Thursday, August 21, 2014

Don Anderson and FamilySearch Partners #BYUFHGC

Don Anderson is a senior vice president at FamilySearch for patron and partner services. He gave two presentations at the recent BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy. It’s pretty cool to have someone of his standing presenting one regular session, let alone two. Both were about partners. “Partners are a key part of our strategy at FamilySearch,” he said.

Anderson showed parts from the partnering infographic released by FamilySearch back in February.

Collaboration is needed to acquire all the records that need to be preserved.
FamilySearch has preserved 5.3 billion records and need to preserve 60 billion more.

Collaboration is needed to index all the records that have been acquired.
Without collaboration it will take 200 to 300 years to index the 5.3 billion FamilySearch records

Jay Verkler, former FamilySearch president once told a story about meeting an elderly lady who reached up, grabbed his lapels, pulled him closer and said, “You’ve got to go faster. At the rate you’re going, I’m going to meet my ancestors before I find them.”

FamilySearch will publish about 1 billion records this year. About 800 million of those are being done with our partners, Anderson said. That number is likely to increase. Our relationships with our partners are getting deeper and more robust, he said.

Partnering is bringing progress in emerging markets like Brazil and Mexico. In Italy we are working with partners to help people discover their families, Anderson said. The more partners that get involved, the easier it is for us all to find our ancestors. We lower the cost of the commercial firms to enter new markets, he said. Take Italy as an example. FamilySearch has a very large filming project in Italy right now. At the current pace, it will take 100 years to index all the acquired records. Partner relationship may bring that down to five or six years. The situation is similar with Mexico and Brazil.

“We at FamilySearch don’t care where you find your ancestor,” Anderson said. “The important thing is that you find them.” He said that as much as he likes the FamilySearch collaborative tree, he knows not everyone likes it. The goal is that you put your information wherever you want and then find what you need.

Only 1 billion of the 28 billion who have lived since 1500 A.D.  are in FamilySearch Family TreeOnly 1 billion of the 28 billion who have lived since 1500 A.D.  are in FamilySearch Family Tree

Anderson showed his tree on He said it was a serious testimonial for’s hinting capabilities. There was a shaky leaf on just about everyone on his pedigree. Through FamilySearch’s partnerships with, MyHeritage, and FIndMyPast, members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have easy access to all their different tree systems. “I suspect that most of you will find one of the trees on one of the sites and use it, while also utilizing in some way all the sites,” he said.

FamilySearch has made partnerships in markets adjacent to family history. Two examples are StoryPress and Reel Genie. FamilySearch is a bit of a hub and information can flow in or flow out.

FamilySearch has made partnerships with developers. To see a list of certified apps available through these development partners, visit

FamilySearch has partnered with record managers like “RootsMagic, Legacy, and I shouldn’t have mentioned any names, as I will forget some,” he said. About 30% of the contributions added to FamilySearch Family Tree come through these programs.

I’ll report on Anderson’s Friday presentation soon. With the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) quickly approaching, further coverage of the BYU conference may get pushed off several weeks.

Speaking of the FGS conference, it’s not too late to decide to attend.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Ron Tanner Announces Private Spaces at #BYUFHGC

Ron Tanner, FamilySearch product manager, presented the session “Family Tree Primer for Consultants” at the BYU Family History and Genealogy Conference. He addressed common issues faced by family history consultants of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dealing with living individuals in a member’s pedigree has been an issue for consultants. Incorrect information could not be corrected except by having the member’s ward clerk fix the membership record and then waiting for the membership record to synchronize to New FamilySearch and then to Family Tree. Tanner announced that that day, 1 August 2014, FamilySearch was instituting new handling of living persons in FamilySearch Family Tree. He told us we were the first to know. Living individuals in New FamilySearch were being copied to Family Tree where they could be changed directly. The process of copying living persons will take the entire month to complete.

While Tanner was short on details of the ramifications, I was able to locate more information elsewhere. In the FamilySearch Help Center an article explains that “All living people and their relationships are stored in a private space.”

FamilySearch Family Tree private space person banner
Each user of Family Tree has a private space. Private spaces help manage data privacy and confidentiality for each user. … Each owner of a copy [of a living Family Tree person] can modify it independently from others. Deceased persons should each be represented only one time in Family Tree and have a common PID. But a living person can be represented in multiple private spaces as a different Family Tree person, and that person will have a different Person Identifier number (PID) in each private space. Searching Family Tree using a living person's name will not find him or her. Searching by the PID will not find him or her in any other [private space] besides [your own]. Living people cannot be sourced.
Family Tree does not [automatically change living people to deceased], even after they are older than 110 years. Users will need to mark their copy of the individuals as deceased and then search for any possible duplicates.

