Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Christmas/Holiday Greetings #LIGHTtheWORLD

#LIGHTtheWORLD by serving as Jesus Christ served.I usually wait until later in the month to give my holiday greetings and wax a little religious. This year, I’m sending my well wishes out early so that you can participate in an invitation to serve others in 25 ways for 25 days in December. The invitation is open to everyone of any religion or philosophy, even though it is from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

If you’re Christian, watch a short, inspirational video, on YouTube or at likening our service to Jesus Christ’s.

See the list of 25 ways of giving service at Substitute according to your belief system when called for. Here is a list with references to Christ removed, if that is more comfortable for you:

  1. Lift others’ burdens.
  2. Honor your parents.
  3. Help the blind.
  4. Worship.
  5. Serve the sick.
  6. Read scripture.
  7. Feed the hungry.
  8. Pray for others.
  9. Visit the lonely.
  10. Help the disabled.
  11. Serve children.
  12. Teach others.
  13. Show humility.
  14. Cloth the needy.
  15. Worship through music.
  16. Show compassion.
  17. Care for your mother.
  18. Honor holy days.
  19. “Calm the storm.”
  20. See potential in others.
  21. Forgive others.
  22. Show gratitude.
  23. Be a peacemaker.
  24. Care for your loved ones.
  25. Emulate those who serve the most.

The list at has links to pages with service suggestions. For example, December 20th is “See potential in others” and the suggestions are

  • Take a child to work with you, and let him or her do a small part of your job.
  • Be a mentor or tutor to someone.
  • Donate to a scholarship at your local high school.
  • Cheer someone on! Attend an athletic, cultural, or similar event to support someone you know.
  • Help a child learn to set goals.
  • Contribute your abilities to an adult education class in your area.
  • List some positive qualities in someone you don't get along with.

If you wish to share, use the hashtag #LIGHTtheWORLD.

If you are looking for organized service opportunities specific to your community, visit

Merry Christmas from the Ancestry InsiderSo many of you serve this wonderful, genealogy community in so many ways. Thank you! Have a Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Images copyright Intellectual Reserve, Inc. Used with permission.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

#RootsTech Contest Winner and Keynote Speaker Announcement

RootsTech 2017 is comingI’m pleased to be able to announce the winner of my RootsTech 2017 contest. Amy Floto related her experience with “the Haunted Treadmill and the Magic Box.” Look for her story after the first of the year. I received lots of great entries. I’ll share a few of the best ones with you after Amy’s.
Jonathan and Drew Scott will keynote RootsTech 2017In other news, RootsTech has announced more keynote presenters. The Property Brothers, Jonathan and Drew Scott, will present. These multi-talented identical twins have built an impressive entertainment empire by following their mutual passion for film, entertainment, and home renovation. Come to RootsTech and listen to the Scott Brothers talk about how it all began. From their first business at age seven, to purchasing and flipping their first fixer-upper for a profit of $50,000 at the age of 17, these two have a lot to share about entrepreneurial spirit, hard work, and the sweetness of success.

At the risk of having unknown family members come out of the woodwork, I wanted to share some news with you. I found out recently that FamilySearch employees can give family members a discount code for a $109 4-day RootsTech pass or $139 for a RootsTech+Innovator Summit pass. Contact your closest related RootsTech employee and get the discount code.

RootsTech 2017 will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, 8-11 February 2017.

President Russell M and Sister Wendy Nelson will address Family Discover Day 2017 at RootsTechFamily Discovery Day

Registration for Family Discovery Day 2017 is now open. It will be held 11 February 2017 at the Salt Palace Convention Center. The event is for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I apologize for not getting this news out sooner, as the event “sells” out fast. I say “sells” because it is free. To register, click here and then click Register. To sweeten the pot, RootsTech has announced that the keynote speakers for Family Discovery Day will be President Russell M Nelson and his wife, Wendy. Wendy is an avid genealogist and did a great job speaking last year. President Nelson is the president of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles so it is quite an honor to have him at RootsTech.

According to FamilySearch:

Family Discover Day is the perfect place for individuals and families to discover helpful family history solutions, watch demonstrations, get one-on-one help, interact with innovative family history technologies, and mingle with hundreds of exhibitors from around the globe.

Select sessions are also available for those with Church callings and responsibilities related to family history and the temple. Individuals will be able to get their questions answered, discover new tools, and learn best practices.

