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

Friday, September 27, 2019

FamilySearch Index Correction Feature

Name editing for the Indexed records on is slowly being introduced. I had to click around for a while before I found an opportunity to edit a record. Here is the screenshot.

When I click on the "Edit" link, I get the following window.

I could "improve" the name by filling in the middle name, but that is not what is recorded in the Census Record. Here is a close up of the record itself.

I think the idea of having the chance to "correct" the errors probably benefits from putting in the full name even if the record does not show the name. The complete name then becomes an alternate search term. Part of the process is highlighting the name in the original record.

At first, I decided not to add in her full name because the original indexing was not wrong and it was not indexed incorrectly. I found the name easily without the correction. Of course, those who are indexing records do not know anything about the people on the records they are indexing except by chance. So adding in the full name is not really a correction if the original indexed name is recognizable and merely incomplete. However, the form is entitled, "Improve the Name" and adding in the middle name would certainly improve the name.

Here are some more complete instructions regarding the correction process.
After re-reading the blog post instructions, I decided in favor of giving Eliza her full name.

This is the important reason for this change from the blog post.
Keep in mind that your edits do not override the information already on FamilySearch. Instead, you add new information. The old indexed information remains. Now your change and the original information are both searchable. There could even be several edits to the same record, helping others to find their ancestors more easily. Please edit carefully, however, since multiple edits can also muddy the waters!

Wednesday, September 25, 2019

More Boats, Canals, and Bicycles - Amsterdam, the Netherlands

Almost all views of Amsterdam include boats, canals, and bicycles. The building on the right side of this image is a huge four or five-story parking garage for bicycles. The boats are tour boats. The entire scene is so complicated as to be almost abstract. It would be nice to have bright sunny days like you see in travel brochures but the reality of life along the ocean is that there are a lot more days of clouds than there are of sunshine. Amsterdam averages about 10 days a month of rain in August when this photo was taken.

Monday, September 23, 2019

The FamilySearch Family Sharing Feature

If you are an active genealogical researcher, you may be finding a significant number of people to add to the Family Tree. Some researchers boast of finding thousands of names. There are basically two types of people who have made large numbers of additions to the Family Tree: those who share their discoveries and those who hoard them.

For many years now, the website has allowed researchers to reserve names in a temple list. Hoarders have abused this opportunity to add more names to their list than could ever be done in their own lifetime or even the lifetime of their entire family. The people waiting for the ordinances to be done and are now on these hoarded lists are as securing locked up as they are in the Spirit Prison. Because of the hoarders, sometime in the future, the number of names that can be reserved will be limited.

During the past year or so, because of the hoarders, FamilySearch (and the Church) have imposed a time limit of two years on reserved names. The date the names will be removed from your reserved list appears on the list. If you perform an ordinance for a person, an additional year will be added to the time.

Notwithstanding the hoarders, for quite some time, there has also been a way to share names with the temples. So any excess names can be shared and go on the general list of names that can be used by the temples as needed. In addition, the relatively new Ordinances Ready function or app available on both the desktop and mobile versions of the Family Tree allows any potential temple patron, young or old, to obtain a name or names for ordinances from those names that have been shared with the temple.

Another feature that has been added to the Family Tree also retains the names you have shared with the temples on your Temple List. The names are marked in red and can be printed from the list as long as they have not been printed by the temples.

You can also still share names directly with family and friends. If you fail to share the names, then they will be shared for you on the date indicated. In talking to people about this process, I am already listening to people speculate and try to find ways to avoid "losing" the names from their temple lists instead of trying to find a way to go to the temple more frequently and do the ordinance work. I think we should view the fact that we have the opportunity to reserve some names as a privilege and just spend as much time as we can going to the temple to do the ordinances and not worrying about hoarding the names.

Thursday, September 19, 2019

The FamilySearch Family Tree Compare-a-Face

Compare-a-Face is an interesting app included in the Family History Activities.
Using this app, you can match up your own photo with that of any of your relatives that have photos in the FamilySearch Memories section. Unfortunately, there are no menu links to this Family History Activities section of the website. You can most easily find it by doing a Google search for FamilySearch activities. A link to the Activities page is also missing from the Site Map.

This collection of activities is derived from the apps used in the Family Discovery Centers located in Salt Lake City, Seattle, Lehi, Layton, Ogden, and St. George. Only two of these, Salt Lake at the Family History Library and Seattle are directly linked from the website. There may be more of these Discovery Centers and you are welcome to leave a comment and let us all know about additional Family Discovery Centers.

The Compare-a-face is interesting but if you have few or no photos in the Memories section of the website, your choices for comparison will be limited.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Are you a FamilySearch Family Tree Victim?