Tanner provided even more information in a reply in FamilySearch’s feedback system:

With the advent of private spaces the rules change such that [the Church’s] membership [department] does not have control of the living member in the tree. You no longer have to go to the ward clerk in order to change your living. Of course, changing member living in Family Tree will not update membership records. One must still go to the clerk to update membership records.

When a ward clerk records that a person is deceased, then a "membership" copy of the person will be placed in the public portions of the tree.…When a person makes their local living copy dead, this record as well becomes public and should show possible duplicate with the membership version. The person who made their local living copy dead should merge these two records together.

Here are a few other topics Tanner covered:

You can find resources for training others about Family Tree at

Tanner said that about 60,000 to 80,000 people still use New FamilySearch each week.

Some users of Family Tree are new. They make mistakes, just like we did when we were new. We need to help them and encourage them.

Discussions among users is not happening soon enough. This may be because notification of changes only occurs once a week. By then, the best moment for discussion is gone. “I’m trying to change that,” he said. “I think you need to be informed sooner, maybe immediately.” Another impediment to discussions is the inability to email others making changes who haven’t made their email public. When consultants help people register, he said they should help the user set their email public. Click Settings > Contact > email > Public. Tanner said he recently got permission to implement a private message system that would allow the exchange of messages with other users even without an email address. [I picture it being similar to the capability that has had for close to a decade.]

Helping users recover passwords and usernames is straightforward. Go to Sign In and after “Forgot your…” click on “user name” or “password.” For a member of the general public, recovery is via email. For those with an LDS account, recovery uses the account recovery system. Recovery can be via mobile phone, email, or membership record number (MRN). If recovering via email, some people may not be aware that most email systems can be accessed via the Internet. Just google the domain name (the part of the email after the @ at-sign). Once you have recovered your password, write it down and put it in your wallet.

Members of the Church who can’t see temple ordinance information need to enter their membership record number. Have them login and click on their username. Select Settings from the dropdown menu. Scroll down and select Yes for the “Are you a member…?” question. Enter the membership record number. Scroll to the bottom of the page and click Save Changes.

To fix wrong relationships, it helps to understand how Family Tree works with relationships. All relationships in Family Tree are of two types: spousal and parent-child. A spousal relationship consists of two people and relationship events such as marriage date and place. A parent-child relationship consists of a child, at least one parent, and relationship types for each parent, such as biological, adopted, etc. Family Tree does not require a spousal relationship between the parents of a child. To correct a relationship, you must leave the person page and go to the relationship page. Go to the Family Members section of the person page and click on either Edit Couple or Edit Parents. The relationship page allows for sources and notes about the relationship.

Tanner explained how to fix your pedigree when half of it suddenly disappears. The reason this occurs is because a glitch occurred when membership records were copied to New FamilySearch and then to Family Tree. To fix the problem, follow these steps (which I’ve copied pretty closely from the syllabus). Go to the relationships on the detail view of the child missing the parent or parents. Review the relationship section to see if the child is showing no parents, a single-parent (mother or father) or two sets of parents (one with both parents and the other with just one of the parents).

If there are no parents listed then,

  1. Add the correct father by clicking Add Father and select the correct father (search or
  2. Click on Edit Parents next to the living child under the newly added father.
  3. In the parent-child relationship click to add a Mother and select the correct mother.

If there is only a single parent in the relationship then,

  1. Click on Edit Parents next to the living child under this relationship
  2. In the parent-child relationship click to add the missing parent and select the correct

If there are two sets of parents, one with both parents and one with only one of the parents

  1. Verify the child is listed under each parent set. If not then call support.
  2. Look at the single parent relationship and open the children tab to see the living child.
  3. Click on Edit Parents next to the living child under the single parent to go to the
    parent-child relationship.
  4. Delete the relationship.

Changing gender is not allowed at this time because New FamilySearch doesn’t allow it and Family Tree is being synchronized with New FamilySearch. Once that connection has been broken, then it will be possible.

The Helper feature is being misused. Its purpose is not to help someone. The purpose is to help those without a computer. Don’t use it to help someone who has forgotten their username or password. It is better to get their account working. To help another person, you need to know their helper number. It defaults to the last five digits of their membership record number. When information is added via the helper feature, Family Tree tracks the name of both the submitter (the helper) and the contributor (the one being helped). Only the contributor name is displayed in the change log.

Here my notes drizzle out. Do you get the feeling I have attention problems? Hopefully he didn’t save anything really important for the very end.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

FGS Conference for $49 Saturday - #FGS2014

The FGS 2014 annual conferenceThe Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) has announced special pricing for those who wish to attend their annual conference on Saturday, 30 August 2014. The Saturday-only registration rate is $49. This is a tremendous opportunity for those within easy driving distance of San Antonio. Since you don’t need to pay for airfare or a hotel, attendance is very affordable. See “Directions and Parking in San Antonio” for parking costs and driving directions.

