Friday, October 29, 2010

Records Say the Darnedest Things: Missed It By That Much

Records say the darnedest thingsWelcome to a new series, “Records Say the Darnedest Things.”

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about our pasts.

Yet sometimes records have anomalies.
Some are amusing or humorous.
Some are interesting or weird.
Some are are peculiar or suspicious.
Some are infuriating, even downright laughable.

Yes, records say the darnedest things.

Missed ‘Em By That Much

The transcriber left off two family members doing family #1, below. Fortunately, he discovered the mistake quickly, inserting the two between families 2 and 3.

Any wagers on which vendors handle this correctly?

Check the indexes at and Then compare Chris Baer’s transcript of the enumerator’s copy. Score one for checking the enumerator’s copy, when available.

Two family members were omitted Source: U.S. Federal Census, 1850, population schedules, Massachusetts, Dukes County, Town of Tisbury, page 419 [stamped]; digital images ( : accessed 2 October 2010).

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Dan Lawyer explains what it means to be a genealogist-ologist. Church News photo by R. Scott Lloyd.
Dan Lawyer defines Uber-Techno-Genealogist-Ologist
Photo by R. Scott Lloyd, © LDS Church News

Dan Lawyer, product manager, calls himself an UTGO, an “uber-techno-genealogist-ologist.” Roughly translated, that means “geek who studies genealogists.”

I guess that makes me a genealogist-ologist-ologist. I’ve been studying genealogy product managers to see what makes them tick—or more to the point—chirp. Prior to our current crop of product managers, why did crop after crop repeat—over and over—the same mistakes?

I have a theory.

Before I share it, let me emphasize that I love FamilySearch’s current crop of product managers because… But I’m getting ahead of myself.

My theory is that genealogy is deceptively complex. To the unlearned, there is no obvious reason why growing a family tree should be difficult in any way. New product managers are tempted to think, “Give people ready access to records and their genealogy will grow faster than weeds.”

Genealogy is Hard

Let me take a stab at convincing non-genealogists that genealogy is hard. I will focus on one prerequisite of growing a family tree: matching.

  • Like a game of Concentration, genealogy involves finding matches. You must reliably match two mentions of one individual in two records. For example, you look at a John Johnson in the 1880 census and a John Johnson in your pedigree and decide if the two are a match.
  • Records include information that identify and characterize individuals. For example, a John Johnson might be characterized in the 1880 census by his name, his age, his birth state, where he was enumerated, and so forth.
  • A definitive match requires that the identifying characteristics from both records must differentiate the individual from every other person that has ever lived.
  • Reliably making a match is extremely difficult because of the amount of information that must be learned:
    • You must learn how common each of the identifying characteristics is. For example, perhaps the name “John Johnson” was extremely common in 1810 Norway.
    • You must learn how common the combination of the characteristics is. For example, you might consider it extremely unlikely that there are two 60 year old John Johnsons with farm name Vedum in 1810 Norway.
    • Short of unique identification, you must know—qualitatively if not quantitatively—the probability that the two mentions match.
    • You must learn and recognize equivalent values of a characteristic. For example, sometimes John matches Johannes. Sometimes it matches Jack. Sometimes Nevada matches Utah. Sometimes 1700 matches 1701. Sometimes Johnson matches Jonsen.
    • You must learn to recognize non-matching values that probably should match. For example, sometimes typists transposed letters. Sometimes census enumerators rounded ages. Sometimes indexers read Lemuel as Samuel.
    • You must learn how to judge the trustworthiness of information in a particular record. For example, the length of time between an event and the recording of the event affects the trustworthiness of the information.

In summary, one reason genealogy is hard is that reliable matching requires years of learning and experience.

How It Plays Out

Given that genealogy is deceptively complex, here’s my theory of why we get genealogically anemic products: 

When some product managers try to extend genealogy’s reach to less experienced audiences, they approach the most knowledgeable genealogists—professionals—and ask,

How can we make genealogy easy?

This is what the genealogists say:

You can’t make genealogy easy. Genealogy is hard. To do it right, you must…

This is what unwise product managers hear:

I don’t know how to make genealogy easy. Since you can see no reason why it has to be hard, you must assume that I do a lot of extra stuff that applies only to professionals. If you wish to make it easy, you must ignore me when I close-mindedly say that the one and only right way to do genealogy is…

Remember, I’m not talking about all product managers. I think both and FamilySearch currently have a good crop.

