Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Genealogical Maturity Model Definitions

This is another article discussing my proposed Genealogical Maturity Model (GMM).

A year ago I learned some things from Elizabeth Shown Mills. I’m not certain they were the things she was trying to teach me. Nevertheless, I think they are quite valuable. Having grown up with PAF and its special definitions for source and citation, I was having problems understanding Evidence Explained. It took Elizabeth about six weeks to talk me out of the box I was in. The lessons I took away from that discussion were:

  • Ignoring the aggregated wisdom of past scholarship is unwise, and
  • Assigning specialized definitions to words is unwise.

Accordingly, I’ve tried to avoid special definitions in the GMM wherever possible. Here are definitions for the main terms:


source – 1. the origin that supplies information.1 2. “an artifact, book, document, film, person, recording, website, etc., from which information is obtained.”2


citation – 1. “citations are statements in which we identify our source or sources for…particular [information].”3 2. “a citation states where you found [the cited] piece of information.”4


information - 1. “knowledge obtained from investigation.”5 2. “the content of a source—that is, its factual statements or its raw data.”6


evidence – 1. “something that furnishes proof.”7 2. “information that is relevant to the problem.”8 3. analyzed and correlated information assessed to be of sufficient quality.9 4. “the information that we conclude—after careful evaluation—supports or contradicts the statement we would like to make, or are about to make, about an ancestor.”10


conclusion – 1. “a reasoned judgment.”11 2. “a decision [that should be] based on well-reasoned and thoroughly documented evidence gleaned from sound research.”12


Note that the meanings are based on ordinary dictionary definitions and genealogical industry experts.

Conclusion tree will have to wait until next time. And since the above terms are largely defined in terms of one another, I’d like to spend some time talking about their interrelationships.

     1. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary, online edition (www.m-w.com : accessed 23 November 2009), “source.”

     2. Elizabeth Shown Mills, CG, CGL, FNGS, FASG, FUGA, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 2nd ed. [hereinafter, EE2] (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing Company, 2009), 828.

     3. Mills, EE2, 42.

     4. Patricia Law Hatcher, CG, FASG, quoted in The Source, ed. Loretto Dennis Szucs, FUGA, and Sandra Hargreaves Luebking, FUGA, 3rd ed. (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2006) p. 24; citing “How Do You Know?” in Producing a Quality Family History (Salt Lake City: Ancestry, 1996), 117.

     5. Merriam-Webster, “information.”

     6. Mills, EE2, 24.

     7. Merriam-Webster, “evidence.”

     8. Mills, EE2, 822.

     9. Christine Rose,CG, CGL, FASG,, Genealogical Proof Standard: Building a Solid Case (San Jose, California: CR Publications, 2005), 2.

     10. The Board for Certification of Genealogists (BCG), The BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, ed. Helen F. M. Leary, CG, CGL, FASG, (Provo, Utah: Ancestry, 2000), 8.

     11. Merriam-Webster, “conclusion.”

     12. Mills, EE2, 820.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Digitized Records Not Just for Mormons

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I've been reading your column/blog since you began - and have always been interested in the content -EXCEPT for the recent columns re "the rollout of New FamilySearch (NFS) to all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world (‘cept for the Orient)."

At a recent Board meeting of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Palm Beach County, Florida - a Board member who had visited our local FHC in Boca Raton, informed us he was told that the digitalized records for the NEW FAMILY SEARCH would not be available in this location.

Is this correct?

Please clarify exactly what this means - and if the digitalized records will only be available at various FHCs in the Utah area.

Thank you.

Sylvia Furshman Nusinov
President Emerita
Genealogical Workbook Editor

Sylvia subsequently forwarded a message she received Sunday morning:

I understand no LDS library outside Salt Lake City holds any films - they have to be ordered and yes, it takes up to 4 months for them to arrive. They seem to be closing Family History Centers regularly and I have been told that within the next two years they are going to make the whole collection available online - to members that is. At present it seems a mystery how non-members will be able to access the records. Any information welcome.

Nicole, Belgium

Dear Sylvia and Nicole,

I have good news for you. THIS RUMOR IS FALSE!

