Thursday, April 30, 2009

What is NFS?

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Hello, I enjoy your newsletter very much.

Guess I'm out of the loop here but what does this mean, "NFS Rollout News."

Diane in Michigan

Dear Diane,

Thank you for your support and sorry about the lack of context. I'm usually a titch better, but sometimes I forget.

You may be familiar with There is a new version, New FamilySearch (NFS), that has a world pedigree to which anyone can add, correct, and contribute. FamilySearch is rolling NFS out first only to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (which owns FamilySearch). Later it will be rolled out to the general public. Inside the Church, the rollout has been organized by geographic areas called temple districts.

Genealogists inside the Church and out are watching this project with great anticipation, so I try to provide regular rollout updates. To see previous articles about the subject, come to my website,

Look for and click on New FamilySearch in the right margin.

-- The Ancestry Insider

NFS Rollout News for 28 April 2009

I've got the NFS Red Zone map updated. And there are green dots!!!

New FamilySearch Rollout Map for 23 April 2009

Two temple districts have gone live:

  • Twin Falls Idaho on 14 April 2009.
  • Monticello Utah (that's right, Utah!) on 21 April 2009.

Two temple districts have received their "go live" dates:

  • Manti Utah will go live on 12 May 2009.
  • Vernal Utah will also go live on 12 May 2009.

One temple is in transition, but hasn't received their date yet.

  • Rexburg Idaho is in transition.

Three more temples can print FORs:

  • Logan Utah
  • Salt Lake
  • Jordan River Utah

That leaves Draper, Boise and Mt. Timpanogos as the only temples in the Western world that cannot print FORs. I'll give you two guesses what district I live in.

Draper and Boise are the only temple districts with less than 30 stakes that aren't in transition.

Who will be next? Inquiring minds want to know. Thanks for your hints. Keep them coming at

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820

Elizabeth Shown Mills' latest QuickSheet, Citing Databases & Images, illustrates a basic citation template using the "Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820 (Slave)" database. Unfortunately, a search of the catalog shows doesn't have this title. It's a shame that Mill's has given such exposure and yet's practices negate some of the value freely handed to them. Anyone experimenting with the "Basic Templates" example from Mill's QuickSheet will come up empty. Any QuickSheet user intrigued by the title who comes specifically looking for it, may decide the example is hypothetical.

Genealogists familiar with 18th-century Louisiana research will immediately recognize the title as one of a pair of well-known databases by Dr. Gwendolyn Midlo Hall. The stature of Dr. Hall's work may have prompted Mills', herself a specialist in Louisiana research, to highlight this database. A Google search for the title shows the databases are freely available at . A careful examination of the site shows that the title page has been changed. The beginning year has been changed from 1718 to 1719. The title page now reads, "Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719-1820." The remaining pages of the website continue to show 1718:

Inconsistent titles on the Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy website

Could that be the cause of the missing database? A catalog search on for "Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy" shows the smaller database of free Afro-Louisianans is available on with the new "1719" title. But the slave database is not.

A catalog search for "Slave," filtered to the 1700s, reveals what might be the missing database. A database called "Louisiana Slave Records, 1719-1820" has the expected size and publication date. Hovering over the title shows the database was updated on the ambiguously formatted date of "2/11/2009."

Date Formatting Best Practices

Since so many American's have European ancestors, most genealogists soon learn that "2/11" means "2 November" in some places. That is why spelling out the month is a genealogical best practice. When a genealogy website displays dates ambiguously, users quietly—or not so quietly—question the organization's competence. One day I will discuss my theories on why and FamilySearch hire decision makers without genealogical credentials, how the occasional genealogically-incompetent product, feature, or format sneaks out, and the cyclic frustrations experienced by experienced genealogists in these organizations.

This article was supposed to be a review of an database before it became an editorial against renaming titles. I won't let the non-best-practice date format problem push me even further afield. But the database review is definitely on hold.

Was Lost, Now Found

A couple of paragraphs ago I was about to conclude that we had found the lost database under a new name: "Louisiana Slave Records, 1719-1820." Investigating this database shows in every way that it is "Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820," with a new title.

The source information for the database does not explicitly name the original database. As I write this, the source information states, with my editorial comment inserted between [ and ]:

Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo, comp.. Louisiana Slave Records, 1719-1820 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo, comp. [We would have expected Hall's title of the database to appear here. But it is missing.] Database downloaded from, 2003.

