Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas/Holiday Greetings #LIGHTtheWORLD

#LIGHTtheWORLD by serving as Jesus Christ served.I usually wait until later in the month to give my holiday greetings and wax a little religious. This year, I’m sending my well wishes out early so that you can participate in an invitation to serve others in 25 ways for 25 days in December. The invitation is open to everyone of any religion or philosophy, even though it is from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If you’re Christian, watch a short, inspirational video, on YouTube or at likening our service to Jesus Christ’s.

See the list of 25 ways of giving service at Substitute according to your belief system when called for. Here is a list with references to Christ removed, if that is more comfortable for you:

  1. Lift others’ burdens.
  2. Honor your parents.
  3. Help the blind.
  4. Worship.
  5. Serve the sick.
  6. Read scripture.
  7. Feed the hungry.
  8. Pray for others.
  9. Visit the lonely.
  10. Help the disabled.
  11. Serve children.
  12. Teach others.
  13. Show humility.
  14. Cloth the needy.
  15. Worship through music.
  16. Show compassion.
  17. Care for your mother.
  18. Honor holy days.
  19. “Calm the storm.”
  20. See potential in others.
  21. Forgive others.
  22. Show gratitude.
  23. Be a peacemaker.
  24. Care for your loved ones.
  25. Emulate those who serve the most.

The list at has links to pages with service suggestions. For example, December 20th is “See potential in others” and the suggestions are

  • Take a child to work with you, and let him or her do a small part of your job.
  • Be a mentor or tutor to someone.
  • Donate to a scholarship at your local high school.
  • Cheer someone on! Attend an athletic, cultural, or similar event to support someone you know.
  • Help a child learn to set goals.
  • Contribute your abilities to an adult education class in your area.
  • List some positive qualities in someone you don't get along with.

If you wish to share, use the hashtag #LIGHTtheWORLD.

If you are looking for organized service opportunities specific to your community, visit

Merry Christmas from the Ancestry InsiderSo many of you serve this wonderful, genealogy community in so many ways. Thank you! Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Images copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Used with permission.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#RootsTech Contest Winner and Keynote Speaker Announcement

RootsTech 2017 is comingI’m pleased to be able to announce the winner of my RootsTech 2017 contest. Amy Floto related her experience with “the Haunted Treadmill and the Magic Box.” Look for her story after the first year. I received lots of great entries. I’ll share a few of the best ones with you after Amy’s.
Jonathan and Drew Scott will keynote RootsTech 2017In other news, RootsTech has announced more keynote presenters. The Property Brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott, will present. These multi-talented identical twins have built an impressive entertainment empire by following their mutual passion for film, entertainment, and home renovation. Come to RootsTech and listen to the Scott Brothers talk about how it all began. From their first business at age seven, to purchasing and flipping their first fixer-upper for a profit of $50,000 at the age of 17, these two have a lot to share about entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, and the sweetness of success.

At the risk of having unknown family members come out of the woodwork, I wanted to share some news with you. I found out recently that FamilySearch employees can give family members a discount code for a $109 4-day RootsTech pass or $139 for a RootsTech+Innovator Summit pass. Contact your closest related RootsTech employee and get the discount code.

RootsTech 2017 will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, 8-11 February 2017.

President Russell M and Sister Wendy Nelson will address Family Discover Day 2017 at RootsTechFamily Discovery Day

Registration for Family Discovery Day 2017 is now open. It will be held 11 February 2017 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The event is for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I apologize for not getting this news out sooner, as the event “sells” out fast. I say “sells” because it is free. To register, click here and then click Register. To sweeten the pot, RootsTech has announced that the keynote speakers for Family Discovery Day will be President Russell M Nelson and his wife, Wendy. Wendy is an avid genealogist and did a great job speaking last year. President Nelson is the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles so it is quite an honor to have him at RootsTech.

According to FamilySearch:

Family Discover Day is the perfect place for individuals and families to discover helpful family history solutions, watch demonstrations, get one-on-one help, interact with innovative family history technologies, and mingle with hundreds of exhibitors from around the globe.

Select sessions are also available for those with Church callings and responsibilities related to family history and the temple. Individuals will be able to get their questions answered, discover new tools, and learn best practices.

Over 15,000 adults and children attended the free event in 2016. Tickets will be limited again in 2017 for this increasingly popular event. Interested individuals and families should register as quickly as possible online at

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

AncestryDNA 30% Sale

AncestryDNA 30% holiday saleIf you’ve been waiting for another AncestryDNA mega-sale, wait no longer. Ancestry is selling its DNA kit for $69 from 25 November to 28 November 2016. From 29 November to 14 December 2016 they are offering it for $89. The $69 price is the lowest I see every year.