Have you ever played a party game variously called Gossip, Telephone (U.S.), Whispers, (England), Le Téléphone Arabe (France), or Stille Post (Germany)? Players sit in a circle. One person whispers a message to the next person, who passes it on around the circle. After the message has completed the circuit, the group compares the original message with its final incarnation.

At a publicity stunt in Las Vegas in 2004, a record breaking 614 participants played the game. The starting phrase, "Mac King is a comedy magic genius," became "Macaroni cantaloupe knows the future."

Let me catalog some possible sources for your rumor:

New FamilySearch

Don’t let my comment about New FamilySearch (NFS) confuse you. While it is currently available only to members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as I’ve reported, the leaders of “the Church are anxious to get New FamilySearch out to genealogists outside the Church.”

Don’t let the name “New FamilySearch” confuse you. It is the FamilySearch Family Tree offering. The name is astonishingly ambiguous. The name practically demands misunderstanding and I’ve had to deal with my share. Back in September 2008 Carolynne vowed to never index again when the ambiguity led her to believe that only Church members would have access to the resulting records. Not true!

Record Search

You can already access some of the indexed, converted microfilm on the Record Search Pilot website (at pilot.familysearch.org or via labs.familysearch.org). Once Record Search emerges from the pilot stage, you will see lots more records show up. Once the pipeline emerges from its pilot stage, then you will see a continuous flow of lots more records. Click here to review articles I’ve written about Record Search.

Unfortunately, participation in FamilySearch Indexing is not expanding as fast as it could.  While most of the 2.5 million rolls of microfilm may be digitized in 3 to 5 years, indexing at current rates will take several hundred years. Do yourself a favor and resolve to spend some time each week indexing.

New FamilySearch.org Website

Don’t be confused by information about a new FamilySearch.org website. Eventually, the old www.familysearch.org will be replaced with a new website that consolidates the many pieces currently under separate development:

A beta preview of the new site has replaced the alpha on labs.familysearch.org and can be seen fsbeta.familysearch.org.

To make the confusion worse, FamilySearch insists on using a lowercase “n” for “new FamilySearch” (the tree). As a result, it is easy to confuse the new FamilySearch and the new familysearch.org.

To avoid confusion, the Ancestry Insider always uses “New FamilySearch” (capital “N” and no “.org”) to reference the tree and “new familysearch.org” (lowercase “n” and always with “.org”) to reference the website. With other sources, you’re on your own.

FamilySearch Member

Don’t confuse the term “FamilySearch Member” with “Church Member.” As I reported last year, access to some images will be limited to FamilySearch Members, defined at the time as:

  • Volunteers and indexers who meet basic contribution requirements each quarter
  • Patrons at family history centers
  • Members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints; Church members provide the millions of dollars needed to keep FamilySearch operating

In the July 2008 announcement, FamilySearch pledged, “All data indexed by FamilySearch volunteers will continue to be made available for free to the public through FamilySearch.org—now and in the future.” This option has not yet shown up in the Record Search pilot and exact details have not been announced.

Family History Centers

As I’ve previously reported, rumors that FamilySearch is closing all its family history centers (FHCs) are not true. FamilySearch’s Russell Webster stated that the overall number of centers is actually on the increase. The number quoted on FamilySearch press releases recently jumped from 4,500 to 4,600.

Webster said that FHCs are being repurposed. In the past they were needed for microfilm access and TempleReady for Church members. As both these purposes are largely replaced by Internet offerings, the reasons to have FHCs become:

  • computer access,
  • Internet access,
  • access to FamilySearch Member records,
  • access to some premium genealogy websites,
  • access to CD databases that can’t be published on FamilySearch.org,
  • access to microfilms that can’t be digitized, and
  • face-to-face research assistance.

Home access to the internet only replaces the first three items, so there is an ongoing need for FHCs. The way I interpret Webster’s comments, repurposing leaves Utah and Idaho with too many centers, and developing countries with too few centers. (Also see KD 101753.)


In summary, Sylvia and Nicole, digitized records will be available to all, member or otherwise. If you do your part indexing, then you’ll have access in your home. Otherwise, you’ll have access in your local family history center—which generally is not closing. Even New FamilySearch, currently open only to Church members, will eventually be available to all.