The URL gives us the ultimate proof, linking's "Louisiana Slave Records, 1719-1820" database compiled by Hall with "Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1718-1820," also compiled by Hall. The missing title further implies that renamed their copy of the database, because common practice is to drop the title from the "original data" portion of the source citation if it is redundant. renamed the database, but failed to notice that it needed to fix the source information accordingly. Since the title is no longer redundant, the source information should be (using their style, not Mills'):

Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo, comp. Louisiana Slave Records, 1719-1820 [database on-line]. Provo, UT, USA: The Generations Network, Inc., 2009. Original data: Hall, Gwendolyn Midlo, comp. Afro-Louisiana History and Genealogy, 1719-1820 (Slave) [database on-line]. Downloaded from, 2003.

How Invariant, That Title?

I find's practice of renaming databases to be troublesome. I confess to hold the belief that titles are sacred and shouldn't be touched. That is based on several beliefs:

  • It is easier to identify two copies as being the same record, book, or database if they retain the same title. I believe this reason alone warrants banning the practice of renaming databases in most cases.
  • An author, compiler, or other responsible person has the moral right to choose the name by which her work is known. In this particular case, Gwendolyn Midlo Hall placed her team's work in the public domain for the good of all. While legal, it is a disservice to ignore her title choice.
  • The card catalog does not support alternate titles, as do the catalogs employed by libraries.
  • Because renamed an existing database, the example given in Mills' QuickSheet is now invalid. Should she change it to reflect the change on What if decides it was a mistake to change the title and they change it back?
  • Changing a title "breaks" every existing source citation, whether in a publication from someone famous like Elizabeth Shown Mills, or in the genealogy of an ordinary person like you or me.
  • I have been told that used to try to hide the source of its databases so that subscribers and potential subscribers were more dependent on I don't know if that is true. The evidence given is that back in those days never displayed source information, published a lot of information freely available elsewhere on the net, and always changed the titles of records. True or not, publishing records with titles different than the originals certainly raises suspicions.
  • Neither NARA nor subscribers appreciated the magnitude of NARA records available on until provided a lookup table that provided the corresponding title for each NARA title present. Now, is saddled with the expensive and detailed task of keeping the table current.
  • It may be difficult to identify all changes necessitated when renaming a title. The website is one case in point. The incorrect source information on for this database is another.

Reasons For Title Changes

There are reasons why titles are changed. How valid these reasons are subject to opinion.

  • Some times an online collection is composed from several, even thousands of individual titles. By necessary, a new title must be composed rather than use one or all of the titles of the individual components.
  • Some times decision makers recognize that a record title preferred by experienced genealogists is unnecessarily complex for beginners. Genealogy is already too intimidating to a potentially larger audience. Anything to make it simpler is justified.
  • and FamilySearch use database/collection titles as the primary finding aids for helping users find content of interest. (Actually, global name search is probably considered the primary finding method by both organizations.)

FamilySearch's Record Search depends entirely on alphabetically ordering to place related titles together. When the number of Record Search collections was very small, and consisted mostly of census records, a chronological organization worked best. The census date was placed at the beginning of the title. Growth in vital record collections added many collections that couldn't be organized chronologically. Users of my Record Search Collections widget saw the 13 April 2009 update of a large number of collections. I believe some, if not all, of these updates were the result of moving the census date to the end of the title. As a result, collections are now named so that all records for each state are listed together.'s New Search UI includes a multi-faceted catalog search/browse capability like modern library catalogs. As a result, titles no longer serve double duty as title and finding aid.

  • Without a card catalog that supports alternate titles, sometimes a collection's alternate name or nickname is included in the title. Examples on include the Barbour Collection and the Drouin Collection. An example from Record Search is Ellis Island passenger lists.
  • Some collections change over time. Do you make titles as specific as possible so users know what geographies and time periods are currently covered? Or do you use titles that are general enough to avoid frequent title changes as content changes?

For example, the State of Utah releases death certificates for public access after 50 years, so an additional year is made available each year. By naming the Record Search collection "Utah Death Certificates 1904-1956," FamilySearch has made it necessary to rename the collection when new years are added.