Over 15,000 adults and children attended the free event in 2016. Tickets will be limited again in 2017 for this increasingly popular event. Interested individuals and families should register as quickly as possible online at

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

AncestryDNA 30% Sale

AncestryDNA 30% holiday saleIf you’ve been waiting for another AncestryDNA mega-sale, wait no longer. Ancestry is selling its DNA kit for $69 from 25 November to 28 November 2016. From 29 November to 14 December 2016 they are offering it for $89. The $69 price is the lowest I see every year.

If you’re buying for a relative, don’t do what I did. I had the kit shipped direct to an elderly relative. I asked them to send me the code and let me activate it. He says he received the test, provided the sample and sent it in. He couldn’t find a code. Then he claimed he had activated it. However, he’s never shown up as a DNA match to any of his siblings. I’ve learned from others that they have the kits shipped to themselves, they activate it, and then they pay to have it shipped a second time, this to the relative. (Perhaps Ancestry can work out a way to email the code to the purchaser and allow shipping the kit direct to the relative.)

To obtain the sell price visit (The URL isn’t working as I write this. Presumably, it will start working on the 25th.)

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Follow and FamilySearch via Social Media

Ancestry Facebook FamilySearch Twitter LogosLast week I quoted an anonymous commenter who had left RootsWeb mailing lists in favor of Facebook and Google+. I admitted not doing much with social media. Just in case social media is your thing, let me point you in the direction of’s and FamilySearch’s social media channels.

Ancestry has a presence on several social media channels. Follow them at

FamilySearch also has a presence on several social media channels.

By contrast, I’m only on Facebook and Twitter. Like or follow me if that is how you wish to be informed of new blog posts. (Sorry about the double posts on Facebook last week. I was running an experiment. It should be fixed now.) And if you follow me via social media, there is a bonus! Once—sometimes twice!—a year I’ll post a comment on Facebook or Twitter that blog readers won’t receive!

I should warn you that to contact me it is still best to send me an email ( or leave a comment on a blog post. I don’t check Facebook or Twitter messages, at least not very often. Sadly, even if you send me email, I’ll probably ignore it. Just kidding. I read every email and value your ideas, but I have time to respond to only a few. Thank you for your interest and support. I hope my humble efforts benefit a least a couple of you.

Monday, November 21, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Film at 11:00

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxMy comments about the Layton FamilySearch Center and microfilm elicited some good feedback.

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I work at the Ogden FamilySearch Center and we have some books and readers and film and fiche. Come on up!

Janice Nusbaum

Dear Janice,

That is good news. There is so much that is only available on film. I’m glad to hear it.

---The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I am a FHC Director and was told not too long ago that there will be no film use within 3 or 4 years. I was told this because I was inquiring about returning films that were viewable online.


Dear Ancestry Insider,

They've (FamilySearch?) said they will never put all the films online?? Is that because of contract restrictions or some other reason?

Marilyn Cranford

Dear Marilyn,

There are several reasons why some images will never be available online: contracts, laws, relationships, and strategies.

In the distant past many companies did business over a handshake. If FamilySearch/GSU operated that way, it is conceivable they have films for which they have no written contract. In the past when written contracts became the norm, companies didn’t foresee technology growth; FamilySearch has said publicly that most of its contracts did not foresee distribution via any medium besides microfilm. If FamilySearch wishes to publish these films, they will have to negotiate contracts with many record custodians and many of them won’t do so.

Laws increasingly limit what can be published. Open publication (which the Internet does) is a very different animal than closed distribution (which is what you do when you order a film to view at a FamilySearch family history center). So while some films can remain in limited distribution, they can’t be published publicly on the Internet. This trend is likely to get worse.

An article in the FamilySearch Wiki documents another scenario. FamilySearch had published some images of vital records. The contract with the record custodian was revised such that FamilySearch depublished the images in exchange for rights to obtain and publish additional indexes. Apparently, FamilySearch is willing to forego publishing microfilm that it has rights to publish if doing so can buy a continued working relationship with a record custodian.

Strategy comes into play. Some films are duplicates. Some films were not filmed by FamilySearch/Genealogical Society of Utah. I predict that FamilySearch will not digitize some films because decision makers will decide they would rather spend the money elsewhere. For example, how valuable are Soundex census indexes? Are the costs justified for the few discoveries that will result? Or would you rather have high-value vital records from your ancestral country? How valuable are the road commissioners’ ledger books? They’ll never be digitally indexed by humans. Looking at the public numbers, FamilySearch has slowed publication of unindexed images. Does that mean that low-value, hard to index films might never be published? 

---The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Would you be willing to give our Family History Center a plug? We have a VERY LARGE collection of microfilms for the Chicago and Cook County Vital Records.  Instead of writing to Cook County, spending $15, and waiting 6 weeks, or not getting what you want at all for your $15, you can spend 5 minutes and get that birth, marriage, or death certificate for FREE.