-- The Ancestry Insider

Friday, November 20, 2009

NFS 0.99 Beta

We’re at the middle of the month at the middle of the quarter, so it should be time for the quarterly update to New FamilySearch (NFS). Yup. It’s been three months since the August release of NFS 0.98 so it is time for the November release, version 0.99.

Invitations to participate in the beta went out about a week ago. One beta tester shared the invitation with me. (There was no confidentiality agreement.)

Invitation to beta test NFS 0.99

If the font is too small, you’ll want to know the schedule laid out:

  • Beta test begins a few days after 11 November 2009
  • Beta test lasts until about 16 November 2009
  • Beta 2 begins about 20 November 2009
  • Beta 2 lasts until about 30 November 2009

That means we won’t see 0.99 released until December.

Gary Turner on FHCNET posted a summary of the new features, along with a link to some screenshots:


Thanks, Gary!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

NFS 1.0 for Non-Mormons

FamilySearch Logo This Thanksgiving may be the first holiday Jay Verkler (President and CEO of FamilySearch) relaxes since the rollout began for New FamilySearch (NFS) in May of 2007. That’s when St. Louis and Reno members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints received notice they would begin using NFS version 0.9.

NFS 0.9, it was explained, would be adequate for Church members to use as a replacement for TempleReady, but would lack many of the capabilities of mature desktop genealogy management programs such as The Master Genealogist. The “1.0” moniker was being saved for a future release of NFS that was ready-for-prime-time and would be released to genealogists both in and outside the Church.

But NFS 0.9 would prove to lack basic functionality present even in venerable (translation: out-dated) PAF. And thousands of questionable conclusion trees proved unsuitable seed for the original NFS architecture. This resulting in a long rollout freeze while the NFS architecture was retooled.

So Verkler may not be relaxing this Thanksgiving after all. His “To-Do” list still looks like this:

  • New FamilySearch still needs to rollout to members of the Church in the Orient. Oriental cultures and languages present special problems. The work still to be done is formidable.
  • His bosses at the Church are anxious to get New FamilySearch out to genealogists outside the Church. That is likely to be a phased rollout, just as it was inside the Church.
  • The National Genealogical Society 2010 annual conference is in Salt Lake City next year and Verkler is giving the keynote… …again.

I assume he has vivid recollections of his 2005 keynote at the Federation of Genealogical Societies annual conference in Salt Lake City (see his presentation). I remember his jaw-dropping demonstration of New FamilySearch. Everyone wanted to get their hands on it. After nearly five years he’ll stand in front of many of the same nationally-recognized genealogists.

I can imagine he’ll be very unhappy if he has to show up empty handed again.

Will Verkler have a most relaxing May Day? Stay tuned…

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

NFS Rollout News Is Nearing the End

We are one week away from finishing the rollout of New FamilySearch (NFS) to all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints around the world (‘cept for the Orient).

  • Jordan River finished rolling out on 9 November 2009.
  • Oquirrh Mountain finished rolling out on 16 November 2009. (Jordan River and Oquirrh Mountain are located in the city of South Jordan, on the southwest side of the Salt Lake Valley.)
  • Thirty stakes in the Salt Lake Temple district rolled live on 16 November 2009.
  • The remaining 41 stakes have received word that they will roll live on 23 November 2009.

And it is time for a new map:

New FamilySearch Rollout Map for 2 Nov 2009

Heard anything on the rollout to the Orient? What about genealogists outside the Church? Keep me informed at AncestryInsider@gmail.com .

Monday, November 16, 2009

A Theoretical Basis for Maturity Models (Part 2)

This is another article discussing my proposed Genealogical Maturity Model (GMM).

Last time, I abruptly closed in the middle of discussing using levels in maturity models. I’ll try and pick up right where I left off.

