Friday, January 29, 2016

#RootsTech Posts Syllabi, Streaming Schedule

The Ancestry Insider is a RootsTech 2016 AmbassadorRootsTech 2016 has posted the Syllabi for streaming schedule for access by the public. To access the most up to date streaming schedule, go to Here is the schedule as of this morning.

Day Time Class Title Speaker
Thursday 8:30 a.m.-10:00 a.m.

Thursday General Session

Steve Rockwood
Stan Ellsworth
Paula Madison
Bruce Feiler
11:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. 7 Unique Technologies for Genealogy Discoveries
Mike Mansfield
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Best Websites and Apps for Local History
Amy Crow
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. What’s New in Family Tree in 2016
Ron Tanner
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Virtual Family Reunions
Joseph Richardson
Friday 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Friday General Session
A.J. Jacobs
Ben Bennet (14:05)
Josh and Naomi Davis (Love Taza - No recording)
David Isay
10:30 a.m. 11:30 a.m. RootsTech Innovator Showdown Finals  
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Proven Methodology for Using Google for Genealogy
Lisa Louise Cooke
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.

Finding Elusive Records on

Robert Kehrer
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. My Ancestors Are from Britain—What Do I Do Next?
Myko Clelland
Saturday 8:30 a.m. - 10:00 a.m. Saturday General Session Michael Leavitt
11:00 a.m. 12:00 p.m. Photos—Emerging Technologies in Photography
(Another no show syllabus. RT2449)
Jens Nielsen
1:30 p.m. - 2:30 p.m. Become a Master Searcher on Ancestry
Anne Mitchell
3:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Homespun and Calico: Researching our Foremothers
Peggy Lauritzen
4:30 p.m. - 5:30 p.m. Using the Genealogical Proof Standard for Success
James Ison

All times are Mountain Standard Time. Add two hours for EST and subtract one for PST.

All the syllabi are available at

Thursday, January 28, 2016

#RootsTech Attendee Hints

The Ancestry Insider is a RootsTech 2016 AmbassadorHere some factoids and hints, current as of Tuesday night when I wrote this article.

RootsTech is very close to 10,000 registrants. There are 20,000 additional people signed up on Saturday for Family Discovery Day, but RootsTech organizers figure only about 60% of them will come. (It was free to sign up.) If you want to sign up for Family Discovery Day, you still can, but you MUST sign up ahead of time. The intended audience for Family Discovery Day is members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, but all are welcome.

Because of these crowds, the things you wish to do in the Expo Hall – do them on Thursday and Friday. And if the restrooms in the lobby are full, try the restrooms in the back of the expo hall.

Speaking of the expo hall, don’t buy your soda/coke/pop. Get it free at the Cyber Cafe. Apparently, admittance to the expo hall is limited this year. According to the RootsTech website

Anyone wanting to enter the Expo Hall will be required to purchase an Expo Hall Only pass. The Expo Hall Only pass costs just $19 and includes access to the morning keynote session. Registration for an Expo Hall Only pass is available through the registration portal.

The plan was to have the syllabus online by Wednesday. Check for a link under “About.”

#RootsTech is the official hashtag for the conference.

The streaming schedule is coming soon. The decision on sessions is still fluid. Doris Kearns Goodwin will not be broadcast. RootsTech was not able to get permission.

If this is your first RootsTech, the registration area is at the southeast end of the conference center.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

#BYU #FamilyHistory #Technology Workshop

I’m a glutton for punishment. RootsTech is the toughest week of the Ancestry Insider’s writing schedule. Now I’m piling it on. I’ve taken the opportunity to obtain media credentials for the 2016 Brigham Young University Family History Technology Workshop. It is Tuesday, 2 February 2016, which is the day before RootsTech’s Innovator Summit. Yikes!

BYU Family History Technology Workshop

I just felt like this event is too important to miss. It is sort of the academic version of Innovator Summit. Their website describes it as

The Family History Technology Workshop has been held for 15 years, at both BYU and at RootsTech in Salt Lake City. Attendees include researchers, software developers, and professionals, brought together by their shared passion for improving family history technology.

