Friday, January 29, 2010

Visiting the Family History Library? Dine at the JSMB

Starting Monday, you’ll have to use a new ramp to enter the Joseph Smith Memorial Building (JSMB) parking garage. More on that later. Right now, I’m hungry.

Construction of the City Creek project has severely limited dining choices for Family History Library (FHL) visitors. Several choices not too far from the FHL are the restaurants in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building:

The Roof Restaurant The Roof Restaurant is Utah's premier gourmet buffet. With a selection of international and domestic cusine [I think they meant cuisine] prepared daily by our head chef, and an inspiring view of Temple Square that can't be beat. Open nightly for dinner. [Located in the northwest corner of the 10th floor of the JSMB. This is the most expensive “cusine” in Salt Lake City.]


The Garden Restaurant The Garden Restaurant is open for lunch and dinner with American cuisine that includes pasta, gourmet salads, hambugers [I hope they meant hamburgers], and our chef's special entrees. The casual garden atmosphere and affordable pricing [as opposed to the Roof] make it a great dining location for groups or families! [Also on the 10th floor, but in the southwest corner. Avoid sunset and ask for a table with a view of the Temple.]


The Nauvoo Cafe The Nauvoo Café is a downtown Salt Lake City, Utah hotspot for hot breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Known for its famous hot-carved sandwiches and succulent pot pies, The Nauvoo Café is sure to satisfy your taste buds. And the affordable pricing will satisfy your budget. [“Affordable” is true, relative to the other three. Utilizing a cafeteria style line, this place has the fastest service—if the line isn’t too long. First floor of the JSMB, on the west side.] (Source)


The Lion House Pantry Restaurant Enjoy exceptional home-style fare as you dine amidst the history that surrounds you, in Brigham Young’s personal residence, The Lion House, in Downtown Salt Lake City. Offering a selection of entrees that rival the best home cooking, The Pantry Restaurant features authentic recipes that have been passed down through generations. [Located East of the JSMB, go down the alley just past the Church Administration Building. The entrance is towards the back of the building. The home-style cooking is accentuated by the slightest suggestion of the smell in your grandparent’s basement. I’m not saying that’s a bad thing; just how many people can say they’ve eaten in Brigham Young’s root cellar?] (Source)

It’s a good idea to drop by the FamilySearch Center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building and pick up a 10% discount coupon—good at any of these four restaurants.

Important: Parking Entrance Change

Now back to the parking garage changes.

Beginning Monday, 1 February 2010, the old entrance to the JSMB parking garage will close and a new entrance will open. The new entrance ramp will be in the middle of the street, like the entrance to the the Conference Center parking. (They call it an "in-street parking ramp.") To enter the parking garage, you must be going west. The entrance ramp begins at or near the intersection of State Street and South Temple Street.

New entrance to the JSMB parking garageThe Church Administration building backdrops the sign for the new entry ramp

New JSMB parking entry ramp 
A four-wheeler temporarily blocks the new
entry ramp to the parking garage of
the Joseph Smith Memorial Building
(visible on the right).
The old ramp will close permanently.

At the bottom of the ramp, you'll make a right-hand turn to enter the parking garage. (Once the City Creek underground parking is open, a left-hand turn will take you into it.)

When exiting, you'll leave the garage and make a right-hand turn to go up the exit ramp, again heading westbound. The exit ramp surfaces (like a theater vomitorium) towards the intersection of Main Street and South Temple Street.

Parking under the JSMB is limited, and is among the more expensive parking downtown. However, if you eat at one of the aforementioned restaurants, you can get your parking ticket validated.

Thursday, January 28, 2010 Bloggers Day: DPS Tour

We were treated to a tour of Document Preservation Services (DPS) after Laryn Brown’s presentation. We were told this was the only place we could use our cameras, so of course I forgot and left my good camera behind. Fortunately, I still had my glasses and umbrella (wink, wink).