Levels Enable Aggregation of Multiple Factors

“Multiple, independent input variables” is a fancy way of saying that many factors determine maturity. For example, doctors may categorize premature infants by gestational week. Infant survival is dependent on many factors: respiratory development, birth weight, gender, single vs. multiple birth, brain blood vessel health, ductus arteriousus closure, intestinal health, liver development, anemia, immune system development, mother’s health, medical team, and medical facilities. Some of these factors are interdependent; infants without sufficient respiratory development are most likely to suffer bleeding around the brain.1 Other factors are independent; the degree of respiratory development in the womb is largely independent of medical personnel available to the case.

Still, the medical community finds value in grouping preterm infants by weeks gestation. Likewise, maturity models of complex systems like software development and genealogy can also find value using groupings, despite the existence of multiple input variables—factors.

The result is a model that only approximates reality. The better the approximation, the more useful the model.

Totally Ordered Sets

Last time I also threw the term totally ordered set at you. That’s a fancy way of saying that to match the definition of “maturity,” the levels have to progress from one to the next. For example, if I gave you the numbers from 1 to 5, you could place them in ascending order. If I replaced one of the numbers with an apple, and another of the numbers with the color purple, there won’t be any natural order to the five items.

To match the definition of maturity, a maturity model must define levels such that they are a totally ordered set.

Narrow Objective

After reading all your comments, I believe one reason Humphrey was successful with his Capability Maturity Model (CMM) was by narrowly defining the objective of the model. The objective of CMM is not to rate a company’s ability to successfully develop software. The focus is much finer. CMM rates a company’s ability to successfully develop software on time and on budget. (Some of you that have used CMM might be able to narrow this even further. Might it predict success only for large, DoD sized projects?)2

     1. “Quick Reference Fact Sheets: Premature Birth,” March of Dimes (www.marchofdimes.com : dated January 2009, accessed 15 November 2009).

     2. Wikipedia contributors, "Capability Maturity Model," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org : accessed 11 November 2009).

Friday, November 13, 2009

Free, For a Limited Time

It’s belated news, but in case you haven’t already seen these free offers, read on:

Holocaust Collection Free Through End of Year

I received the following from Footnote.com.

I wanted to provide you an update on our Holocaust Collection.  Originally, we planned to have these records open to the public for only the month of October.  However, due to the popularity of this collection, we have decided to keep the records open free to the public through the rest of this year.  This will enable more people to search and explore the original records from the National Archives.  On January 1, 2010 these records will become part of the paid subscription on Footnote.com.  These records, however, will remain free to access through any of the National Archives physical locations.  Please feel free to inform your audience of this news.  The url for the microsite where these records can be accessed is:  http://go.footnote.com/holocaust_records/.

Visit most any local family history center (FHC) to access other Footnote.com for free.

Ancestry Military Collection Free Today

Click to go to the Ancestry.com military collection   I received the following news from Ancestry.com.

PROVO, UT (Nov. 11, 2009) – In honor of America’s military heroes, the entire U.S. Military Collection on Ancestry.com can be searched free through Nov. 13. To begin exploring your family’s military heritage, visit www.ancestry.com/military. …

Ancestry.com today added more than 600 Navy cruise books to its online collection of military records to commemorate Veterans Day. … The collection of Navy cruise books, …represents nearly 40 years of cruises following World War II (1950-1988) and chronicles an estimated 450,000 servicemen deployed at sea during that time. Styled after yearbooks, the cruise books include the names and photographs of individuals who served aboard the ship and highlight not only significant milestones that took place during the cruise, but also the day-to-day life on board ship. While not every Navy cruise was documented in a cruise book, the Navy Department Library has on file an estimated 3,500 cruise books, which Ancestry.com plans to digitize and add to this collection over time.

The entire press release is available at Ancestry.com. Visit many public libraries and a few FHCs to access other Ancestry.com content for free.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

A Theoretical Basis for Maturity Models (Part 1)

There has been some excellent discussion of the Genealogical Maturity Model (GMM), both here and elsewhere. I see some points raised against the proposal have arisen because of my poor ability to write. I will supplement the misunderstandings by hurriedly throwing together today’s article. At a future time I will post an update to the model, incorporating some of the ideas from your comments and attempting to correct some of the problems you’ve identified.

Today, let me address a couple of the concerns raised about the proposed GMM.

