Tuesday, January 31, 2017

#RootsTech Free Online, Onsite Research Consultation and More

RootsTech 2017 is fast upon us. It’s coming next week, 8-11 February 2017 in Salt Lake City at the Salt Palace convention center. Want to watch it free online? Here’s the latest news items.

  Not able to attend RootsTech in person? Check out the live streaming schedule. Scheduled classes include keynote presentations, Judy Russell, DNA, Crista Cowan, some presentations from Innovator’s Summit on Wednesday.

If you are a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, you can watch Family Discovery Day online as well. See the live streaming schedule on lds.org. They will be available at lds.org/discoverfamily for later viewing in English, Spanish, Portuguese, French, German, Italian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, and Korean.

  Don’t confuse two, similar activities at RootsTech: Coach’s Corner and Find Take Teach Experience.

Coach’s Corner gives you 20 minutes with an expert genealogist to help you break through a brick wall. It is available to anyone who has bought a registration to RootsTech, including those who purchase a Keynote+Expo pass. Unfortunately, slots are mostly all taken. To check for availability, visit https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/9dr42mqy/.

Find Take Teach Experience is for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have NOT yet been successful finding a relative to take to the temple. Sessions are 60 minutes in length. For availability, visit https://booknow.appointment-plus.com/9dr1y726/.

Word on the street is that this appointment system is slow, and may not work every time on every browser. Be a little patient and try multiple browsers.

  RootsTech is offering 16 classes on DNA, for people of all different experience levels. To see a list, visit “16 Classes about DNA Research at RootsTech 2017” on the FamilySearch blog.

  Last year I stole some time away from RootsTech to attend the Brigham Young University Family History Technology Workshop. I’m a techie and I loved it. It was one of two BYU conferences that evolved into RootsTech. Well, now it is separate again. I’m not going to be available this year, but if you might be interested, see http://fhtw.byu.edu/.

  It is an extra cost item, but if you didn’t sign up for the RootsTech Welcome party, maybe you should reconsider. The Welcome Party for RootsTech will be on Wednesday, 8 February 2017 from 6-8 pm in the Marriott Ballroom. The 5 finalists for the Innovator Showdown will be announced at this event.

“Kick off RootsTech 2017 by attending the 80s themed welcoming party in the Marriott Ballroom. Play 80s video games, listen to 80s music, enjoy appetizers and drinks, hear a special Innovator Showdown announcement, and of course, expand your network.”

  I shared information last week about African Heritage Day. Click here for a brochure.

Monday, January 30, 2017

FamilySearch Owner and Ancestry CEO Respond to Refugee Situation

imageMy policy is to not write about non-genealogical politics. However, it is unprecedented that both FamilySearch’s owner and Ancestry.com’s CEO would both issue statements in response to a presidential action. These are the statements:

FamilySearch’s owner, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued the following statement Saturday:

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is concerned about the temporal and spiritual welfare of all of God's children across the earth, with special concern for those who are fleeing physical violence, war and religious persecution. The Church urges all people and governments to cooperate fully in seeking the best solutions to meet human needs and relieve suffering. (http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/article/the-church-expresses-concern-for-those-fleeing-violence-war-and-religious-persecution)

Ancestry’s CEO, Tim Sullivan, sent an email to the entire company last evening. I repeat it here with permission:

The last 48 hours in the U.S. have been both heart-breaking and outrageous.  Of immediate importance is the status of our Ancestry employees and/or their families.  We do not believe that any of our employees are currently affected, but if we are wrong, please let us know immediately, and we will do everything we can to help.

Our company values decency, works hard to embrace diversity, and is very familiar with the difficulties that families all over the world have endured for centuries in their attempts to stay together and to improve the lives of the next generation.  We are a company that lives history, so we’re familiar with the ugliness that we’re witnessing right now.  We’ve seen how families were impacted by the quotas on Chinese immigration less than a hundred years ago, by the refusal to accept Jewish refugees fleeing the horror of Nazi Germany, and by the absurd detainment of Japanese Americans during that war.  Today, it is broadly understood that these policies each left a black mark on our history and ran counter to the fundamental values of openness and inclusion that are our country's strength.

