Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Search for Family Reunions in old Newspapers

I received the following email from Tom Kemp:

Family Reunions

August has been a great month for family reunions. I have been going through old newspapers and by combining a search on a surname and adding the words: family reunion I have been gathering plenty of articles on various family reunions from all parts of the country.

Here are three examples - I put the digital copies of these articles for everyone to see at:

Griffith Family Reunion - State (Columbia, SC) -- 23 Aug 1914
Marsh Family Reunion Dallas (TX) Morning News -- 24 Aug 1931
Stewart Family Reunion Tacoma (WA) Daily News -- 10 Aug 1894

I found over 46,000 articles using the terms family reunion in - and while I am sure that some of those articles aren't about genealogy gatherings - plenty of them are. There are also school class reunions - military unit reunions - reunions of all types. These are very interesting articles - many of them packed with genealogy data. You may see all of the articles on (a subscription site) - it can be searched for FREE so that you can try it out for your family - you'll get back a snippet with a few lines of the actual article so that you may see if it is the family you are looking for before you subscribe.

These articles are terrific examples - giving the names of the various relatives and often their ages and where they lived then and where they were born - info on the pioneer ancestor etc.

I am amazed at what is online now. So - if you're not holding a family reunion this week - you will have plenty of time to search these 46,000 articles :)

See these 3 sample articles at:

What a great day for genealogy.

Tom - Filling in the Family Tree

Here's an article that just came out:

Using personal announcement columns from old newspapers for genealogy research helps provide clues that may otherwise not exist.

Beaumont, TX (PRWEB) August 29, 2007 -- Genealogists and family tree enthusiasts have a new online tool to fill in the ancestral "gaps" that plague them. Many old small town newspapers have carried announcement columns that gave the day-to-day comings and goings of local citizens. seeks to transcribe as many of these old columns as can be found and post them to the web. These transcriptions are searchable and are arranged by state. Quite a few transcriptions have been placed online to date.

Bob Lunt, owner and webmaster of the site, comments, "Many researchers tend to focus on census records, vital records, and passenger lists. These personal columns add a little colorful touch to their family tree record. They tell when an ancestor either left town or came to town, as well as why. Or if they were celebrating an event, it would be announced to the whole town in these columns."

Lunt stated, "In addition to this, it gives the researcher certain clues that they would possibly not have otherwise. If a researcher doesn't have a death certificate, cemetery record, or other proof of an ancestor's death, a personal announcement will show that this individual was at this location on this date...alive. They can then conclude that they died at some point afterward." has new transcriptions being added daily. Lunt exhibited stacks and stacks of columns and folders of raw transcriptions on his desk.

"I add about ten transcriptions per day ... many times more than that!" Lunt reported. "I plan to add anniversary celebrations and family reunion reports." gives a different but necessary facet to the art of family tree research. A regular visit to the site may be beneficial to a family history with only names and dates. - new research site

Census Mortality Schedules Research Tool Released released a new research tool this week for researching census mortality schedules which have been transcribed and posted across the web. is a directory of these schedules which provides a search function to find surnames for genealogy research.

Port Neches, TX (PRWEB) July 21, 2007 -- announced the release of a new online research tool this week. This tool,, indexes and links to online transcriptions of the Federal Census Mortality Schedules which were taken during census years 1850, 1860, 1870, and 1880. These schedules list deaths which occurred in the enumeration district for the previous year.

A valuable resource for genealogy studies, mortality schedules contain information that, in many cases, give the only record of an ancestor's death. The census enumerators were instructed to give great care and obtain accurate information, especially for these mortality schedules.

Bill Cribbs, the owner and webmaster for both and, spent many days combing cyberspace, to find transcriptions of these records. Most of these online transcriptions were made by individuals who volunteer their time and effort freely. A
volunteer will normally transcribe an individual county or, in most cases, one census year for that county. Thousands of transcriptions are located on a multitude of servers across the web.

"I compiled a directory of every schedule that I could locate. There are still more to be found and they are being added to as they are discovered," stated Cribbs.

The site is free to use and is made possible by the promotion of and links to

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Mark Your Calendars! - UVPAFUG


The next regular, second-Saturday-of-the-month meeting of the Utah Valley PAF (Personal Ancestral File) Users Group will be on Saturday, 8 Sep 2007, from 9 am until noon in the LDS "Red" Chapel at 4000 North Timpview Drive (650 East), in Provo. The main presentation will be by Thomas Jay Kemp on GENEALOGYBANK - UNIQUE CONTENT FOR DOCUMENTING YOUR FAMILY TREE.

The website Tom will be discussing is at and has historical newspapers, books, and documents, plus modern obituaries and the Social Security Death Index, the only site that updates the SSDI weekly. The information is completely word-searchable so you might find your ancestor's name in obscure historic newspapers and books. Anyone can see the index and snippets of the references and you can subscribe for a nominal rate and then download any of the articles in pdf format.

Tom Kemp is the Director of Genealogy Products at NewsBank which includes GenealogyBank. A well-known librarian and genealogist for more than 30 years, he is the author of more than two-dozen books. His numerous articles regularly appear in state and national library, archival and genealogical journals. He has served on many national and regional library genealogy boards and is currently on the Board of Directors of the Utah Genealogical Association. His most recent books include: Virtual Roots 2.0: A Guide to Genealogy and Local History on the World Wide Web and The 1930 Census: A Reference and Research Guide. Tom and his family live in New England, but he will be in Utah Valley this weekend helping one of his children get settled into BYU.

Following the main presentation there will be several classes taught concerning technology and family history. As usual, there will be something for everyone at all levels of expertise. Following are the classes currently scheduled for this meeting.

1. PAF 5 Basics, by Ralph Hansen
2. Documenting Sources in PAF 5, by Duane Dudley
3. Cleaning Up Your PAF Database, by Laurie Castillo
4. GenealogyBank Q&A, by Tom Kemp
5. Individual Mentoring (in the FHC), by LaRita Evans and Vivian Brown
6. Video of a Past Main Presentation (Your choice)
7. Legacy, by Joel Graham
8. RootsMagic 3, by Bruce Buzbee
9. Ancestral Quest 12, by Gaylon Findlay.

All meetings of the Users Group are open to the public whether members of the Group or not. The Users Group has the goal of helping individuals use technology to further their family history and there are usually 100-125 attending the monthly meetings on the second Saturdays. Several of the officers, including Gerhard Ruf, President; Brian Cooper, 2nd VP; Lynne Shumway, PAFology Editor; Kay Baker, Membership Chairman; and Bruce Merrill, DVD & Video Librarian, will be there to help with membership, questions, distribute the current issue of the monthly newsletter PAFology, and to check out videos and DVD's of past presentations and classes to members of the group. Information about the Users Group, main presentations, classes, and class notes are available on the Group's web site . For further information see the web site or contact President Gerhard Ruf at (801-225-6106), VP1 Elder Don Snow at, or VP2 Brian Cooper at

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Notes from FGS Conference on FSI

I found this email on several mailing lists I belong to:

We had two gentlemen in a meeting tonight that were on their way home from the FGS conference in Fort Wayne. They talked about the FamilySearch Indexing project, and how & where it is going (fantastic). So I thought I would update everybody on the latest while my notes are still fresh.

About a month ago, there were 50,000 of us indexers. Then an article hit in the Ensign magazine and within the next three weeks, 20,000 new indexers signed on. The US census for 1900 is over half done.

Interestingly, as the arbitrators compare extraction batches, they're finding that we indexers are working at about 99.7% accuracy. That's phenomenal. Doesn't mean the records are going to be perfect because we as humans are not perfect, and the guys and gals that wrote the original records made some errors too, (and I got one page that the mouse had eaten 1/2 of it for breakfast), but it's exciting to see what's happening.

They are expanding the efforts for indexing and record gathering going on in Europe, and there are several political entities that are saying, "come get our records--we want them indexed and available for people." Generally, natives in the original countries are doing those records. (I've been hearing rumors that the Czech republic is one of those countries...but have not seen anything "official on that".)

Negotiations are also going on with some major Church groups in the US to get their records scanned and available on line as well.