I’m OK, You’re OK

It is OK to have a maturity model for genealogy. The Capability Maturity Model (CMM) created by IBM’s Watts Humphrey at the Software Engineering Institute (SEI) may be the best known,1 but other maturity models exist. Some are outside the realm of process improvement. Most are outside the realm of software development.2 For example:

  • The Stages of Growth Model is a maturity model from the 1970’s that models use of information technology (IT) by businesses. The six stages are: initiation, contagion, control, integration, data administration, and maturity.3
  • The Services Integration Maturity Model (SIMM) by IBM, consists of seven levels: silo, integrated, componentized, simple services, composite services, virtualized services, dynamically reconfigurable services.4
  • The Organizational Project Management Maturity Model (OPM3) by the Project Management Institute (PMI) applies to project management in any industry.5
  • The Business Technology Management (BTM) Maturity Model by the BTM Institute defines five levels of maturity scored across four categories: process, organization, information, and technology.6
  • The Service Oriented Architecture (SOA) Maturity Model by Progress-Sonic Software is one of several different SOA models, including the aforementioned SIMM.7

Maturity Models

The definitions of the words mature (the verb) and maturation include the ideas of “natural growth and development,” “the emergence of personal and behavioral characteristics through growth processes,” and “attain[ing] a final or desired state.”8 The word maturity can also refer to the level of maturity on the continuum towards that final, desired state.

Maturity models, by their very name, are only models of the real world. The reduction from a real world maturity continuum to a model’s discrete number of maturity levels is arbitrary, although we’ll see some good reasons to do so. The number of levels varies among maturity models. Five may be the most popular number, but as we’ve seen, other numbers exist. Having more levels makes the effort to move from one up to the next smaller, which has motivational value. However, broad levels makes it possible to combine multiple, independent input variables while maintaining a totally ordered set of levels.

That’s a little abstract, but it’s late and I’m off to bed. Stay tuned for responses to more concerns. In the meantime, continue to post your comments.

     1. Wikipedia contributors, "Capability Maturity Model," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Capability_Maturity_Model : accessed 11 November 2009).

     2. Lee Copeland, “The Maturity Maturity Model (M3), Guidelines for Improving the Maturity Process,” StickyMinds.com (www.stickyminds.com/sitewide.asp?Function=WEEKLYCOLUMN&ObjectId=6653 : accessed 11 November 2009); this satire on maturity models contains a list of 34 serious models.

     3. Wikipedia contributors, "Stages of growth model," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Stages_of_growth_model : accessed 11 November 2009); citing Richard Nolan, "Managing The Crisis In Data Processing," Harvard Business Review 57 (March-April 1979): 115–126.

     4. Ali Arsanjani and Kerrie Holley, “Increase Flexibility with the Service Integration Maturity Model (SIMM),” IBM developerWorks (www.ibm.com/developerworks/webservices/library/ws-soa-simm/ : 30 September 2005). See also the Open Group Service Integration Maturity Model (OSIMM).

     5. “Organizational Project Management Maturity Model,” Project Management Institute (www.pmi.org/BusinessSolutions/Pages/OPM3.aspx : accessed 11 November 2009).

     6. Wikipedia contributors, "Business Technology Management," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Business_Technology_Management : accessed 11 November 2009).

     7. Sonic Software, “SOA Maturity Model,” Progress Sonic, a website of Progress Software(www.sonicsoftware.com/solutions/service_oriented_architecture/soa_maturity_model/index.ssp : accessed 11 November 2009).

     8. Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary (www.m-w.com : accessed 11 November 2009).

Friday, November 6, 2009

Tim Sullivan Rings Opening Bell

Thursday morning, Tim Sullivan, the CEO of Ancestry.com, rang the opening bell to start trading on the NASDAQ stock exchange. See a video of the event. (You must be a member of Facebook to view the video.) Here's a few shots from the video:

And here are some more photographs celebrating the occasion:

Tim Sullivan celebrates Ancestry.com IPO on NASDAQ
(L-R) Bruce Aust (Executive Vice President of NASDAQ), Tim Sullivan (President and Chief Executive Officer of Ancestry.com Inc., ACOM), and the unidentified guy in a green tie celebrate Ancestry.com’s initial public offering at The NASDAQ Stock Market. (© 2009, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.)