You can see the program for last year on their website. If you have a technical bent, one presentation that might interest you is “Source Linker: Bridging the Evidence-Conclusion Gap” from Randy Wilson of FamilySearch. Here are the correct links:

Randy mentions some future directions that a year ago were being contemplated for Source Linker.

  • “Features that help a user look at what the sources all say when deciding on a conclusion.”
    Mockup from Randy Wilson of what a user interface would look like that showed all the values associated with the source relevent to a conclusion
  • Display of values taken from a source
    Mockup from Randy Wilson of what a user interface would look like that showed the values associated with sources
  • “Tools to help users split a badly merged person using what the sources say.”
    Diagram from Randy Wilson showing one stage of repairing a bad merge using information displayed from sources
  • “Features that filter out already linked records from search results.”
    Mockup from Randy Wilson of a user interface indicating records already linked to the tree

For more information about the conference, visit

Tuesday, January 26, 2016 and FamilySearch Look Back, then Forward

Happy 2016! and FamilySearch separately looked back at 2015 and announced some of their plans for 2016.

It’s Ancestry’s 20th anniversary and in a New Year’s greeting sent to subscribers, Tim Sullivan noted accomplishments of 2015 and gave a peek at the coming year.

Ancestry’s users have contributed more than 70 million member trees and uploaded 300 million photographs and documents. Ancestry’s DNA database surpassed one million DNA samples. Ancestry claims more than 16 billion historical records from 80 countries. In 2015 they added the U.S. wills and probate collection as well as 200 million Mexican records.

Tim gave a nod to the retirement of Family Tree Maker, although he didn’t mention it by name. “Our team has worked hard to streamline and improve the overall Ancestry experience for everyone,” Tim wrote. “That meant saying goodbye to a few products so we can better hone our focus.” LifeStory received explicit mention as one of the products receiving focus. He also called out AncestryDNA’s exciting, new New Ancestor Discoveries.

“We’ll be launching international content to help you connect to your roots outside of the U.S.,” Tim wrote, “with more to come from Germany, the United Kingdom, Mexico, Ireland, and Scandinavia.”

I wonder if international expansion may also be in their DNA plans. Tim wrote, “We’ll bring you more global family connections using our powerful DNA network to continue to uncover family history and discover new ancestors with a more in‑depth look at your ethnic origins.” Does that mean they are seeking permission to sell their DNA kit in additional countries?

FamilySearch also celebrated the launch of Ancestry’s Mexico collection, but as a joint accomplishment.

“This announcement is about two things,” said FamilySearch International CEO, Stephen T. Rockwood. “First, it is a celebration of the joy of discovery now available to more of our patrons with Mexican heritage. Second, it is a recognition of our valued partnership with and how working together has made these high impact collections searchable online much quicker for personal family history research.”

FamilySearch provided the images and Ancestry paid for the indexing. According to FamilySearch spokesperson, Paul Nauta, “without’s assistance, some estimates suggest it would have taken 20 years or more for volunteers to index the records.” FamilySearch patrons can access the indexes at FamilySearch family history centers or—if they have Ancestry subscriptions—on

For more information, see “Vast Collection of Mexico Ancestor Records Continues to Grow” on the FamilySearch blog.

12 Things to Expect from FamilySearch in 2016FamilySearch outlined 12 things they plan to accomplish in 2016.

  1. FamilySearch Family Tree will be faster and more robust.
  2. User guidance will improve. (I think they mean the onscreen helps.)
  3. A relationship feature will show how you are related to people in Family Tree.
  4. Searching will be more user-friendly, the search results will be better and easier to use.
  5. Adding photos, stories, documents, and audio files will be easier.
  6. The home page will be dynamic and personalized.
  7. There will be more partner apps.
  8. FamilySearch will add to the 319 digital camera teams that today produce 125 million images per year. The new cameras will focus on international records.
  9. There will be more mobile apps on IOS and Android platforms through FamilySearch.
  10. This is the year of the new, web-based indexing tool! (It’s a good thing, I’ve been holding my breath for how many years?)
  11. More people than ever will see RootsTech via live streaming and recordings.
  12. There will be an added emphasis on attracting youth.