On the other hand, the generic titles in Record Search for "England Marriages 1700-1900," "Germany Burials 1500-1900," and "Netherlands Births and Baptisms" make it unnecessary to retitle the collections when new content is added. Each of these collections contains the sum total of all the extraction and indexing projects completed in these areas during the past 30 years and new content will be added as additional FamilySearch Indexing projects are completed. But these titles are likely to elicit complaints from patrons who feel the titles are overly vague, or even deceptive.

  • If I'm not mistaken, in Evidence Explained Elizabeth Shown Mills advises users of Family History Library (FHL) microfilm to compare a record's actual title to that found in the FHL catalog. If the FHL changed the title for the catalog, you should ignore it and use the record's actual title, along with the FHL film number. This is a bit antithetic to the principle of citing what you saw, but the film number can get you to the proper catalog entry and the record's actual title can get you to the original record.

What do you think about title changes? Justified or not? Leave a comment at the Ancestry Insider.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Some and FamilySearch Videos

Here's a couple of videos to alert you about. The first is called, "Family History  - made simple" and is a product of StuffMadeSimple, an official FamilySearch affiliate.

Another is an commercial posted by GenealogiaTV. Can you spot the names of several spokespersons "hidden" in the pedigree?

Friday, April 24, 2009

Book Review: Citing

As an employee of FamilySearch now and before, I don't want this column to become a conflict of interest. So I don't use this column to make any money. You won't see advertisements, sponsors, or affiliate links in my newsletters or on my website.

(Affiliate links look just like normal links, but when you click a link to a commercial site and then purchase something, the site owner of the page with the link is paid profit sharing on your purchases. Perhaps you've seen websites that say something like, "support the project, so please use this link whenever you want to buy anything on Amazon.")

In the spirit of transparency and complete disclosure, I have kept you, my readers, and FamilySearch, my employer, informed of anything I think you might consider a conflict of interest. You already know that FamilySearch is my employer, so I am not about to say anything that I think would materially damage my employer, my fellow employees, or good standing. I also accept goods and services from or about FamilySearch or so that I can provide you information about these two organizations and related topics.

The Evidence! Series

I recently agreed to an invitation from Genealogical Publishing Co. to review Elizabeth Shown Mills' latest addition to the Evidence! series. The Evidence! series began with Mills' 1997 publication of Evidence! Citation & Analysis for the Family Historian. This was followed a decade later by the 885 page Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace. The first QuickSheet from Mills was the red-rimmed QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources: Evidence! Style.

Evidence!  Evidence Explained  QuickSheet: Citing Online Historical Resources  QuickSheet: Citing Databases and Images

Now Mills has added QuickSheet: Citing Databases & Images: Evidence! Style. According to the publisher,

Elizabeth Mills’s fabulous new QuickSheet provides rules and models for citing the myriad databases and images you use on With this new QuickSheet, you’ll know instantly how to cite databases that include census records, vital records, passenger lists, city directories, and family trees; and how to cite images that include manuscripts, maps, newspapers, and online books and articles. In QuickSheet: Citing Databases & Images you’ll find the standards you need for the correct citation of Ancestry sources, as well as help in judging the reliability of those sources.

For most sources, sample citations are shown here in three styles: Source List Entry, Full Reference Note, and Short Reference Note, each showing you how to deal with author/creator, title, website, URL, date accessed, item type, source of sources, and so forth. Arranged in tabular format under each of these headings, the sample citations are easy to follow and can be applied to your specific needs in citing your sources.

The QuickSheet is a heavily laminated sheet folded to form four pages of standard 8.5 x 11 inch size. After some initial materials, the pages are filled with example citations for databases of various types.

I found the "Basic Principles" in the introductory material inadequate for a beginner who's forgotten basic citation principles from high school. If you don't know when to use a source list entry, a full reference note, or a subsequent reference note, then you'll need to first review a citation style guide before you use a QuickSheet. And if you don't understand why citations are different for text and images, then you'll need to consult Evidence! or Evidence Explained. There just isn't room to adequately cover these topics in the space available.

Next to the fold of each QuickSheet page is the black band one finds on photocopies made from a book when the binding doesn't allow the page to sit flat on the copy machine. I find these blemishes amateurish, unsightly, and distracting. I can't imagine what the designer was thinking. Fortunately, they do not affect usage of the QuickSheet.

