Monday, September 29, 2014

Monday Mailbox: Browsing Images on

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I have been enjoying, but I do have one question.  If you suspect the record you need is in a particular record collection which contains images, but it does not come up on any search, is there a way to go directly to the images and manually search them?  For example, the christening of a child is shown in

Dorset, England, Births and Baptisms, 1813-1906

but using search there are no further records found for that child.  When viewing an image of a page, I can view some nearby pages by clicking to the left or right of the image number at the bottom of the image. But if it is not found there, is there a way to go into the whole record collection to search through all the images?  I have used your method very successfully to do this in FamilySearch.

Doris Bateman

Dear Doris,

Yes, there is. On the collection page look in the right-hand column for a box labeled “Browse this collection.” See the circled box in the screen shot, below? Click on the word “Choose…” in the dropdown control. Just as successive choices in a collection yield another level of choices, will display additional options beneath the first. Choose until you reach the group of images. In addition to the left and right arrows, you can jump straight to an image by entering the image number in place of the current image number.

---The Ancestry Insider

To browse a database on, use the Browse box to the right of the search form

Wednesday, September 24, 2014 News Ketchup

Ancestry Insider KetchupI have no time. I’m behind. Time to ketchup…

Find A Grave Celebrates 100 Million Photos

Jim  Tipton founded’s Find A Grave in 1995. I remember coming across it. It was a website featuring gravesites of the rich and famous. It was cool, but I never would have guessed it would become the powerful genealogical tool that it is today. Well, Find A Grave recently received its 100 millionth photograph.

For more information, see the blog article, “Find A Grave Celebrates 100 Million Photos On Site!

Expanded Yearbook Collection

Earlier this month substantially added to their yearbook collection. They previously had about 56,000 yearbooks. They’ve added about 43,000, bringing the total to 99,000. Check out the expanded collection at “U.S. School Yearbooks, 1880-2012.”

Some photos from the U.S. School Yearbooks collection

Vitals from NEHGS Register

According to the 10 September 2014 issue of the Weekly Genealogist, the New England Historic Genealogical Society and are working together to produce a database of births, marriages, and deaths that have appeared in the New England Historical and Genealogical Register. “This collection currently includes records from volumes 82 through 165 and holds more than 180,000 records.”

Published quarterly since 1847, the New England Historical and Genealogical Register is the flagship journal of American genealogy and the oldest journal in the field. The Register has featured articles on a wide variety of topics since its inception, including vital records, church records, tax records, land and probate records, cemetery transcriptions, obituaries, and historical essays. Authoritative compiled genealogies have been the centerpiece of the Register for more than 150 years. Thousands of New England families have been treated in the pages of the journal and many more are referenced in incidental ways throughout. These articles may range from short pieces correcting errors in print or solving unusual problems to larger treatments that reveal family origins or present multiple generations of a family.1

I assume that will also publish the database at some time, but I’ve found no indication of if or when. Adds Mexican Website

The “Visit our other sites” dropdown list at the bottom of indicates they now have a Mexican website. I haven’t seen any public announcement. But then again, I’m not in the target audience and don’t read any Spanish media! The URL of the new site is "other sites" dropdown indicates a Mexico site. 


     1.  Sam Sturgis and Christopher Carter, “NEHGS Database News,” Weekly Genealogist, online copy of email newsletter ( : accessed 21 September 2014).

FamilySearch Invites You to #MeetMyGrandma

FamilySearch invites you to share a story of your grandmotherFamilySearch began a campaign last weekend encouraging people to share memories of grandmas (and by extension, other family members). Their goal is to have 10,000 stories uploaded in 10 days. They have a special page ( and a YouTube video ( for the campaign. The page links to their FamilySearch Memories iPhone app (

“Let family, friends, and future generations meet YOUR grandma. Preserve her priceless memories on FamilySearch.”

Not everyone is comfortable with the privacy—and sometimes lack thereof—afforded the photos and stories uploaded to FamilySearch. Once you upload a memory (photo or story), you can share it on Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or other social network. This often means anyone can see it, whether the memory includes living people or not. For example,the tweet apparently includes living children.