There was a 13th item, combined with item 1. Perhaps FamilySearch wanted to avoid the number 13.

  • Record hinting will get faster (it used to take weeks for new hints to show up) and hints will come from more collections.

To see the list in FamilySearch’s own words, see “12 Things You Will See from FamilySearch in 2016” on the FamilySearch blog.

Monday, January 25, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Meredith Is Not Going to RootsTech

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

I went to RootsTechs 1, 2, and 3.  I won't be going again.  The bigger it gets, the less interesting and useful it gets.  The keynotes are usually entertaining, but are rarely learning experiences.

The classes are always aimed either at the lowest common denominator (beginner genealogists; therefore I don't learn anything) or at the highest common denominator (app developers; therefore I don't learn anything).  The people staffing the exhibitor booths are there to help people who are rank beginners, not to listen to the experienced, advanced user give feedback about how to improve their sites.  That is, they should have their developers there in the booths to listen and interact, not just the salespeople.

Somehow, the genealogy part of "roots" has gotten lost; "RootsTech" has become about documenting family history of living people—today's families—not the past's.  My interest is in building the best stories I can about my deceased ancestors. There are no "roots" in RootsTech anymore.  To be truthful in advertising, it ought to be called "LivingFamilyDocumentingTech" or some such, not "Roots" Tech.

Meredith A. Lane

Dear Meredith,

First, apologies for editing your letter (for length). I’ve picked the main points that I wish to address. You raise some valid concerns, not all of which with I agree.

I agree that RootsTech keynotes are more entertaining than instructing. Other than Judy Russell’s recent, fabulous presentation, there haven’t been any about hard-core genealogy. Most have been very interesting, feel-good, “I have a story to tell and so do you” presentations. I believe FamilySearch is trying to draw the non-genealogists who are most likely to catch the bug if they attend.

An original goal of RootsTech was to get “Roots”—genealogists—together with “Tech”—the technical people able to improve their products. I agree that that is not always happening in the exhibit booths. If I’m not mistaken, has done some behind the scenes. FamilySearch tries to have a product manager present at their booth. “Product manager” is the magic words. They decide what improvements go into Go to the FamilySearch welcome desk and ask when a product manager will be present. FamilySearch also tries to make at least one presentation at the Innovators Summit, giving techies some ideas as to how they might make their products better serve the needs of experienced genealogists. For smaller vendors like RootsMagic, Ancestral Quest, etc., the owner is often both product manager and programmer and is in his/her booth most of the time.

I agree that much of RootsTech is for beginners and for gathering photos and stories. I haven’t counted, but I can believe that you are right in the sense that the number of classes for beginners is increasing. I believe that is partly because FamilySearch is trying to catch the interest of those non-genealogists they attracted with the non-genealogist keynotes. But it is also partly because RootsTech is growing so large, there are just plain more classes of all types.

Where we differ is that I believe RootsTech is increasingly useful to intermediate and advanced genealogists. Look at the number of nationally acclaimed and equally qualified regional lecturers here this year: Tom Jones, Judy Russell, Josh Taylor, Thomas MacEntee, David Rencher, Pam Sayre, Rick Sayre, Audrey Collins, John Grenham, Kip Sperry, Warren Bittner, David Ouimette, Korey Meyerink, Peggy Lauritzen, Loretta Evans, Sunny Morton, and more I’ve overlooked or don’t know.