Coming soon for indexing:
1850 US census
1871 Canadian census
1930 Mexican census (already available on line, but not indexed yet, has to be searched line by line, by locality)
Irish Civil Registration (56,000,000 names)
Expanded US vital records
Expanded international projects

Some of the things that are "done" but going through the checking/arbitration process:
GA death records
UT death records
TX death records
OH death records
Ontario death records
US 1900 census more than 50% complete (they expect Nebraska to be up within the next few weeks...they said they're saving the best for last? And Iowa is up just recently, obviously also one of the better states.)

Allen County Library and the BYU library are scanning their out of copyrighted books and they will be going on line. This includes family histories from BYU, county and local histories from Allen Co. We will be able to download entire books.

Sunday evening is a little hard to download a project, but they're working on fixing that. Other times are going well. Lots of teenagers, and young parents are working on it, although the majority of indexers are retirees (just over half.)

So--folks, if you haven't signed on to do indexing, please go to and sign on. You only have to do 1 page/project (may be as many as fifty names) a week, and you can do it in increments if that's what works for you. Some of us do more than one page a week when our time permits, and that's great too.

If you have more questions, feel free to ask. I have done indexing since May, and know some of the answers--though not all of them. Most folks who have done it will say that it isn't hard, and you pretty much pick your own time to do it. (You can download a project from one of their priorities, or pick your own from those posted--just depends on which button you push.)

It's exciting to see what's happening and what's coming. And whether you index a page a week, or several pages a day, it will help make more records available and in the end, we will all find more ancestors. NO, you do not to be a Mormon to participate in this project. The records that are being done cover all nationalities and religions, so come help.


Adventures in FamilySearch Indexing - Week 5

It's Sunday and I didn't make it to church today. All last week I attended BYU Education Week and now I am exhausted. I have slept all day and since getting up I have now completed a batch of FamilySearch Indexing. I had a beautiful page of the South Carolina 1900 U. S. Federal Census. Everything was clear except for the scribbles made on the head of households given name. Why do they do that? I know it's part of the statistics they are gathering afterwards. They must of figured nobody was going to look at it once they gathered that information. Very frustrating to look at years later.

I didn't time myself because I had previously decided not to, but I can say it went very fast. I really could of done more than one batch but I vowed to start my Family History Consultant Training Courses on the Church's Internet Learning System (Net Dimensions). I wanted to start last Sunday but I didn't have time to. These are the two habits I am trying to develop for my Sunday afternoon activities.

Right now my grand total of indexed names in 5 weeks is 300 individuals. I know many have done tons more than me but I am contributing and making my dent into the names to index. According to FHC Support at the FGS conference in Fort Wayne on the 14th Aug 1.2 million names were indexed by 70,000 indexers. Now those figures are just on that day not for the over-all project. That means each person did an average of 17 names each. Can you see how important each individual is to this indexing project. Having said that I sure would love to see the figures on the most people have indexed individually.

Here are a few comments sent to me by readers this past week:


I am a 69 year old male with a lot of time and a new interest in indexing. I had a hard page to read so I used the laptop and went on line to I am a member and tried to find the same people on the 1910 census and was successful so I could read a lot of the names. It goes against the grain to call a male with a male name and a wife a female but I'm told to enter it the way I see it. Anyway it is fun and quiet. Thanks

Bill Thomas



I enjoy reading your blog. I don't know how it would set with the powers to be, but I have been known to check what the index reads at Ancestry AFTER I have decided what I want to put down for an especially hard to read entry. I don't want to let their index lead me in some direction but a couple of times after looking at their index I could see exactly what was probably the right interpretation.

Actually doing this has taught me how terrible the index Ancestry has really is. I had already come to that conclusion after having so much trouble finding people on the 1900 census. Doing this indexing has really opened my eyes to how totally bad their index really is.

Isn't this a wonderful activity? I really feel the spirit of the work doing this. The beauty of it is that it can be fit to our individual schedules. I just love that.Have a great day. Keep up the good blog.

Bob Givens


It appears the theme this week was taking a look at the census records on Ancestry to compare those difficult to read records we are indexing. Personally I don't see any problem with that. I don't have an Ancestry subscription but I do have access to Heritage Quest from home. It has been a common trick amongst genealogists to view difficult to read census records online at either of these websites. The quality of the films are different. What might be unreadable on one site could be clear on another. Even the actually microfilms of the censuses should be consulted at times. I wouldn't suggest doing that with this indexing project but it is an option for your own personal use.

Another thing to keep in mind with censuses is that there are different copies of the original censuses. There wasn't xerox machines back then so the county/state had to re-write the census pages to send a copy to the federal government. The transcriber could of skipped the line your ancestor was on and that is why you don't see them in the census.

One of the benefits of FamilySearch Indexing is that it's exposing indexers that have never done genealogy research before to what records are available for them search. I bet it won't be so scary for them to start doing their genealogy afterwards.

If you have a FamilySearch Indexing experience you would like to share email me at:

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Saturday, August 25, 2007 Offers Free Download

From: Tom Kemp (

Unusual Sources - Finding Civilian Employee Death overseas - War Dept.

I am always looking for people - in every possible resource.

I found these obituaries and death records of American civilian employees of the Bureau of Education of the War Department in the Philippines. They all died in 1902 or 1903 and are recorded in the 1904 annual report of the "War Department" You can find it in the US Serial Set - check with your college or larger public library to see if they have it in the US Government Documents collection.

I found these on and put digital copies of these pages on the web for everyone to see at:

I think that it is a good example of the unusual places that we can find genealogical information.

It would be difficult to find a record of their death in the Philippines, giving this much additional information, anywhere else.

Here is a list of the people named in this report.

Allen, Joseph E. died 29 April 1903
Baugh, Josephine, Mrs. died 22 Aug 1903
Cooper, Price W. died 7 April 1903
Gilliam, Walter died 7 July 1903
Kirkpatrick, Joshua Bartlett died 14 Nov 1902
Lutz, Marian, Mrs. died 24 July 1903
Matthews, Walter Roy died 19 Feb 1903
Montgomery, D.C. died 31 Oct 1902
O'Donnell, John J., Jr. died 15 Aug 1903
Osbon, Orman K. died 24 Jan 1903
Ross, Mae I., Mrs. died 3 Jan 1903
Skiff, Vernon E. died 2 Feb 1903
Walker, Robert P. died 3 July 1903

The details of their life, government service, cause of death and next of kin are given in the annual report. Even the description of the obscure grave markings and locations are given. Invaluable for genealogists.

I have put the digital copies of these obits at:

One down, 200 Million resources to search.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

News You Just Have to Read!

I'm just so excited about this new development in the FamilySearch Record Access Program that I am at a loss for words. (Believe me that doesn't happen very often.) Below you will find my email correspondence with Paul Nauta, Manager of Public Affairs over the LDS Church Family & Church History Department. So this is no rumor, straight from the horses mouth, and verified.

To: Paul Nauta

I do have a question on something Dick Eastman mentioned on his blog concerning this subject.

"...all records published under this project must be made available at no charge to patrons at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and to patrons at local FamilySearch Family History Centers around the world. The information also must be available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at no charge."

Are you able to discuss how the church members will have access? This sounded to me like "special access". I'm hoping here that we can access it from our homes and not necessarily at a FHC. Well, I can dream can't I.

Really appreciate anything you can tell me. Thanks again.

Renee Zamora

To: Renee Zamora

There are levels of access that FamilySearch will seek in all project negotiations. In all situations, the indices resulting from cooperative initiatives must be freely available online for patron use (at least through FamilySearch, but possibly through the record custodian or service provider's site also). Following are the levels of access we are seeking under the FamilySearch Records Access program, in priority order, respective to digital images linked to the indices created with commercial entities:
  1. Free access to digital images for Latter-day Saints from home (this would require authenticated log in).
  2. Free access to FamilySearch members (This option requires further exploration, but the concept is that individuals can earn the "right" to view digital images at affiliate/service provider sites by offering a required amount of "sweat equity". For example, X number of names indexed as a volunteer in a 30 day period through FamilySearch Indexing in return for X days of access to the pay-per-view images from the convenience of their homes)
  3. Free access to all through family history centers and the Family History Library
The desire to have images freely available to Latter-day Saints from their home on all contracted projects may not be feasible where commercial service providers are involved--these entities need some vehicle to receive a financial return on their investments in indexing the contracted projects. In these cases, there will be a pay-per-view option for individuals to see digital images at commercial sites from the convenience of their homes, but the access must at least be free through family history centers and the Family History Library. Projects where FamilySearch volunteers do the indexing will undoubtedly have free access to both the indices and the linked images as well.