Even if you delete the social post, anyone with the memory’s URL can still see it. For the tweet example, the story URL,, and the photo URL,, will work until the photo and story are deleted.

An article in the FamilySearch help center, titled “Adding Photos, Documents, or Stories of a living person to Family Tree,” states that “you can add items for a living person to Family Tree. You should be aware of local privacy laws. Obtain permission from living persons before you post the item.” However, most people post without permission. The article goes on to say that “If you find a Memory of yourself on Family Tree and you do not want it to be posted there, you may request that it be removed.”

The problem extends beyond URLs shared on social networks. Google is sometimes allowed to index memories on FamilySearch containing living persons. FamilySearch does not clearly explain the conditions under which this occurs. On the FamilySearch feedback system, Cathy Andreregg shared an example Google search that shows photographs she uploaded to FamilySearch containing living people. In response, another user explained that her photos were visible because Google is allowed to index all albums (photo collections). A Google search for albums returns over 36,000, so this may well be true. In addition to the memories that Google indexes from social networks, FamilySearch allows Google to index memories that are attached to deceased persons—and only deceased persons—in Family Tree.

Memories with a mixture of living and deceased persons are problematic. If you attach the memory to a deceased person but not a living person, then Google will index it. If you also attach it to a living person, the help center article warns of another problem. “If you have an item linked to two or more people, one who is deceased, and you tag all of the people in the item, then others who navigate the tree and see the deceased person's item will also see the living person in the deceased person's Memories tab.” That gives them potential access to multiple memories about that living person.

So what does this all mean? Assume that anything you post online is or will become public. Get people’s permissions before posting their images or stories. And by all means, introduce me to your grandma.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Monday Mailbox: Numbers Instead of Place Names

The Ancestry Insider's Monday Mailbox

Hello Ancestry Insider:

I subscribe to your blog postings and enjoy what you write and the way you write it.

I’m wondering if you could point me to where I can “decode” numerical references to place names, which I sometimes see on others’ Ancestry trees.  For example, I’ve just found one now where the place of death is shown as Caernarvonshire, 1651440, Wales.  “1651440” is definitely not the post code (= zip code).  I’m aware of Family Search’s Standard Placename Finder (, which as well as a Geo-code, also gives a 7-digit numerical identification number.  So I’m pretty certain that these 7-digit numbers I see on some trees are these ID numbers.  However, I’ve not found a way to “decode” them to give either the place name or the Geo-code.  Can you help?  After not being able to find out a way on extensive Google searches, I posted a message on FamilySearch 2-3 years ago (can’t find it now), but no-one responded.

I think it would make a great blog posting if you could explain about these numbers and how to decode them back to something that is meaningful.

Many thanks, Sue Griffith.

Dear Sue,

I searched Ancestry Member Trees and found examples of what you’ve mentioned, For example,

Ancestry Member Tree with number instead of place name


Ancestry Member Tree with number instead of place name

It may be that these trees contained these numbers before they were uploaded to I’ll ask if this can be fixed.

---The Ancestry Insider

Thursday, September 18, 2014 Updates Mobile App – Receives Technology Patent

The Ancestry App can show a list of all the hints from your treeThe BYU and FGS 2014 conferences and their aftermath have kept me busy. Things are settling a bit and I’m starting to empty my in box. At the top of the box is news that has updated their mobile phone app. Here are some of the noteworthy features of version 6.0:

The Ancestry App can show a list of all the hints from your tree. Sort the list so that the best hints are shown at the top, or so that the most recent ones are at the top. Filter hints by surname and type (photo, story, or record).

The Ancestry App can show a list of the most recent comments made about your contributions. Click on one to see it in the context of your tree. From there, respond with a comment of your own.

The Ancestry App can show a list of the most recent comments.Click on one to see it in the context of your tree. From there, respond with a comment of your own.