Many thousands attend RootsTech each year.My greatest concern is the sheer size of the thing. Will Saturday be a madhouse? Will we be able to move from classroom to classroom in a timely fashion? Will everyone be able to get into the classes they desire (which, to be fair, is a problem at most conferences)? Will vendors in the exhibit hall be able to talk to everyone who wants to talk with them? Will lines in the restrooms be awful during class breaks? Will lines at the food vendors be terrible during the lunch break?

One thing is for certain. RootsTech 2016 will be charged with energy! And you don’t have to be present to participate. Read on…

---The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Is there a way for genealogy fans to see, watch the talks on TV or our computers, kindles, or cell phones? I would pay to watch and download handouts on these talks. Even sometime after the convention is over.

Advice welcome,
Ellen Thorne Morris

Dear Ellen,

There is, indeed. Select sessions will be broadcast live. These typically start with the morning’s keynote at 8:30 AM MST, 7:30 PST, and then continue throughout the day. In past years the broadcast has been on the home page, The schedule is scheduled to be announced this week.

The broadcasted sessions and more (totaling about 30 last year) will also be made available for viewing after the conference. It seems like last year it took a couple of weeks before they were posted. Handouts were not available. Last year’s videos were available on the RootsTech website for several months.

There is no cost for either of these options.

Throughout the year, FamilySearch family history centers throughout the world will organize local events utilizing a mixture of local presenters and RootsTech videos. I’ll post a URL where you can search for one near you. Handouts are available to program organizers who, hopefully, make copies for attendees.

For members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Family Discovery Day broadcast schedule has already been published. I’m not certain what the URL will be, but it might be

---The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Less than two weeks to go and still NO syllabus which is what I often use to decide what classes to attend.

And, it would have been nice if we could mark the map for the vendors we would like to visit. On the phone, the map is so small, it is impossible to read the vendor booth numbers without blowing it up and losing all geographic perspective.


Dear Margie,

I understand the expo hall map is a known problem that is being worked on. I’ll ask about the syllabus.

---The Ancestry Insider

Saturday, January 23, 2016

Ancestry Insider No Longer On Facebook

imageI’m sorry to report that you can no longer receive my newsletter via Facebook. They have shut down the Ancestry Insider account. I have been informed that they don’t allow anonymous newsletters. If you subscribe to the Insider via Facebook, you’ll need to switch to good ol’ fashion email. To subscribe, click here or copy and paste this URL into your browser:

Or you can follow me on Twitter: @AncestryInsider

Of course, I don’t know why I’m telling you this. If you are reading this message, then you weren’t using Facebook to follow me. It’s like the sermon at church that you wish your neighbor were there to hear. (Don’t you feel some are more applicable to those not in attendance? Preachin’ to the choir. But I digress…) If you think your Facebook friends were subscribed via Facebook, you might want to inform them.

By the way, if an article doesn’t display correctly in your email, click on the article title to read it on the web.

Friday, January 22, 2016

Darned Divorcee’s Deposition

Lise Embley submitted this darned document to my RootsTech 2016 Darned Record contest.

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable.

A Truer Lie Had Never Been Spoken

by Lise Embley

In an April 1883 affidavit in Holt County, Nebraska, Delia Hooker provided details of her marriage to Ambrose Hooker, Civil War veteran. She was applying for a Civil War Widow's Pension.

Delia, then surnamed Bird, married Ambrose Hooker in August of 1867. In her affidavit, Delia swore that her previous husband, Byron B. Bird, died of a fever in Independence mining camp in December 1866. She attached a newspaper death notice to prove her point, and stated that “she knows no person now living who was present at the death of her said first husband Byron Bird.”

That no person then living was present at his death was absolutely true. That Byron died in 1866 was certainly not true. He was still alive when she had divorced him in July of 1867.

The closing comment of her deposition sums up the situation nicely:

“Deponent farther says that she believes that any farther search or inquiry for farther proof of the death of her first husband the said Byron Bird would be useless.”

So true!

Yes, records say the darnedest things!