Does that help clarify the fog a little?

Paul Nauta
Manager of Public Affairs
Family & Church History Department
FamilySearch (TM)

GenCircles Makes Major Announcement

Dear GenCircles User,

We have a very exciting announcement to share with you! Pearl Street Software, maker of GenCircles and Family Tree Legends, has merged with In the first of many positive developments that will come from this merger, Family Tree Legends and GenCircles are now 100% free!

Why did you merge with
So we can grow! The development team from Pearl Street Software has joined the much larger MyHeritage team so we can bring you amazing new tools to aid your search. MyHeritage brings vast resources that will enable technologies like Smart Matching to greatly improve, to the benefit of everyone!

What will happen to GenCircles and Family Tree Legends?
GenCircles, the Family Tree Legends software program, and the Family Tree Legends Records Collection are now free. That's right - in one announcement, we have made the highest-rated genealogy software program, the massively popular GenCircles site, and over 400 million records in the Family Tree Legends Records Collection completely free! This is a significant day for genealogists everywhere!

What about support?
With the backing of MyHeritage, we can now offer much improved support.
For email support on our various services, please email for FTL or for GenCircles.

What else can we look forward to?
  • MyHeritage has made significant improvements to our Smart Matching technology in the past 6 months and these improvements are being released now for the first time.
  • MyHeritage's Family Tree Builder 2.0 has just been released and contains many of the technologies found in Family Tree Legends. Family Tree Builder has support for real-time Smart Matching and is available in 17 languages. You can automatically import your FTL file into Family Tree Builder if you choose to. You can use both programs completely for free - we urge you to see which one is right for you!
  • MyHeritage has launched an initiative to map and connect all of the world's family trees using Smart Matching technology, and is well on their way with more than 100,000 trees!

Can we trust MyHeritage as a good steward for our data?
One of the reasons we chose to merge with was their absolute respect for users' data. GenCircles built its reputation on respecting its users and their data - we are proud to say that shares this respect with us!

This is an exciting day in our company's history and we couldn't have done it without the help of our amazing users! The joined teams of MyHeritage and Pearl Street Software are committed more than ever to providing the best genealogy products and services, and keeping them free!

Best Regards,
Cliff Shaw
President & CEO
Pearl Street Software

I'm pretty excited about this merger. I have used GenCircles for quite a while and it is an excellent site. I was just playing last weekend on MyHeritage with my daughter. We had a great time with their face recognition feature. I have never used Family Tree Legends genealogy software but I have used Family Tree Legends Records Collection. They have some
birth, death, marriage, military, land, court and probate, biography & history, geography & reference databases. I'm excited that they plan on growing, maybe they will finally get my New York vital records for me!

If you haven't visited these sites it's time to check them out.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

New FamilySearch Video - Download

I just received the following email informing us that the New FamilySearch video is now downloadable.

Dear Renee,

On August 7 you reported on a New FamilySearch video by John Willis. I asked him for permission to use it in my Family History class during Sunday School next month. Not only did he give his permission, but added the option of downloading it so that it can be used without the internet, which we do not have in our chapel. I have downloaded it and copied to a CD. It works great. Thought that you might want to let your readers know about it.

Charles E. Burgoyne

Thanks so much Charles and John for your efforts, this will be very helpful to many of us! The video and download is available on John's site Mastering Family History.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

New Test Version of PAF Insight

News from Ohana Software:

There is a new test version of PAF Insight that can be downloaded from our downloads page. Click here.

Any licensed user of PAF Insight can download this version. We would appreciate any feed back you can give us.

BETA Version 2007.8.15

... Fixes a problem with the renewal entry window.
... Fixes an issue with the way Vista stores the license key.
... Fixes a problem with automatic updates on some computers.

... Adds the Spanish translation
... Adds a warning on installation or updating if PAF or a previous copy of PAF Insight is open and needs to be closed.

Please send any feed back to and mention that you are using the Beta version in the email.


FamilySearch News - Clarification

I was excited to receive the following email with some clarifications on my article yesterday, FamilySearch News. Thanks Paul for making the light a little brighter for us.

Hi Renee. You did a fine job trying to summarize the news blitzes from FamilySearch for this past week. I just wanted to clarify two points for you and your readers:
  1. FamilySearch Records Access Genesis Project. The FamilySearch Records Access program is part of the FamilySearch suite of services focused on extending its digital preservation, publishing, indexing, and access services to record custodians large and small. The Genesis Project is merely the name for the first request for information (RFI) of its kind for FamilySearch. It implies that there is more to follow. This initial RFI, as you have noted, invites service providers to get in on the indexing action and digital image access of select sample data projects. It also invites and encourages record custodians to open up exploratory dialogue with FamilySearch respective to their records preservation, publishing, indexing, and access needs.

  2. FamilySearch Scanstone Project. "Scanstone" was a temporary name only for the digital imaging technology developed by FamilySearch. The idea was to convert microfilm cameras to special digital cameras with proprietary software and utilities, and to convert existing microfilm to a digital format that could be readily posted on the Internet for public use and indexing. Now that the technology has been developed and launched, it is referred to officially as FamilySearch Scanning. It is just one arrow in the quiver of services offered by the FamilySearch Records Access program.
Let me know if I have only served to further confuse you. :o)

Paul Nauta
Manager of Public Affairs
Family & Church History Department
FamilySearch (TM)

Monday, August 20, 2007

FamilySearch News has a couple of new press releases on their website and we are starting to see a bigger picture to their plans.

The first article Genesis Project Begins tells of how FamilySearch is initiating digital publishing proposals to records custodians worldwide. FamilySearch is distributing to them a Request for Information (RFI) with a list of data sets they plan on publishing online over the next 24 months. The dataset (records) targeted include censuses, civil registrations, and church, land, and military records. The dataset is only a sample of the projects FamilySearch intends to publish. The RFI seeks responses from both records custodians and service providers who are interested in publishing the datasets listed in the RFI. The published records will become part of the Records Access Program.

We have already seen some of the end results of Records Access Program with the partnerships FamilySearch has made with Heritage Quest, World Vital Records, Godfrey Memorial Library, FamilyLink, KindredKonnections and Footnote. Family History Center patrons can access some of these databases on the Family History Center Services - Online Portal. Not all FHCs are live with this program yet but more and more are coming online everyday. Currently 100 FHC have access and they estimate that this week there will be a total of 500 FHC with portal access. It is anticipated that in the next two weeks 4,500 FHC will gain portal access.

Things are moving at lighting speed. In fact it's really hard for me to keep up with just making the announcements! The record custodians worldwide have only until Sept 15th to decide if they have records they want to include in the Genesis Project.

The Genesis Project is the name for FamilySearch's record scanning for those they have partnered with. This is similar to the Scanstone project we heard about when the LDS Church announced they were digitizing all the records in the Granite Mountain Vault. One is internal and the other is with external record providers.

In the Genesis Project the record custodians will have the benefit of FamilySearch digitizing their records. That is the most expensive part of putting records online. Now for the Scanstone Project the church has asked volunteers to help index the records. In the Genesis Project the record custodians will be responsible for the indexing portion. They will have the benefit of tools such as FamilySearch Indexing to complete this process.

Once the digitizing and indexing is complete the arrangement will be that will have access to these indexes for free. To view the images people will have to travel to a Family History Center and gain access through the Family History Center Services - Online Portal. The combination of all these efforts comes under the umbrella of the Records Access Program. The Records Access program’s goal is to increase public access to vast genealogy collections worldwide

The next news release on FamilySearch is called “Local and County Histories To Go Online.” I feel both excited and overwhelmed by this announcement. Three LARGE genealogy libraries are pooling their collections into one massive digitization effort. The players are The Allen County Public Library (ACPL), Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, and FamilySearch’s Family History Library in Salt Lake City. They are targeting 100,000 published family histories, thousands of city directories, local histories for North American cities and counties. Once these books are digitized they will become every word searchable and the results will be linked to the digital images. The best part is this will all be accessible for free.