Version 6.0 includes badges and notifications. It allows you to view a list of ancestors, filtered by name and other characteristics: direct ancestors, end of line, living relatives, people with hints, and people with recent hints. is advancing the technology of genealogy mobile apps and was recently granted a patent for technology used in older versions of the app. applied for the patent back in 2011 and the government granted it on 1 July 2014. (If you’re familiar with patents, have a technical bent, and want to see something humorous, take a look at the abstract of the patent.)

For more information about version 6.0 of the Ancestry Mobile App, see “Ancestry Mobile iOS 6.0 Release Now Available.” For more information about the patent, see “ Awarded Patent for Displaying Pedigree Charts on a Touch Device.”

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

FamilySearch’s Electronic Books - #BYUFHGC

Internet Archives book scannerDennis Meldrum and Tim De Graw gave a session titled “What is Happening with FamilySearch Books” at the BYU Conference on Family History and Genealogy back on 29 July 2014. With FGS hitting so soon after BYU, I’m only now getting to it.

Meldrum announced that FamilySearch had exceeded 150,000 books in their electronic book collection! (I see the total is now over 166,000.) That is amazing. In addition to family, local, and county histories, the collection contains directories, how-to books, medieval genealogies, Bible records, cemetery records, vital records, biographies, periodicals, yearbooks, and gazetteers. Only books are included in the collection. Generally, that means it’s going to have a title page and an author.

FamilySearch is digitizing these books to make them readily and freely available, and to preserve them for future generations. And it is not just digitizing FamilySearch’s own collection. Here is a list of its partners. (I’ve shown how many books have come from each, according to the FamilySearch Books website.)

  • Allen County Public Library (Fort Wayne, Indiana) - 21,954 – There are eight full-time missionaries scanning there.
  • Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library (Provo, Utah) *
  • Brigham Young University-Idaho David O. McKay Library (Rexburg, Idaho) *
  • Church History Library (Salt Lake City, Utah) *
  • FamilySearch Family History Library (Salt Lake City, Utah) - 123,495 *
  • Houston Public Library Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research (Houston, Texas) - 4,454
  • Internet Archive (various institutions)- 20,931
  • Mid-Continent Public Library Midwest Genealogy Center (Independence, Missouri) - 4,075

* I’m guessing the book count for the Family History Library includes these partners as well as some family history centers, including Mesa, Arizona; Ogden, Utah; and St. George, Utah.

As of the time of the conference, FamilySearch was soon going to add additional partners: Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Larsen-Sant Public Library (Preston, Idaho), and Onondaga County Public Library (Syracuse, New York). In addition to partner sites, they also have scanning centers in Las Vegas, Nevada; Oakland, California; Orange, California; Pocatello, Idaho; Sacramento, California; and West Valley City, Utah.

Book scanning has been possible only through the many hours worked by 190 volunteers. (They are always looking for replacements, as volunteers serve for less than two years. Contact At the time of the conference, volunteers had already put in 135,000 hours this year, scanning 84,000 books, or about 16.8 million pages. FamilySearch was using 38 book scanners. Two of the types cost $15,000 and $35,000 apiece.

Sophia Dutton DeGraw BorenFamily history books are quite valuable. There are about 11.5 names per page, 60% of which are not already in Family Tree. Names are linked together into lineages. They also contain stories and photos. De Graw showed the picture of an ancestors he found, Sophia Dutton DeGraw Boren.

It’s easier than you might think to find these gems. FamilySearch’s book collection allows full text searching of all 166,000 books. Begin your search at Search for a name, an author, a place, or a title. Use Advanced Search to add additional criteria: subject, periodical title, or reviewed materials. (That later category refers to titles marked by the history department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.)

Use the filters along the left margin to filter by material type (book, periodical, etc.), library collection, author/creator, and language. (As I am writing this, there are 6,000 German books, 3,500 French, 1,900 Dutch, and almost a thousand Danish books. There are books in Norwegian, Spanish, Polish, Portuguese, Russian, Finnish, Icelandic, Hungarian, and 16 other languages.)