Victim mentality is a reasonably common mental condition in the United States. According to the article entitled, "6 Signs of ‘Victim’ Mentality." I seem to come back to this issue frequently as I work with people who are disturbed over the "changes" to the Family Tree. The WebMD article list six "signs." You might recognize some of these as common reactions to changes made to the Family Tree. Here are the six:
1. You feel powerless, unable to solve a problem or cope effectively with it.
2. You tend to see your problems as catastrophes.
3. You tend to think others are purposefully trying to hurt you.
4. You believe you alone are targeted for mistreatment.
5. You hold tightly to thoughts and feelings related to being a victim.  You also refuse to consider other perspectives for how to think about and for how to cope with your problems.
6. As a victim, you feel compelled to keep painful memories alive, not forgive, and take revenge.
Unfortunately, I have seen every one of these attitudes, tendencies or mind-sets exhibited by those who are upset with the Family Tree. Basically, most of us have not been conditioned to endure the unpredictable. Superficially, genealogy is a highly stable and predictable pursuit. But that appearance is an illusion gendered by the solitary nature of genealogical research. The negative reaction to a program such as the Family Tree comes from its unpredictability. Those who become upset do not see how an open collaborative program can produce ultimate stability.

I was motivated to reopen this issue by reason of an experience with a genealogist who was extremely upset because in a class I advocated the position that you do not own your genealogical data no matter how much time and effort you have put into your research. Ultimately, the problem is an issue of control. Some genealogists, and especially the one I talked to, claim ownership of their research and the idea that someone, especially someone uneducated, could copy and even modify their work and records is viewed as a personal affront and even a threat.

This issue is complicated by copyright laws and the actually very narrow concept of "work product." In the United States, copyright law is essentially a quagmire of statutes and rulings in court cases. When there are disagreements about what is and what is not subject to copyright claims unless the conflict can be resolved by settlement negotiations, the only recourse is to the Federal Court system.

Although the term "work product" is used by many people to support a claim of ownership to their historical and genealogical research, generally the law in the United States only recognizes "work product" as only protecting materials prepared in anticipation of litigation from discovery by opposing counsel. If you were to make a table or a chair (all physical, personal property in the US is encompassed by the term "chattel) by your own hands, the law would recognize your claim to the chattel's ownership in the way we can own all kinds of personal property. But historical records and documents are not chattel and in a general sense, no one can "own" the information contained in such documents and records.

The fact that you spent countless hours in a library or archive researching information about your family history does not convey any right of ownership to the information you obtained. This does not mean that you cannot write about the information and claim copyright protection to your book or article or whatever but it does mean that if someone comes along an uses the information you have found for their own purposes, you have no basis for claiming ownership and maintaining a cause of action as long as they do not copy those portions of your work that are copyright protected. 

As you can probably guess, unless the parties come to an agreement, this is why copyright claims end up in the US Federal Court System. 

Now, absent copyright claims, the fact that a cooperative, collaborative, and open venue such as the Family Tree exists seems to be the main issue with those who feel victimized. As for me, I can swim in the stream without a need to own the water. 

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Apps and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has 14 listed mobile apps but there are others that are embedded in other applications such as the app for reserving names for the temples called Ordinances Ready. These smaller more focused applications are designed to be used primarily by mobile devices. The reason for the proliferation of mobile apps is based on the number of people who access the internet solely through smartphones (i.e. mobile devices that can contact the internet). A recent study done by the Pew Research Center entitled, "Smartphone Ownership Is Growing Rapidly Around the World, but Not Always Equally," makes the finding:
Mobile technology has spread rapidly around the globe. Today, it is estimated that more than 5 billion people have mobile devices, and over half of these connections are smartphones. 
South Korea is the country with the highest percentage of people with smartphones at 95% of the population. The other 5% have regular mobile phones. I think they must give each baby born a smartphone. Israel is next with 88% of the population with smartphones followed by the Netherlands with 87%. The United States is down on the list with 81%. During a recent trip to the Netherlands, we found that even street vendors took payment from credit cards using mobile credit card transaction devices.

I live in Provo, Utah, a smaller town with a population of just over 117,000 people. Despite the statistics and despite the availability of Church-sponsored apps, very few of the members around me are aware of more than one or two of the apps. Possession and use of a smartphone do not automatically make you aware of the possible uses of the device.

It is inevitable that the expansion of the Church into countries that rely heavily on smartphones for any contact to the internet will mandate the increased emphasis on conducting the affairs of the Church using mobile devices. We are presently living in a transition period. The real impact of the online world is just now beginning to impact the entire earth. Just a few years ago, it would have seemed impossible that any technology could allow anyone to talk directly to two-thirds of the world's population but that is presently possible.

Perhaps you would like to know what each of the Church's apps can do for you.

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Still Waiting for those Golden Years: Travel is an interesting challenge

This summer we took our first trips to the European continent. We first visited Spain for two weeks and then spent almost a month touring other European countries such as the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Switzerland, Liechtenstein, and Germany. According to the travel brochures promoting tours, travel is supposed to "leave marks on your memory, on your consciousness, on your heart, and on your body." (See Bourdain, Anthony. 2011. No reservations: around the world on an empty stomach. New York: Bloomsbury.) Well, I can agree with the part about leaving marks on your body. Travel is hard work.