I went back to one of my old blog articles back in Sept 2005, “FamilySearch Library Catalog Book On-line" It was during this time frame that BYU’s Harold B. Lee Library had received a grant to digitize 5,000 family history books. I had just found one of these books in the Family History Library Catalog with a hyperlink to the digital image. At the time BYU wasn’t sure if they would receive any more funding to continue the project – well obviously they have! Little did I realize I have just seen a drop in the bucket of what was to come. I haven’t even yet begun to glean the information out of the Brayton Family History that I found two years ago. How am I ever going to keep up with everything that is becoming available? Wow, I sound like I am complaining, it’s just that this is getting a little overwhelming.

Two years ago you could access the digitized books through the Family History Library Catalog and BYU’s Library Online Database. The website and URL at BYU has changed and it is now called Family History Archives at This new location will be where we can locate all of the books that these three libraries are digitizing. To me it sounded like they might be moved to a different location later. The digitized books will also be noted and hyperlinked in the Family History Library catalog on

My last announcement is on the FamilySearch Indexing. You just need to take a look at their site on projects they are currently indexing and those being planned. The list is getting huge, there are more 1900 US Census records, Revolutionary War Pension and Land Warrants, Irish Civil Registration, 1930 Mexico Census, 27 coming up and 38 current. Why so many? Because we are doing a fantastic job at indexing these records. According to FHC Support on last Tuesday alone 1.2 million names were indexed by 70,000 indexers.

FamilySearch Labs Record Search is currently beta testing these indexed records online. I was lucky enough to be accepted as a beta tester. Right now the test is closed to more participants, but if you are interested I would keep watching their site. On the site you will find some of the indexed records with their digitized images or just some of the images that haven’t yet been indexed. Eventually everything from the granite mountain vault will be on there.

WAHOO! I'm psyched plus a lot of overwhelmed this is just beyond comprehension. I can't wait for New FamilySearch to come out so I can start collaborating with some family members on getting some of the research done. One person just can't tackle everything all by themselves. Just way to many toys to play with on this playground.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Sunday, August 19, 2007

FamilySearch Indexing Tips

I wanted to share with you some of the helpful tips I have been receiving that have made my FamilySearch Indexing experience easier. The first tip came even before I began to index, it was just the motivation I needed to get with the program.

From: J. Conklin

When I was indexing a page of the Ohio census that had been badly "burned" (the bottom of the page was completely black) -- I was adjusting the highlights and the overlay is yellow. With the overlay over the black part of the page, the writing underneath was visible. And then I realized that was working the way a patron at the FHC on Wednesday said to get your film image better. She said get yellow onion-skin paper, lay it on the white "screen" at the bottom of the microfilm reader, and voila!! How's that for a trick?

[Renee's Note: As I began indexing and found the highlight was off a line, J. Conklin was kind enough to send me detail instructions with images on how to adjust them.]

Here is a PDF on "How to Adjust Highlights"

From: Mitch

Renee, you can change the highlighter color. I use yellow almost all the time. Go to TOOLS, then OPTIONS and pick a color. You can also play with TRANSPARENCY - I have used that successfully.

Another trick worth trying is the INVERT CURRENT IMAGE. The icon looks like an upper case C in script on a page split between black (right hand side) and white (left hand side).

If unsure of the first letter in a name look at the month. They give clues for A, D, F, J, M, N, O and S.

Finally, try changing the size (you might have mentioned this one).

For dates, the children are almost always listed in order. Check the ages and dates above and below. The date and age should add up to 1899 if late in the year (after the date of the census and this date will show up at the top of each page (16 June 1900 on my current page).


I really appreciate these tips and they have been very useful. If you have any FSI tips to share shoot me an email and I will pass the info along:

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Adventures in FamilySearch Indexing

Being Sunday I once again worked on FamilySearch Indexing. I can tell you now that it does appear to have become a habit. That seems right on schedule because it take 21 days to develop a new habit and this is my third week of FSI. This is definitely a good habit to be into. I was able to use a few reader tips to help me in my indexing. I will pass them along to you in a separate article.

I was able to index today 50 names that makes a grand total of 250 individuals indexed so far. Wow, that's a quarter of a thousand people, hehe. 250 individuals could make up a whole town, small one, but still a town. I am crawling at a snail's pace but I am at least getting somewhere. I wonder if anyone has ever indexed a complete town in one session?

This past Monday my fellow FHC worker Gean told me she had indexed 1,200 people so far. We started indexing at the same time. It's really exciting to see what people can get done. If I wasn't so into doing my genealogy maybe I would spend more time indexing. For now a Sunday session is all I can handle. I am actually thinking of starting another Sabbath day routine - working on my Family History Consultant Training Courses on the Church's Internet Learning System (Net Dimensions).

I want to share with you a reader's comments on their FSI experience.

From: Mitch Mackrory (Colorado LDS)

I only managed to start indexing properly about 7 weeks back when I got my own laptop. I travel a fair bit for work and now I lug two laptops everywhere. It is a pain but very rewarding. I set a goal based on the number of days in the month (setting goals is not intuitive let me know if you need help with it), and so far I have achieved them both by month end. I have my personal laptop alongside my work machine and if the work machine has a poor response I do FSI.

I am also now arbitrating and they can go a bit faster althou I have had some that were so in need of help that they took me over an hour each. I generally reckon on 45 minutes average to index a batch. 30 minutes is very fast. Its gets easier but some are just very difficult.

You have probably already seen the stats in the bottom left hand corner of the main screen.
I download 5 batches (the maximum) late Saturday evening. That gives me about 3.5 to 4 hours of work on Sunday. Responses on Sunday are now unacceptable (IMO), so I do that and only upload or download on Sunday if I am doing something else or taking a break.

[Renee's note: I totally agree don't plan on downloading batches on Sunday!]

I'm still looking for your stories or experiences in FamilySearch Indexing. If you have one to share send me an email at:

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Friday, August 17, 2007

NEHGS and Partnership

I saw the following post by Diane Haddad on the FamilyTree Magazine blog, Genealogy Insider: "What's New From the FGS Conference".

"Subscription Web site (another Web site you may have heard of) has announced a partnership with the New England Historic Genealogical Society, the oldest genealogical society in the country. You’ll hear more details in a few weeks, but the society will share records with in return for discounted subscriptions for its members."

I just love the NEHGS and I was sure hoping that they would partner with FamilySearch. I wonder if that is not possible with this announcement of a partnership with Ancestry? If I could afford a membership to either of them the discount would be a sweet deal. I'm just hoping that the Family History Library in Salt Lake will still have access to their database. That's the only time I get to really use it. Then again having some of NEHGS' databases on Ancestry would be more tempting to me to purchase an Ancestry membership. I sure hope someone includes a list of the records that will be shared. I want access to "The Settlers of Beekman Patent" really bad!

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Billings Montana next in line for NFS

I just read this on FHCNET:

"Beginning Tuesday, August 28, the new process for printing temple name cards using Family Ordinance Requests will be used in the Billings Montana Temple. New FamilySearch will be available to the general membership of the Church who live in the Billings Montana temple district early in the morning on the previous Saturday, August 25, 2007. No additional notice will be sent to priesthood leaders or members of the Church in the Billings Montana temple district concerning these dates.

We ask that family history consultants and center directors encourage members who have existing TempleReady disks to take them to the temple and have their temple name cards printed before August 28. Beginning immediately, please do not create any new TempleReady disks in your family history centers for processing at the Billings Montana Temple.

If you have not done so already, please complete the new FamilySearch online training prior to August 28 in preparation for helping members to use new FamilySearch as part of the new process for preparing ancestral names for the temple. Please contact FamilySearch Support by e-mail or phone if you have any questions or problems."

Here is a list of the temple districts using new FamilySearch:

FamilySearch Records Access Genesis Project

Dick Eastman has a very interesting article today: FamilySearch Issues RFI for the Records Access Genesis Project. It's exciting to see evidence of further potential partnerships with FamilySearch. This move will make Family History Centers all the more appealing to people around the world, even after the release of new FamilySearch.