Donna Roginski

Wilmette Family History Center   
2727 Lake Ave., Wilmette, Illinois

Scheduling Notice. The Center will be closed November 22 through November 26 for Thanksgiving. We wish you a happy Thanksgiving, and resume normal operation on the 29th.

Dear Donna,

This is a timely reminder of why getting rid of microfilm will be a painful process. Consider yourself plugged.

---The Ancestry Insider

Thursday, November 17, 2016

RootsWeb Update as of 17 November 2016

RootsWeb by Ancestry logoRootsWeb continues to draw lots of comments from readers. It has a passionate following. Reader Cheryl received this email from support last week:

Dear Cheryl,

Thank you for contacting RootsWeb in regard to accessing your account and your trees. We apologize for the frustration you have had trying to access your WorldConnect Trees. We are updating our technical infrastructure which is causing issues with the WorldConnect Trees. Once the update is completed the Trees should then work as planned. We don't have a time frame as to when this will be completed but we do appreciate your patience during this time. If there is anything else with which we might assist you, please let us know.

Yvonne/RootsWeb Support Team

The week previous I received this anonymous comment:

It would appear that the RootsWeb lists are active again, though at the last check my LAWs-UK is not. But having replaced it with Facebook & Google+, I have no intention to re-activate.

I need to learn how to better work my way through Facebook. As is, it takes far more time than I have. I loved the RootsWeb mailing lists. It was easy to understand what I needed to do to get the emails I wanted and not any others. I didn’t have to poll for items of interest. I wasn’t sucked into spending more time than originally intended. I had dozens of items to review, not hundreds. If you’re a Facebook fan and haven’t yet liked my page, please do. You’ll receive notification of each new post. If you’re still an email fan and don’t yet receive our emails, subscribe by email. But I digress…

The anonymous comment came hard on the hills of this one by Joseph Pyle: “Problem continues. Just tried to post a mail message to a list I administer. The message was rejected by the server.”

It is admirable that is spending money on RootsWeb. I hope they continue to do so.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

#RootsTech Amazing Presenter Lineup

I glanced through the RootsTech 2017 session schedule and it is amazing!

RootsTech 2017 speaker lineup is amazing.

Presenters for the first session on Thursday include

  • Amy Slade,
  • Angela McGhie,
  • DearMYRTLE and Cousin Russ,
  • FamilySearch’s Lynn Turner,
  • FamilySearch’s Ron Tanner,
  • Judy Russell,
  • Karen Auman,
  • Kip Sperry (FASG),
  • Lisa Louise Cook,
  • NEHGS’s David Lambert,
  • Thomas MacEntee,

and more for a total of 24 RootsTech labs and
classes. And that’s just the first Thursday session!

Lisa Louise Cook at RootsTechRon Tanner at RootsTech
Judy Russell at RootsTechThomas MacEntee at RootsTech - Photo by Polly FitzGerald Kimmitt

Just a few of the speakers for the other three sessions on Thursday are

  • Amy Johnson Crow
  • Angie Bush
  • Bruce Durie
  • C. Ann Staley
  • Crista Cowan
  • Daniel Horowitz
  • Diahan Southard
  • Dirk Weissleder
  • Drew Smith
  • Janet Hovorka
  • Josh Taylor
  • Juliana Szucs
  • Kenyatta Berry
  • Laurie Werner Castillo
  • Lisa Alzo
  • Mary Tedesco
  • Peg Ivanyo
  • Peggy Lauritzen
  • Peter Drinkwater
  • Schelly Talalay Dardashti
  • Tom Jones

and many more.

Thomas W Jones will speak at RootsTech 2017Drew Smith will speak at RootsTech 2017Juliana Szucs will speak at RootsTech 2017.
Hosts of the Genealogy Roadshow, Josh Taylor, Kenyatta Berry, and Mary Tedesco, will speak at RootsTech 2017.
Amy Johnson Crow will present at RootsTech 2017Bruce Durie will speak at RootsTech 2017.Lisa Alzo will speak at RootsTech 2017.
Peg Ivanyo will present at RootsTech 2017.Janet Hovorka will speak at RootsTech 2017.Laurie Werner Castillo will speak at RootsTech 2017.

Come check out who is teaching Friday and Saturday. See the entire class schedule on the RootsTech website. Notice the ability at the top to filter classes to just Getting Started, regular RootsTech sessions, add-on labs, and Innovator Summit sessions.

I’ve probably overlooked some of your favorite RootsTech presenters. Leave a comment telling us whose classes you’ll be attending at RootsTech 2017.