Digital Preservation Services (DPS) occupies a half floor in one of the two buildings at Workers were sandwiched into small cubicles with no sound barriers. It was like a hive of activity (right). Digital Preservation Services
Microfilm scanner at DPS Microfilm scanning is only done at the DPS facility in Provo, Utah. Any film that needs to be scanned is shipped here. Laryn Brown told us that they keep a high speed film scanner busy around the clock (left).
Images whirl by on the operator’s computer screen (right). While the scanner is capable of higher speeds, limits the speed so the operator can perform a quick quality check on every image. Others perform more extensive checks (below). Images on the operator's monitor, DPS Digital Preservation Services Digital Preservation Services
Operator positions documents below a planetary camera uses a planetary camera to digitize documents to fragile to run through a sheet-fed scanner. An operator places the documents on a flat surface underneath the scanner (left). The camera is mounted straight above the documents. The operator takes a picture, which is transferred directly into the computer (below). Digital Preservation Services camera The planetary camera transfers the image to a computer uses a Kirtas book scanner for high speed scanning of books. Two cameras are employed to photograph the left and right pages simultaneously (below). The scanner automatically turns pages (right). The Kirtas book scanner automatically turns book pages
Kirtas book scanner at Digital preservation services
While we were there, proudly showed off some valuable records they saved from destruction. It hurt to see they were cutting off the spines so the pages could be fed through a sheet scanner. But it was good to realize that as a result, lots of people could get access. After we left, they asked us not to mention the records. They weren’t supposed to show us because the record set hasn’t been announced. unidentified records DPS project tracking board employee explains stuff about some sort of project development board. My memory fails me, but I think this room was used to track projects during imaging and keying? Maybe? (Left)
Ancestry 2010 DPS Project board Ancestry 2010 DPS Project board closeup
Another employee explains another project board, the purpose of which has again eluded me (above). I’m guessing that the board shows projects that are nearing publication. Each project has a flag and a photograph associated with it (above).
Canon DR-6050C Scanner Somehow I didn’t get a picture of the sheet-fed scanner was using to scan the records that we weren’t supposed to see. The scanner is able to scan both sides of a page at once. It is the same scanner they take out to do free scanning for people. (More on that later.)


That’s it for our tour. Next week I’ll give you a report on the technology presentation by Mike Wolfgramm and Jonathan Young.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Vault Vednesday: Vault Toured by Leaders

Openings into the GMRV 
Four openings into the face of the
mountain are easily seen in this photo,
plus the access building at the right.

It’s Vault Vednesday! This is another in a series highlighting the Granite Mountain Record Vault (GMRV) and the NGS Family History Conference coming to Salt Lake City, 28 April—1 May 2010.

Vault Toured by Leaders

After three years of construction, by December 1963 the Granite Mountain Record Vault was virtually completed. Tours were given to top authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the first Monday in December. A luncheon and film showing construction work preceded the tours. Hugh B. Brown and N. Eldon Tanner, counselors in the Church presidency spoke briefly. The following day, business leaders and educators toured the vast tunnel complex.

Brown paid tribute to those who conceived, planned, and built the vault. Tanner said that the natural humidity and temperature are most ideal and the vault would provide maximum protection for irreplaceable microfilm. The cost for the project, at the time, ran under $2 million.

2010 NGS Family History ConferenceThe 2010 NGS Family History Conference

If you come to NGS this year, you’ll get to attend “An Evening Celebration of Family History,” a special event Thursday evening.

Don’t miss this historic evening of entertainment and celebration! FamilySearch and the Utah Genealogical Association join to bring you a unique experience—a memorable evening held at the LDS Conference Center at Temple Square. The evening will include a multi-media tribute to family history, special guest speaker, and mini-concert by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.

All conference attendees will receive a free ticket to this special event.

Tune in next week for public tour information, same vault time, same vault channel!

Early bird registration must be postmarked by 8 March 2010. There are just 41 days left.
Pre-registration must be postmarked by 12 April 2010. There are just 76 days left.
The conference begins 28 April 2010. There are just 92 days left.


      Dexter Ellis, "Inspection Tours Set for Records Vaults in Canyon," Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 30 Nov-ember 1963, Church News section, p. 3, cols. 2-5; digital images ( papers : accessed 25 December 2009). 
     "Vault Toured By Church, Civic Leaders," Deseret News (Salt Lake City, Utah), 2 December 1963, p. 12 B, col. 1; digital images ( : accessed 25 December 2009).
     James B. Allen, et. al., “Hearts Turned to the Fathers,” BYU Studies Vol. 34 No. 2 (1994-1995).

Tuesday, January 26, 2010 Bloggers Day: DPS (Part 2)

Last year I intended to do stupendously rich articles about Bloggers Day presentations. Since I never got around to it, this year you’re getting my stupidously poor notes.

This is the second half of the presentation from Laryn Brown, senior director, Document Preservation Services (DPS).


Indexing is not transcribing. It is the process of creating a finding aid for the image. The indexes help narrow your search.