Ancestry.com corporate management celebrates IPO
Ancestry.com leadership celebrates going public in front of the NASDAQ MarketSite Tower at 43rd and Broadway in Times Square. (© 2009, The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc.)

I’m going to take an embarrassing stab at identifying the people in this photograph. Can somebody at Ancestry.com check me and post the corrections? (L-R):

  • Thomas Layton? (Director),
  • Benjamin Spero (Director),
  • Mike Wolfgramm (Chief Technology Officer),
  • Victor Parker (Chairman of the Board),
  • Eric Shoup (VP of Product),
  • Howard Hochhauser (Chief Financial Officer),
  • Joshua Hanna (Sr. VP & International GM),
  • Tim Sullivan (President, CEO, & Director),
  • Jonathan Young (VP of Development),
  • David H. Rinn (Sr. VP of Strategy),
  • Andrew Wait (Sr. VP and Family History GM),
  • Jeff Weber (HR),
  • Christopher Tracy (Sr. VP of Operations),
  • Not Glen Beck (Onion News),
  • Cheyenne Richards (VP Marketing),
  • William Stern (General Counsel),
  • David Goldberg (Director)

I’ve yet to receive the prospectuses I’ve requested from the underwriters. But Ancestry.com posted it today with the SEC. Click here to see it.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

News Ketchup: Today's the Day

Modification of an image
© 2005, The Facey Family
Some rights reserved.

It’s time for a little news ketchup!

Bullet Ancestry.comToday’s the Ancestry.com IPO

Yesterday, Ancestry.com announced the pricing of its IPO at $13.50 per share. And today is the day that Ancestry.com goes public! They began trading on the NASDAQ this morning under the symbol ACOM. You can read the announcement in the new Investor Relations section of the Ancestry.com corporate website.

The Ancestry.com Investor Relations section includes a page for your smart phone with up to the minute news and stock quotes, no doubt delayed by 20 minutes. (As I write this before the market opens, the page optimistically shows a green up arrow.) And no doubt Ancestry.com employees will spend a record amount of time today watching the price of their stock change minute by minute and hour by hour.

To see Ancestry.com's latest filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, click here.


Click here to vote

Today’s the Last Day to Vote

Today is the last day to vote for your favorite blog. You can vote more than once. Stuff the ballot box for the Ancestry Insider in category #8! Click here to vote. Click here for more information.

FamilySearch BulletToday I fixed the NFS rollout news

Today I've fixed yesterday's NFS rollout news. I miscounted the number of stakes in the Jordan River temple district. Thoughtful reader, RayDean, alerted me to the error. Good news. The rollout will likely finish a week earlier, before Thanksgiving. The corrected article is "NFS Rollout News for Election Day 2009." The corrections have also been applied to "Temple Districts Using New FamilySearch."

Bullet Ancestry.com

For a little entertainment, try e-mailing a request for an Ancestry.com stock prospectus to the BofA Merrill Lynch e-mail address included in Ancestry.com press release yesterday (Prospectus.Requests@ml.com). Yesterday about 8:00pm e-mails sent to this address were answered with an automated message that they were out of the office until 16 November!

(Sarcasm Warning!) They're probably spending their big bonuses before the government can take the money back. Your tax dollars at work. Ancestry.com is really getting their money's worth for the $1.5 million fee they're paying Merrill Lynch. I'm sure the other underwriting banks don't mind Merrill Lynch taking a little time off during the IPO. It’s not like we’re in a risky environment, or anything. (Sarcasm warning ended.)

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

NFS Rollout News for Election Day 2009

We are down to just one red temple district before the rollout of New FamilySearch (NFS) is complete for all members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (outside the Orient). All too soon the rollout of New FamilySearch will begin to genealogists outside the Church. What is the Genealogical Maturity Level (GML) of the data in New FamilySearch (NFS)? Would you be comfortable showing off what is in there today? Does it reflect your personal Genealogical Maturity Level? Make this the day you elect to start adding high quality sources for correct information in New FamilySearch (NFS)!

