Thursday, May 5, 2016

#NGS2016GEN Michael Hall Presents FamilySearch Luncheon

Antonio de Mederios BrihanteAt the 2016 National Genealogical Society Family History Conference, Michael J. Hall spoke to the title, “Discovering the Memories of Your Ancestors through FamilySearch.” Michael is a deputy chief genealogical officer at FamilySearch.

FamilySearch is not

  • perfect.

But there are a number of things that it is. FamilySearch is

  • Robust
  • It is dynamic. There’s something coming up neat and new, weekly and sometimes daily.
  • It is informative.
  • It is challenging. You’ve worked hard and put your tree on FamilySearch and someone comes up and changes it. Michael looks at that as a challenge, “a challenge to reexamine my sources.”
  • It is engaging. Michael was having lunch one day with FamilySearch Chief Genealogical Officer, David Rencher. In through the door came a group of rough looking construction workers. What were they talking about? FamilySearch and why it was so fun and why he was having success. Michael said it was fun listening, the workers not knowing whom he and David were. FamilySearch is engaging.
  • It is a tool.

Michael related his experiences sharing photos and stories on FamilySearch. Michael is half Portuguese. His mother immigrated from the Azores. He showed her fan chart and how much he has been able to accomplish. He has been able to find more than just facts. He’s been able to find many photos and stories.

Michael showed the ancestor page on for his ancestor Antonio de Mederios Brihante. Antonio has 20 memories (photos, stories, and documents). Michael has contributed some of them and relatives have contributed the rest. (To see Antonio’s page in FamilySearch Family Tree, you must register for a free account. But anyone can see the photos, stories, and documents.)

As a result of posting photos and stories on, Michael has had correspondence from all over the world.

Michael Hall made contacts with relatives across the world.

By posting, Michael found a cousin that knew family stories he hadn’t heard. He found that another ancestor had stowed away on a ship. Someone in India showed how he was related to Vasco de Gama. Someone in the Netherlands was able to extend his Portuguese line back to the Netherlands. He was able to access a letter from a shipwrecked ancestor, possibly from Scotland. He has been able to get copies of photographs of ancestors in the Azores.

Michael has experienced many benefits using FamilySearch:

  • Meeting previously unknown relatives
  • Finding previously unknown photos and documents
  • Discovering new and interesting stores about his ancestors

“Using FamilySearch will help you to know your family,” Michael said.


Image credit: Richard Brilhante, contributor; untitled photograph of six men, four women, and one infant, with the seated man identified as Antonio de Mederios Brihante, filename 10021401.JPG; FamilySearch ( : accessed 4 May 2016).

1 comment:

  1. I'm trying to add my family tree to Family Search and your comment above gave me pause. I'm having a really hard time figuring out how the tree system works. I've added names and then found my person with a tree already attached. So then I had both names in my tree for the same person. I figured out how to merge them, though I'm still not sure I did it correctly. But after reading your post I'm afraid I may have messed up somebody else's tree. I thought the trees would be completely separate for each person who had an account. I read through so many help articles but it's all really confusing and hard to figure out. Is there a comprehensive guide that I can read to help to get a handle on how it works?


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