Ancestry is stronger due to the diversity of our employee’s personal and professional experience, so we have a clear business interest in not seeing America’s doors slammed shut to those that desire to come here and to contribute to our national strength, regardless of religion, race, or national origin.  Ancestry is also a company whose values are on display every day, and I’m proud to be part of a company that strives to have a positive impact on people’s lives, respects every person’s story, and celebrates the diversity of everyone’s ancestry.  So I want to clearly affirm that the content and intent of President Trump’s executive order on Friday, as well as the disturbing actions that were unleashed by this order, represent the total antithesis to the values of our company.

No one can ignore the stories of people stranded or detained and refused re-entry into a country they considered home and not feel real empathy.  Because I am also writing to you not just as CEO, but as a person, I will be honest and say that I am personally horrified and angered by the ignorance, hate, and xenophobia that have precipitated this shocking weekend, and that I think this is something that we all are going to have to confront and denounce.

Again, please let us know if you know of any employees that are personally impacted by the current situation.


Friday, January 27, 2017

Darned Nagging, Nagging, Nagging

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. Records say the darnedest things!


Will No.468/1926.

     I leave all I possess…to SYBIL MARY WEATHERDON, she was the only daughter that wrote to her father when he was in trouble.

                                     Charles Jarvis Weatherdon.

     This is the end of a perfect life spoiled by a woman, a man loved and who did not know it. May she not be buried in the same ground when she goes over the border, as I do not wish the nagging down below as I received up above…

Moral of the story: Don’t nag and always write your father.

As a final note, as funny as it is, this document also pains me. How sad it is that this man died alone and bitter. What trouble had he fallen into? What had fractured a family that must have begun in hope and happiness? May I suggest that we each hold close those we love—in kindness, patience, and forgiveness.

Source: FamilySearch, image, FamilySearch (https://familysearch.org/ark:/61903/3:1:3Q9M-CS7P-T33H-T?mode=g : accessed 21 January 2017), path: Search > Catalog > film 1295235 > “Deceased Estates, 1846-1950” > Film/DGS 1295235 > select camera icon > image 1015; citing Natal, South Africa, deceased estate files, 1846-1950, no. 11510, filed 24 June 1927, will 468/1926; Natal Archives Depot, Pietermeritzburg, Natal, South Africa.

Credit is due Tom Nelson who brought this to my attention. He discovered it via a post by Brenda Haffner in the Facebook group, “Indexing South African Records on FamilySearch.” Thank you, Tom and Brenda.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

RootsTech Ketchup for 24 January 2017

I know some (many) of you get tired of all the RootsTech news, so I try to bundle all the news into one article a week. I have three items this week:

RootsTech tree icon  On Friday, 10 February 2017, RootsTech is celebrating African Heritage Day. This celebration will feature keynote speaker, LeVar Burton (Star Trek: The Next Generation) and other well-known African American historians and research specialists. Kenyatta Berry, host of Genealogy Roadshow; Sherri Camp, president of the Afro-American Historical Genealogical Society; and Melvin Collier, author of Mississippi to Africa: A Journey of Discovery, in a combined session, will speak about their connections to their African roots and experiences that have kept them close to their ancestors. In addition to a variety of sessions, the celebration includes the Jambo Africa/Heartbeat Burundi Drummers and the Calvary Baptist Church choir of Salt Lake City. For more information see “RootsTech to Celebrate African Heritage Day” on the FamilySearch media website.

RootsTech tree icon  In Ancestry’s latest newsletter, they invite users to come to RootsTech, attend classes in the Ancestry Room, and visit them in the Expo Hall. I was intrigued that there is an Ancestry classroom. I checked the schedule and found it is room 250A. I’m going to be spending a whole lot of time there.