In other RootsTech news, RootsTech has announced a unique look to the conference this year: a cake decorating contest. Ancestral recipes have always been a mainstay of the wider family history experience. With “The Cake Boss” coming to the conference, RootsTech is taking the opportunity to appeal to potential family historians who have decorating skills.

According to RootsTech:

Announcing the first ever cake decorating competition with the artisan himself, Buddy Valastro, as celebrity guest judge!

To make things even sweeter, we have four different categories that you can enter:

  • Wedding
  • Birthday
  • Holiday
  • Graduation

Entries will be sifted into three finalists, and one Grand Prize Winner will be announced per category. Each dazzling creation will be on display on Saturday during RootsTech and Family Discovery Day, where over 10,000 attendees will view and have a chance to vote for a “People’s Choice” winner selected for each category at the end of the day.

Start brainstorming your ideas and get ready to trim, cut, frost, and assemble to your heart’s content.

You must fill out an application to enter the competition. The deadline is either December 1 or December 15, depending on which part of the rules you believe. Read the rules and submit an application at


The Choir and Orchestra and guests Andy Hammerstein and Dallyn Vail Bayles open RootsTech 2017 on February 9.On their blog, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir has released more details about their RootsTech opening evening concert. “Music–It Runs in the Family” will be held Thursday, 9 February 2017, at 8:00 p.m. in the 21,000 seat Conference Center just North of Temple Square. The concert will feature music from Rodgers and Hammerstein and stories about the Hammerstein family narrated by Oscar (“Andy”) Hammerstein III, grandson of Oscar Hammerstein II. Special guest artist Dallyn Vail Bayles will also perform. Featured music will come from State Fair, Carousel, South Pacific, The King and I, Oklahoma, and The Sound of Music.

RootsTech attendees receive a ticket with their registration, but free tickets are available to the general public.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Win Free #RootsTech Admission!

You'll celebrate when you win admission to RootsTechI want to remind you of my contest to give away a RootsTech plus Innovator Summit 4-day pass ($299 value) to one lucky reader. RootsTech 2017 will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, 8-11 February 2017.

To enter, send me an example of a darned record or a tale of serendipity. What is a darned record? Darned records are funny, weird, unique, cool, or awesome. What are tales of serendipity? Tales of serendipity embody uncanny coincidences, Olympian luck, or remarkable miracles.

Submit your entry to by Friday the 25th, November 2016. You must comply with the rules to win. See “RootsTech 2017 Free Pass Contest” on my blog.

A RootsTech plus Innovator Summit 4-day pass gives you admittance to over 200 classes (more info tomorrow), keynotes (Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton, The Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, and one more), expo hall, Welcome party, Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir concert, Celebrate Your Heritage event, 20 Innovator Summit sessions, Innovator Summit keynote (Liz Wiseman), Innovator Showdown, and the closing event. The closing event will be “Celebrating Life with Music—and Cake,” featuring comedian Jason Hewlett, BYU men’s a cappella chorus, Vocal Point, and women’s a cappella chorus, Noteworthy.

The RootsTech Welcome Party is an 80s themed event. Play 80s video games, listen to 80s music, enjoy appetizers and drinks, hear an Innovator Showdown announcement, and expand your network.

Liz Wiseman will address the 2017 Innovator SummitLiz Wiseman, the Innovator Summit keynote, is a best-selling author, speaker, and executive advisor that teaches leadership to executives and emerging leaders around the world. Some of her recent clients include: Apple, Disney, eBay and PayPal, Facebook, Gap, Google, Microsoft, Nike, Roche,, and Twitter. Her best-selling books are Rookie Smarts: Why Learning Beats Knowing in the New Game of Work, Multipliers: How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter, and The Multiplier Effect: Tapping the Genius Inside Our Schools.

I hope to see your contest submissions soon!

Monday, November 14, 2016

Monday Mailbox: LDS Consultants and #RootsTech 2017

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxEvery year I receive questions about RootsTech discounts for family history consultants of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Dear Ancestry Insider,

Is there a discount for family history consultants this year? What is the code?

(various people)

Dear (various people),

Yes, there is a discount again this year. Consultants can get a RootsTech pass for $109 or a RootsTech plus Innovator Summit pass for $139. Compared to the regular price of $269, that’s a savings of $150! To register for RootsTech 2017, visit You will need a special code to get the discount. If the Church knows you are a family history consultant, you receive the Family History Consultant Newsletter email. The September 2016 newsletter (which for some reason I didn’t receive until 24 October 2016) contains a link to an article with the code.