I use one or more of these publications almost daily. I recommend all four publications from the Evidence! series to everyone that does genealogy several times a week and to all libraries and Family History Centers (FHCs). For everyone else, buy or borrow and read Evidence! and the first two chapters of Evidence Explained. Then consider buying one or both QuickSheets for reference.

You'll also want to take a look at your desktop genealogy software. If it doesn't include Evidence!-compatible citation templates, by all means upgrade to a version that does, or switch to another program.

QuickSheet: Citing Databases & Images: Evidence! Style
8.5" x 11", 4 pp., folded, laminated. 2009.
ISBN 978-0-8063-1794-6
Genealogical Publishing Company
1-800-296-6687 *
$7.95 (Maryland and Michigan residents add 6% sales tax)

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Someone Wanted Me to Go Through the Film Again

It's coincidence, hunch, synchronicity, fortuitous luck, guidance, paranormal, spiritual, karma, ESP, visitation, life-after-death, fate, divinity, genetic memory, providence, intuition, Deity, inspiration, psychic, revelation, subconscious reasoning, numeracy, vision, sixth sense, collective subconscious, dream, reincarnation, educated guess, inner voice, out-of-body journey, chance, non-mechanical reality, portent, omen or "the sheer cussed ... wonder of things."1

We call it Serendipity in Genealogy.

Serendipity in Genealogy

Copyright 2006, Benjamin Crowder. Used by permission. Carolyn Wright2 was working on a microfilm of a Norwegian parish record and things were not going well. New at genealogy, unfamiliar with the Norwegian language, struggling to read the handwriting, slaving to see the faded ink strokes, it was time for Wright to turn the film into the family history center staff worker for return to Salt Lake. Wright said of this moment,

I took the film to the librarian to have her prepare to return it. As I started to hand it to her, I had the most overwhelming feeling I should go through it again. I couldn't resist, the feeling was so strong.

She returned to the microfilm reader, remounted the film, and scanned again for the names of her family. As she reviewed the film, she found an error in her notes. One child, Edvard Emil, had a different birth date than she had written. Wright asked herself,

How could I have copied out a wrong date? I corrected the error, and now sure that I had completed my task, I took the film to the desk. Again, I could not do it. Something, someone, wanted me to go through the film again.

Back to the microfilm reader she went. Back the film went into the reader. And back through the film Wright went. On this third time through, she found Edvard Emil with the original birth date. Something weird was going on. She persevered and located both children with their separate birth dates. Confused, as she was new to genealogy, only later did Wright learn of the practice of giving a later child the same name as a deceased child.

Wright is convinced that it was a loving mother who wanted both her children remembered. Maternal instinct was strong in Wright herself, who was pregnant at the time. She was so moved by the experience that she named her child after the loving mother who wouldn't let Wright return a microfilm until all her children had been identified.

1. Henry Z Jones, Jr., Psychic Roots : Serendipity and Intuition in Genealogy (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., Inc., 1993), p. 81.

2. Carolyn Wright, "Family History Moment: Two lessons learned," LDS Church News, 14 March 2009, p. 16; online edition available ( : accessed 19 April 2009).

3. Benjamin Crowder, photographer, "Microfilm Reader," digital photograph, flickr ( : uploaded 15 November 2006, accessed 20 April 2009); some rights reserved.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Loretto "Lou" Dennis Szucs

This is another in a series of encyclopedia-like articles written by the Ancestry Insider. Some serve as extensions to my failing memory while others give me someplace to link to for information that may not be known by all readers.

Loretto "Lou" Dennis Szucs

 Loretto Lou Dennis Szucs A recent Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) press release included this biography of Loretto "Lou" Dennis Szucs.

Loretto Dennis “Lou” Szucs, FUGA, holds a degree in history, and has been involved in genealogical research, teaching, lecturing, and publishing for more than thirty years.  Previously employed by the National Archives, she is currently executive editor and vice president of community relations for The Generations Network.  She has served on many archives and genealogical boards, and was founding secretary of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.  Currently, she serves as a director on the Board of the Federation of Genealogical Societies.

She has edited newsletters and quarterly journals for several genealogical societies, including the Federation of Genealogical Societies’ FORUM.  She authored They Became Americans: Finding Naturalization Records and Ethnic Origins; Chicago and Cook County Sources: A Genealogical and Historical Guide; Ellis Island: Tracing Your Family History Through America’s Gateway; The Archives: A Guide to the National Archives Field Branches (with Sandra Luebking), and Finding Ancestors in U.S. Census Records (with Matthew Wright).