But unwise managers proceed under the assumption that genealogy is easy and knowledgeable genealogists make it unnecessarily hard. The managers attempt to make genealogy easy through simplification, eliminating methodology training and gutting products of industry best practices. (Yes, the unwise think they have singlehandedly thought of a better way to do genealogy than the combined learning of tens of thousands of practitioners who have advanced the state of the art for over a century.)

Sadly and ironically, what is eliminated because of perceived complexity are the very practices and tools that have been shown to make genealogy easier!


Given my theory, you can well imagine my delight last week at the FamilySearch Blogger Day when Dan Lawyer, displayed a slide that read (in its entirety):

Genealogy is Hard

The rise of genealogist-ologists has given hope to this genealogist-ologist-ologist—hope that product managers will make genealogy easier by dealing with the complexity instead of ignoring it.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Genealogical Maturity Model

The Genealogical Maturity Model is a framework for personal growth
The Genealogical Maturity Model is a
framework for personal growth.
© 1971. All rights reserved.

This is a “table of contents” article to a previously published series of articles.

Want to be a better genealogist? The central skill needed by every genealogist is the ability to produce verifiably correct genealogists. I call that “Genealogical Maturity.” I developed the Genealogical Maturity Model as an easy way to grade your own maturity and to create small, attainable goals for improvement.

Let me be clear. I am no expert in this regard. I have based the model as nearly as I can on broadly acknowledged best practices published in BCG Genealogical Standards Manual, Helen F. M. Leary, editor; Evidence Explained, Elizabeth Shown Mills; and Genealogical Proof Standard, Christine Rose. Anything in the model that is correct you can attribute to these experts. Anything incorrect is... well... me.

To begin, read “Rate Your Genealogical Maturity.” Fill in the self-assessment inventory. If you have questions about the definitions of words, consult “Genealogical Maturity Model (GMM) Definitions.”

After completing the inventory, go back and review the categories. Pick one category to work on. Read the description of the next level. Make that your goal. Don’t try and work on all categories at once. Baby steps. Don’t try to skip levels. Baby steps. Commit to yourself and focus your efforts on that one, little goal.

Once you’ve accomplished that goal, come back and pick another area for improvement.

For a while I considered developing a genealogical maturity model for software programs. I put that on hold after an ad hoc attempt at assigning a maturity to the new FamilySearch Tree. Read the overly critical appraisal at the end of “Vault Vednesday: Last Day to Pre-register.”

In addition to the sources previously noted, I would like to acknowledge the many contributions from my many knowledgeable readers. Some came directly by email, but many can be read online in the comments at the end of each of these articles:

Thank you, again.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Clip Feature of Google Books

Did you know that you can “clip” portions of public domain Google Books to share in your genealogy on the Internet? The portrait to the right is an example.

Click the Clip icon ( ) above the book page. Select the desired text or image. Then copy one of the URLs from the popup. Paste the URL into your blog, Facebook page, or anywhere else on the web that supports links to images.

I’ve not seen it documented anyway, but you can also change the border. Change the “edge=0” at the end of the URL to “edge=1”.



A far less useful option is “edge=3d”, shown to the right. But it sounds cool. You’ll need red and blue 3D glasses. I tried it and the image barely seemed to bulge ever-so-slightly towards me (with red over the left eye). I had to compare the upper and lower images to notice any difference.

For less information about the Clip feature, see

  • Manas Tungare, “Share and Enjoy,” Inside Google Books, Google Inc. ( : dated 6 September 2007).

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

We Want Tech and We Want It Now

Facial Recognition and the Ancestry Insider Ancestor At a luncheon during this year’s National Genealogical Society conference David Rencher presented a top 10 list of technologies he wished developers would hurry up and create. Some of these are already available, at least in infant form. I thought you would enjoy seeing some of the list and reviewing the available technologies.

First came two honorable mentions.

Media Migration

“Help me transfer my media to new formats,” plead Rencher. “And could you make it intuitive?”

This is  good wakeup call for me—and probably you—to perform badly needed media migrations. If I weren’t going to be out of town this weekend, I would transfer cassette recordings of my grandparents to CD-ROM. They’ve sat untouched for 20 years, so they have probably deteriorated significantly. I guess one more week won’t make much difference…

What can technology do in this area? Cloud Computing.

One of the advantages of cloud computing is that media migration is handled for you. That should be easy enough for most of us—if we ever get around to migrating photos, recordings, and videos to the cloud to begin with…

Facial Recognition

Rencher wanted facial recognition technology to help identify people in unlabeled photographs.