New FamilySearch Rollout Map for 2 Nov 2009

A lot has happened to the rollout map since the last update a few short weeks ago:

  • Mt. Timpanogos in American Fork went live on 19 October 2009!
  • Bountiful went live on 26 October 2009!
  • Draper went live earlier this week, 2 November 2009!
  • Jordan River began going live, also on Monday this week!
  • And finally, Monday also brought the announcement that Oquirrh Mountain in South Jordan will begin going live on 9 November 2009.

Those predicting that the Salt Lake Temple would be last are correct. It remains the only red dot on the map. My predictions for the rest of the red-zone rollout?

  • We already know that on 9 November 2009, Jordan River will complete, becoming temple number 123.
  • On 16 November 2009, Oquirrh Mountain will likely become temple number 124?
  • Also that day, Salt Lake will start with about 34 stakes going live?
  • Then on 23 Number 2009, the final stakes in the Salt Lake temple district will receive access?

Those are my guesses. And the red zone rollout of New FamilySearch will be over…

What will we do then? Keep you informed of the rollout to the Orient and to genealogists outside the Church, of course! Stay tuned!

When you get a go live date, let me know at AncestryInsider@gmail.com . And stay tuned to the Ancestry Insider at “Temple Districts Using New FamilySearch” for the latest news!

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Ancestry.com Goes Public This Week

Ancestry.com logo Plans seem to be proceeding for Ancestry.com to go public this week. Renaissance Capital has selected Ancestry.com as its featured IPO for the week. You can read more here and here.

Yesterday Ancestry.com filed a Form 8-A which I assume officially registered their stock for sale on the Nasdaq stock exchange. They also filed an amended S-1 statement reflecting a reverse 1-for-2 stock split that took place last Friday.

This is a common step taken just before an IPO when the value of each share is too low to fall within the desired price range. Ancestry.com is targeting a price between $12.50 and $14.50 a share. So, for example, if shares were valued at $7 each, a reverse 1-for-2 stock split would take two shares valued at $7 apiece and exchange them for one share valued at $14.

Ancestry.com is expected to price its stock tomorrow. On the following day it will begin trading on the Nasdaq using the symbol ACOM. (See coverage at Reuters ACOM.O.)

The offering consists of over 4 million shares of common stock offered by the company and under 3.4 million shares offered by current shareholders, making a total of about 7.4 million shares. This will bring the total number of common stock shares in the company to nearly 42.5 million. The company does not have any preferred shares, so Ancestry.com must expect a company valuation of about 658 million dollars on 217 million in revenues and 11 million in net income.

About $12.1 million of the money raised is earmarked to repay CIT, which declared bankruptcy on Sunday. The repayment from Ancestry.com is a drop in the bucket for CIT. With 71 billion dollars of assets, it is the fifth largest bankruptcy in US history. The 2.3 billion dollars invested in CIT Group by taxpayers last December is expected to be totally lost.

To see Ancestry.com’s amended S-1 filed yesterday, click here. To see their Form 8-A, Registration of Securities, click here.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Genealogical Maturity Model Proposal

Genealogical Maturity Levels, layered in chocolate
Genealogical Maturity Model
is made of levels
like a chocolate cake.
© 2008, Jimmy McDonald.
Used with permission.

This is the first article in a a series discussing my proposed Genealogical Maturity Model (GMM).

Cross-pollination from one field of knowledge to another is a common source of innovation. Today, I’d like to introduce a concept to the genealogy world that I learned from the software world: maturity models. Carnegie Mellon University studied software companies’ ability to successfully complete projects. Experts noticed that companies typically matured their software development capabilities in a specific order. They constructed a five level framework to model these improvements:1

1. Initial (chaotic, ad hoc) The starting point
2. Repeatable The process is used repeatedly, with roughly repeatable outcomes
3. Defined The process is defined
4. Managed Process metrics are managed
5. Optimized Management includes process optimization and improvement


I’ve applied the concept of maturity models to genealogists to describe the growing maturity, capabilities, and knowledge through which I’ve observed genealogists progress. The Genealogical Maturity Model is a work-in-progress. I invite you to leave comments with your feedback, corrections, and additions.