Sort the results by relevance, date, popularity, author, or title. In the future, you will be able to sort the unrestricted books together.

Use advanced search features: wildcards, quotes, AND, OR, NOT, and parentheses.

Unfortunately, some books are still protected by copyright so they can not be viewed outside a family history center. Even less fortunate, the messages communicating this are not well worded:

  • “You don’t have sufficient rights to view requested object. Access denied” – This message means the book must be viewed at a family history center or the Salt Lake Family History Library. These books are also subtly marked with an icon over the cover thumbnail.
  • “Item is currently in use by another user. Somebody else is currently using this book, and only one user can use this book at a time. Please check back for availability in 60 minutes.” – You should get this error only at a family history center. If you get it elsewhere, then the system is misbehaving.
  • “Unauthorized Access,” or some other variation – This is common when a book had to be withdrawn. There may have been a quality issue, or FamilySearch discovered it didn’t have rights to post the book.
  • “404 error” – You can get this error if you try manually editing the URL.

There are other problems trying to use FamilySearch Books and FamilySearch is planning on addressing them. There are some browser and device issues. FamilySearch is addressing them by changing to a viewer like Internet Archives’s. This is planned for Q4 or Q1. Until then, if you have rendering issues, upgrade your browser or try a different browser, upgrade your Adobe Reader or try a different PDF viewer. Another problem is limited in-book manipulations. They plan on adding them (although they didn’t mention what they are). Searching within a book is pretty limited today; they plan on implementing more robust in-book searching. Today, searching historical records doesn’t tell you about matches in books; and record hints don’t include matches in books. FamilySearch hopes to fix these limitations. While not a problem, per se, the page is pretty dull and of limited functionality. FamilySearch hopes to beef it up, with digital donations, collection highlights (unique books), and updates.

Meldrum and De Graw ended with an invitation to submit your books for publication on FamilySearch Books. To quote from the syllabus:

Your family history books can be added to the Family History Book collection. If the book is copyright we need written permission from the copyright holder (normally the author). This permission is given on the Authorized Gift Form. You can get a copy of this Form by emailing

FamilySearch can accept books in either traditional hardcopy or electronic format.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Conference Early Bird Discounts Extended – Deadline Today

The Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2015The end of special registration discounts to RootsTech and the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) conferences snuck up on many of us, so conference organizers have extended the deadline to today to give them one last marketing push. If you’re considering attending one or both of these coincident, colocated conferences, today is the day to act. These are two of the three national conferences (the National Genealogical Society conference in May being the third). Who knows when or if ever these two conferences will be held together again. 

Another upside is that the conferences are being held in Salt Lake City, just south of the famed Family History Library. The downside of that is, you may be vying with 5,000 other people for 50 microfilm readers. Okay, maybe that isn’t an upside. Still, the two conferences together or alone may be worth the trip. And the library is extending its hours for conference attendees.

RootsTech offers a plethora of registration options for the general public (one day or three day passes for 12-14 February 2015), technologists (11 February), beginners (one or three day passes), students (three day passes), and families (who are members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints - 14 February). Over 200 classes are listed on the conference schedule. Frequently asked questions are answered on the RootsTech website.

The FGS Conference offers registration options for early-bird, regular, onsite, single day, and student rate. The FGS Conference brochure will answer your questions about the tracks, sessions, speakers, hotels, and travel options. The FGS conference opens Wednesday night with a special event, “Behind the Scenes: Family History & Television.” Tickets are $10. Further information is available on the conference website and on the conference blog.

The FGS Conference and RootsTech share expo hall, keynote sessions, and Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evening events. The two share two lecture tracks on Saturday on technology and DNA. Each offers their own set of extra cost luncheons. Full conference registrants of one conference can add the other for $39.

While generally the conferences run Thursday through Saturday (12-14 February 2014), both FGS and RootsTech have specialized events on Wednesday. FGS sponsors Focus on Societies Day for genealogical society officers, board members, and perennial volunteers. Focus on Societies is included in your regular FGS registration. RootsTech sponsors the Innovator Summit for software developers, business leaders, and entrepreneurs. This event can be added to your RootsTech 3-day pass for $20. On Tuesday, ProQuest sponsors Librarians’ Day for $10.