This statement from Eastman made me think:
"...all records published under this project must be made available at no charge to patrons at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City and to patrons at local FamilySearch Family History Centers around the world. The information also must be available to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at no charge."

Wouldn't it be cool if this meant the Church would create a universal login and password for LDS members to log into the various church sites out there and then let us access these online databases from our own home. This idea is so do-able in my opinion. They already have us put in our membership number and confirmation date to access LDS information online. At the very least I need a universal login and password because I'm getting so confused and overwhelmed with them. Alright, maybe I'm just getting spoiled and want to do everything in my fuzzy slippers at home.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Monday, August 13, 2007

Social Security Death Index hits 80 Million Mark

The SSDI (Social Security Death Index) went over the 80 Million mark today - and the only place genealogists can research all of it is at and its sister site: America's GenealogyBank (library version).

GenealogyBank is the only site for the SSDI death records that is updated weekly and has all of these records online now.

You may search from:
Name: Charlie Delaine
Date of Birth: Thursday December 28, 1933
Date of Death: Friday August 03, 2007
Est. Age at death: 73 years, 7 months, 6 days

Last known residence: City: Darlington County: Darlington State: South
Carolina ZIP Code: 29532
Latitude: 34.3125 Longitude: -79.8501

Confirmation: Proven
Social Security details:
State of Issue: South Carolina Number: 251-50-6484

Name: Raymond Lynd
Date of Birth: Monday January 30, 1837
Date of Death: January 1937
Est. Age at death: 99 years, 11 months

Last known residence:
City: Battle Creek County: Calhoun State: Michigan ZIP Code: 49017
Latitude: 42.3920 Longitude: -85.2069

Social Security details:
State of Issue: Michigan Number: 363-36-3477

You'll find Americans from all 50 States and those that died overseas too. If the Social Security Administration has a record of their death, then they are in the index.

Other great enhancements provided by GenealogyBank includes:
- day of the week of the person's birth and death
- their complete age, expressed in years, months and days
- the latitude and longitude for those wanting to add GPS tracking to their genealogical records.

The SSDI includes all deaths registered with the Social Security Administration from 1937 to the present. Other sites are updated monthly, quarterly and some are seldom updated.

There are just under 20 Million Americans born in the 19th Century in the SSDI and contrary to popular belief there are well over 3,120,000 deaths recorded before 1965 in the SSDI.

The SSDI is the most popular starting point for beginning genealogists. It allows them to quickly gather information about their relatives that passed away in the past 70 years. It is easy to retrieve every "Johnson" from across the country (there are 595,681) or to narrow the search to just the "Johnson" death records for Nome, Alaska (there are 6).

[ is a subscription site.]

Mark Your Calendars!

The speaker for August 17th meeting of the Utah Valley chapter of UGA is Jill Ekstrom. The meeting will be at 7 pm, at the Utah South Area Family Training Center at 100 North 600 East in Provo. Jill is a professional researcher for Family Finders and works with courts and private clients on genealogy, missing heirs, adoption cases, and other relationship based research. She is a joyful researcher and her experiences have led her to "think outside the box" and that will be the subject of her presentation. You will enjoy her lively approach to research!

FREE Mac Genealogy Program

Howard Metcalfe has just released Personal Ancestry Writer II for Macs, version 72. PAWriter is a FREE Mac genealogy program that incorporates a lot of the features of the LDS Personal Ancestral File program (PAF) for the Macintosh (2.3.1)

Additional features:
  • Generate web pages (in HTML)
  • Word processing files (in RTF for, e.g., AppleWorks) and desktop publishing files (in MML for FrameMaker).
  • The generated report files include genealogical dictionaries, registers, ahnentafels and lineages—as well as some interesting text files and pedigree charts.
  • PAWriter also provides flexible selection of subsets of people in a file by “tagging” them (marking them as members of the subset) using a host of selection criteria. Selections include inclusion (+), exclusion (-) and intersection (*) of the set of people meeting the criteria with those already tagged.
Consider PAWriter to be a possible next step in the development of Macintosh PAF had its development not been discontinued after release 2.3.1, i.e., “what might have been.” PAWriter is not meant to have the bells and whistles that are in the current crop of genealogical programs. The emphasis is on maintaining a genealogical database from which the user can write books and/or post web pages about a family.

Importantly, the use of PAWriter differs from other programs in that each statement given in a person’s vital statistics should be based on the evidence given or referenced in the notes for that person and/or for his or her relatives, and should represent the researcher’s best current conclusions as to the true facts. For this purpose, the notes should contain all of the evidence, substantiation, documentation, background information, clarification, interpretation and/or other relevant commentary. It is in these notes that source citations are referenced through footnotes inserted at the appropriate points in the notes’ text, as is normally done in books. (The footnotes will be included at the end of the printed notes in the generated reports.)

You can download it here: PAWriter forums

We Are The Chosen

My feelings are in each family there is one who seems called to find the ancestors. To put flesh on their bones and make them live again, to tell the family story and to feel that somehow they know and approve.

To me, doing genealogy is not a cold gathering of facts but, instead, breathing life into all who have gone before. We are the story tellers of the tribe. All tribes have one. We have been called, as it were, by our genes.

Those who have gone before cry out to us: Tell our story. So,we do.

In finding them, we somehow find ourselves. How many graves have I stood before now and cried? I have lost count. How many times have I told the ancestors you have a wonderful family you would be proud of us?

How many times have I walked up to a grave and felt somehow there was love there for me? I cannot say.

It goes beyond just documenting facts. It goes to who am I and why do I do the things I do. It goes to seeing a cemetery about to be lost forever to weeds and indifference and saying I can't let this happen. The bones here are bones of my bone and flesh of my flesh. It goes to doing something about it. It goes to pride in what our ancestors were able to accomplish.

How they contributed to what we are today. It goes to respecting their hardships and losses, their never giving in or giving up, their resoluteness to go on and build a life for their family.

It goes to deep pride that they fought to make and keep us a Nation. It goes to a deep and immense understanding that they were doing it for us.

That we might be born who we are. That we might remember them. So we do. With love and caring and scribing each fact of their existence, because we are them and they are us. So, as a scribe called, I tell the story of my family.

It is up to that one called in the next generation to answer the call and take their place in the long line of family storytellers.

That, is why I do my family genealogy, and that is what calls those young and old to step up and put flesh on the bones.

[Author: Della M. Cumming ca 1943.]

To read more genealogy poems go to:

Genealogy Humor

I had such a good laugh out of these that I just had to share.

6th Grade History

Examples of creativity provided by a 6th grade class during history tests:

1. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couple.

2. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

3. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a virgin, and Benjamin Franklinnwere to 2 singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backward and declared, "a horse divided against itself can not stand." Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

4. Abraham Lincoln was America's greatest precedent. Lincoln's mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation . On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theater and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in the moving picture show. They believe the assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a suposingly insane actor. This ruined Booth's career.

5. Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practiced on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German, half Italian, and half English. He was very large.

6. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died from this.

[I sure hope nobody looking at my genealogy database can come up with scenerios like these.]

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Mark Your Calendars! - NFS Classes

All New - Fall 2007
Family History Sunday Night Classes
4 Week Series
  • FamilySearch Indexing - How to help get vault film info indexed and accessible
  • Record Search - How to see the records that have been indexed
  • Preparing Your PAF for "New Family Search" - Ideas to help in the new program
  • New FamilySearch - a demonstration
Classes will be held at the Utah South Area Family History Center
85 North 600 East, Provo Utah

You will come 4 consecutive Sunday evenings, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m. Register for one of the following series:

September 9, 16, 23, 30
October 7, 14, 21, 28
November 4, 11, 18, 25

Please register in advance by calling:
Carolyn Kitchen
or email:

There is no charge.

For more information about classes taught at the Utah South Area Family History Training Center in Provo, go to

Adventures in FamilySearch Indexing

Well it's Sunday. I've been to church and I've had my Sunday nap. Finally it was time to download a new batch to begin my Sunday session of FamilySearch Indexing. I marked my time to start and began at 5:13 p.m. I was determined to find out how much time it took me to index a batch. Well one hour and 16 minutes later my batch was finally uploaded to FamilySearch. Let me tell you it was an adventure.