If you don’t receive the newsletter, ask your clerk to enter your calling as a consultant in the Manage Callings section of Leader and Clerk Resources so you will receive it in the future. If you missed the September newsletter, please don’t ask me for the code. Ask another consultant who knows that you are a consultant.

For more information about getting the newsletter, check “Receiving My Family History Calling Newsletters.” For more information about RootsTech, check the RootsTech 2017 website.

---The Ancestry Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

[Family Discovery Day] sounds wonderful, but I will be unable to attend that day. In the past, LDS family history consultants could get a ticket for free access to the vendor hall for other days. Do you know if that will be true of this conference?


Dear Unsigned,

I haven’t heard. I’ll ask.

---The Ancestry Insider

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Medieval and Royal Lines in FamilySearch Family Tree

Richard I - The Lionheart on FamilySearch.orgBack in August Sharon Cross told me she had looked into her tree on FamilySearch. One branch extended to Richard I, the Lionheart (L6YS-KBW) through Roger Plowden (LCZ4-JT1). This threw a red flag, as Richard is known to have had no children—well, no legitimate children. Sharon double checked and found only one illegitimate child is attributed to Richard: Philip of Cognac, not Roger Plowden.

She went on to say:

On FamilySearch I counted over 85 couples listed as some form of his parents’ names (Henry II Plantagenet King of England and Eleanor of Aquitaine Queen of England).  There are at least 3 forms of Richard’s name, and one of them has his wife (Princess Berengaria de Nararre) written as Mrs. Richard 1.  When you click on her name, her occupation is listed as “concubine”; no sources listed.  HA!

All of this has me just speechless.

Let me say it for you. Medieval and royal lines are known to be among the worst in Family Tree. I counted 475 copies of Richard. I would expect a similar number for his parents. There are probably a quarter million persons in this category. If there are 475 copies of each, there are 119 million persons in Family Tree that need to be cleaned up. FamilySearch can’t expect users to do that much. Now that “Individuals of Unusual Size” no longer preclude merges, FamilySearch can write a program to merge high confidence European matches among pre-1500 persons. If they could get the number down to a million, users could take it from there.

Back in the old days, FamilySearch knew there would be havoc if they allowed just anyone to submit these family lines into Ancestral File. They ignored any submissions of persons previous to 1500. They had a medieval research unit at the Family History Library that took the few accepted sources, carefully curated the lines, and added them to Ancestral File. With Family Tree, the philosophy is that anyone can add anything to the tree. And they have.

FamilySearch Community TreesFortunately, FamilySearch has published the medieval unit’s research in the FamilySearch Genealogies > Community Trees collection.

Another well-sourced, pertinent community tree is

If you need to find information about European, medieval genealogies, I would go to these two sources.

While I’m talking about them, FamilySearch used to have a list of the community trees and a link for searching each. I wish they still provided that. Unless you know the identity of a person in one of the trees, it is impossible to find the tree. Here are a few I’ve stumbled across:

Actually, they still have a list in an article in the wiki. They just need to use it. Are there any volunteers who would like to fix the links for the trees above? That would be a start.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Free FamilySearch Webinars for November 2016

WebinarI received this webinar schedule recently from FamilySearch. Okay, maybe it wasn’t so recently; I’m a little behind.

November 9

  • 10:00 A.M. Italian Language Indexing Webinar (1½ hours)

November 10

  • 1:00 A.M. Descendancy Research Webinar

November 14

  • 1:00 P.M. Reivers and Relatives: Ancestors Along the Anglo-Scottish Border Webinar

November 15

  • 2:00 P.M. Exploring Danish Census Records Online Webinar

November 16

  • 10:00 A.M. French Language Indexing Webinar (1½ hours)
  • 10:00 A.M. GENTEAM.AT—A Necessity When Doing Czech and Austrian Research Webinar
  •   1:00 P.M. Lost in London: Tracing Elusive Ancestry in England’s Largest City Webinar

November 17

  • 11:00 A.M. Learn How to Use the Online, Searchable Meyer’s German Gazetteer Webinar
  •   1:00 P.M. Your British Questions Answered Webinar

November 19

  • 1:00 P.M. Preguntas frequentes de Árbol Familiar Webinar

November 22

  • 1:00 P.M. Using Digital Libraries for German Family History Research Webinar

November 30

  • 10:00 A.M. Dutch Language Indexing Webinar (1½ hours)

Access the online webinars directly by using the links in this PDF or

  1. Go to
  2. Click on Search, and select Wiki.
  3. Search for [Webinars].
  4. Click on the result “Family History Library Classes and Webinars.”
  5. Click on the name of the month to get the the PDF with the links.
  6. Or scroll and click “show” to find the desired classes.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Free Access to Fold3 Native American Collection

Fold3 Native American CollectionAncestry’s Fold3 website is offering free access through 15 November 2016 to its Native American Collection. Fold3 has published over 1.5 million images of

  • Ratified Indian treaties for 1722-1869,
  • Indian Census Rolls for 1885-1940,
  • Dawes packets,
  • Dawes enrollment cards for 1898-1914,
  • Eastern Cherokee Applications 1906–1909,
  • Guion Miller Roll 1908–1910,
  • Cherokee Indian Agency TN 1801–1835, and
  • Native American Photos 1898.

