Tuesday, October 18, 2016

FamilySearch Adds 141 Million New Record Hints

FamilySearch Record HintsTwo years ago FamilySearch added a feature (available on Ancestry.com for many years): record hints. FamilySearch compares names from its historical records with names in FamilySearch Family Tree. “When we put the data together for comparison and find high-scoring matches to people in your family tree, that’s what we call a hint,” explained Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch senior product manager. “In essence, the FamilySearch.org search engine is constantly working to make research discoveries for you without your having to do much more than login, validate what it found, and accept the hints.”

FamilySearch’s historical records contain five billion names. FamilySearch Family Tree contain 1.2 billion. Comparing the two in September, FamilySearch generated an additional 141 million hints over the 1.5 billion already found. Kehrer said 98.5% of the hints are accurate. Errors occur when persons in the tree have common names, are born in populated places, and have few known relatives, according to Kehrer. (I’m not too familiar with urban research, but it seems to me that companies don’t key enough identifying information about people in big cities. If they would key address, occupation, religion, and other differentiating information for people in big cities, it would be easier for users to find people and would improve the accuracy of their hint system. It shouldn’t be too hard to determine population levels necessitating the keying of additional information. FamilySearch and Ancestry don’t seem to understand the cost/benefit analysis.) Noteworthy among the new hints are those from the 1851 and 1881 England and Wales censuses.

To enlist the FamilySearch hinting system to find records of your ancestors, their names must exist in Family Tree. If they are not already there, you can add them at no cost. If you do, be prepared to defend your conclusions to other descendants. That’s not necessarily a bad thing; we should all be able to do that. Also, because of the uneven experience level of tree participants, expect to spend time teaching others with less experience.

For more information, see “FamilySearch Adds 141 Million Family History Record Hints” in the FamilySearch newsroom.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Entering Unknown Persons in Family Tree

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

I know nothing about the parents of my 4x-great-grandmother Mrs. Betsey Ann Embody. https://familysearch.org/tree/person/LJG2-R4G/details

However, from a newspaper report shortly prior to her death, I do know that she was visited by a sister, "Mrs. Hodge of Herkimer." I can create a person named "Mrs. Hodge" in the FamilySearch Family Tree, but to link them as siblings, I need to create at least one person who is a parent to both of these women.

Is there a best practice for naming these people so that I don't interfere with other users' searches and with FamilySearch's record hinting and duplicate matching? Or should I not be creating people when I know absolutely nothing about their names, and instead use notes to record this information until I learn more?

Thanks for any insight you can share.

Jason Thompson

Dear Jason,

This is, indeed, a quandary. FamilySearch Family Tree—and any other tree system that I’m aware of—doesn’t support a true sister relationship. Under the covers, they only support parent-child and spouse-spouse relationship types. Under the covers, they also don’t have a placeholder feature for a parent of a person without a known surname. That’s not a problem in a personal tree. You do whatever suits you, such as creating a parent named “Parent of Betsey Ann [—?—]” and attaching both children. In a shared tree, you don’t have that latitude. You have a responsibility to the thousands of other users of the tree. Such a construct would be confusing and could lead to disastrous merges.

There’s also the issue of independent verification of the sister relationship. In my experience, people sometimes use relationship terms—like sister—ambiguously. I’ve found that particularly so in newspapers where the local town gossip—um, I mean “Around Town” newspaper reporter—makes unfounded assumptions. Mrs. Hodge may be a step-sister, a sister-in-law, or an organizational sister.

I would use the notes option. Reasonably exhaustive research may uncover Betsey Ann’s surname.

The Ancestry Insider

Friday, October 14, 2016

Darned Records: I’m My Own Grandmother

UPDATE 21 OCTOBER 2016:Reader Joe Lowry posted this comment: I regret to inform you that the Florida Sun Post is a fake or satirical news publication: http://www.dailydot.com/irl/florida-man-granddaughter-marry-hoax/.


Man marries his biological granddaughter.We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable. Records say the darnedest things!

Certain information flags immediate suspicion in an online tree. Ever see a son who is older than his father? But be careful. One needs to think twice about making assumptions without proof. What would you think if you saw the pedigree of a woman who was her own grandmother? You might be wrong.

According to the Florida Sun Post,

A 68-year old man from Miami’s Golden Beach neighborhood has reportedly had a ‘terrible shock’ after discovering his new bride, a 24-year old woman from Jacksonville, is actually his own biological granddaughter. The couple, who have only been married for three months, made the discovery while looking through a photo album.

When the man showed the woman a photo of his oldest son, the woman identified the son as her father. The man had lost contact with his son when his wife left him. The woman had lost contact with her father when he kicked her out of the house.

Read the entire story on the Florida Sun Post website.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

#RootsTech End of Early Bird Pricing 14 Oct 2016

RootsTech 2017 is February 8-11, 2017 in Salt Lake City, Utah.

I received this from RootsTech:

Early Bird Discount Expires in Two Weeks!

Save over $100! Regularly priced at $269, you can purchase a RootsTech 2017 4-day pass for ONLY $159. Price expires 2 weeks from today,
October 14. With over 200 classes to choose from, keynote sessions with inspiring speakers, entertaining evening events, huge expo hall, and more, RootsTech 2017 will be THE experience not to be missed.

The cost does not immediately rise to $269. RootsTech uses a stepped approach. The price increases to $189 tomorrow.

Register or get more information about RootsTech 2017 on the RootsTech website.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Ancestry.com Receives Economics Award

Click to see Utah Valley BusinessQ magazine's list of the area's top 50 companies.In their Fall 2016 edition, Utah Valley BusinessQ recognized the top 50 businesses in the area. They rated Ancestry.com as the number six “economic engine” in Utah County. Economic engine rankings are based on annual revenue, number of employees, contributions to the local economy, and other factors.

Ancestry described themselves as “the world’s largest online resource for family history and consumer genetics.” They had $683 million in sales last year. They have 1,000 employees in Utah and 1,400 world-wide. They are located in Lehi, Utah in a new $35 million building. There are 75 million searches on Ancestry.com every day.

“Hire great people from diverse backgrounds and invest in them,” Tim Sullivan advised.

Read the entire article on the Utah Valley 360 website.