1. Since I was doing the timing thing it took 4 minutes to download a batch from the server. I actually wasn't surprised at that. After August's Ensign article I knew that was to be expected. Sunday just seems like a natural day for people to do indexing, especially LDS members. Indexing is a good not breaking the sabbath day activity.

I make a note to myself: Download a batch during the week, index on Sunday, if servers are slow upload on Monday.

2. I was assigned a batch from the Tennessee 1900 U.S. Federal Census. I started off with a bang. Wow, I thought this will be a breeze.

3. Then I hit a few difficulties, no problem, just adjust enlarge the image. Yup, just needed a better view thats all. Again moving right along.

4. Alright somebody doesn't know their math. I know I'm not having a problem seeing the images. I decide to index what I see, enter the year as it stands even though the age is way off. I was indexing a page and everyone was of the black race and a majority of them were boarders, born right after the Civil War. It just had to be an educational opportunity thing. Wow, did I ever start thinking of these people and their life. I wonder how many African American genealogist are going to scream when they find their family members in the census.

Seeing that most where boarders I wasn't surprised to find everyone born in Tennessee. It just goes to show you the accuracy of the information gathered is dependent on the source. How many owners of these boarding houses really knew where the boarders and their parents where born? As for the ages and year of birth... I could just hear the census taker saying "Ma'am, I'm just gonna write what you tell me."

5. Near the bottom of my page disaster strikes. It looks like water and tape. I tried everything to read the names. It was so random what I could make out on the page. I wanted so badly to get the stuff I transcribed right. Now if it was mine own research I would of taken the digital image and played with it in a graphics program. Since I had to work with the tools given me I tried all of them. The blue highlight just wasn't cutting it. Why can't I change the color of the highlight? I really wanted yellow to look at this. I was thinking I would get my yellow transparent sheet and put it up on my computer screen and see if it makes a difference. Then I remembered I creased it and threw it was on my to-do list to get a new one.

6. The clock is ticking and I was feeling the pressure. My pride started to get the best of me. If I report how long it takes to do just one census page, 50 names, my readers are going to think I am really slow and don't know how to do this. Then a voice of reason hits me. Why am I doing indexing in the first place? For my readers? For the stats? Get your priorities straight here girl. I get up and decide to take a break.

7. I decided a little prayer was in order. Why I didn't start my indexing session like that in the first place I will never know. Ya, I even had it in my head that maybe I would come back and the images would be brighter. We've heard of those miracles happening with indexing. Unfortunately as I came back to my page I had this little thought of WOW, wouldn't it be cool if a miracle did happen and I could report on it? As I scanned the faint areas of the page I realized no such profound miracle. I made out a few more letters but nothing earth shaking. Then I thought I just had a Joseph Smith and the gold plates moment. Remember as he first see the plates sitting in the stone box he had uncovered on the Hill Cumorah. He thought of their value and how the gold could help his humble family's conditions. As he reaches to touch them he is given a shock and told he couldn't have them until he met a few conditions, one of them was not to seek them for monetary gain. Yes, I realized my reporting on my adventures in indexing was not very conductive to the entertaining of miracles happening to me.

Note to myself: Say a prayer before indexing. Ask others for their experiences because you are going to live vicariously through them.

8. Having decided that I really want to index these names for those who are going to be using the end result and hopefully for the re-uniting of families, I decide to index on. I determine to do the very best that I can. I am very into details so I will use that gift to index MY PEOPLE. Yes it was an adventure and not the one I had planned. I am now a indexer of people and not number and stats. Yes, I will keep my final count, I really love numbers and facts. But I don't want to worry or think about how long it takes me to do it. I'm not in a race, even though they can be fun and motivating. If someone asks me how long it takes to do a batch I will say "As long as it takes to get it right". Ya, the norm is 30 minutes but don't strive to just be normal, give indexing your best. We are dealing with precious things here someone's history that just might make it into the book of life.

So readers, as I end my Sunday Adventure in FamilySearch Indexing I have a plea. Will you send me your stories of Indexing. How has this adventure changed your life? Have you had any miracles or moments of profound insight? I love faith promoting stories and would love to pass them on. Please email your stories to me at:

Grand total 200 individuals indexed, number of lives effected un-numbered, but someday I'll know.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Mark Your Calendars!

Come Join us at the following events:

September 15, 2007 - Ogden, Utah
Northern Utah Genealogy and Family Heritage Jamboree
Ogden Marriott Hotel, 247 24th Street, Ogden, Utah
Sponsored by the Ogden Regional Family History Center and My Ancestors Found

Registration at the door begins on Saturday, September 15th at 7:15 am. The keynote address will be at 8:00 am. The exhibit hall opens to the public at 9:00 am. Classes begin after at 10:00 and run through 7:30 pm. The complete schedule can be found on line

Admission to the exhibit hall and keynote address is FREE to the public, and classes will be offered for a minimal fee.

Pre-register for classes at the low admission price of $40!
($45 at the door) Pre-register online at, by phone at 801.829.3295, or send a check to: My Ancestors Found; PO Box 187; Morgan, UT 84050.

Questions? Email:

Family History Library Research Retreat with Professional Assistance - November 2007
November 26th-December 1st, 2007 - Salt Lake City, Utah
Plaza Hotel with daily research in the adjacent Family History Library in Salt Lake City. 5 days of research assistance for only $299.00.

Don’t miss a unique opportunity to explore the world’s largest Family History Library in the company of other researchers (soon-to-be friends) and caring professionals who want to help you connect with your ancestors. Imagine taking classes that fit your needs and having a real, professional genealogist sitting beside you in one-on-one sessions so you can finally do the kind of research you've been dreaming of. Well, now is the time! Five floors full of microfilm, microfiche, biographies, periodicals, and digital files can seem overwhelming, but not after you're given the grand tour, the specialized classes, and have been guided in where to go and what to do with your research by folks who know and love the FHL. Here are some of the things that make this retreat so enjoyable and effective: * Tour of historic Temple Square - Utah's most visited attraction. * Icebreaker social. * Individualized, professional classes, guided tours and getting to know the international Family History Library system and catalogue, inside and out. * Daily research time at the Family History Library (Tues. - Sat.). * Seasoned professionals available eight hours a day to work with you in one-on-one sessions to guide you in your research. * Assistance throughout the day to help you stay on track and make your projects do-able and exciting. * Complimentary Capture the Memories interview book. * Fun, new friends who love genealogy like you do! (Travel, lodging, and eating expenses are not included).

Pre-register online at, by phone at 801.829.3295, or send a check to: My Ancestors Found; PO Box 187; Morgan, UT 84050.
Questions? Email: or call Holly at 866.701.5071

February 8-9, 2008 - St. George, Utah
St. George Utah Genealogy and Family Heritage Jamboree
Dixie Convention Center – 1835 Convention Center Drive, St. George, Utah

My Ancestors Found, a local Utah business, has pinpointed St. George, Utah as the place to be February 8-9, 2008. Family history and genealogy enthusiasts will be gathering at the Dixie Convention Center and will not be disappointed with the more than 100 classes being offered to help you jump start the process. The great thing about this is you don't even have to have Utah roots.

Pre-register online at, by phone at 801.829.3295, or send a check to: My Ancestors Found; PO Box 187; Morgan, UT 84050.
Questions? Email: or call Holly at 866.701.5071

March 22, 2008 - Logan, Utah
Logan Utah Genealogy & Family Heritage Jamboree
Eccles Conference Center – On the campus of Utah State University, Logan, Utah
Sponsored by: The Logan Regional Family History Center and My Ancestors Found

This one day event is drawing speakers and vendors from all over the U.S. It will feature 36+ terrific classes to choose from, more than 20 vendors and exhibitors, and the latest genealogy products and technology. Drawings for prizes will take place all day long with grand prize drawings at the end of the conference! Admission to the exhibit hall and keynote address is FREE to the public, and classes will be offered for a minimal fee.

The complete class schedule and exhibit hall map are available at

Pre-register online at, by phone at 801.829.3295, or send a check to: My Ancestors Found; PO Box 187; Morgan, UT 84050. Questions?