While the special discount price expires today, early bird pricing continues through 23 January 2015.

Register now for RootsTech 2015

Register now for the FGS 2015 conference

Extra credit: This frame, below, from a RootsTech 2015 promotional video, captured several people I know at RootsTech 2014. In true Waldo fashion, if you know them, can you find them?

  • Myself (the suspenders and T-shirt give me away)
  • More than three official conference bloggers (including Renee, Randy, and Myrt)
  • FGS 2014 Conference chair (Ed)
  • More than three current and former FGS officers and board members (including Cherie, Gordon, and Mike)
  • More than two deputies to David Rencher, FamilySearch chief genealogical officer (including Fran and Elaine)
  • Retired president of OCLC and WorldCat (Jay Jordan)
  • Two general authorities of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Elder Bradley D. Foster and Elder Allan F. Packer)

The audience at RootsTech 2014 contains many people I know

Friday, September 12, 2014

Ancestry Insider Photographed at FGS Conference

A reader caught this photo of me at the recent Federation of Genealogical Societies conference:


New readers may not be aware that I am the Wilson of genealogy bloggers. Diane Haddad, the Genealogy Insider at Family Tree Magazine, started the tradition when she published this photograph of me:

Diane Haddad was the first person to ever photograph the Ancestry Insider
Diane Haddad, “Secret Genealogy Blogger Revealed! (Partially),” Genealogy Insider: Family Tree Magazine( : 11 January 2009).

Here are some other photos of me, several with famous people:

Thomas MacEntee and the Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2012The Ancestry Insider with Family History Expo's Holly HansenThe Ancestry Insider listening to Aaron OrrThe Ancestry Insider in the NGS 2013 media centerThe Ancestry Insider discovers a strange new world at FGS 2013The Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2013The Ancestry Insider and fellow bloggers at's 2009 Blogger's DayChristmas photograph of the Ancestry InsiderThe Ancestry Insider Indexing History at FGS 2012Lisa Louise Cooke interviews the Ancestry InsiderThe Ancestry Insider's Holiday PicThe Ancestry Insider at the Findmypast booth at RootsTech 2013The Ancestry Insider with Capt'n Jack Starling at RootsTech 2014The Ancestry Insider at the 2009 St. George Family History Expo

There are also pictures of me on other bloggers’ websites:

DearMYRTLE's photo of the Ancestry Insider at RootsTech 2011DearMYRTLE, “AncestryInsider makes appearance at RootsTech 2011,” Dear MYRTLE ( : 13 February 2011).
imageStephen J. Danko, “The Son of Blogger,” Steve’s Genealogy Blog ( : 29 June 2009).

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Genealogy at a Glance: Polish Genealogy Research

Genealogy At a Glance: Polish Genealogy Research, by Rosemary A. Dembinski ChorzemphaAfter my recent review of another At a Glance title, I pawed through my stack of things to do and looked at the other titles Genealogical Publishing Company has sent me over the years. If you’ll recall from my DNA results, I’m pretty homogenous, so I’m not really qualified to review many of their At a Glance titles. But I have a friend, David Ouimette, who’s an expert in Polish genealogy, so I thought I’d ask him what he thought about Genealogy At a Glance: Polish Genealogy Research, by Rosemary A. Dembinski Chorzempa.

David immediately brightened at the name of the author. Chorzempa authored Polish Roots, the book that he found invaluable in his first foray into Polish genealogy. After reading through the four pages, he gave a positive review. He said she’d covered the right information in each section. He liked the books she suggested, although he felt she had left off a couple of major ones:

  • Going Home : A Guide to Polish-American Family History Research by Jonathan D. Shea
  • Sto Lat: A Modern Guide to Polish Genealogy by Cecile Wendt Jensen

The reverse side of the sheet lists place names in English, Latin, Polish, and German. David thought it was very helpful to have those particular four languages, as they prove the most helpful. (Russian also shows up in some areas of Poland.) But he thought a list of words commonly found in records would have been a more valuable use of the space. (She provides translations of 12 common words, but only from Polish to English.) He thought she provided some “cool links,” some to websites he’d not seen before.