Google Picasa  offers face recognition for free. Learn more from Kathi Reid, “How Google Picasa Face Recognition Software Can Help Genealogists,” Ancestor Seek Blog.

The genealogy website also advertises free face recognition. See .

I tried uploading my photo to see if they saw any similarity between me and Homer Simpson, but MyHeritage couldn’t pick out my face.

So I tried Tim Sullivan, head of With look-alikes Johnny Depp, Pierce Brosnan, Henry Fonda, and Richard Gere, Tim is obviously leading-man material.

His closest match? Johnny Depp, pirate and mad hatter.

Next I had to try Jay Verkler, head of FamilySearch.

Ronald Regan and George W. Bush. Wow. Apparently, Jay looks very presidential. And republican. And apparently, MyHeritage doesn’t have Mitt Romney in their celebrity file.

His closest match? Patrick Swayze, that guy who came back from the dead to dictate his genealogy to Demi Moore. (Hey, you remember the movie the way you want and I’ll remember it the way I want.)

Can’t see Sullivan and Verklers’ celebrity look-alike graphic to the right? Click to see it on the Ancestry Insider website.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Redbook Online

Dear Ancestry Insider,


I noticed during the NGS conference last April in SLC that announced that the "Red Book" was/would be available on-line.  Some issues you may want to explore in future articles:

1) Where does one find the on-line "Red Book"

2) Availability of the "Red Book" from the FHL institutional version of

3) How the on-line "Red Book" compares to US state searches from .

4) The "price" of the "Redbook" on

Please do not use my name in any on-line articles without prior permission.

Avon O’Toole

Dear Avon,

Oops; Sorry about that. I had already published your letter before reading clear to the end.

1) The Red Book is part of the Family History Wiki found at .

2) The Wiki is available for free, so there is no need to use a different address at the Family History Library (FHL) or at a family history center.

3) A comparison of the two will make an excellent article. I’ll put that on my to-do list.

There’s an even more interesting article that will be written one day. I think these Wikis make a good test case for FamilySearch and Can either organization successfully engage the genealogical community? If one of them can, then its wiki will quickly surpass the other by super human leaps and bounds. My bet is that neither one understands the community well enough. Or if they understand it, they won’t trust it. Or they won’t have the chutzpah.

4) With it free online, who cares what the price is on Amazon? Print is dead. :-)

-- The Insider

Friday, October 15, 2010

Go Cruising With the Ancestry Insider!!

Exploring Your Roots Cruise on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas
Exploring Your Roots
Cruise on Royal Caribbean's
Freedom of the Seas

Seven fabulous nights in the Eastern Caribbean with the Ancestry Insider, DearMYRTLE, and Shamele Jordon; along with, Inc. employees Lisa Parry Arnold, Suzanne Russo Adams, Duff Wilson, and Crista Cowan.*

The “Exploring Your Roots Cruise” provides an educational lineup of classes for days when at sea. Plus, participants get a bonus 30 minute genealogical consult with one of the genealogical experts (or me).

The schedule* goes down like this:

5 June 2011 Boarding - Cape Canaveral, FL  
6 June 2011 Coco Cay, Bahamas  
7 June 2011 Day at Sea Classes 8:30am—2:30pm
8 June 2011 St. Thomas, USVI  
9 June 2011 St. Maarten  
10 June 2011 Day at Sea Classes 8:30am—2:30pm
11 June 2011 Day at Sea Classes 8:30am—2:30pm
12 June 2011 Arrival - Cape Canaveral, FL  


7 Night Eastern Caribbean Cruise on Royal Caribbean's Freedom of the Seas

Class topics are*

  • 10 Things Genealogists Can’t Live Without
  • How to Find What to Search Next
  • Flesh on the Bones: Placing ancestors in historical context
  • Lassie! Go for Free Genealogy Help!
  • Genealogy Internet Gems
  • There’s Method in My Madness – Proven Steps in Successful Searching
  • Tesoro!: Beginning Italian Research
  • U.S. Census Research for Beginners
  • Using Newspapers & City Directories to Help Fill in the Blanks
  • Family Tree Maker for Beginners
  • Family Tree Maker Tips & Tricks
  • Adding Photos and other Media to Your Tree
  • Sharing Family History with the Genealogically Challenged
  • Exploring Thy Quaker Roots
  • Getting the Most from Your Subscription
  • Schlepping to Emess: The Basics of Jewish Research
  • Stuck Going Backward? Move Forward: Tracing Descendants of Your Ancestors
  • Getting Started in African-American Research
  • Googling Great-Grandmom
  • Organizing Your Clutter


The Freedom of the Seas has lots of onboard cool stuff for us old geezers.