Email: or call Holly at 866.701.5071

Friday, August 10, 2007

Orlando Temple District Prepares for NFS

I thought I would pass along this interesting email on FCHNET today:

Preparing for the new FamilySearch

On July 24 we received the announcement letter from our "Area Family History Advisor" that we would be having the new FamilySearch roll out meeting on August 5. In that meeting we were told that our Orlando Temple district will go live on August 28. (Yes - only a month after receiving our notice.)

It was emphasized in the meeting that they are really depending on FHC directors and all consultants to register and take the E-courses. The FHC directors received the well done roll out DVD while many of the priesthood leaders have not. The department staff were very careful to not appear to be directing the priesthood leaders. They did appeal to the leaders to call consultants (the key to the FH program), for them to encourage each family to prepare and submit as a beginning the first four generations of their family's records and they asked them to speak of the personal joy found in providing ordinances for their ancestors in the temple.

There are a number of things about the program that are still awaiting engineer attention. I've been told more than once by support to be patient when I've written about different processes that need attention. For example, if TempleReady was used to prepare ordinance cards since 1 Jan 2007, the completed ordinance information will not likely be viewed in either the IGI or new FS for several months. By contrast if ordinances are completed using the new FS submission forms, when those ordinances are completed the information can be viewed the same day. Also realize that PAF Insight and other synchrony programs will not access the new FS database so you will have to manually enter "Submitted" into your personal records database and then also manually update your records with ordinance dates. These kind of problems will disappear when all temple districts have changed over to the new FS.

Another interesting explanation concerned the use of GEDCOM submissions. If you have contributed any information before in Ancestral File or Pedigree Resource File, you need to realize that the first time you contribute with a GEDCOM file, you will create many duplicate records in the new FamilySearch that will need to be combined manually. If you plan on doing a submission with a GEDCOM file, it is strongly recommended that you use data management software that assigns unique record serial numbers (these numbers are also called Global Unique Identifiers or GUIDs). Therefore, it is important to carefully review what is in the database beforehand and to do small groups of GEDCOM submissions instead of flooding your
personal records in the FamilySearch database with such a merging task to be done that you might become overwhelmed.

Despite being concerned with adjustment problems, as I was combining records tonight, all of a sudden I realized one of my ancestral lines I've had blocked for years had four 3rd great grandparents and their children in the database. It is all very thrilling and overwhelming. How blessed we are to be participants in this historical moment.

Terry Mason, Director
Clermont FL FHC

Thursday, August 09, 2007

New FamilySearch Video

I finally got around to looking at a new website "Master Family History". This is how webmaster John Willis, Assistant Director of the Concord/Walnut Creek, California FHC describes the site.

"Mastering Family History is a free website that contains e-learning videos on selected computer programs and websites that are useful in building a family history. The videos are designed for persons who want to learn how to prepare and maintain family history or genealogical information. The videos currently available are listed below. Additional videos will be added in the future. Click on the title to view the videos on your computer. (To view the videos you must have a high speed internet connection and your computer must have a sound card. It may take up to 10 seconds for the video start in you browser window)"

Beta new FamilySearch - 15 minutes

Introduction to Family History - 10 minutes
Compiled Genealogies - Introduction - 5 minutes
Pedigree Resource File - 9 minutes
Ancestral File - 15 minutes
OneWorldTree - 12 minutes
Internet Searches - 5 minutes
Downloading and Importing Gedcom files - 10 minutes

Genealogical Research - 18 minutes
Documenting Research Findings - 15 minutes

PAFInsight - 18 minutes
PRFmagnet - 5 videos from 5-7 minutes each
U.S. Cities Galore - 12 minutes

John Willis does a wonderful job presenting each video. From listening to his voice I can tell he is a more mature man. He speaks slowly and in a clear voice. You are able to watch him use the sites or programs as he discusses different facets about them. Anyone new to genealogy would find these lessons very appealing and not overwhelming them with to much information.

The video on new FamilySearch gives a fantastic feel for the program. I have seen PowerPoint presentations on NFS but you really need the voice behind it. I wanted to make just a couple of notes on the video. Since John said he has pioneer ancestry and is not a first generation church member his info on what a new member would find on NFS is not totally correct. A new member will find the names of their parents listed, since that information is on their baptismal record. Also the names of any spouse or children will be added if they also joined. Of course if a new convert has submitted anything to PRF it will linked to him also.

The other two things I would love to see him add to the video is the need for documenting sources, especially when adding information. And, after entering a new person in NFS make sure you check for duplications. Yes, NFS will check if temple work has been done or not but you also have to do your part by checking if anyone should be combined and hence already had their work done.

I also understand the John could of left some of these things out for the sake of time. Trying to describe and demonstrate NFS in 15 minutes is pretty impressive. In fact I don't think I've ever seen anyone be able to do that!

My hat is off to John and this wonder service he is providing to the genealogy and church community. Keep up the good work. I will be bookmarking the site and checking back often to see if more videos come available.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

FHCs Jumping the Gun

On Monday I reported in my article “Heritage Quest at FHCs.” that I had received a call while at the Alpine FHC to help set up access to Heritage Quest on our center computers. I understood that the Church was calling all centers to help set up their access. In just three days since my blog post I am amazed at what has transpired.

Many FHCs decided to not wait for the call from the Church to help them set up access. Since I had listed the website (thinking it would only work at the FHCs) I didn’t realized that people actually at the FHCs would jump the gun and try the directions to install access to the new online databases at their own centers. Seems that once FHCs ran into problems getting access they turned around and contacted Family History Support for assistance. Now Family History Support is being overwhelmed with calls.

I thought I would give you a little more information to help tame the masses.

1. You must wait for a call from the Church letting you know you have access to the new online databases. They will also be contacting centers through This is a gradual process and only a few centers have been given access. Family History Support would really appreciate it if you would not call them concerning not being able to access the databases unless you have received authorization thru LDSMail. More centers are given access every day and they cannot tell you when your center will be contacted. They know that everyone is excited and anxious to have these databases, but please be patient with them during this time of authorization and access.

2. From an e-mail sent to FHC directors through the LDSMAIL system on May 15, 2007: "At present, only centers in the United States who 1) have installed LANDesk, 2) have more than two PCs, and 3) are open at least 10 hours per week will qualify to have access to this service."

Note: Selected centers in other countries will also receive access.

3. There were a number of services announced, and the department is working to provide access to each of these services. At present, Heritage Quest Online and WorldVitalRecords are working and are being progressively rolled out to the centers. Each center that qualifies will be contacted. Once the department is confident that things are working well all centers will be notified via LDSMail.

Footnote, in particular, has a technical problem with the access method being used to authenticate that the connection is coming from a family history center. This problem is being worked on by the Family History Department as well as Footnote and should be resolved soon. There also should shortly be a notice in LDS Mail providing an update on these services.

The site is not fully up yet. You may be able to access Heritage Quest and possibly some of the others but not all of them. They will send out a message on LDS Mail when the site is fully functional. Please do not contact the Family History Department if you cannot get access to Footnote, Godfrey Memorial Library, Kindred Konnections and possibly WorldVitalRecords. They are not prepared to be accessed yet. You will be notified when these sites are ready.

I apologize if I have caused any misunderstanding on the roll out process in my previous article.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Adventures in FamilySearch Indexing

Sunday was my second attempt at FamilySearch Indexing. Once again I was unable to time myself due to interruptions. The nice thing to know is that you can be interrupted and know just where you left off when you start up again. One interruption was my daughter letting me know that she is now doing Indexing. Yes, a new convert!

I did two batches. The ones I had download the other day. I had no problem submitting the completed batches back to FamilySearch Indexing. Maybe the overload problem on the servers is resolved. Then again I wasn't trying to register or download anything to my computer. Wow, I guess I should of even tried to get on the site to see if it was accessible but I forgot!

I decided to pick my batches and did the Wisconsin 1900 U.S. Federal Census. I had two problems. One batch had writing over every surname and it made it hard for me to read it. Mostly I couldn't make it out. I decided that the census takers should of written the surname over again for everyone in the family. It would of made their job harder but mine would of been so much easier!