Title and Link Date and Time
RT7456 Beyond Hints – Research strategies for beginners Wednesday, Feb 8 3:00 PM
RT7642 Billy Yank or Johnny Reb: Civil War Ancestors Wednesday, Feb 8 4:30 PM
RT7546 Using Newspapers.com to Find Your Family History Thursday, Feb 9 11:00 AM
RT1937 Using Online Ancestry Trees to the Fullest Thursday, Feb 9 1:30 PM
RT7654 Life-Changing Apps: a Dream Job & Genealogy On-The-Go Thursday, Feb 9 3:00 PM
RT8866 Getting to Know the New Find A Grave Thursday, Feb 9 4:30 PM
RT1094 Using genetic evidence in your family tree Friday, Feb 10 11:00 AM
RT9835 Putting Your DNA Matches to Work Friday, Feb 10 1:30 PM
RT7452 How DNA Works: The Science Behind Your DNA Results Friday, Feb 10 3:00 PM
RT1301 Discovering Your Ancestor's War Story Friday, Feb 10 4:30 PM
RT1798 Let the Records Reveal Your Family Story Saturday, Feb 11 11:00 AM
RT7341 A Conversation on the Future of Family History Saturday, Feb 11 1:30 PM
RT9834 Beyond Ethnicity—How DNA connects us to Our Past Saturday, Feb 11 3:00 PM

RootsTech tree icon  Tami Osmer Mize of Conference Keeper put together a list of RootsTech exhibitors and provided a map in a recent post. See “2017 RootsTech Survival Guide – The Expo Hall!” on the Conference Keeper website.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Monday Mailbox: AncestryDNA

The Ancestry Insider's Monday MailboxDear Readers,

Because of my bad memory, come Monday morning , I’ve forgotten what I’ve written for the week. I see each article with new ideas. This last week when I received the article “AncestryDNA Caps 3 Million Samples,” I decided that was a really dumb titled. Ancestry wasn’t putting the cap on anything. What I was thinking when I wrote that headline was “What’s a less mundane synonym for surpassed?” Thursday morning I realized caps was not it. I’ve changed it to zips past. I hope, in fact I expect, Ancestry’s database growth will do nothing but accelerate.

---The Insider

Dear Ancestry Insider,

I have the Ancestry app which looks similar to this, but is much better. My match list opens up in the app, and I can review all my matches, including hints, trees, and shared matches. I've had this app for several years. The one you have looks like the AncestryDNA app which is decidedly less robust.

Carolyn in AR

Dear Carolyn,

You are absolutely correct. Thanks for pointing out the greater DNA functionality in the Ancestry App. For more information, see http://www.ancestry.com/cs/ancestry-app

---The Insider

Saturday, January 21, 2017

Whether You’re Going to #RootsTech or Not

RootsTech 2017 conference appThe RootsTech App is extremely valuable, whether you’re going to RootsTech 2017 or not. First, download the app (iOS or Android).

 Download the RootsTech App from the Apple App Store  Download the RootsTech app from Google Play

Tap Conference Schedule and star all the classes you would have liked to attend.

Tap Conference Schedule in the RootsTech app.

Tap the download icon.

2017-01-21 06.43.32-2

The app will download the handouts for all the classes you’re starred!

2017-01-21 06.51.06

I view the conference syllabus as one of the values of attending a conference and you just got it for free! If all those awesome classes convinced you to attend, register at the RootsTech website. RootsTech 2017 will be held 8-11 February at the Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, just down the street from the FamilySearch Family History Library.

As a plus, if you are attending, you’ve just created your schedule! Tap My Schedule (below, left) to see your classes laid out on a calendar (below, right). If you were interested in more than one class at the same time, both (or in my 4:30 case, below, all three) will show on your calendar. This identifies alternatives should the first choice be full.

Tap My Schedule in the RootsTech app.  Your Schedule in the RootsTech app

Incidentally, you can use the app even if you don’t have an Apple or Android phone. Go to http://app.core-apps.com/rootstech2017 and voilà!