David finds it helpful to look at a subject through the different angles provided by different authors. Dembinski Chorzempa’s is one he recommends.

Genealogy at a Glance: Polish Genealogy Research
Rosemary A. Dembinski Chorzempa
8.5" x 11", 4 pp., folded and laminated. 2013.
ISBN 978-0-8063-1968-1
Genealogical Publishing Company
$8.95 (list) plus shipping ($7.50, Fed Ex Ground).

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Genealogy At a Glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy

Genealogy at a Glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy Research by Brian MitchellI don’t know why the Genealogical Publishing Company keeps sending me stuff for review. I don’t have time for a lot of reading and have a bookshelf full of titles I’ve begun but never finished. And I always give their Genealogy At a Glance reference sheets a bad review because the price per page is enormous. The single sheet of paper is folded in two and laminated, yielding four pages. I don’t often see them include reference type material. You know, the stuff I’m talking about. You view it over and over and have it within reach on your desk: the dictionary, Evidence Explained, and The Researcher’s Guide to American Genealogy (I got to chapter 5).

However, when I received their latest offering, Genealogy at a Glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy Research by Brian Mitchell, a thought occurred to me. Maybe I’m approaching this series wrongly. Maybe I ought to see them as the perfect beginners’ manual for someone who has a bookshelf full of titles begun but not finished. I have a dead-end in my genealogy that seems to have both Scottish and Irish connections. Maybe I should give this one a try.

What I found was a helpful introduction for an absolute beginner to Scots-Irish research. I was a bit disappointed to find in the second paragraph that this guide was for pre-1800 immigrants. My brick wall is a 19th century immigrant. But I learned a lot about who the Scots-Irish are, where they came from, and what resources are available for researching them. As with any good four page introduction to a subject, this guide contains references to books for further information on different aspects of Scots-Irish research. I trust these are the best references in those areas. And it was not like those obnoxious conference syllabi that contain little else but a bibliography. I raised an eyebrow when the first book referenced was a book by the author himself, also published by the Genealogical Publishing Company. But that is to be expected assuming GPC approaches the foremost experts on subjects.

The guide began with the usual wasted space, a table of contents. Come on guys; this is a four page title. And it is bookended with 10 square inches of wasted space dedicated the equivalent of a title-page and back jacket: the name of the publisher, the copyright date, a marketing logo, and the UPC. In-between I was pleased to see the small margins and reasonable leading  befitting a four page reference work.

I’m surprised I’m giving my first positive review of an At a Glance title. Remember, I’m not an expert and can’t vouch for the choice or value of the information presented. But for an ever-so-brief introduction for someone of my attention span, I liked it.

Genealogy at a Glance: Scots-Irish Genealogy Research
Brian Mitchell
8.5" x 11", 4 pp., folded and laminated. 2014.
ISBN 978-0-8063-1996-4
Genealogical Publishing Company
$8.95 (list) plus shipping ($7.50, Fed Ex Ground).

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Family Tree Magazine’s 101 Best Genealogy Websites for 2014

The Ancestry Insider is one of Family Tree Magazine's 101 Best Websites for 2014.A friend tells me that the Ancestry Insider is honored this year on the Family Tree Magazine list of the 101 Best Genealogy Websites for 2014! I visited their website and, sure enough, there I was! There are many, many websites better than mine, so it is a pleasure to be named. The Ancestry Insider was one of the five websites mentioned in the “Best Genealogy News” category, alongside Dick Eastman, Dear Myrtle, Lisa Louise Cooke, and the RootsWeb massive set of mailing list, where you can here the news about pretty much any subject, locale, or surname.

David A. Fryxell put the list together again this year.