Since 1980, Lou has lectured at numerous genealogy workshops and national conferences.  She has presented at the American Library Association conference and has been interviewed for the Ancestors series, ABC News, CNN News, and most recently on the ABC show, The View.  In 1995, she was awarded the designation of fellow of the Utah Genealogical Association and has received numerous other awards. [Links added by the A.I.]

It was around Szucs dining room table in 1976 that the articles of incorporation for the Federation of Genealogical Societies was signed and rough bylaws were established. She was elected as one of the fledgling organization's first officers. She serves today as one of the organization's directors.

In 2006 Szucs was the first recipient of the International Society of Family History Writers and Editors (ISFHWE) prestigious Myra Vanderpool Gormley Award of Merit. Vice President of Publishing at at the time, Dick Eastman called her, "highly respected and much loved in the genealogical community."

Earlier this year (2009) UGA honored Szucs as the Utah Genealogical Association (UGA) Silver Tray Recipient for her "untiring efforts as an author, compiler and editor of superior quality genealogical publications such as The Source [A Guidebook of American Genealogy]" (with Sandra Luebking). When initially created in 1973, this award honored scholarly contributions in any aspect of the field of genealogy, but since 1988 has highlighted special contributions in the field of publications.

WorldCat credits Szucs with 37 works in 41 publications in 1 language published between 1977 and 2007 with 5,659 library holdings among members of the WorldCat cataloging system. WorldCat includes Szucs' Family History Made Easy and additional publications not listed above.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Top 25 most popular 2009 genealogy blogs

Top 25 genealogy blogs award from ProGenealogists ProGenealogists recently announced their "25 Most Popular Genealogy Blogs for 2009" awards. We are very honored to be part of this group. A glance through the other blogs on the list is truly humbling. It's even more humbling to read ProGenealogists announcement, noting that "a Google search for genealogy blogs currently results in nearly half a million options, with over seven times that number for 'family history' blogs."

I'm not certain how to do a Google search that returns the number of blogs, but to search blog posts, try . At the time I wrote this article a search for the word genealogy returned 857,000+ blog posts containing the word genealogy. A search for "family history" (including the quotes), returns 674,000+ posts.

Subscribe to new Google Search results

The search results page contains one of my secrets for uncovering news stories that you won't see on the other genealogy news sites. You can subscribe to the results of your blog search by clicking one of the options in the left margin under the heading, "Subscribe." This will give you an email or news feed of all the new results for your search. That's only 6,600+ articles you'll have to read each day to cover all blog posts with either the phrase "family history" or the word "genealogy."

Better yet, let your favorite genealogy news blogs shift through all those posts while you use the email option, called a Google Alert, to set up a Internet-wide sweep for new information on those ancestors you're trying to find!

First Dog, Bo, showing the president how to use the leashAnd thank goodness the President's choice for new First Pet is done. Several months ago Google changed their search algorithm. My Google alert for FamilySearch started returning results containing "...First Family searches for dog..." To prevent this behavior, include quotes around words you don't want Google to break into separate words.

But I digress...

Measurement Challenges

Choosing the 25 most popular genealogy blogs had special challenges not encountered when measuring the 50 most popular genealogy websites.

"Many people read blog entries through RSS feeds and other means and seldom actually visit the blog's website," according to Kory Meyerink, noted genealogist and vice president at ProGenealogist. Instead of website traffic, ProGenealogist turned to Technorati rankings. Even this alternative proved problematic, as Technorati doesn't include Dick Eastman's popular online blog/newsletters. This led ProGenealogist to include other factors:

Hundreds of genealogy blogs were evaluated based on their overall content, Technorati rating, and industry experience. Due to the ever-changing nature of the blogosphere and the authority basis of Technorati rankings, it is anticipated that this list will change frequently.

When I first started blogging years ago (has it really been that long?) I found my Technorati authority rating changed so erratically, I couldn't stand to follow it. Since I seem to be in widget-mode of late, here's a widget that displays my authority rating in real time:

View Ancestry Insider authority

Like other widgets I've posted lately, it is likely you won't be able to see it (adjacent to "View Ancestry Insider authority") if you read this article in your email or news reader. View this article online (click here) to see the widget.