If you’re buying for a relative, don’t do what I did. I had the kit shipped direct to an elderly relative. I asked them to send me the code and let me activate it. He says he received the test, provided the sample and sent it in. He couldn’t find a code. Then he claimed he had activated it. However, he’s never shown up as a DNA match to any of his siblings. I’ve learned from others that they have the kits shipped to themselves, they activate it, and then they pay to have it shipped a second time, this to the relative. (Perhaps Ancestry can work out a way to email the code to the purchaser and allow shipping the kit direct to the relative.)

To obtain the sell price visit (The URL isn’t working as I write this. Presumably, it will start working on the 25th.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Follow and FamilySearch via Social Media

Ancestry Facebook FamilySearch Twitter LogosLast week I quoted an anonymous commenter who had left RootsWeb mailing lists in favor of Facebook and Google+. I admitted not doing much with social media. Just in case social media is your thing, let me point you in the direction of’s and FamilySearch’s social media channels.

Ancestry has a presence on several social media channels. Follow them at

FamilySearch also has a presence on several social media channels.

By contrast, I’m only on Facebook and Twitter. Like or follow me if that is how you wish to be informed of new blog posts. (Sorry about the double posts on Facebook last week. I was running an experiment. It should be fixed now.) And if you follow me via social media, there is a bonus! Once—sometimes twice!—a year I’ll post a comment on Facebook or Twitter that blog readers won’t receive!

I should warn you that to contact me it is still best to send me an email ( or leave a comment on a blog post. I don’t check Facebook or Twitter messages, at least not very often. Sadly, even if you send me email, I’ll probably ignore it. Just kidding. I read every email and value your ideas, but I have time to respond to only a few. Thank you for your interest and support. I hope my humble efforts benefit a least a couple of you.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Film at 11:00

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxMy comments about the Layton FamilySearch Center and microfilm elicited some good feedback.

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I work at the Ogden FamilySearch Center and we have some books and readers and film and fiche. Come on up!

Janice Nusbaum

Dear Janice,

That is good news. There is so much that is only available on film. I’m glad to hear it.

---The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I am a FHC Director and was told not too long ago that there will be no film use within 3 or 4 years. I was told this because I was inquiring about returning films that were viewable online.


Dear Ancestry Insider,

They've (FamilySearch?) said they will never put all the films online?? Is that because of contract restrictions or some other reason?

Marilyn Cranford

Dear Marilyn,

There are several reasons why some images will never be available online: contracts, laws, relationships, and strategies.

In the distant past many companies did business over a handshake. If FamilySearch/GSU operated that way, it is conceivable they have films for which they have no written contract. In the past when written contracts became the norm, companies didn’t foresee technology growth; FamilySearch has said publicly that most of its contracts did not foresee distribution via any medium besides microfilm. If FamilySearch wishes to publish these films, they will have to negotiate contracts with many record custodians and many of them won’t do so.

Laws increasingly limit what can be published. Open publication (which the Internet does) is a very different animal than closed distribution (which is what you do when you order a film to view at a FamilySearch family history center). So while some films can remain in limited distribution, they can’t be published publicly on the Internet. This trend is likely to get worse.

An article in the FamilySearch Wiki documents another scenario. FamilySearch had published some images of vital records. The contract with the record custodian was revised such that FamilySearch depublished the images in exchange for rights to obtain and publish additional indexes. Apparently, FamilySearch is willing to forego publishing microfilm that it has rights to publish if doing so can buy a continued working relationship with a record custodian.

Strategy comes into play. Some films are duplicates. Some films were not filmed by FamilySearch/Genealogical Society of Utah. I predict that FamilySearch will not digitize some films because decision makers will decide they would rather spend the money elsewhere. For example, how valuable are Soundex census indexes? Are the costs justified for the few discoveries that will result? Or would you rather have high-value vital records from your ancestral country? How valuable are the road commissioners’ ledger books? They’ll never be digitally indexed by humans. Looking at the public numbers, FamilySearch has slowed publication of unindexed images. Does that mean that low-value, hard to index films might never be published? 

---The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Would you be willing to give our Family History Center a plug? We have a VERY LARGE collection of microfilms for the Chicago and Cook County Vital Records.  Instead of writing to Cook County, spending $15, and waiting 6 weeks, or not getting what you want at all for your $15, you can spend 5 minutes and get that birth, marriage, or death certificate for FREE.

Donna Roginski

Wilmette Family History Center   
2727 Lake Ave., Wilmette, Illinois

Scheduling Notice. The Center will be closed November 22 through November 26 for Thanksgiving. We wish you a happy Thanksgiving, and resume normal operation on the 29th.

Dear Donna,

This is a timely reminder of why getting rid of microfilm will be a painful process. Consider yourself plugged.

---The Ancestry Insider