Affidavit of Delia A. Hooker, 24 April 1883, p. 1   Affidavit of Delia A. Hooker, 24 April 1883, p. 2  Affidavit of Delia A. Hooker, 24 April 1883, p. 3
Newspaper clipping from affidavit of Delia A. Hooker, 24 April 1883, p. 1

Affidavit of Delia A. Hooker, 24 April 1883, State of Nebraska, Holt County, 3 pages; in Widow’s Application no. 302,112; Soldier’s Certificate No. 201,692, Ambrose E. Hooker, Captain, Unassigned Company, Regiment 9, Cavalry; Pension applications for service in the US Army between 1861 and 1900, grouped according to the units in which the veterans served; Civil War and Later Pension Files; Records of the Department of Veterans Affairs, Record Group 15; National Archives and Records Administration, Washington, D.C.

Delia A. Bird vs. Byron B. Bird - cause referred to Court Commissioner.

“Court Proceedings,” Daily Alta California, 30 July 1867, p. 1, col. 5; digital images, California Digital Newspaper Collection, Center for Bibliographic Studies and Research, University of California, Riverside ( : accessed 29 November 2015).

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

#RootsTech 2016: Plan to Go and Plan Your Time

The Ancestry Insider is getting excited about RootsTech.With RootsTech 2016 just two weeks away, it’s time to start planning.

  • If you’re planning on deciding to come to RootsTech or not, now’s the time to decide. Looking through the class list is a great way to decide.
  • If you’re already registered, now’s the time to look through the class schedule and make some tentative decisions.

To see what sessions are available, visit Using this list, you can decide to come to RootsTech or not.

To see what time each session is offered is considerably more difficult. It can be done in one of two ways. (Thanks, Clytee for this information.)

  • Download the RootsTech 2016 app and tap Schedule. Be forewarned. Judging from Wednesday, it is apparent not every class is listed in the app.
  • Before looking at the schedule on the web, login (using the link in the upper-right corner) and select Browse and Search. Then filter by day. The class times magically appear in the right column.

Login and filter by day to see class times.

While you can not reserve classes, you can use RootsTech website or the app to create a calendar for yourself, showing the classes you’d like to attend during each session time. I recommend you use the web to begin with. Scroll through all the classes for the day and select the star for every class that interests you. Once you’ve marked all classes of interest, go back through and look at the classes for each session time. Decide the class of greatest interest. Select the blue plus sign above the star to add the class to your schedule.. (Leave the stars selected in case circumstances change.)

Once you’ve completed this, you can look at your schedule on either the website or the app. On the web you can print your schedule or export it to your regular calendaring system.

The RootsTech website is a good place to create a schedule for the RootsTech conference.

The calendar on the app is synchronized to your calendar on the web. Changes you make on one will appear on the other. However, I wasn’t able to find a way to view a list of the collections I had starred. You’ll have to find another way of equiping your phone with a list of alternate classes to attend if your first choice is full when you arrive. Remember, putting a class on your schedule does not reserve a seat for you in the class. Classes are still fist come, first seated.

2016-01-16 22.03.05

Now, plan to go to RootsTech 2016 and plan what to do when you get there.

Keynote Speakers and Performers Announced

In other news, RootsTech has finished announcing the keynote speakers and the special event entertainers for RootsTech 2016.

RootsTech 2016 keynote speakers

Hope to see you there!

Monday, January 18, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Millions, not Billions

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Ancestry Insider,

I do not believe that Ancestry has 2 billion paid subscribers as you indicated. I would like to know your source for that information. I don't believe they actually have 2 billion subscribers (paid or unpaid)


Dear Everybody,

Yikes! My typo. Millions, not billions. At one out of two million paid subscribers, your cancellation affects by 1,000 times what I stated.

Kevin provided the source for the two million subscriber number:

I have fixed the error in the posted article, as well as a couple of spelling errors. (I think I warned you that my favorite blog software discontinued its spell checker.) The error effects the meaning of the sentence, and for some readers, the entire article. See “The Insider’s Take on the New Ancestry” if you wish to reread the article with the change.