The second problem happened about half-way down on the census page. All of a sudden the highlighted field skipped a line. So as I moved through the fields to index my line numbers were off. I decided to index the correct line number and not follow the highlighted field. That was easier said than done. It made me think of how many others might of had that problem and not noticed it. I was going to try and reset the highlighted field but I submitted it before I remembered to try and do that. I'm not even sure how or if it even can be done. I just remember seeing the beta version able to do that.

I tried looking in the tutorials for help but I couldn't find anything about adjusting the highlighted areas. I guess I should of tried calling support. If I really messed up hopefully the person that does the B version of my work will catch it. That one good thing about having two people retype the same batch. The arbitrator then can resolve any issues.

So now my grand total is 150 individuals indexed and I liked it!

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Heritage Quest at FHCs

While I was working at the Family History Center I received a phone call that Heritage Quest was now available. The Family History Department was calling all the centers individually to help set up access. It appears that they are finding different scenarios for setup and a generic email with instructions couldn't handle it. I had problems with only one of our computers. A couple of computers said they didn't download the certificate but I found that untrue; when I clicked on the Heritage Quest link. From my experience - yes, I can see the need for calls to the individual centers to assist in the initial setup.

While you are at the FHC you can access Heritage Quest and eventually all the other sites they are partnering with at: Now I wonder how many of you on your home computers just now clicked on that link? See I told you it wouldn't work unless you are at the FHC. (hehe)

What you will see is that the Church is partnering with:
I am just so excited about the roll out of these new partnerships with It is just major coolness!

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Sunday, August 05, 2007

RootsMagic 3

Boy, did I get some information wrong while visiting the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference. I was told by someone manning the RootsMagic booth that RootsMagic was not going to release RootsMagic 4 until New FamilySearch was fully released. Seems my information was very incorrect. Mike the (VP) tried to comment on my blog to correct this false information and my blog wasn't allowing it to show. Not sure what's up with that! I really hope others aren't having this same problem.

Bruce Buzbee was kind enough to email me and let me know the deal. First RootsMagic has a policy to NEVER comment on release dates on major new versions. RootsMagic will release a version of RM that supports NFS as soon as NFS API is frozen, BUT they have never said what version that would be.

It seems RootsMagic and Legacy are having the same problem. Since the church hasn't locked in the coding for them to program to interface with NFS they cannot say when that will be available for us. Hence it appears both companies are prepared to bring it to their users with whatever version is the most current at the time. I would suspect through a new download to the program.

So if you are a RootsMagic users don't worry about being behind in the game. In fact I have been informed that... almost every feature I listed Legacy as adding (charting, source templates, home button on toolbar, editing from lists, etc) are features than RM has had for several years or more, in fact RootsMagic might be "ahead of the game".

Bruce is already working on the programming for RootsMagic 4 so nobody is sleeping over there. It appears the only one behind is ME, I better look at RootsMagic 3 because my facts might be from version 2. In fact the only version I own is version 1. So forgive me readers if I have lead you astray. Thats what happens when you report from a bias opinion because I have been a devoted Legacy user from day one.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day.


Please click on filmstrip to view video.

If you watch the video clip you will see my latest adventure at the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference. I wrapped up my week playing with helloWorld - new technology you just need to check out. The latest in streaming video on the internet. That means way to much fun with family members around the world.

Hello World provides a complete studio for broadcasting and communicating on the Internet. I think this would be a fantastic service to use for online genealogy conference classes. You retain ownership of your materials and can have members of your organization log on to view the materials.

Features include:
  • Live Presentations that can be recorded for replay later
  • Video and PowerPoint presentations simultaneously
  • Polling during presentation
  • Text chat for questions or comments from live audience during presentation and
  • Personalized banners with url encoding
  • Professional videos can also be broadcast
  • Video Blogging (Vlog)
  • 4-way video instant messaging or video conferencing
  • Video & Audio Podcasting
  • HelloTV Broadcasts
  • The Learning Center

Make your digital life simple. Get video today!
For questions contact

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Friday, August 03, 2007

Sneak Peek of Legacy 7 - Part Two

Thursday I went back to BYU's Family History and Genealogy Conference to see the second part of the Sneak Peek of Legacy 7. I arrived early enough to visit the Legacy table and get to check out Legacy 7 for myself.

Here are some things that I learned:

1. Home button takes you to the home person not the Legacy home tab. Many of us older users of Legacy know that you can bookmark the home person on the bottom of the screens and return to them anytime. Well Legacy is trying to make the program easier for new users. They put the home button on the main toolbar with the little house symbol because that is a logically place for people to look for it. Very much like our internet browsers work.

2. The start up wizard is way cool. It will walk you through your PAF import. You don't even need a GEDCOM file. If you don't have a previous genealogy software file it will help you start the process of entering people into the database. It will ask for your name and your parents names and little data on them. Once you finish the dialog it will open up the family view with your started file. It's a very user friendly and smooth entry for beginners to any genealogy software program.

3. Legacy 7 will let you search for women by their married name, even if you didn't enter the married name in as a AKA.

4. When you do any type of search or create a list you can edit and go to the individual in the list without having to exit the list and find them. Everyone has been asking to do that!

5. In the pedigree view if you right click on the background you can toggle between 4 or 5 generations. You can also toggle the spouse and children view off and on. There are several other things you can do when you right click on the background in pedigree view. This was introduced in a recent download to version 6 but I didn't know that.

6. Geoff also showed us how to add the BEPSC temple ordinances symbols to the Descendant view. If you go under options and customize the columns you can add the symbols. That will be really handy for me. That option is in version 6 too.

7. I asked and no Legacy 7 does not support UTF-8. It would take a major rewrite of the codes. They plan on doing that but it's not available in Legacy 7 yet.

8. Yes, you can create your own source template. I just can't wait to play with this animal in my own database!

9. Nothing has changed in webpage creation.

10. No hyperlinks or table creation ability in notes either.

11. I spent most of my play time with Legacy 7 with the charts. I'm not sure how to describe this but the charts are a program within the Legacy program. Sort of like Passage Express is, except you don't need to download it separately. When you leave the chart feature you have to exit it and then it takes you back to Legacy. I was a little confused when I tried to leave charts because I wasn't sure what exit was going to do. Maybe that needs to be a little more clear for users. AND that was the only thing I found lacking in charts. I was just having so much fun moving the boxes around and changing the styles, layouts, backgrounds - it was just major coolness. It is to die for.

12. I asked about New FamilySearch and found out Legacy 7 will interface with it when NFS is fully released. Legacy will just put out a new download for the program when that happens. Just like they did in version 5 when they added the ability to search the IGI. So we won't have to wait for Legacy 8 to interface with NFS.

As a side note I talked to RootMagic and found out that they are not planning to release version 4 until after NFS is fully released. The people from RootsMagic were at the Legacy 7 Sneak Peek taken notes on the competition. For now Legacy is ahead of the game.

Since I was only playing with a demo of Legacy 7 not everything planned was functioning. I understand that many things are being worked on and it is not known if they will be ready for version 7. That is all I can report of the changes in Legacy 7 for now.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

My First Indexed Batch

I finally did it! I found the time to index my first batch of records. I was assigned the Texas 1900 U.S. Federal Census. It took me all afternoon to do it but I finally got 50 names indexed. What I wanted to do was time myself and see how long it took, but my children interrupted that plan. They were worse than little children today and there was no nap time to do my work. I guess once a mother always a mother.

I found it interesting the message FamilySearch Indexing had for us, dated 30 July 2007.

"Dear FamilySearch Indexing Users,

Due to the overwhelming reader response to the FamilySearch Indexing article in the Ensign Magazine, the system has been much slower than normal. We appreciate your patience as our engineers make adjustments. We hope you will not become discouraged because of the slow response time. We are grateful for your willingness to work and understand the frustration of dealing with slow system response times. We truly appreciate your understanding and dedication."

Seem I wasn't the only one having problems Sunday. Since this was my first batch I didn't notice any slow response time. Everything went fine on my end. What I'm thinking is that I will download two batches now so I won't have any problem working on them Sunday. I guess we will have to wait until next Sunday to see if the engineers have made all the needed adjustments. In the mean time at least my stored batches will give me something to work on.

See ya tomorrow, for tomorrow is always another genealogy day!