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.”

Friday, July 18, 2014

Serendipity in a Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast

Photo of a log cabin porch
Image credit: kai4107 /
It is as though our ancestors want to be found. Uncanny coincidences. Olympian luck. Phenomenal fate. Tremendous intuition. Remarkable miracles. We call It, “Serendipity in Genealogy.”

In July 1993 Carol Willoughby visited Picton, Ontario to research her great-great-grandfather, Wilson Bentley. She stayed at the Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast. She went all over town, doing the usual genealogy stuff: visiting the library, the local archive, and every cemetery she could find. The trip proved successful. After some searching, she found Wilson’s grave in the Cherry Valley Cemetery. And at the local archive, workers found the records of three previously unknown children of Wilson Bentley and his wife, Miriam Jackson.

Flash forward more than a year. Richard Bentley visited Picton, Ontario to research his great-great-grandfather, Wilson Bentley. Don’t get ahead of me. Can you guess where he stayed? The Log Cabin Bed and Breakfast. There the owner remembered that some lady had come to town more than a year before, also looking for Bentleys. I confess I’ve passed up many an invitation to sign those bed and breakfast guest books. Never again. The owner looked through the book and recognized Carol’s name. She had signed her address and phone number.

Richard called Carol. They learned that he was a descendent of Wilson’s son, Samuel, and Carol was a descendent of Wilson’s son, Henry. Because of this chance coincidence, the two were able to exchange information and share a photograph dating to 1854!

That is serendipity in genealogy.


     Carol Bentley Willoughby, “Family history moments: 'Not a coincidence,' ” Church News: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints ( : accessed 13 July 2014).