Thank you for calling this to my attention.

--The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I like your new profile picture. Does this mean you are no longer staying incognito?


Dear Anonymous,

While the caricature looks a lot more like me, I still wish to remain “anonymous.” Please do not post photos of me without redacting most of my face. I changed the picture because I wanted to distance myself from the Simpsons and I wanted to freshen up my branding.

And I’m glad you like it.

The Ancestry Insider

Friday, January 15, 2016

A Darned Part of the Whole Story

Linda Bailey submitted this document to my RootsTech 2016 Darned Record contest.

We depend upon records to reveal the “truth” about the past. Yet sometimes records have anomalies. Some are amusing or humorous. Some are interesting or weird. Some are peculiar or suspicious. Some are infuriating, or downright laughable.

The Whole Story

by Linda Bailey

I used this document to encourage our Oakland family history library staff to learn how to research the story.  I've seen too many times when a “researcher” used an indexed record and never bothered to actually look at the document image to cull all the details.  i gave them this one and challenged them to research as much of the backstory as possible. They gave me everything from a video of a corn shredder in action to where the rest of Herman was buried to burial customs of different religious groups. It was a fun exercise. 


Yes, records say the darnedest things!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

The Insider’s Take on the New Ancestry

Example Story View from New Ancestry member treeSeveral of you have asked what I thought about the “New Ancestry.” I promised I would talk about it after my holiday break. So, here it is. First, let me say that my opinions on the matter don’t count. Why? Because Ancestry provides me with a complimentary subscription and a complimentary copy of Family Tree Maker. I don’t have the same skin in the game as you. So take my comments with that in mind.

I’ve heard some talk about cancelling their subscriptions because of the extensive changes to Ancestry Member Trees. Saying so is a nice way to blow stream, and a nice way to communicate to Ancestry the number of dissatisfied users. But at this point it looks to me like the number of dissatisfied customers is in the thousands—maybe tens of thousands. Even if all of them cancel (which won’t happen), they are still a drop in the two million [not billion, as previous reported,] subscriber bucket. If the records are worth the subscription cost to you and yet you cancel anyway, you’re hurting yourself more than Ancestry. If the value was marginal and this is the last straw, go ahead and cancel. But don’t cancel thinking you’re somehow punishing Ancestry. You’re not.

I’ve heard some people saying Ancestry has ruined Member Trees by adding superfluous historical events.

Rebecca Lewis was living in Richmond, Utah when the Great Flood of 1862 inundated the region.1

Really? According to Wikipedia those floods were mostly in coastal states and the affected region in Utah was 400 miles away from Rebecca.2 

I’ve heard some people saying Ancestry has ruined Member Trees by inventing fictional, erroneous narratives.

When Percy Alexander Hope Johnstone was born on August 13, 1845, in Moffat County, Colorado, his father, William, was 26 and his mother, Octavia, was 26. He married Evelyn Ann on March 28, 1878, in London, London. They had three children during their marriage. He died on August 7, 1899, in Meath, Ireland, at the age of 53.3

Really? Born in 1845 in Colorado? And then marries in London and dies in Ireland?

It’s unfortunate if these are the reasons they are giving up Ancestry Member Trees. It makes me think they don’t know how to get around them: Don’t use Lifestory view! Switch to Facts view and turn off historical insights. In fairness, there is still a reason to not like Lifestory view. Others may still be using it to look at your ancestors and thinking you are at fault.

I’ve heard some people say that despite the ugly, depressing colors and a host of other problems in the Facts View, they intend to continue to use Ancestry Member Trees. That’s where I am at.

Further, I tend to think of things in black and white. In my opinion, Ancestry’s records and Ancestry’s Member Trees are independent value propositions. Why? Ancestry Member Trees are free. If Ancestry’s records, all by themselves, are not worth what you are paying, cancel your subscription. You can make the decision to use their trees independently. I realize the world is not totally black and white. There is synergy between Ancestry’s records and their trees that can’t be discounted. There are also alternatives to being a 100% subscriber 100% of the time. But still, the records by themselves are either worth the cost or they are not.