Here is an example of the information in an index:

Example index entry

-  For that example, the image below shows the additional information not available in the index:

Additional information is available from the image must work with a large range of sources: manuscript and printed sources, both in all states of legibility. works with a large range of sources

One of the toughest jobs in an indexing project is writing the instructions to indexers, precisely communicating what to do with exceptions. This is true whether indexers are English speaking community indexers or paid workers.

Paleography and Indexing accuracy

20-30% of records are indeterminate, even by paleographic experts. 

   [I think this is a little high, but maybe the statistic holds over a wide range of records. From my experience, I certainly agree with the point that “unaided interpretation” is much more difficult than “aided interpretation.”

   The biggest complaints about the quality of indexes come from genealogists who do genealogical lookups (“aided interpretation”), but haven’t done much indexing (“unaided interpretation”). For example, “Samuel” and “Lemuel” are often indistinguishable when indexing. But if you are looking for one in particular and all the other identifying information about the person, his relatives, and such, are as expected, it is pretty easy to give a proper interpretation.] has found that professional Chinese indexers have better character accuracy, and [native-speaking] community indexers have better word accuracy.

   [That sounded impressive at the time. In retrospect, for both to be true, Chinese indexers outshine native speakers only for characters that don’t occur in words, such as initials.]

Audit, arbitrators, and final reviewers ultimately determine the accuracy of an index.

Professional Indexing uses 2 or 3 firms that specialize in old handwriting. They are very, very fast. The best English paleographers are surpassed by the work of these firms.

The Chinese ability at character recognition is very good. They learn 2,000+ to read a newspaper. Learning 26 to 30 more is not difficult.

   [The Chinese in Taiwan use traditional Chinese characters, for which it takes about 4,000 characters to read a newspaper. Communist China simplified its character set to increase literacy. Adding to the difficulty of learning several thousand characters, each character must be learned in two or more forms, such as standard script, semi-cursive script, grass script, and simplified. As new characters are added, the size of a standard dictionary has grown, from 48,000 characters a century ago to over 100,000 today.

   It should be little wonder, then, that professional Chinese indexers can quickly adapt to unfamiliar handwriting.]

When it comes to unstructured documents, often uses a firm in Uganda. Since the people there speak English as their native language, they can read narrative English better.

[The Drouin Collection is a good example of narrative records. In the example below, the indexer read “Hogan, Terence Married” in the margin, then scanned the text for the event type and came upon “born.”]

Example from the Drouin Collection index_thumb

Record from the Drouin Collection

-  Infrastructure can be an issue when working with foreign firms. lost connectivity to a partner for a day because of an earthquake.

Healing Indexes

Users are allowed to make corrections and index fields that weren’t indexed by has seen a huge increase in corrections since the change to the new record viewer. Andrew thinks they are doing tens of thousands of corrections per week. They are now doing per day what they used to do per month.

If you index a field that is not in the search form, use Keyword on the search form to search for it.

World Archives Project

Maybe 30,000 registered volunteers

Why Document Preservation Matters

-  In March last year, Cologne’s historic archive collapsed into a subway construction site. The archive was one of the three largest in the country, holding 65,000 priceless documents, thousands of maps, and a half million photos. The oldest document dated from 922 A.D.

  An archivist looks at debris of Cologne's archive [It is estimated that the collapse tore apart one-quarter of the archive’s documents. In a weird twist, plans are underway to piece many back together using software developed by the former East German secret police to spy on citizens by restoring shredded documents. (Source)]

-  A month later, an earthquake in L’Aquila, Italy caused the collapse of the cupola of the 18th-century Baroque church of St Augustine, completely flattening the adjoining Palazzo del Governo that housed the state archives.

  Aquila State Archive [Officials are attempting to recover around four kilometers of shelves of manuscripts, books, and rare documents. (Source)]

*  The digitizing priorities we set are not unlike your experience scanning your aunt’s records. You may start with the intention of scanning everything, but after a while you decide what is most important and you scan it first.


After Vault Wednesday we’ll return to Bloggers Day with pictures from our tour of DPS.

Monday, January 25, 2010 Bloggers Day: DPS

After the data center, loaded us back into black vans and whisked us down south of Salt Lake City, past Stonehenge, to headquarters in Provo, Utah. I was hoping for fake motorcycle cops ahead and behind us, but no luck.

When we arrived, Laryn Brown, senior director, document preservation operations, gave us a presentation about Digital Presentation Services (DPS), followed by a tour. DPS is the equivalent of the FamilySearch Digital Pipeline, but with a less imaginative name.

Data Preservation Services (DPS) - Our aim is to preserve family history records across the globe and to make them searchable online.

