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

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