The Technorati Authority of a blog is a count of the number of other blogs that have posted links to it during the previous six months. Since other winners of the most popular blogs award have increased my authority by posting the list of winners, I'm honored to return the favor. They are:

  1. Genealogy (Kimberly Powell) 
  2. Eastman Online Newsletter* (Dick Eastman)
  3. Genea-Musings (Randy Seaver) 
  4. Creative Gene (Jasia) 
  5. DearMYRTLE (Pat Richely) 
  6. AnceStories (Miriam Midkiff) 
  7. Genealogue (Chris Dunham)
  8. footnoteMaven (Anonymous) 
  9. Genetic Genealogist (Blaine Bettinger) 
  10. Tracing The Tribe: Jewish Genealogy Blog (Schelly Talalay Dardashti) 
  11. GenaBlogie (Craig Manson) 
  12. Olive Tree Genealogy Blog (Lorine McGinnis Schulze) 
  13. Steve’s Genealogy Blog (Stephen J. Danko) 
  14. 24-7 Family History Circle (Juliana Smith)
  15. TransylvanianDutch (John Newmark) 
  16. GenDisasters (Stu Beitler) 
  17. Genealogy Insider @ FamilyTree (Diane Haddad) 
  18. Think Genealogy (Mark Tucker) 
  19. California Genealogical Society and Library Blog (California Genealogical Society) 
  20. The Genealogy Guys (George G. Morgan and Drew Smith) 
  21. CanadaGenealogy, or, 'Jane's Your Aunt' (Diane Rogers) 
  22. Ancestry Insider (Anonymous) 
  23. GenealogyBlog (Leland Meitzler) 
  24. Ancestor Search Blog (Kathi) 
  25. Genealoge (Hugh Watkins)                         /its a tie!/
    Legacy News (Legacy Tree Software)         /its a tie!/

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Latest Record Search Collections

The table below shows the most recently released or updated FamilySearch Record Search collections, with the most recent at the top. You can click on a collection name to jump right to the collection in Record Search.

This is my 2nd Record Search widget. This widget fulfills two needs unmet by the current Record Search website:

  1. Unlike, Record Search doesn't have a list showing recent releases.
  2. Unlike the rest of the Internet, Record Search doesn't allow arbitrary selection of text and copy to the clipboard. So like my Collection News widget, my own need to do so drove the development of this Latest Collections widget.

It's OK that I've built widgets that do things beyond FamilySearch's own web clients. That's the point of creating a platform of APIs. Like Yahoo, Google, Amazon, and Microsoft with their cloud platforms, FamilySearch is giving the genealogical community a set of powerful cloud APIs that third-party developers can use to build increasingly powerful applications.

This is cutting edge stuff. It won't be too long before you see increasingly powerful desktop and web-based genealogical applications. Hats off to Gordon Clarke and all the others at FamilySearch making this stuff happen.

Monday, April 13, 2009

You've Seen the Movie, Now Read the List

Leopold Pfefferberg, number 173 on the list, provided this copy to Thomas Keneally Researchers at a state library in Sydney, Australia have found a copy of Schindler's famous list. While there is no single, original list, this copy has special significance. The list was found among the papers of Thomas Keneally, author of Schindler's Ark. Before Keneally wrote this book, Oskar Schindler's heroic story was largely unknown. The book and the story then inspired Steven Spielberg's famous movie. Keneally carried this 13-page copy of the list as he went about doing research for the book. He obtained this copy of a carbon-copy from Leopold Pfefferberg, number 173 on the list, who encouraged Keneally to tell Schindler's story. The carbon copy was produced along with the original in 1944 or 1945, during which time several copies were typed up. Carbon copies were created since the originals were submitted to Nazi officials.

Search JewishGen's transcription of the list for free using either the search engine on or the search engine on Using advanced search capability on JewishGen requires a monetary contribution. Using the free search on requires registration. Any old account will do: a current subscription, an expired subscription, or a vanilla registration. To register, no credit card is required, but you will need to provide an e-mail address. Alternately, an expired subscription works just fine.

For more information, see

Credit Dick Eastman and his article for alerting me to this story.

Author Thomas Keneally, right, and researcher Dr Olwen Pryke examine his old copy of Schindler's list
Author Thomas Keneally, right, and researcher Dr Olwen Pryke examine his old copy of Schindler's list.

