Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Mailbox: Our Tree and Your Tree on FamilySearch

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Sir (or Ma'am?  I've never been able to figure out if you're male or female),

I had heard that we shouldn't upload our trees to because anyone can go in and change the info we've entered. Do you know if this is true or not? If it's true, this new feature isn't very applicable to those of us who are just keeping our trees on and our own software because we don't want others messing with our information. But if it's not true, this would be an excellent reason to upload our trees to FamilySearch, and I would start promoting it to my students.

I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this.

Katherine Willson (Ann Arbor, MI)

Dear Katherine,

Gosh, where to start. First, yes I am male or female.

Next, the rumor you’ve heard that you shouldn’t upload your tree to is pretty much false. I’m hedging a little bit. Let me go through the steps and you’ll see why.

Save a copy of your tree in GEDCOM format. You’ll upload this copy to FamilySearch, Go to You’ll need to register (it’s free) before uploading your tree. Click on “Join For Free” near the top-right corner of the page and complete the registration. Click or hover over Search on the menu bar, then select Genealogies. On this page you can upload your GEDCOM tree or search the GEDCOM trees of others. This collection of trees is called the Pedigree Resource File. Your GEDCOM tree is your tree and no one can change it but you (by uploading a new GEDCOM over the top of it). Scroll down to the bottom and click on the button “Submit Tree.” Click on Add GEDCOM. Select your GEDCOM file, give it a title, and enter a description that might be helpful to others.

After it has finished uploading it will show up in your tree list at

Pedigree Resource File list of your uploaded GEDCOM files

From the list you can Compare your tree to FamilySearch Family Tree, you can download a copy of your GEDCOM file, or you can delete it. As opposed to your tree, where you just uploaded, FamilySearch Family Tree is our tree. It is all of us building the family tree of all mankind. If you wish to be a part of this ambitious project, you can start by comparing your tree to Family Tree. Your tree remains unchanged in this process. To start, click Compare. tells you they will do the compare and send you an email.

You will get an email when the PRF compare is finished

When FamilySearch completes the comparison, the Compare button changes to View.

Pedigree Resource File list of your uploaded GEDCOM files, with View button

Click on View and shows the results of the comparison.

Pedigree Resource File results of GEDCOM comparison to FamilySearch Family Tree

The people in your tree fall into four categories. “Potential Matches” might already be in Family Tree, but FamilySearch computers defer to you, a human being, to decide. “Add to Family Tree” are not in Family Tree, at least as far as the FamilySearch computers can tell. “Already in Family Tree” are in Family Tree already (duh). and “Invalid and Living” can not be added to Family Tree for whatever reason, including the potential of being alive. Click Review Results.

You may add those not already in Family Tree and view those considered invalid or living. For potential matches, you may specify if the person from your tree (on the left) is the same person as the potential match from Family Tree (on the right).

PRF GEDCOM potential matches to FamilySearch Family Tree

For those already in Family Tree, you have the option of copying facts from your tree (on the left) to Family Tree (on the right).

PRF GEDCOM person already in FamilySearch Family Tree

This can get rather tedious, as new people must be added to Family Tree one at a time and new facts about old people must be added one at a time. FamilySearch says this is by design. In the early days of New FamilySearch it was slammed with boatloads of duplicate people that gummed up the gears something fierce.

I won’t go into it here, but another, perhaps easier, way to contribute to Family Tree is to use a tree manager that supports direct synchronization with your tree on your home computer.

Let sum up. You should upload your tree to FamilySearch Pedigree Resource File. No one can change Pedigree Resource File trees but the contributor. You can also contribute to Family Tree. Anyone can change anything in Family Tree. Discussing the pros and cons of that model is beyond the scope of this article (which has already grown too long).

Thanks for your letter,
---The Ancestry Insider

Thursday, July 24, 2014

FamilySearch Releases Mormon Migration Record Collection

FamilySearch adds collection linked to the Mormon Migration website of BYUJust in time for Utah Pioneer Day (24 July), FamilySearch has released the “Mormon Migration Database, 1840-1932.” This collection contains basic information obtained from the Brigham Young University (BYU) Mormon Migration website. It contains links to the BYU website for additional information, such as ships’ rosters, ship photos, passenger journals, autobiographies, and letters. The collection contains information about international converts to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who crossed the oceans to gather in America from 1840 to 1932. Think of the Mormon Migration website as the successor to the FamilySearch Mormon Immigration Index CD, both of which were compiled by Dr. Fred E. Woods of BYU (and other contributors).

You’ll recall that FamilySearch recently provided a gateway to the “Mormon Pioneer Overland Travel, 1847-1868” database of the Church History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. (See my article, “FamilySearch and Utah Pioneers.”) You may know this database by its old name, the Melvin L. Bashore “Crossing the Plains Index.” This database lists the names of all known immigrants travelling overland (overland as opposed to what?) to the Utah Territory for the years 1847 to 1868. FamilySearch is only providing a gateway to this resource, rather than an integrated record collection like the Mormon Migration collection.