Stuff for us old geezers Stuff for us old,
crazy geezers
Cooking Academy FlowRider onboard surfing
Whirlpools that hang out in midair H20 Zone water park
Johnny Rockets 50s-style restaurant Rock-climbing wall
Ice-skating rink Full-size Everlast boxing ring
Portofino Italian Restaurant Sports Pool
Extensive WiFi capabilities (I hope it doesn’t cost an arm and a leg) Casino Royale (Yah I’m calling you crazy. Don’t make me show you that Everlast place.)
Sorrento’s pizza Fitness Center and Day Spa
“Full-size” flat screen TVs in every stateroom (I especially enjoy watching the Titanic Channel. No, you silly person. It’s the bow camera where you get to see what Kate Winslet saw leaning off the front of the boat.) Full-size sports court (What the heck is a “sports court”? I guess if you make it up, you also get to decide what “full size” means.)
Included in your cruise price is most meals (gourmet 5-course dining room, buffet dining, or room service!) Themed bars and lounges, Vintage wine bar, Boleros Latin-themed lounge (where the cruise company makes most of their money—except from teetotalers like me)
9-hole miniature golf course (with the biggest water hazard you’ll ever see!) Ben & Jerry’s ice cream shop (where the cruise company makes most of their money off me.)
Chops Grille  


I hope to see you there!

For more information,

* Itineraries, genealogists, and class topics are subject to change without notice. Check with Lynn for changes prior to purchasing your cruise. Exploring Your Roots classes and consulting are available only by ticketing through Lynn or the Exploring Your Roots Cruise website.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Can Copyright Be Claimed on Digitized Public Domain Documents?

Last week I wrote “Can I Freely Copy Public Domain Documents?” and asked interested legal minds to respond to some questions. James Tanner, attorney and author of Genealogy's Star responded in his article, “Online genealogy documents in the public domain?” Thanks, James!

You might enjoy the interesting comments from your fellow Insider readers. John pointed out the hyperbole of my statement, “you enter into a contract wherein you promise not to take their stuff.” Several readers commented on what the Terms and Conditions allows and I’ve softened the statement so that it is merely parabole.

Does Digitization Create Copyright?

Speaking of James Tanner, I enjoyed his three recent articles on copyrights and genealogy. See

These articles reminded me of a longstanding line of reasoning that nags at me.

Let me make it clear up front, I don't like the possibility that digitization creates a copyrightable work.

But I think there are situations where public domain documents can be artistically incorporated into a copyrightable work, perhaps in such a way that the public domain document can not be recovered separately from the protected work.

Microfilm scanning at
An employee at 
operates a microfilm scanner.

Consider the line of reasoning below. I start with a situation that I think produces a copyrightable photograph. I go through many incremental changes. At what point—if any—does the resulting photograph no longer qualify for copyright protection?

  • If a photographer takes an artistic photograph of a public domain document—using colored lights, projecting textures onto its face, picking intriguing, aesthetic angles—would the result be a copyrightable work? (I assume the text of the document remains in the public domain, but that the photographer’s artistic rendering is copyrightable.)
  • What if the document was the original Declaration of Independence, and the photographer employed the exact same treatments—lighting, creative angles, and so forth—as a way to create a photograph that was more legible than the original?
  • What if the document is already legible but for some reason considerable skill and originality is necessary to make the photograph as legible as the original?
  • What if the photographer is able to quantify his originality into an original process that works for him every time? Ignore patentability. Is the resulting photograph a copyrightable work?
  • Is copyrightability affected if the photographer’s process becomes known to others?
  • Does it matter if his process requires so much skill, artistry, and experience that others cannot reproduce it?
  • Is it still artistic if he automates the process?
  • Does it matter if others have access to his automation?
  • What if advances in technology make it easy for anyone to achieve the result by merely pushing a button?

I've read that digitizing microfilm is—or was—part art and part science. I've read that FamilySearch developed technology to automatically detect film densities and adjust lamp temperature and such so that digitizing is no longer part art. When it was part art, was the result copyrightable? Now that it is no longer partly artistic, is the result not copyrightable?