Click the category below to see the best websites from that category:

This is especially meaningful because the editors at Family Tree Magazine provided encouragement to me in this newsletter’s earliest stages, when I was painfully aware of my ragged writing. I wouldn’t be here today if it wasn’t for them. Thank you, Family Tree Magazine!

And I’d like to also thank… (Queue music. Fade to commercial.)

Monday, September 8, 2014

#FGS2014 Conference: FamilySearch Record Hints

The week before the 2014 annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS), Robert Kehrer explained a bit about the hinting feature on Kehrer is a senior product manager for FamilySearch’s search features.

He called the current system, released on 17 June 2014, a “public preview.” During the preview, the hinting software does not run continuously. That means that if you add or change persons in Family Tree, or if FamilySearch adds new records, matching records are not shown until FamilySearch reruns the hinting software. That will occur “more or less on a monthly basis.” FamilySearch released the latest batch of new hints on 18 August 2014. During the preview, FamilySearch is enhancing the quality and capability of the hinting software, so this batch includes new hints not included previously. New hints include records in which the ancestor is not the principal. The ancestor might be a father or mother, for example, on a birth, marriage, or death record. Once the preview period is complete, the hinting software will run continuously. To see the complete text of Kehrer’s pre-conference explanation, see “Additional Record Hints Released.”)

In a luncheon presentation at the conference, Kehrer taught more about attaching hints in a presentation titled “Effective Search Techniques and Sourcing Your Conclusions on” I won’t cover everything he said about attaching hints since I’ve written about it before. (See “FamilySearch Shaky Leaf Hints” and “FamilySearch Enhanced Attach Feature.”)

In Family Tree, when viewing a person page the right column contains several tools. The Research Help box (number 1 in the image, below) contains a link labeled “Search Records.” Click to search for the person in FamilySearch historical records. FamilySearch initiates a search using the person’s name, birthplace, and a birth year range of five years. Depending on the record you wish to find, you may need to add, change, or remove these search parameters.

From person page you can: 1. initiate a search of historical records for that person, and 2. examine record hints.

Record hints are listed at the top of the right column (number 2 in the image, above). Not every hint is an actual match. You need to review a record and then attach it. Click the hint and click Review and Attach. Hints are also signaled by brown icons in tree views (below). Click the icon, then click the hint or Show Details.

Icons indicate record hints in Family Tree tree views.

The attach screen looks like this:

Annotated copy of the Attach Records screen

Technically, you don’t attach records to persons in the tree. Many records mention multiple people and on, you attach mentions, not records. does its best to line up the mentions in the record (on the left) with the persons in the tree (on the right).

  1. The historical record is on the left.
  2. Family Tree is on the right.
  3. The focus person and spouse are here, in larger boxes. You must attach the focus person before attaching any other family members. Green indicates attached persons.
  4. If the focus person has multiple spouses, click the small < arrow character to display and select another spouse.
  5. Click the Attach or Detach hotspots to attach or detach the record to the corresponding person in the tree.
  6. FamilySearch groups the persons into separate sections for parents, children, siblings, and others mentioned in the record. Each section can be opened or closed.
  7. If doesn’t correctly line up persons, drag and drop the person mention on the left to the position opposite the tree person on the right.
  8. People mentioned in the Others section can not be attached as is. In the example above, Clyde and Johanna are in-laws and can be attached by first changing the focus person.
  9. Click Change on the record and tree sides to change the focus person. In the example, make Mozelle the focus person in order to attach Clyde, her husband. Make Jennie the focus person in order to attach Johanna, her mother.
  10. In the example, the mention of Ruth can’t be attached to Ruth in the tree because Ruth is living.

That’s it for my coverage of Robert Kehrer’s luncheon, as well as the FGS conference.

imageIf you missed this year’s conference, consider coming to next year’s. It will be held in Salt Lake City, home to the world famous Family History Library. It will be held at the same time and place as the RootsTech conference, for those who wish to attend both. It will be held 11-14 February 2015 in the Salt Palace Convention Center.  Because the date is unusually early, so are all the deadlines. Early bird pricing, $139, is available only for a couple more weeks, until 12 September 2014. For more information, or to register, go to

Friday, September 5, 2014

#FGS2014 Conference: FamilySearch Search Features

Did you know that has an extensive database of name forms? For example, searching for Nellie matches Ellen. And searching for Marge matches Margaret, Marguerta, Margie, and so forth. This is just one thing Robert Kehrer taught us about searching historical records on that you may not have known.