A map of locations from May 2009

DPS operates globally

20 locations around the world 

Permanent offices in Provo, Washington DC, and London

DPS branch operations in offices in: Sydney, Paris, Munich, China

Domestic DPS operations are in: Worcester MA, Albany NY, Atlanta GA, Montgomery AL, Savannah GA, Topeka KS, and Kansas City MO.

The DPS process consists of

1.  Discovery & Licensing – the process of finding archives and libraries willing to share their material.

2.  Acquisition

Even public domain material takes permission to physically access.

Took 4 years of negotiation permission to digitize at one British archive

3.  Preservation/stabilization

Some material in lesser archives needs to be stabilized prior to imaging

Photograph of rain soaked records found by In 2008 arrived at an archive and found the records soaked and piled in a restroom. “If we hadn’t been there at that moment,” says Brown, “about 1.2 million pages of birth and death records would have disappeared.”

4.  Imaging

Document forensics are required for Special problems. As we got to see last year, developed a special digitization camera employing a technique usually called Multispectral imaging (although Brown didn’t use that term).  Below are examples from the 1851 England Census in the Manchester area that were water damaged during storage, but were restored using lighting outside the visible spectrum. The examples below show how three example documents appear under normal lighting conditions, and how the documents appear when digitized using multispectral imaging.

Visible Light
Alternate spectrum light
Sample 1 in visible light Sample 1 in infrared light
Sample 2 in visible light Sample 2, probably IR light
Sample 3 in visible light Sample 3 in UV light

[It’s worth noting that prior to, the Manchester & Lancashire Family History Society used volunteers and multispectral transcription to produce legible transcriptions of these same records. Read more on the project’s website where some of the information is available at no cost.]

5.  Indexing – more about Indexing tomorrow.

6.  Result is posted online, live to customers.


Next time we’ll finish the remainder of Brown’s presentation.'s Laryn Brown Laryn Brown, senior director of document preservation, is a ten-year veteran at, working as a product manager, development manager, and now in Document Preservation Services. He has a background in imaging and spent two years in London establishing the global imaging group that is currently photographing records in nine countries. He graduated from Brigham Young University with a masters degree in business management. An avid genealogist, Laryn spends most of his time doing Scottish research.

Friday, January 22, 2010

News Ketchup for 21 January 2010

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

Holidays, Blogger's Day, and the Vault series have put me way behind. To ketchup, here’s several FamilySearch and  news items.

Bullet Ancestry.comThe Genealogue wasn’t feeling the love when he wasn’t invited to In retaliation, the hilariously funny blogger penned his, “Top Ten Reasons I’m Not Attending Blogger Day 2010.” A minor warning to my most-conservative readers: if you find Conan O’Brian offensive, if Jay Leno or David Letterman occasionally cross the line, or if the Ancestry Insider’s humor has ever made you uncomfortable, some of Chris Dunham’s humor may also do the same. But if my warning only enhances your desire to check him out, you’ll definitely want to avail yourself of the “Top Ten Lists” link in The Genealogue website header.

FamilySearch BulletJames Anderson posted a newsy item on FHCNET last month with a bunch of insider rumors he’d heard during a meeting for community volunteers working on the FamilySearch Wiki.

  • New FamilySearch (NFS) version 0.99, released in December, has improved place name support. Anderson previously could not enter, but can now, a location with five levels. This might be necessary when including a cemetery name in addition to city, county, state, and nation.
  • Anderson heard that NFS will roll out to Asia before it goes to genealogists outside the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
  • FamilySearch knows that sourcing is a problem in NFS and solutions are being worked on. (I sure hope so!)
  • FamilySearch also knows that an uncombine is much more onerous than combine and is working on a solution.
  • IOUS problems are nearly resolved. Solving this problem has consumed a lot of resources that can finally be applied to enhancing NFS.
  • Randy Bryson, a FamilySearch employee, had indicated that Record Search would be getting a large amount of unindexed images added in about six months time. And if not in six months, then some other time…

Bullet announced last week that it is discontinuing publication of Ancestry Magazine. See the full announcement on the Ancestry Magazine website. (Private message: Best wishes to all my good friends at Ancestry Magazine. Let me know where you land.) “And another one’s gone. Another one bites the dust…”

FamilySearch BulletPaul Allen on the cover of Mormon Entrepreneur magazineSpeaking of magazines, a new magazine, Mormon Entrepreneur, is featuring in the current issue several successful Family History entrepreneurs and companies that you may be familiar with. Obviously, some material may target members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (the Mormons) or at least to New FamilySearch users. But most of it is of interest to anybody in genealogy. Paul Allen made the cover. The magazine is online only, so there is no center fold. In this, the third issue, you’ll find:

BulletTreeAll you literary folk already know about William Wordsworth’s poem, “We are Seven.” But I discovered it only recently. I think because I am a genealogist—and because I believe in eternal families—I found the poem strangely poignant. Read it on the Google Books website.