(My own tribe is not represented. If I understand our history correctly, we were hit hard by small pox brought by English fishermen before permanent settlers came to Plymouth. After King Phillip’s War we were settled in a “praying Indian” village amongst the Nipmuc. But I digress…)

To learn more and to search the records for free through the 15th, go to

Monday, November 7, 2016

Monday Mailbox: Layton,

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Readers,

I received several replies to my inquiry about the size of the Layton FamilySearch Center’s microfilm collection. Here are some:

Dear Ancestry Insider,

On the new center's "Resources" page they say “This is a computer-only center and does not order microfilm,” and “There are no printed materials or books available in this facility.”


Dear Ancestry Insider,

I toured the new center today. They have NO physical books. They say that is why it is not called a Library. All digital.

Thank your for sharing so much with us.

Janice Nusbaum

Dear Readers,

Wow. I don’t know how much to read into this. Patrons at the Layton center, 23 miles north of the Salt Lake Family History Library, will have to drive down to see film while patrons at the Riverton center, 23 miles south of the library, have their own film collection. I guess it makes sense that as more and more of the Family History Library’s book and microfilm collections go online, the less need there is for physical books and films. FamilySearch recently said publicly that they have 299,822 books in their digital collection. I don’t know that they’ve ever said how many films they have digitized. Certainly it is more than the 23,000 rolls at the Riverton center. Someone should ask them. But since they’ve said they will never put all the films online, you’d think they would still have a film reader or two. Wow.

The Ancestry Insider

Friday, November 4, 2016

News Ketchup for 4 November 2016

Insider KetchupI’m way behind. Time for Insider Ketchup.

FamilySearch tree bulletFamilySearch has announced the class schedule for the Family History Library for November. Click here for the schedule. Most webinars are recorded and posted on the Family History Library Classes and Webinars Wiki page a few days after presentation, so you can access past webinars and handouts.

FamilySearch tree bulletFamilySearch has released its monthly wrap up of new features and changes on They include:

  • A simplified help center experience. I mostly like it. They’ve obviously copied the Google search experience, placing the text entry box in the middle of a mostly blank page. However, I don’t like the elimination of a separate Learning Center search experience. It appears there is no way to filter by language, format, or ability level. Unlike Google, there seems to be no search tools or advanced search page. Hopefully they’ll find a way to work those features back into the mix.
  • FamilySearch has added 141 million new record hints into Family Tree. For more information, see the article “141 Million New Ancestor Hints Added to FamilySearch Family Tree” on the FamilySearch blog.
  • You can read and send message in the mobile app.
  • You can open a map in the mobile app.
  • Names of contributors appear in the Memories gallery.
  • You can upload a photograph while entering a story.
  • On 26 October 2016 FamilySearch published a bunch of new obituaries in the U.S. GenealogyBank obituary collection. Along with the new publication is the ability to see and navigate to others listed on the page. In the collection, 23 of the 31 million records were indexed by computer. If you view one of those records, a message will indicate it was indexed by a computer and you will be given the opportunity to request a correction. (That correction request feature is available only for this collection. If you want to make corrections to any other records, you are DOA.)

Bullet Ancestry.comI’ve received new reports that portions of RootsWeb—mailing lists in particular—are broken. An anonymous reader commented on 23 October 2016:

I am unable to post messages to either of the mail lists I administer. Nor can I subscribe to Listowners-L. I took a look at various list archives, it appears the mailing lists have not not been working since Oct 7 2016.

Andy Micklethwaite sent me this message on 21 October 2016:

I received this as a reply to a post on a Facebook group:

“Morning, as you are probably aware they upgraded the servers recently. At the same time they upgraded Mailman, the lists software, to the latest version which was long overdue. It’s the latter that has caused the problem, I believe. The lists have been down since the 7th October. Hopefully they will be back in due course but no date is known.”