Perhaps some IP expert could shed some light on this for me—and you.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New FamilySearch Rollout Continues

Rollout of the new FamilySearch Tree (NFS) to the general public is eagerly anticipated by many. Before that can start, FamilySearch must complete the rollout to members of its sponsor, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The rollout has stalled several times. The latest occurred after the Salt Lake Temple district in June of 2009, when the rollout stalled on the Church’s Oriental temples.

An announcement1 by FamilySearch indicates the rollout is now moving forward there:

Temple District Status
Taipei Taiwan Scheduled for 1 October 2010
Seoul Korea Scheduled for 12 October 2010
Hong Kong, China Scheduled for 22 October 2010
Fukuoka Japan Rolled out to consultants
Tokyo Japan Rolled out to consultants


Temples-Booklet-cover-image-09339-230x300[6]It is hard to do genealogy very long before learning about the connection between FamilySearch and the temples of its sponsor. While various online writers have done a good job explaining the connection, a new booklet by the Church gives official answers. Temples of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints can be read online (without the pressure of two white shirts in your living room :-).

After completed to Church members, can the general public be far behind? Or will the rollout stall again?

Stay tuned…


     1. “new FamilySearch: Which Temple Districts are Live?” FamilySearch Help Center ( : accessed 8 October 2010), document ID 102463.

Monday, October 11, 2010 Acquisition

Most of you know that announced they are buying Here is some information about that may interest you. I close with a provocative thought that I hope doesn’t get me fired.

Footnote? Evernote?

I came across a website called Evernote the other day. Does that name remind you of anything? On the website I found the green graphic below. Remind you of anything?

Evernotegrid FootnoteBalloon

Founder and CEO

Russell Wilding, founder and CEO did an interview with Mormon Entrepreneur magazine earlier this year. Some interesting points:1

  • is a DBA of iArchives.
  • iArchive’s Robert Wille “basically wrote the Internet Indexing System for [FamilySearch],” which they licensed in 2004. That explains why my first installation of FamilySearch Indexing created a folder named “iArchives” on my computer.
  • In 2006 hired “three of the top guys from the industry,” including Roger Bell and Chris Willis from
  • Competing for affiliates against was tough. 

Bringing History to Life

dnews Footnote Inc. historical documents photos
CEO Russ Wilding, seated, Roger Bell, left, Justin
Schroepfer, Scott Jackman, and Chris Willis
Image Credit: © Stuart Johnson, Deseret News 

The Deseret News, a Salt Lake City based newspaper did a rather large article on a couple of years ago. I thought the following worth sharing.2

  • The article contained the management photograph shown to the right. All but Russ came from Will take them back?
  • The Vietnam Veterans Memorial image was stitched together from nearly 1,500 photographs. This project moved me more than any other published historical collection.
  • outsources to China, the Philippines, Bangladesh, Vietnam, and South Africa for “digitization and document classification.” I hope they didn’t use Vietnamese labor for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
  • Company shareholders include Canopy Ventures (Lindon, Utah), Century Capital Partners (Massachusetts), and A.H. Belo (parent of the Dallas Morning News).

Too bad Beau Sharbrough discontinued his Unofficial Footnote Blog. earlier this summer. Beau worked at, then at, and then elsewhere. I would have liked to read his take on the acquisition. He’s archived his blog as “The Former Unofficial Footnote Blog.”

A Google search of suggests others that have worked at both companies.

Image Viewers

When it comes to viewing images, both and use technologies that are not part of the World Wide Web standard. This is obnoxious because using the browser Print function prints blank spots where the document image appears onscreen. Unfortunately, the WWW standard doesn’t provide all the capabilities needed by image viewers. uses a proprietary browser plug-in that, for a long time, worked only with Internet Explorer. Fortunately, also has a “Basic Viewer” that uses web standards. It is not as fast or convenient as the proprietary viewer. (and use the same Flash player used by many web advertisements. Flash breaks many web page features like text selection, scrolling, form control, right-clicking, support for the disabled, page translation, mobile phones, and more. It is also thought to have major weaknesses exploited by viruses. does not provide an alternative viewer as does.


Was Footnote a Number Four Company?

Jack Welch, former chairman of General Electric insisted that only businesses that were number one or two in their markets could survive. He fixed or sold companies that weren’t. “When you’re number one, you control your destiny. The number fours keep merging.”3

A popular book on marketing, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing, states that “in the long run, every market becomes a two-horse race.”4

With that in mind, one wonders if the presence of FamilySearch in the market precludes the viability of a sizable, commercial competitor to



     1. Mark Mugleston, “ Founder & CEO: Russell Wilding,” Mormon Entrepreneur, “Issue 3 – Family History” ( : January 2010).

     2. Brice Wallace, “Bringing History to Life: Lindon Company’s Site Takes Users to Original Sources,” Deseret News, online edition ( : published 15 June 2008).