P.S. When I set out to verify that the Great Flood of 1862 couldn’t possibly have affected Richmond, Utah, I learned that “in 1862 flood waters plagued much of Utah from February to June, sweeping away almost every bridge in the region and demolishing roads, fields, and homes.”4 Wikipedia was wrong. Who knew.


     1., historical insight found in the author’s public member tree, Ancestry ( : accessed 20 December 2015), Rebecca Alvira Lewis, born 1 November 1859 in Richmond, Cache, Utah. Sorry; I don’t believe you can see historical insights in other people’s trees.
     2.  Various contributors, “Great Flood of 1862,” Wikipedia ( : accessed 19 December 2015).
     3., machine generated text (Lifestory) derived from Levittland (username), “Tydesley Family Tree,” public member tree, Ancestry ( : accessed 20 December 2015), Percy Alexander Hope Johnstone, 1845-1899.
     4.  Andrew M. Honker, “’Been Grazing Almost to Extinction’: The Environment, Human Action, and Utah Flooding, 1900-1940,” Utah Historical Quarterly 67 (1999), 25.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016

Family History Library Construction During #RootsTech

The Salt Lake City FamilySearch Family History Library is undergoing remodeling, which is expected to continue through RootsTech 2016. “The main floor and lobby of the Family History Library will be undergoing renovation lasting until March 1, 2016,” said FamilySearch’s Ray Naisbitt. FamilySearch is attempting to limit the effect on patrons. “There will still be access into the library and all of the other floors will still be available for use.”

Animated photo of construction on the main floor of the Family History Library
Photo of construction on the main floor of the Family History Library

A comparison of the before and after floor plans (below), shows that the wall is being removed that separates the lobby from the rest of the main floor. The book shelves on the floor will be replaced by additional classroom space which can seat a class of 120, or be divided into two classes of 60 each. And the library orientation room will be no more.

The switch from book shelves to additional classrooms is consistent with my experience in my own family history center. Patron usage in the center is shifting from accessing physical resources to learning. The books that were available on the first floor (family histories, I think) are still available from high density storage, according to a private Facebook post by Valerie Brown Elkins, a volunteer at the library. These can be pulled from storage by requesting the book at the service desk on floor B1. Many family histories have been digitized and moved to offsite storage. These are not only available via the computers at the library, but at local FamilySearch family history centers. The library orientation room has been replaced by the addition of an online library orientation.

My guess is that the effect of the remodeling on RootsTech 2016 attendees will be minimal. There were about 50 computer workstations on the main floor. This will increase competition for available workstations on other floors. You can bet the army of volunteer missionaries have been deployed to help patrons on other floors. The classes that were held on the first floor have been temporarily moved, most to the lab on the second floor. The break room has been moved temporarily to the third floor. The biggest effect on RootsTech attendees will be RootsTech itself. It may bring hundreds of more library patrons during the conference.

View time-lapse videos of the construction from the point of view of the lobby or the main floor on YouTube.

The FHL as it might someday lookThe changes are being made in preparation for addition of a FamilySearch Discovery Center, said Ray. FamilySearch first started talking publicly about discovery centers back at the 2013 conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies. (See “Über Cool Family History Center of the Future Shown at #FGS2013.”) The artist depiction of a transformed Family History Library (above) shown at that time was quite dramatic. I don’t know what is currently envisioned. This discovery center will be FamilySearch’s flagship. FamilySearch debuted a smaller, test center in the Joseph Smith Memorial Building FamilySearch Center at last year’s RootsTech. (See “FamilySearch Opens First Discovery Center at #RootsTech/#FGS2015.”) Another is located in Bellevue, Washington. FamilySearch has also announced one will be housed at the Museum of the American Revolution in Philadelphia. (See “FamilySearch Donates $1.5 Million to MoAR.”)