At the 2014 annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, Robert Kehrer gave a luncheon presentation titled “Effective Search Techniques and Sourcing Your Conclusions on” Kehrer is a senior product manager for FamilySearch. This is one of several articles about that presentation.

The map at the bottom of the search records page was formerly just for looks. FamilySearch moved it up side-by-side with the search form (unless your screen is too narrow) and made it clickable. Hover over a continent to highlight it. (See below.)

The FamilySearch continent map is now clickable.

Click a continent and pops up a list of the countries. Click one to see information about FamilySearch’s collections for that page. Notice that there are unindexed record images. You have to browse unindexed collections to find records. Click “Start researching in…” to link to the collection page, filtered to the collections for that country.

Click a continent, then click a country to see the size of FamilySearch's offerings for that country.

After performing a search, set the number of search results shown to either 20, 50, or 75.

Set the number of search results shown on

Above the search results are two tabs, Records and Collections. With the default tab, records, lists the matching records.

The records tab lists the matching records.

With the collections tab active, lists how many matching records were found in each collection. Select one or more collections and filter the results to those collections.

The Collections tab lists collections with matches.

When viewing the results list, click most anywhere on a result and will display the details beneath the search result. Click again to hide the details. Click the name to see the details on a separate page. Click several records to see their details simultaneously.

Click a result to see the details inserted before the next search result.

Modify your search or start a new search without leaving the search results page by changing the search criteria along the left side of the page.

Modify your search results by changing criteria listed along the left side of the page.

Stay tuned for more from Robert Kehrer’s luncheon.

Thursday, September 4, 2014

#FGS2014 Conference: Person Search vs. Record Search

Robert Kehrer presents FamilySearch effective search techniquesAt the 2014 annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies, Robert Kehrer gave a luncheon presentation titled “Effective Search Techniques and Sourcing Your Conclusions on” Kehrer is a senior product manager for FamilySearch. This is the first of several articles about that presentation.

First, I have to thank everyone at my table for giving me your chocolate-chip cookies. Thank you. <smile>

Kehrer walked attendees through a scenario of finding information about his great-grandfather. In doing so he demonstrated a number of features available when searching historical records on FamilySearch. Here are some of the features that I don’t think I’ve written about before:

Researchers tend to search in one of two paradigms: person searching and record searching. For a person search, the researcher has a person in mind and wants the search to return all the records possible about that person. For a record search, the researcher has a record in mind and wants the search to return that particular record. Depending on their paradigm, a user searching for John Telford, born in Ireland between 1800 and 1805, may want matches from the 1880 United States Census. Or he may not.

Search for a person born in Ireland, no matter what kind of record or where it was created. supports both search paradigms. The secret to record searching (vs. person searching) is to use the “Restrict records by” fields to specify the desired record type and the location where it was created:

Use the "Restrict record by" fields to search for records (vs. persons).

(If you can’t see the record types, click on “Type” underneath the “Restrict records by” title. Likewise for Location.)

I’ve sometimes viewed person search versus record search as a progression. Before we cross the chasm, we search for people. Once we’ve crossed the chasm, we’re forced to a higher level of maturity; we search for records. Friday I wondered if there might be a third level to that progression. I listened to a luncheon presentation by Tom Jones in which he identified three stages in his personal development as a genealogist: 1. Name gathering, 2. record hunting, and 3. case building. (Those may not have been the terms he used, but hopefully I’m close.) Perhaps when we first start doing genealogy we search for people. After some maturation, we search for records. After further progression, we search for proof.

But I digress… Stay tuned for more from Robert Kehrer’s luncheon.