Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Studio C’s Handy Book for Genealogists (#RootsTech/#FGS2015)

When Studio C helped David Archuleta close off the RootsTech and FGS conferences this year, I’ll bet nobody in the audience knew they were watching a member of the genealogically-famous Everton family. The Everton name is well known among older genealogists. Walter M. Everton (1876-1950) was the original author of the genealogical staple, Handy Book for Genealogists. Everton also founded Everton Publishing, which published the magazine, Everton’s Genealogical Helper, for many, many years. I think four generations of the Everton family ran the business.

The Handy Book for Genealogists, 5th edition Everton's Genealogical Helper, Jan/Feb 1986

Which Studio C cast member, you ask? She was the one who did the amazing lip synch of Michael Jackson: Mallory Everton.

Mallory Everton lip synching Michael Jackson at RootsTech  Mallory Everton at RootsTech

Mallory is Walter Everton’s great-grandniece.

Which makes her my 3rd cousin. I know this thanks to the relationship-finder in the FamilySearch discovery booth in the Expo Hall.

The Ancestry Insider's Relationship to Mallory Everton

Speaking of Studio C, an observant reader caught the Ancestry Insider milling around the Studio C booth in the Expo Hall and clicked a quick pic.

Ancestry Insider with Studio C at RootsTech 2015

David Archuleta at #RootsTech/#FGS2015 Closing Social (#RTATEAM)

The Ancestry Insider with David Archuleta at RootsTechDavid Archuleta performed at the RootsTech/FGS2015 closing social and a host of amateur videographers caught virtually ever moment. His segment opened with a Spanish-language song and video commissioned by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to inspire Latino youth to seek out their family history. I haven’t found it posted officially, but you can see it on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0myeYetJKE 

David Archuleta video premiered at RootsTech 2015

David also performed “Glorious,” a song he recorded for the Church’s feature length film, Meet the Mormons.

David Archuleta's "Glorius" vido

I got a picture backstage with David. You can see it above, right. I am (apparently, the only fat one) with David and Lynn Broderick, blogger at the Single Leaf blog and guest blogger at FamilySearch.org.

Read a recap of the evening’s performances in the Deseret News.

Monday, March 2, 2015

Donny Osmond Keynote at #RootsTech/#FGS

The Ancestry Insider with singer, entertainer Donny Osmond
Scott Fisher of the ExtremeGemes radio show
and Amy Urman of The Genealogy Search blog,
with me, hangin' with our good friend, Donny Osmond.
“When you discover more about your ancestors, you discover more about yourself,” Donny Osmond said. Donny was one of the keynote speakers at RootsTech. He told us that he loved that anyone can do family history. He, himself, received the family genealogy from his mother. (We all appreciate having someone interested in receiving our life’s work.) Donny said that in his spare time he worked on his family history while staring as Joseph in the Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat.

Donny told us that a lot of his life story has been captured on film and video, but that our life story is every bit as important as his, even more so, to our descendants. Don’t your children want to know what you are like? We need to document and record our family stories, both funny and inspirational stories. You never know when those will keep someone going when things get rough, he told us.

Friday, February 27, 2015

More Than Serendipity in Tan Le’s #RootsTech/#FGS2015 Keynote (#RTATEAM)

Tan Le’s voice wavered a bit and she shed a tear or two as she spoke of her grandmother and some special moments they shared. Le shared them with us in her RootsTech keynote. Now FamilySearch has shared them with you in a three minute video on their YouTube channel. See “#RootsTech 2015 Keynote: Tan Le Remembers Her Grandmother.”


To see her presentation in its entirety, with both the Thursday keynote presentations, visit the RootsTech website.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Search Ancestry Like a Pro (#RootsTech #RTATEAM)

At RootsTech, Crista Cowan presented “Search Ancestry.com Like a Pro.”

“Remember, you are not searching for people; you are searching for records about people,” said Cowan. She presented the process she uses to find records.

  • Start by looking at the hints. [Click the leaf shown in the person page—below—or on the tree view.]
    Fred Ross Cown example from person page on Ancestry.com

    “Ancestry provides hints for the top 10% of our most popular databases as a way to get people started in their discoveries.” They are just hints not certainties. Pay attention to record hints first. Use hints to other family trees as clues. [I might emphasize this. The evidentiary value of other people’s family trees is much, much less than the evidentiary value of original records. ---tai]
  • When you follow a hint, you are going to link to a record page. Pay attention to the view button on the record page (#1 in the image below). “Always, always, always look at the image.” The image is going to have more information than the record page. [And there is always the possibility of transcription errors.]
    Fred R Cowan census record example from Ancestry.com

    When you find a record about your ancestor, attach the record to your tree so you don’t have to search for it again. [Also, Ancestry.com marks it as such in search results and the record page (#2 in the image above). When you come across it again, you know you’ve already discovered it.]

  • While you are looking at an ancestor’s record, look at the suggested records shown along the side (#3 in the image above). This is like Amazon.com which shows you a list of the other things people bought who bought what you bought. That’s what suggested records are. These are records that other Ancestry.com members have attached to the same person in their trees.
  • After you’ve looked at the hints, there are still more records to find. There are misspellings, wrong ages, and other reasons why hinting doesn’t find all the records. Search starting from the tree. [Underneath the portrait in the first image above, click “Search records.”]

    Ancestry.com fills in the search boxes for you with every piece of information known about that person, including every place they have ever lived and all their immediate family. “We do this because we want to see what records bubble to the top. Is there any single record that has all the information? No, so we present a list of ranked results.” Pay attention to the records that show up at the top of the list of results. Don’t go through too many pages of results. Stop after a page or two. Then switch from records to categories.
  • Craft a basic search. [I can’t remember for sure what my notes mean by this. Perhaps she was recommending trying a search without all the extra detail added by starting a search from the tree. That’s what I do at this point. The extra detail suppresses results from databases with fewer fields.] Use the advanced search form. Once you choose to use the advanced search form, it remembers. It has more fields which will make it possible to do a more powerful search. Think about the kind of record you are searching for when crafting a search.
  • Do a global search. It searchers over 32,000 titles containing over 15 billion records. That number is growing by one million new records every day.
  • Do a category search. It searches only records that are included in a specific category. Categories are listed along the right side of the main search page. [I think Cowan also pointed out the special categories found in the lower-right corner: New York 400th anniversary, African American, and Jewish family history. Over the years there have been others. They didn’t included them in the list, so they may not be current. I’ve seen  NARA, U.S. Military, and others.]
  • Do a database search to search for records in a specific database. Extra search boxes are present to allow matching fields not present in a global search.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Ancestry.com Shows New Website Improvements at #RootsTech/#FGS2015

imageAncestry.com showed upcoming improvements to their website during RootsTech/FGS2015 in their booth in the Expo Hall. These include LifeStory, Historical Insights, a new Media Gallery, and an improved Facts page.

Dan Lawyer, Ancestry.com product manager, wrote about the changes in the Ancestry.com Blog. In the article, Lawyer says:

We’d like to invite you to become a part of the Ancestry beta. To join the beta, simply add your name to the waitlist at this link:


We will be inviting people on the waitlist to join the beta in batches over the next few months. When you are next, we will email you instructions for how to access the beta. You will be able to send feedback to the Ancestry team from directly within the beta site. We want to hear your feedback on what’s working well, what problems you  discover, and your suggestions for improvement. When you send us feedback, you are helping Ancestry to reinvent the way we do family history.

For more information, see “Sneak Peek of The New Ancestry Website Coming!.”