Before floor plan
Previous floor plan for the Salt Lake City FamilySearch Family History Library

Afterwards floor plan
Future floor plan for the Salt Lake City FamilySearch Family History Library

Visits to the current discovery center should be scheduled in advance at

Monday, January 11, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Best Kept Genealogy Search Secret

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Readers,

In response to last week’s post, “Monday Mailbox: One Click Search of Acom, FMP, MH from Family Tree,” reader “Ann” left a comment worth repeating:

Dear Ancestry Insider,

While I use these logos for searching on FamilySearch, I also use a Chrome extension called RootsSearch, which can search, not only from FamilySearch, but also from:

* Ancestry
* BillionGraves
* FamilySearch
* Find A Grave
* findmypast
* Genealogie Online
* Open Archives
* WeRelate

The sites it will search are:

* American Ancestors
* Ancestry
* Archives
* BillionGraves
* Chronicling America
* FamilySearch
* Find A Grave
* Fold3
* Genealogie Online
* Genealogy Bank
* Genealogy Gophers
* Geni
* Google
* Mocavo
* MyHeritage
* Newspapers
* NLA Trove
* Open Archives
* USGenWeb
* WeRelate
* WikiTree
* World Vital Records

This is a best kept secret that needs to be shared!! It is not in the FamilySearch App Gallery. For more information, see


Thanks for sharing, Ann!

---The Ancestry Insider

Friday, January 8, 2016

Darned Records: Flush Out Your Family Tree

Findmypast has a pretty low opinion of my records. They recently told me to flush out my family history.


I suppose we could all be reminded to use high-quality records to document our family trees. Still, this felt a little extreme.

(My apologies to Findmypast. I live in a constant state of anxiety because I have soo many errors in my writing! My blog writing software just lost its spell checker, so expect even more. I just hope they don’t spotlight my next doozy in their blog!)

Yes, records say the darnedest things!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

FamilySearch Infographic: 2015 Year in Review

FamilySearch 2015 in review - infographicFamilySearch recently shared this infographic highlighting these 2015 accomplishments:


  • 1.1 billion people in the tree.
  • 120,000 new contributers this year
  • 2.47 million total contributers









  • 5.31 billion searchable records
  • 19 million non-English records indexed
  • 110 million total records indexed
  • 158 new historic records collections
  • 2,049 total collections
  • 122 million records images published




  • 12 million volunteer service hours
  • 9 million hours contributed by
  • 304,000 volunteer indexers
  • 3 million hours contributed by
  • 3,850 service missionaries


  • 4,891 FamilySearch centers
  • 77 new this year
  • 2,864 outside of U.S.
  • 2,027 in the U.S.


  • 300,000 RootsTech Attendees (includes in-person, online, and local family discovery day events).
  • 1,505 Local Family Discovery Day Events
  • 291,000 Site Visits per Day






  • 10.3 million memories (total)
  • 9 million photos
  • 276,000 documents
  • 747,000 stories
  • 38,000 audio recordings

Monday, January 4, 2016

Monday Mailbox: One Click Search of Acom, FMP, MH from Family Tree

Dear Ancestry Insider,

A post at stated:

Through partnerships with other major online genealogy sites, patrons can now use a single click to search,, and for the person they are viewing in FamilySearch’s Family Tree.

When did this happen?


Dear Tom,

There are really two things being talked about here. Partnerships between FamilySearch and these three companies have existed for many months allowing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to get free subscriptions to much of the content of these websites.

FamilySearch Family Tree one-click links to search,,, and MyHeritage.comWhat has occurred in recent weeks is the addition of icons on the person pages of Family Tree. Where once there was a link to search historical record collections, there now appears logos for FamilySearch and the other three organizations. Clicking a logo opens a new window or tab for the respective website and performs a search for the current Family Tree person. The search is a basic one by name, birth date, and birth place. No subscription is required to click the logo or to see a list of matches, but you will need a subscription to see details of a result.

The Ancestry Insider