Bullet Ancestry.comAncestry employees recently spent a week building a home for Habitat for Humanity. Employees from their Lehi, Orem, and Salt Lake City offices helped build a new home for a local American Fork family. “We want our employees to get personally involved in the community,” said Ancestry’s Camille Penrod. “[We] offer our employees time to volunteer on the clock so they’re able to participate in meaningful charities.” For more information, see “Ancestry Employees Give Back” on the Ancestry Tech Blog.

FamilySearch tree bulletFamilySearch is gradually rolling out a new homepage design. I’ve written about it before. Regular users have probably all started seeing it. The left side contains inspiring videos, tree-specific resources, and recently added photos, recordings, stories, and documents about your ancestors and their families (and advertisements, I might add). The right side contains a list of recently seen ancestors, recommended tasks, and a to-do list. For more information, see “New FamilySearch Design: Log In to Try It Out” on the FamilySearch Blog.

Bullet“Ancestry recently announced the creation of a Tech and Product User Group in Utah with the goal of encouraging collaboration between companies across the Wasatch Front to solve difficult and interesting technology and science problems.” For more information, see “Ancestry Hosts First Tech/Product Meetup in New Lehi HQ” on the Ancestry Tech Blog.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Layton FamilySearch Center Open House

Layton FamilySearch CenterFamilySearch has announced the opening of a new FamilySearch center in Layton, Utah. The goal of the center is to provide a fun, family oriented experience to learn about who you are and where you came from, with interactive displays, a children's area, two recording rooms, and 140 computers, 60 of which have touch-screen monitors.

They are having an open house today through Saturday. The hours of the open house are

  • Today (Nov. 3), 1-9 p.m.
  • Friday (Nov. 4) and Saturday (Nov. 5) from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

The center is located at 915 W Gordon Ave., Layton, UT 84041-4811. Please enter the parking lot on the north side of the building and continue to parking areas on the south side. Overflow parking is available on the north side of the Deseret Industries building.

imageAccording to information provided by FamilySearch, the center includes experiences debuted in the FamilySearch Discovery Center in Salt Lake:

Your visit will be as unique as you are. Learn about the meaning of your name, what happened the year you were born, and other fun facts. See where your family came from, view photos of family members, and read their stories—all on 55-inch touch-screen monitors. Data used for the interactive experiences is drawn from [Family Tree] and selected partners.

This state-of-the-art FamilySearch Center with 13,979 square feet has casual seating and collaboration areas, making it easy for families and youth groups to work together on laptops, iPads, or other mobile devices. The center and its resources are open to the public at no charge (a small fee is required for printing and making photocopies). If the usual family history center model is used, the library is staffed with volunteers with differing areas of research expertise. I recommend inquiring to find the best experts in your area of interest. I assume the center replaces multiple, smaller centers in the area. I wonder how large their microfilm collection is. Riverton has 23,000 rolls. Anybody out there know?

For more information, visit the event’s Facebook page or the center’s website at

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

#RootsTech 2017 Free Pass Contest

The Ancestry Insider is a RootsTech 2017 ambassador.Once again I am giving away a RootsTech plus Innovator Summit 4-day pass ($299 value) to one lucky reader. (If you win and you’ve already purchased a pass, you can get a full refund.) RootsTech 2017 will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, 8-11 February 2017. The pass gives you:

  • Innovator Summit 2017 keynotes and classes
  • Innovator Showdown
  • Over 200 classes, including RootsTech classes and Getting Started classes
  • Keynotes: Reading Rainbow’s LeVar Burton, The Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro, and one more soon to be announced
  • Expo hall admission
  • Welcome party
  • Evening event: Oscar “Andy” Hammerstein III and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir
  • Evening event: Celebrate Your Heritage
  • Closing Event: "Celebrating Life with Music—and Cake," featuring comedian Jason Hewlett, BYU men’s a cappella chorus, Vocal Point, and a cappella chorus, Noteworthy

(There are extra charges for add-ons: luncheons and lab classes. This pass does not include Family Discover Day, which requires a separate registration.)