Your Saturday registration gives you access to more than 35 lectures plus optional workshops and luncheons. Visit the Exhibit Hall to see product demonstrations and presentations on two stages or meet with vendors and exhibitors in their booths. To learn more about the Saturday programs, download the conference brochure or visit the website at

Today is the final day to register online. Register at Or you can just show up at the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center Saturday morning. Registration starts at 7:30am on Saturday. The first lecture begins at 8:30am.

See you in San Antonio!

Monday, August 18, 2014

FGS Conference Online Registration Deadline #FGS2014

The FGS 2014 annual conferenceI applied to be an ambassador for the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) Conference but I’ve given up being accepted. Bummer. That won’t stop me from telling you about this great conference coming next week. I’m a big fan of the three national conferences. They draw from nation-wide and local experts. The conference will be held in San Antonio, Texas (remember the Alamo?) on 27-30 August 2014.

If you wish to register online, you need to do so today (18 August 2014) or tomorrow (19 August 2014). Register at Pre-registrants will have online access to the syllabus before the conference. Pre-registrants also have a better shot at registering for extras before they sell out:

  • 13 luncheons over the 4 conference days
  • 10 workshops over 3 days
  • Wednesday Night at the Institute of Texan Cultures on 27 August, hosted by the the San Antonio Genealogical and Historical Society and the Texas State Genealogical Society.

I know Friday evening’s “Night in Old San Antonio” at La Villita is already sold out. I don’t know about the others. If the Wednesday night activity doesn’t sell out beforehand, onsite registrants may still be able to purchase tickets.

I hope to see you there!

Friday, August 15, 2014 New Terms and Conditions

Clipart of contract by AlastairOn the first of August, released new terms and conditions. Keep in mind that I am not a lawyer nor do I play one on TV. My opinions about the Ts & Cs should not be considered legal counsel. If you have questions, be sure to consult a licensed attorney. One schooled in Utah contract law might be advisable because my understanding is that merely using establishes a contract between and yourself. That contract is the Ts & Cs, so it is good to read through them once in awhile. Here are some changes I thought interesting:

The new terms and conditions apply to,, and I don’t know how much the Ts & Cs of these three differed before, but it is certainly easier for users to have just one to understand. However,,, and were removed from the list of “the Ancestry Community.” has added a section explaining that the contents of the websites are provided AS IS. While they attempt to make it accurate, they make no claim that it is “complete, accurate, reliable or error-free.”

I often hear people ask if they can download stuff from and put it up on FamilySearch Family Tree. has added language clarifying what can and can’t be done:

You may access the Websites and use the Content only for personal or professional family history research, and download Content only as search results relevant to that research. For example, the download of the whole or material parts of any work or database is prohibited. Resale of a work or database or portion thereof is prohibited. Online or other republication of Content is prohibited except as unique data elements that are part of a unique family history or genealogy.

Interpretation of the word unique there seems pretty important. Tempting as it is, I’ll resist giving any. has added a section addressing the issue of the public domain documents it has digitized (mostly from NARA).

Ancestry does not claim an exclusive right to images already in the public domain that it has converted into a digital format. However, the Websites contain images or documents…that, even if in the public domain, are subject to restrictions on reuse. By [accessing the Websites], you agree to not reuse these images or documents except that you may reuse public domain images so long as you only use small portions of the images or documents for personal use. If you republish public domain images, you agree to credit the relevant Ancestry Website as the source of the digital image, unless additional specific restrictions apply. If you wish to republish more than a small portion of the images or documents from any of the Websites, you agree to obtain prior written permission from us.

I skipped some language of that section to emphasize your contract regarding public domain images. Let me do the reverse now for non-public domain images.

The Websites contain images or documents that are protected by copyrights or that…are subject to restrictions on reuse. By [accessing the Websites], you agree to not reuse these images or documents….

When you contribute content to websites, you grant them a license to use it. That only makes sense. They have strengthened the wording of that license by specifying the license is “perpetual, royalty-free, [and] world-wide” and licenses them to “otherwise use your submission to the extent…we deem appropriate…. This license continues even if you stop using the Websites or the Services.” As before, you still retain ownership of your content. You just can’t demand that give it back to you.’s hasn’t yet closed the loophole that I’ve seen used to allow multiple people to justify sharing a single subscription. In both the old and new Ts & Cs, specifies that “distribution of your password to others for access to Ancestry is expressly prohibited.” To this they have clarified that “you must keep your account password secure.” I’ve seen people login to a subscription in a public place and leave it logged in with the express purpose of allowing a group to use that one subscription. Should someone accidentally logout, the account holder must show up and reenter the password, so as to not violate the Ts & Cs.

You should not depend on what I’ve said here. You should read the Ts & Cs for yourself at The old Ts & Cs are available at