Friday, April 10, 2009

New Website for Utah/Idaho NFS Rollout

FamilySearch has created a new website to facilitate the rollout of New FamilySearch (NFS) to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Utah and Idaho. An alert member of the Church noticed a change to the registration website for the Church's local Family History Consultants and Church leaders. The right side of the page is now titled, "New FamilySearch Utah and Idaho Release."

Screen shot of the FamilySearch consultant registration page
Click on the screen shots to see larger images.

The new website looks like this:

Screen shot of the new 'The New FamilySearch Web Site Release in Utah and Idaho' website

Criticized for renaming their common pedigree product to "New FamilySearch," I thought smarter branding heads were prevailing when they came out with FamilySearch Family Tree and FamilySearch Record Search. (A discussion of why these names make great brands will have to wait for another article.) Now comes another interesting naming decision. The name of the new FamilySearch website is "The New FamilySearch Web Site Release in Utah & Idaho" website. This leads to interesting sentences such as, "Only stakes who have received an e-mail from FamilySearch Support with instructions to begin their rollout preparations should begin using the New FamilySearch Web Site Release in Utah & Idaho Web site and reporting readiness."

I hesitate to give you the URL for the new website, given this request that you not clog it up with your unnecessary traffic if you haven't yet been invited. You're probably safe poking around a bit on the regular pages, but you ought to avoid the multimedia portions until its your turn.

The home page currently states three temple districts as having received e-mail invitations to begin rollout preparations:

  • Rexburg Idaho (Rexburg? How come none of you told me about Rexburg?)
  • Manti Utah, and
  • Vernal Utah.

The News & Updates page will look familiar to Ancestry Insider readers. It seems the popularity of our rollout news and map have not gone unnoticed. A map. A list of announced go-live dates. What's that saying about the sincerest form of flattery? :-)

When I prepared my Red Zone rollout map, my wife told me that no one would ever comprehend the number of hours I spent crafting it, contorting here, touching up there to increase legibility while keeping the footprint small. FamilySearch took the easy (aka smart) route and provided the map in two sizes, one for size and one for legibility. Nice...

I could have done that... of course...

if I'd thought of it...

and if I didn't love tinkering so much with maps and with graphics...

Here's their NFS rollout news page:

Screen shot of the News and Updates page

Frankly, I always thought it a little odd that FamilySearch didn't upstage me sooner so they could control the messaging and use the popularity of the page to get out important notices.

Oh, well. At least I produced the very first Record Search API widget. Now if I only had time to add a list of the latest collections to it...

Stay tuned...

(And keep those rollout news tips coming!

Thursday, April 9, 2009

NFS Rollout News for 8 April 2009

I've updated the New FamilySearch (NFS) rollout map with the last month's changes.

New FamilySearch Rollout Map for 8 April 2009

Here are the districts in transition:

  • Twin Falls Idaho is set to go live in less than a week on 14-Apr-2009!
  • Monticello Utah will go one week later, 21-Apr-2009.
  • Something weird is happening with Vernal Utah. As best we know, they received word before Twin Falls, but we haven't heard when they are going live.
  • Manti Utah received word last weekend that they will be going live in about two months. That would put them live near the beginning of June.
  • While FamilySearch spokesmen have mentioned at recent conferences that districts may go live piecemeal, we've yet to hear any rumors that such is the case for any of the districts above.

I've added another category and color to the map. Pink dots indicate temples that are now equipped to accept Family Ordinance Requests (FORs). According to James W Anderson of FHCNET,

Provo has a FOR reader and card printer.  This because of all the BYU students
that have access and got it before they came here or were members in their home
wards when it rolled out.

There are a sprinkling of other temples across the Red Zone that can handle FORs. As shown on the map, they are Bountiful, St. George, Idaho Falls, Provo, and Ogden.

Anderson also reported hearing at the BYU conference that Idaho Falls received notification that they were going live, only to be un-notified. Those of you with NFS accounts can check out help center document 106609, which confirms that a memo went out on 11 March 2009 informing leaders that the notice so recently received was sent inadvertently. Poor Idaho Falls! We hope you don't become the Las Vegas of this leg of the rollout!

These changes leave just 7 districts still stuck with red dots. Things are getting exciting!