The rules are:

  • Send me an example of a darned record or a tale of serendipity. What is a darned record? See examples from my past articles. Darned records are funny, weird, unique, cool, or awesome. Extra credit is given if the example is instructional. For example, two birth certificates for the same person, each with a different date, instructs us that no record, no matter how trustworthy the class of record, is beyond examination. What are tales of serendipity ? See examples from my past articles. Tales of serendipity embody uncanny coincidences, Olympian luck, or remarkable miracles. These go beyond what hard work would accomplish or random chance would explain.
  • I’ve published many funny names, so that get’s a little old. If you submit a funny name from the census, it better be really interesting. Darned records of other types might catch my interest better. 
  • Write up an article about the record or the tale, ready for publication on my blog. By submitting your idea, record, article, photograph, or image, you give me permission to publish it, but it wouldn’t hurt for you to explicitly state that you are giving me permission.
  • I might edit (“rewrite”) the article to match my style. (I warn you so you won’t be offended.)
  • I will give you credit. Tell me if you want your name to appear a particular way.
  • Attach an image of the record. If the record is online, also send the URL. For a tale of serendipity, include a photograph or image related to the tale.
  • Include a citation for the record and any other sources used. Don’t worry about it being encyclopediacticly correct.
  • Obtain permission from any living persons mentioned or pictured and so state in your email.
  • Begin the subject line of your email with “Contest Entry: ” followed by a good title for the article.
  • Submit your entry to I must receive it before the end of Friday the 25th, November 2016, Mountain Standard Time. The gmail timestamp will be the official time of receipt.
  • If you’ve previously submitted a record or tale and I have not published it, submit it again, following all the instructions above.
  • Employees of FamilySearch are ineligible.
  • I will choose the winner by how awesome I think the record or tale is, how well I like your article, and how well you followed these instructions.
  • I reserve the right to change the rules if a situation comes up that I didn’t foresee.

I look forward to receiving your submissions!

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

#RootsTech and Family Discovery Day Keynotes

In the past several weeks RootsTech 2017 has announced some of the keynotes for RootsTech 2017 and Family Discovery Day. RootsTech keynotes will be Buddy Valastro on Saturday, LaVar Burton on Friday, with Thursday’s soon to be announced. Family Discovery Day speakers will include Kalani Sitake, Hank Smith, and Vai Sikahema.

The Cake Boss, Buddy Valastro will speak at RootsTech 2017.Buddy Valastro is a 4th generation baker, and TV personality on the Cake Boss. He worked side by side with his father in the family business, Carlo’s Bakery, from the age of 11 years old. He inherited the business six years later when his father unexpectedly passed away. Buddy Sr., the original Cake Boss, followed in the path of his father and his father, both bakers in Sicily. Buddy Sr. bought Carlo’s Bakery from Carlo Guastaffero in 1963. You don’t mess with an Italian la famiglia, if you know what I mean. The Cake Boss is Buddy Jr.’s original hit TLC series. Spinoffs include Cake Boss: Next Great Baker (a competition for a chance to work alongside the Valastro family at Carlo’s) and Buddy’s Bakery Rescue (Buddy helps other struggling, family bakeries). He has opened a string of bakeries, authored several books, made nationwide tours, and opened a restaurant in Vegas. Creating amazing cakes connects him with his father and his Italian family history. Come see why mixing eggs, sugar, butter, and flour means a lot more than “making a cake” to Buddy Valastro.

LaVar Burton will speak at RootsTech 2017.LaVar Burton has appeared in Reading Rainbow, Star Trek the Next Generation, and the 1970s television miniseries that launched his career, Roots. He has been an actor, director, producer, writer, and speaker. He has a passion for literacy, storytelling, and imagination. Reading Rainbow (1983-2009) earning more than 200 awards including 26 Emmys and a Peabody. “The story of Roots traces a family's journey from Africa to America and back. At RootsTech, I'll share some of my own journey of family, storytelling and the influence of African culture on my American experience,” LaVar said.

RootsTech 2017 will be held at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, 8-11 February 2017. Learn more on the RootsTech 2017 website.

Family Discovery Day is a free event for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, to be held 11 February 2017 in Salt Lake City. While free, registration is required. Attendees are invited to come and hear inspiring messages, engage in interactive activities for all ages, and discover the latest technology, products and services in the family history industry by touring the expansive expo hall. Kalani Sitake, Hank Smith, and Vai Sikahema will be some of the speakers. More will be announced soon.

Kalani Sitake, Hank Smith, and Vai Sikahema will be some of the speakers at Family Discovery Day 2017.Kalani Sitake is the current head football coach at Brigham Young University where he played as a running back in his college days. He came to BYU from Oregon State, where he served as assistant head coach and defensive coordinator. Hank Smith, a popular speaker, author, and professor of religion at Brigham Young University, loves to teach from the scriptures, especially to the youth and young adults of the Church. Vai Sikahema is a former football player for BYU (including playing on the 1984 national championship team) and for the NFL (1986-1993). He currently works as a sportscaster in Philadelphia. I was at student at the Y and watched his fearless kickoff returns and they were amazing. I heard a devotional he gave at BYU and it was wonderful.

Learn more on the Family Discovery Day website.