Bullet recently improved the wildcard feature used in searching.

Wildcard Basics. There are two wildcard characters: the question mark and the asterisk. Use a question mark in place of a letter when a name can be spelled with alternate letters at that spot. For example, Nels?n will match Nelson and Nelsen. Use an asterisk when the alternatives are of different lengths. For example, to match Abbot and Abbott, use Abbo*. Don’t be surprised if the asterisk matches names that you hadn’t thought of, such as Abbordanddo for Abbo*. An interesting quirk of the asterisk wildcard is that it can also match zero letters. So Abbo* will also match Abbo. You can use this to your advantage, however. You could search for Abbot*. The same is NOT true for the question mark. If you use one, there MUST be a letter at that spot.

Previously, required you to have three regular letters before you could use a wildcard. Consequently, while you could use a wildcard at the end of a name, such as Han*, you could not use it at the beginning.

With the improvements, now the three regular letters can be anywhere, such as Ra*d. And a name can begin with a wildcard, like *ieffer, as well as end with one, like Jens*. However, you are not allowed to have wildcards at both beginning and ending.

FamilySearch BulletFamilySearch users have long complained that separate login accounts are required for the old, the New FamilySearch, the Wiki, the FamilySearch Forums, FamilySearch Indexing, and for other websites belonging to the Church. Users are finally seeing the first steps towards solving this problem. Members of the Church can now use the same login account for the FamilySearch Wiki as for Stake and Ward websites. Clicking Sign In displays this message:

FamilySearch Wiki Sign In Message

Now might be the best opportunity you’ll have to register the login name of your dreams. The login name you claim will eventually be used across all FamilySearch websites. Registration is open to all, regardless of membership in the Church.

Bullet Ancestry.comNear the end of December, DearMYRTLE discovered a flaw in’s “View Maps” feature. Genealogists have long included county names along with locality and state names.

Some localities are divided by county lines, such as Franklin Park, New Jersey, which is bisected by the Middlesex/Somerset county line. Sometimes separate localities share one name when separated by a boundary, such as Wendover, Utah and Wendover, Nevada. And some names are just plain duplicates, like the nine Springfield Townships of Pennsylvania.

The problem comes when passes a location name to for placement on a map. The mapping software expects “street, city, state” instead of “city, county, state.” If it can find a location matching this misinterpretation, it places the location there. DearMYRTLE found that “Wenatchee, Chelan, Washington” was interpreted as a location in Chelan City rather than Chelan County.

I tried to reproduce the problem last night and found another error. Actually, clicking the “View Maps” link from a census record worked correctly. Perhaps fixed the problem DearMYRTLE found. But when I clicked on locations in a tree, I got “Server Error: UserAccount service failed to log you in”. Perhaps this was a temporary condition last night. Or perhaps in fixing DearMYRTLE’s bug, they broke something else.

See DearMYRTLE’s entire article on her website.

FamilySearch BulletJohn Vilburn announced on FHCNET that PAF Pal is now available for free. He says,

Steve Cannon, the developer of PAF Pal, passed away a few years ago. He was a good programmer and a good friend.

PAF Pal was designed with the old TempleReady workflow in mind, although some of its functionality continues to be useful in some situations. Now that new FamilySearch is being used by so many people, we have contacted Steve's family and they have agreed to allow us to offer PAF Pal at no cost. To get your copy, go to and click on the Purchase menu. Scroll down to find the free license for PAF Pal. Once you have your license you can download PAF Pal by going to the Download menu and choosing the Freeware/Shareware link.

PAF Pal is an add-on program for PAF 5. It can expand or abbreviate US states, Canadian provinces, and Great Britain counties. It can add or remove “USA” or “U.S.A.” It can do search and replace parts of names, parts of notes, and LDS temple codes. It enables searches for,, and And it can print lists and reports. It can clear custom ID fields, Ancestral File Numbers, or all LDS fields. It can even play the songs that were included in PAF version 2.

Thank you to John and the Cannon family.


I’m out of time, but not out of news…

Check out’s beta Mundia website.

FamilySearch BulletFor NFS users, see comments about patron contributed ordinance data from FamilySearch’s Ron Tanner, posted on FHCNET.

I’m still not done. But I’m off to bed!