The Genealogical Maturity Model

The Genealogy Maturity Model has five levels, GML 1 through GML 5.

1. Entry Newly interested in genealogy
2. Emerging Emerging knowledge of how to do genealogy
3. Practicing Usually produces verifiable genealogical conclusions
4. Proficient Produces verifiably correct genealogies
5. Stellar Produces well-regarded genealogies


Sources and Citations

One can describe the genealogical maturity level for many different categories. In the tables, below, some descriptions are additive. That means a genealogist not only performs as described for a given level, but also practices all positive skills mentioned in lower levels. The citation descriptions below are an example.

# GML Sources Citations
1. Entry

Typically relies on compiled genealogies.

Captures URLs for online sources and citations for published sources.

2. Emerging

Mostly relies on compiled genealogies and online sources.

Increasingly captures necessary information for manuscript sources.

3. Practicing

Uses a limited number of record types and repositories. Mostly relies on online and microfilmed sources.

Typically produces complete source citations.

4. Proficient

Uses a wide variety of record types. Often contacts record custodians to obtain copies of high-quality sources.

Gives complete and accurate source citations including provenance and quality assessment.

5. Stellar

Insightfully pursues research at multiple, targeted repositories, making use of a plethora of records and record types.

Overcomes limitations of genealogical software to create well organized, industry standard reference notes and source lists.


Information and Evidence

As genealogists learn, we handle information and evidence in more effective ways.

# GML Information Evidence
1. Entry

Has not learned to abstract information from sources (still thinking in terms of primary and secondary sources), making analysis more difficult.

Limited understanding of what constitutes evidence and the role it plays.

2. Emerging

Learning to separate the concepts of sources and information. Beginning to see the need for healthy skepticism.

Growing dependence on evidence. Learning to evaluate the quality of sources, information, and evidence.

3. Practicing Collects information from the consulted sources and analyzes source characteristics separately from information characteristics.

Correlates the evidence arising from the collected information.

4. Proficient

Captures all information from the consulted sources.

Carefully accounts for all conflicting evidence.

5. Stellar

Recognizes usable information where others don't.

Able to find evidence in spite of burned counties, illegitimacy, and other dead ends that stump other researchers.


Conclusions and Conclusion Trees

As genealogists become more experienced, we make better conclusions and as our conclusions get better, our conclusion trees grow in quality.

# GML Conclusions Conclusion Trees
1. Entry

In the absence of evidence, uses logic and instinct to eyeball conclusions from available information.

Often incorrectly merges or combines individuals in trees.

2. Emerging

May discount conflicting evidence in preference to the most prevalent evidence.

Growing hesitancy to merge or combine individuals without evidence.

3. Practicing

Accurately assigns correspondence between records and people. Resolves conflicting evidence.

Never merges compiled genealogies into own tree. Contributes or changes community trees only with evidence.

4. Proficient

Creates soundly reasoned, coherently documented conclusions. Can utilize indirect evidence.

Manages evidence separately from conclusion tree. Not interested in trusting high quality conclusions to a community tree.

5. Stellar

Develops new research methodologies. Creates clear and convincing written conclusions. Teaches and inspires others.

Has put so much work into their conclusion tree, they are highly likely to publish it.


I invite the feedback of the entire genealogical community (including you grammarians, editors, and perfectionists).

  • In each category, see if you think I’ve described the natural maturity progression.
  • Do the single word GML names and the single sentence definitions reflect the descriptions across all the categories?
  • Also, I’m hoping a majority of genealogists would score the same GML in each category (sources, citations, etc.). Score yourselves and let me know if you think I need to make adjustments to any categories. Of course, since we are all different, we should expect that some people will have different scores in different categories.
  • Do you have another category you’d like to see added? Feel free to contribute draft descriptions for each level in the category. I have a couple of my own to introduce next time.

The Genealogical Maturity Model can be a useful tool for evaluating ourselves, setting goals, and improving our capabilities. Together we can fine tune this tool and we can optimize its value.

Stay tuned…

      1. Wikipedia contributors, "Capability Maturity Model," Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Capability_Maturity_Model&oldid=322826971 : accessed October 30, 2009).