Wednesday, May 7, 2014

#NGS2014GEN Blogger Dinner

FamilySearch’s Paul Nauta and Jennifer Anderson
FamilySearch’s Paul Nauta and Jennifer Anderson
prepare to address bloggers at NGS conference

FamilySearch addressed several topics at their blogger dinner on the eve before the National Genealogical Society’s 2014 annual conference in Richmond, Virginia. (The conference has started, even as you read this!)

Registration for RootsTech 2015 opens in August. About 800 local RootsTech affiliated family history fairs have been held since RootsTech 2014 with average attendance exceeding 250. Do the math and you see that 200,000 people have taken part in RootsTech this year.

FamilySearch is partnering with Lexmark to put an Internet-connected printer in each FamilySearch family history center around the world that will scan pictures directly to your FamilySearch account, according to Paul Nauta, FamilySearch spokesperson. All 2,800 U.S. centers should already have them. Once uploaded, you can come back later to tag the people in the photos and attach them to people in FamilySearch Family Tree. Or you can scan the photos directly to a flash drive. An official press release will be made in the next couple of weeks.
Nauta spoke about FamilySearch’s partnerships with, FindMyPast, and MyHeritage. FamilySearch has greatly improved the time it takes to get images of records to users. In the days of microfilm, it took about 18 months between camera click to patron availability. Now it takes about 60 days between click and online publication. However, indexing can’t keep up. More images are being published than indexed records by several times (2 times more? 4? I can’t remember what he said). At current indexing rates, it will take about 300 years to index just the 5.3 billion records in hand. With collaboration, they hope to cut the indexing time to 30 years.

In areas where FamilySearch has been acquiring records, they have preserved about 5.3 billion records and need to preserve another 10 billion. Beyond those areas, there are another 10 billion. (See the February 2014 infographic.) FamilySearch needs partners to accomplish all that needs to be done.

FamilySearch's collaborative tree contains about 1 billion of the 28 billion people who have lived and been documented since 1500 A.D.


Indexers have accomplished a lot since finishing the 1940 U.S. census project, according to FamilySearch’s Jennifer Anderson.

  • U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Community Project: 75 million records completed
  • Surpassed one billion records in March 2013. Current count is 1,155,629,832. For the daily total, see
  • 2014 is the Year of the Obituary and over 17 million have been completed so far.

imageAnderson shared a video of Captain Jack Starling addressing attendees at RootsTech. To see the clip, click on the image to the right and click the corresponding image on FamilySearch’s indexing Facebook page. Hand written records can be hard to index because you have to decipher the handwriting. Obituaries can be quirky because you have to decipher the relationships. FamilySearch will announce soon—probably in the next 30 days—where it will be acquiring the obituaries from. It is potentially four times larger than the 1940 census.

Anderson said a browser-based indexing program will be released later this year and touched on four of its features:

1.  No need to download a program
2.  Enhanced project selection feature allowing users to more quickly identify projects of interest. In some cases, this will even mean selecting specific locales within a project, such as a U.S. state of interest.
3.  Ability to join multiple indexing groups
4.  Indexing on your tablet

The browser-based indexing program will require a current Internet connection. Offline support has been too expensive to develop at this time but is a desired, future feature.

FamilySearch is organizing a campaign called “Lift Where You Stand.” The goal is not number of records but number of volunteers. The goal is to have 20,000 index during the 24 hours starting at 6:00 pm, Mountain Daylight Time on 20 July 2014. At this time of the year there is usually just 13,000 indexers a day. The campaign is worldwide, with volunteers encouraged to work on projects from their own part of the world and in their own language. Watch for more information on FamilySearch Indexing's Facebook page.

Product Improvements

Bill Mangum and Grant Skousen, FamilySearch product managers, talked about new and coming FamilySearch features.

Family Tree now has a Descendency view in addition to pedigree and fan-chart views. The descendency view includes icons indicating individuals with data problems and individuals with research suggestions.

Family Tree Descendency View includes data problem and research suggestion icons

Some of the possible data problems and research suggestions identified are

  • born before died
  • lived too long
  • missing birth and death year
  • born after father died
  • born after mother died
  • born after mother could bear children
  • born  before father could father children
  • born before father
  • born before mother could bear children
  • born before mother
  • died too young to be married or have children
  • person may have children
  • possible child gap in middle
  • less than 3 children

The Enhanced Attach feature is already available. When a record contains more than one family member, the record can be attached to all the members of the family in a single operation. The feature is activated by attaching the record to one of the members of the family. Other family members are then offered for attachment.

Enhanced Attach lets users attach entire families in a record to entire families in Family Tree

“Hinting,” FamilySearch’s version of’s shakey leaf, is currently in beta. No projected release date was given.

FamilySearch has two smartphone apps in beta. (See my previous articles for more information.) If you’re interested in becoming a beta tester, email and indicate your device type, iOS or Android.

Stay tuned for more of NGS 2014, later today or tomorrow.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for all the live blogging. Valuable for those of us who can't make it to the conferences.

    Thanks also for the note about the Indexing Day. We'll start getting the members of our ward, including the youth, up to speed on that, so they'll be ready. Hopefully FS will be able to find a lot of records for beginners to index for -- and leading up to -- the event.


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