Other NFS News

In other NFS news, Tim Cross has announced that he has received a change in assignment and will no longer serve as Family Tree product manager. Ron Tanner will be taking over. One of Cross's final public comments reversed information we'd previously believed. Apparently, "the rollout [will] continue to move forward [while] we are working hard to add a few more features to the Family Tree necessary before we direct 'new' patrons immediately onto it." Previously, I'd heard that Family Tree would be a pre-requisite to starting up the rollout again.

Remember, you can always see the latest NFS rollout state at "Temple Districts Using New FamilySearch." Thank's to you that are keeping me informed. Hear some new news? Let me know at

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Breaking news: break-in news

A 14 March 2009 break-in to the offices of FamilySearch International may give Salt Lake City police the break they need in solving a spree of burglaries throughout the Salt Lake Valley. Numerous laptop and small electronics thefts have gone unsolved. But the security cameras that serve as window-dressing deterrents at some places of business are apparently live and functioning at FamilySearch, the family history service sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Not only are they functional, the images are highly defined. The video clip below shows an unauthorized individual at FamilySearch and he doesn't appear to be searching for his family history.

Video Courtesy of Salt Lake City Police

One KSL-5 TV newscast reported the footage comes from floor 5 of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, which the building directory identifies as offices of FamilySearch. For more information, watch this KSL-5 news report.

Video Courtesy of

If you can't see the videos in your e-mail or news reader, try clicking here or on the link underneath each video. Anyone with information about this case is asked to call Salt Lake Police at 801-799-INFO. Please reference case #09-47432.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

FamilySearch Record Search News


I am playing with some of the information I learned at the FamilySearch Developers Conference. I've included code above to get the Record Search news that is displayed in the little box in Record Search. Unlike Record Search, I allow the text to be selected and copied to your clipboard.

I'm still learning various reasons why it isn't working for most of you. Because I am calling from my website to the Record Search website for information, your browser could get very nervous. Involving two websites can be unsafe if one of the websites is not trustworthy. But since Record Search is trustworthy, I need to figure out how to make browsers happy.

Update 13-Apr-2009

Thank you Logan for help making this widget work with non-Internet Explorer browsers.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009 announces Ancestry Séance

Ancestry Séance, an April First new service This first day of April, announced yet another new service to help members investigate their family history: Ancestry Séance. According to company president, Tim Sullivan,

There comes a time in each genealogist's research when ancestral lines hit a dead end. Sometimes it seems an ancestor simply popped into existence. Or available records dry up. What genealogist hasn't thought to themselves, "If I could only talk to this person, I know what I would ask." With Ancestry Séance, now you can!

Ancestry Séance is a service that allows customers to pose a question to an ancestor and get an actual answer back, usually within 48 hours. According to the press release,

Amelia Earhart Imagine the thrill of solving the Amelia Earhart mystery. Think how easy it will be to jump the pond once you know where to find your immigrant's birth town. Learn the true story behind Jimmy Hoffa's disappearance. Choose between the two John Smiths in your ancestor's town. Prove your illegitimate descent from King Charles II of England. chief technology officer, Michael Wolfgramm, explained how the technology works.

We employ a sophisticated network of trained and experienced Jamaican psychics. Using the same technology we employ for the World Archives Project, each question is automatically routed to an entire array of psychic specialists in the topic area. Human error is virtually eliminated by a special computer algorithm that employs a statistic model to filter their responses. The system is completely integrated into Ancestry Member Trees, which makes it easy for users and psychics to precisely the target the same individual, eliminating expensive and time-consuming mistargetting.

When asked if genealogists will actually use a system that flies in the face of traditional evidence-based family history, company spokesperson Mike Ward said, "Hey, look how many happy customers we have that depend almost exclusively on customer-submitted family trees with obvious inconsistencies and totally devoid of any sources."

However, critics have already come forward. Said first generation American, Ape Ralph Ools,

This is psycho. Why did not choose American workers to contact our ancestors? The offshore psychic reader is cheap, that's why. There's no Jamaican psychic can read my ancestry better than an American.

Ward countered, "This move is actually good for genealogy. It's bothered us for a long time that in the Lifestyles category Zodiac websites outperform Genealogy. Sure, stands to make a lot of money from this move, but we're really doing this for the good of the industry."


Interested customers need to act quickly. This special offer is good today only. Happy April Fools, everyone. Until next year, stay tuned...

Image credit: Cease Fire Studios, "The Seance - 4/31," flickr ( : accessed 29 March 2009); remixed with permission.