A search of the Mormon Migration BYU website for “Elizabeth Robinson” found 17 passengers. The BYU site also performs a keyword search of personal accounts. It found seven, but because these are OCR indexes, none of them were actual matches. It found 19 voyages associated with the 17 passengers and 7 accounts. You can also search the BYU site by date or ship name.

The same search on gave 39 passengers. Because I didn’t do an exact search, included matches for nicknames Eliza, Lizzie, Elisa, and Betsy; abbreviations Eliz. and E.; missing given name; and surname Robertson. Results were sorted with exact matches at the top. Unfortunately, FamilySearch has not consistently included basic information from the BYU site. For example, the result for Elizabeth Robinson—the “pistol filer”—did not include port of origin (Liverpool), port of arrival (New York), or voyage date (8 Sep 1840 - 12 Oct 1840). Without voyage date, FamilySearch was not able to estimate birth year (1835). Without this basic information, it makes it difficult to pick a desired immigrant from among the results. An advantage of searching on the FamilySearch website is that names are fielded, so there are no false matches. A major advantage is that results can be linked to FamilySearch Family Tree.

I’ve hoped for a long time that FamilySearch would provide this collection, so I’m happy to see it. Hopefully, they can rework it to include the information from the BYU site that they have left out.

Pedigree Charts in Wikipedia

A coworker, Fran Jensen, pointed out to me that some biographical articles in Wikipedia include a pedigree chart showing the person’s ancestry. For an example, check out the pedigree of Francis Scott Key:

Wikipedia pedigree of Francis Scott Key

Click the Show button beneath the box labeled “Ancestors of Francis Scott Key” to show the pedigree.

Thanks, Fran.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

FamilySearch Releases Two Mobile Apps

FamilySearch has released two mobile apps: “FamilySearch – Tree” and “FamilySearch – Memories.”

FamilySearch – Tree is a mobile tree viewer for FamilySearch Family Tree. It is available for both Apple iOS 7+ and Android 2.3+ devices. You can view the tree no matter where you’re at. You can download several generations of your pedigree for offline viewing. (I want to say six generations, but I don’t remember for certain.) You can add photos, stories, and audio recordings. The app does not allow changing information in the tree, but FamilySearch says that ability is in the works.

Pedigree view of the FamilySearch - Tree app  Person view of the FamilySearch - Tree app

FamilySearch – Memories is available only for Apple iOS 7+. You can add photos, stories, and audio recordings. Sounds a lot like the FamilySearch – Tree app, doesn’t it? It appears that the Memories app works like the Memories section of and the Tree app works like the Family Tree section. (Go figure.) The Memories app allows tagging people in photos, just like that section of the website.

My Photos view of the FamilySearch - Memories app  Photo view of the FamilySearch - Memories app

You can contribute a photo by taking one with the phone camera or from photos already on the camera. Photos are supposed to be “appropriate… relevant… heart-turning (a scriptural reference)…[and] noncommercial. Every photo is screened before it is published. When you contribute a photo (or photo of a document), anyone can view it. Photos can be .jpg, .tif, .gif, and .png up to 15 MB in size. Tiff support is new. I knew they were working on it, but I hadn’t heard they had released it.

You can record audio up to 15 minutes in length. I’m not certain where they are stored. I don’t see them on the web version of Family Tree. Am I missing it, somewhere? It must not be available yet.

Both apps are free and require a free FamilySearch account.

Monday, July 21, 2014

FamilySearch Indexing Event is in-progress

The FamilySearch Worldwide Indexing Event started last evening and runs until this evening, 21 July 2014, at 5:59 pm Mountain Daylight Time (7:59 EDT, 6:59 CDT, 4:59 PDT).

Participate at .

FamilySearch 2014 Worldwide Indexing Event

Read more in the FamilySearch blog article, “Join the Worldwide Indexing Event.”

Sunday, July 20, 2014

FamilySearch World Wide Indexing Event

imageFamilySearch has announced that they are sponsoring an indexing challenge beginning this evening (Sunday, 20 July 2014) and running for 24 hours. The challenge is to exceed 50,000 indexers in a single day. The previous record was 49,025, set during the 1940 census. It is indeed a stretch goal to exceed that number. Whether you’ve indexed before or not, your help is needed.

If you don’t like old handwriting, try indexing an obituary. (Be sure to carefully read the instructions before doing obituaries.)

To contribute toward the goal, you only need to index one batch.

Hours for the event run from 6:00 pm mountain daylight time (8 pm EDT, 7 pm CDT, 5 pm PDT) Sunday evening to 24 hours later on Monday. This evening may be your best bet if you wish to participate.

Visit to get started.

Read more in the FamilySearch blog article, “Join the Worldwide Indexing Event.”