional people in the Family Tree that have not been automatically available in the past. This one added feature will save me a lot of extra time spent in adding the source to others in the Family Tree.

This is a good example of the benefits of holding and attending local, smaller family history events.