     3. Robert Slater, Jack Welch on Leadership (New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2004). See especially page 31.

     4. Al Ries and Jack Trout, The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing (1993), chapter 8, “The Law of Duality.”

Friday, October 8, 2010

Research Your Family Tree, by the Allure Insider

Another cousin of mine, the Allure Insider, recently interviewed Megan Smolenyak. (Cousin Allure is the family beauty expert.) To read her rather terse article, see Insiders' Guide: How to Research Your Family Tree .

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Can I Freely Copy Public Domain Documents?

Can you freely copy public domain documents? The law probably requires that I disclose to you that I am not a lawyer. Nor do I play one on TV. The following opinions should not be construed as legal advice. They are my own and are probably wrong. I am not licensed to practice law in any state or Caribbean Country.

Oops. I almost forgot. Parts of my body are known by the State of California to cause cancer if lit on fire and stuffed up your nose. Now on to it...

I always cringe when reading articles about genealogy and copyrights. Authors typically explain the convoluted rules concerning expiration of United States copyright protection. I worry that leaves readers unprepared for copyright laws in other countries where they do research. Did you know that some copyrights never expire?

I worry the articles leave readers with the impression that they can freely copy public domain documents from anywhere on the Internet. When it comes to sites like, it isn't that simple. is not so naive as to claim copyright protection of public domain documents. Instead, uses contract law. denies you access to its content until you enter into a contract wherein you promise not to take all their stuff.

Yes, public domain documents on are in the public domain and copyright law does not apply. No, you can’t break your contract without facing legal penalties.

Don’t remember signing a contract? Think back to the check box you clicked when you signed up for (or other software programs). You click the box indicating your have read the terms and conditions, you pay your money, you use the site. In return, gives you something of value.

It is my understanding that these actions are sufficient to establish a binding agreement between you and—at least according to the contract law of the State of Utah. Copyright law is federal. Contract law is state; it can vary from state to state.

I wouldn’t mind a contract law expert commenting on how this works.

  • What if you are under age? Is the contract valid?
  • If you require assistance using a computer, and someone else clicks the box without making you aware of the agreement, are you still bound by it?
  • What if you use Library Edition? You didn’t enter into the contract. Can you freely copy’s content?
  • Is the library suppose to do something that restricts how you use content?
  • The contract (terms and conditions) states that can change the contract without any notice to you besides changing a date on a webpage. Give me a break. Is such a carte blanche contract term enforceable?

So before you start copying public domain articles from websites, re-read the contract you made with that website.

Next week I’ll point you in the direction of a good, recent series of copyright articles from a lawyer blogger. And I’ll pose another set of questions to anyone willing to comment.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mailbox Monday: Community Trees Redux

Dear Insider,

I was wondering how family trees or community trees get put on the FamilySearch Community Tree website. Can ordinary folk like you and I contribute to the Community Trees?

Karl and Sandra Jarvis *

Dear Karl and Sandra,

Ordinary? Who are you calling ordinary?!? You’re an Ancestry Insider reader. That makes you a reader extraordinaire! But I digress…

Keep in mind that a community tree is not just any genealogical tree. Community trees have an extremely narrow focus.

In my opinion, focusing on a closed-location is the the best project possible. It targets a location with minimal migration over several generations past. Project members scour the records of the locale, identifying each and every individual mentioned in the records. The closed nature of the locale and the comprehensive nature of the investigation yields genealogical data galore because the process of elimination can produce proof aplenty.

It is unfortunate that the FamilySearch Community Trees home page does not contain a link to the What’s New page. That page says, “If you have questions or have a project you would like to publish on FamilySearch Community Trees contact Raymond W. Madsen at .”

-- The Insider

Friday, October 1, 2010

The More Things Change…

Ancestral File, DOS VersionQuoting from a FamilySearch brochure:

This [product] will enable you to:

  • Coordinate your family history research with others working on the same family lines.
  • Reduce time-consuming and expensive duplication of effort.
  • Make your family information available to relatives and researchers.

A plug for the new FamilySearch (NFS) tree?


The brochure is actually quite old. It is touting the advantages of the "hottest" new FamilySearch product: Ancestral File for DOS.

I guess it's true what they say. The more things change, the more they stay the same.