I have yet to buy into the "selfie community." I don't take photos of myself at every event of my life. In fact, I seldom post anything online about my life or personal experiences. The few times that I have, I have learned to regret my decision. This statement might seem somewhat strange from a person who has a huge internet presence on all types of social media, but writing and writing about myself are two different things. Even with this said, you can certainly figure out where I have been by looking at all my photos on

One thing I have seen while traveling in Europe and elsewhere is that travel today is certainly about the older population and cruises and tours are certainly not lacking for participants. The United States may see a lot of travel, but the residents of the Far East are certainly well represented. This is even more interesting when you realize the costs involved in traveling around the world.

Is travel educational? Well, when we choose to do so, we travel with the general population of the countries we visit. We use public transportation when available and I don't recall ever purchasing a first-class ticket. During my life, I have spent many more days camping with a tent than I have staying in four-star hotels or even three-star hotels. In fact, I have probably spent more time camping on the ground without a tent than I have spent in any kind of star hotel. You get a different perspective of large cities when you ride the subways, light rail, and bus systems and you also get a feel for what it takes to live in a large city where buying food and making enough money to buy it is a major challenge.

I happen to have spent most of my life in an area that is promoted as a tourist destination. I always felt, and still do to some extent, that if people were paying to visit where I lived, then why should I pay to go somewhere else? As a result, I have spent almost all my vacation and travel time in Utah and Arizona. What did I think of Europe? Well, the trip is helping me to see that the United States is falling way behind in supporting our transportation and communication infrastructure. We have nothing to compare with the long-distance trains in Europe or the major cities' public transportation systems. Although that said, the subways in Paris are about the same as those in our nation's capital, Washington, D.C.

Would I consider going on another tour? Well, yes. The tour experience was actually quite good. You give up some flexibility and may not stay at some attractions as long as you wish but you would never see everything in a tour itinerary if left up to your own devices.

What did I see in Europe that impressed me the most? I would have to say that one of the most remarkable things I saw was the number of bicycles in Amsterdam, the Netherlands. Next, I was very impressed by Switzerland as a whole and since I love mountains, it was a treat to see the Alps. But I am always glad to get back home and get back to work. 

FamilySearch Research Wiki Publishes its 90,000th article
The FamilySearch Research Wiki has reached a new milestone, over 90,000 pages of useful genealogical information. As the website states, the Research Wiki is "A free, online genealogy and family history guide that lists websites, provides research strategies, and suggests records and resources to help you find ancestors from all over the world." Early on in its development, before my life became overly complicated, I spent a great deal of time adding content to the Research Wiki. Even though I now contribute to The Family History Guide, I still recommend the Research Wiki as a valuable research tool. In fact, The Family History Guide assists the work of the Research Wiki by organizing and then linking to Research Wiki articles that apply to learning about the process of doing genealogical research.

New Search Engine for's Digital Books Collection
The Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and have been digitizing books from the Family History Library and other libraries around the United States for a number of years. This year, FamilySearch introduced a new interface for searching the books on the website.

The new system appears to follow the Google-type minimalist search field. I tried the search and entered part of the title of a book I was looking for. I entered, "Little Colorado River." The search results found the book in the number two position.

The blog post cited above, "A Better System for Searching Books—Troy Mohrman at RootsTech 2019," explains the following:
“What is LIMB Gallery?” Troy Mohrman, who works for LIMB Gallery, asked this question during his presentation “Digital Asset Management: There Is a Difference,” which he gave on Access and Preservation Day at RootsTech 2019. 
Mohrman explained that LIMB Gallery is the new system FamilySearch uses to display books. LIMB Gallery was created by i2S Innovative Imaging Solutions, the same company that produces book scanners used by FamilySearch and others. 
LIMB software can be used at each stage of scanning, processing, and publishing books online. “You are an institution that has spent a lot of time digitizing books; now how do you present them to your users?” he asked.
 The new system improves and updates the book searching capabilities of the Books project. Here is another quote from the blog post.
The new FamilySearch book system offers a complete text search. The system allows seeing text matches in context and moving easily from one text match to the next one. 
As an example, Mohrman searched for the name Vonderfecht with the previous FamilySearch book interface. The old system found 5 results. Two weeks before RootsTech, the system changed to LIMB Gallery. Mohrman searched for the name Vonderfecht with the new system, and it returned 28 results, even though both systems were searching the same set of books. 
To use the new system, go to, select Search in the toolbar at the top of the page, and then select Books in the drop-down menu.

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

The Family History Guide at MyHeritage LIVE 2019 in Amsterdam and Live Streaming
We have been traveling around Europe for the past few weeks and now it is time for us to attend the MyHeritage LIVE Conference in Amsterdam from September 6th through the 8th, 2019. We will also have a display table in the Exhibit area of the conference for The Family History Guide. This is appropriate because The Family History Guide is just finishing adding support for the MyHeritage Mobile App
The MyHeritage Live Conference will be streamed online. Here are some of the details.
We are just a couple of days away from an exciting weekend in Amsterdam, and we are thrilled to announce that we will live stream the genealogy and DNA lecture tracks online throughout the conference! 
The live stream will be available on the MyHeritage LIVE website and on the MyHeritage Facebook page, so please tune in from 9:00 a.m. Amsterdam time on September 7th. If you need help calculating the time difference to your local time zone, you can use  
Make sure to visit the conference website to see the full schedule.

Hope to see you at the conference or you can see me online.