Thursday, January 19, 2017

AncestryDNA Zips Past 3 Million Samples

AncestryDNA surpasses 3 million samplesThree million. It’s staggering, really. AncestryDNA has exceeded three million samples in its DNA database!

It took AncestryDNA three years to get the first million samples. (See “AncestryDNA Exceeds Million Mark” on my blog on 22 July 2015.)

It took them 11 months to get the next million. (See “AncestryDNA Database Reaches Two Million” on 28 June 2016.)

They have grown another million in just seven months. (See “AncestryDNA Surpasses 3 Million Customers in DNA Database” on the Ancestry blog from 10 January 2017.) That’s astonishing. Every day the AncestryDNA database gets more and more valuable.

  • AncestryDNA has found 15 million close cousins (3rd cousin or closer).
  • Ancestry has identified 6 million DNA circles. (For an explanation of DNA circles, see “Aaron Orr Talks Ancestry DNA at BYU Conference – #BYUFHGC” on my blog.)
  • AncestryDNA is available in 37 countries (although I’m not certain collaterals have been translated into all those languages).
  • Ancestry.com (parent company of AncestryDNA) has 80 million trees.
  • Ancestry.com has 19 billion records (including the persons in the 80 million trees).

For more information, visit https://www.ancestry.com/dna/lp/genetic-testing-news.

Somewhere along the line, AncestryDNA gave their home page a facelift, which I hadn’t noticed:

AncestryDNA Home Page

Perhaps it was to make the page adaptable to small devices. On a smartphone, the three boxes neatly stack on top of each other.

Speaking of smartphones, have I written before about the AncestryDNA App? Have I heard of the AncestryDNA App before? I’m really losing it. Well, regardless, Ancestry released the AncestryDNA app back on 28 September 2016. Since then they have mostly made bug fixes. The app lacks many features, so perhaps they haven’t said much about it and I’m not losing it.

One thing it can do is map your ethnicity (below, left).

AncestryDNA app ethnicity estimates and map AncestryDNA app can share your ethnicity results.

And it can share your ethnicity (above, right). That’s useful marketing for Ancestry.

But it can’t do any serious genealogy, like review your DNA matches. The matches icon at the bottom leads straight to a browser link (below left). (Gosh, I have 18,200 matches! I’m related in a measurable, DNA way, to almost 1% of the 3 million people in the Ancestry database. My Viking ancestors really got around!)

AncestryDNA app links to browser for serious tasks.AncestryDNA app setup screen

The final navigation icon, Settings, leads to the screen above right.

Perhaps we’ll hear more about this app when it comes a littler further along. The app is free and is available now in the iTunes app store and the Google Play app store.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

#RootsTech News Ketchup 17 January 2017

Insider KetchupRootsTech is generating news faster than I can keep up. Time to ketchup.

RootsTech tree icon I loved Tyler S Stahle’s “Survival Guide to RootsTech 2017.” He covers

  • The official RootsTech app – Get it. Use it.
  • Technology – Bring a portable device. There is free wi-fi and charging stations in the Expo Hall
  • Warm clothing – Outside temperatures typically range from 25 to 44 degrees. (Sounds high to me.) Tyler doesn’t mention inside temperatures, but most conference centers run cold, maybe 68 to 70 degrees.
  • Walking shoes – This is a big conference in a big building.
  • Events – He mentions the Tabernacle Choir/Hammerstein event, the Innovator Showdown, and the Cultural Celebration. I think these are included free in your conference registration. I think the closing event is also included.

To read the complete story, see “A Survival Guide to RootsTech 2017” on the FamilySearch blog.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 The Getting Started track this year is not included in your RootsTech registration. The Getting Started classes are only available to Getting Started pass holders. This is different than in past years where the general RootsTech pass would allow access to the Getting Started classes.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 The current plan is to have the Getting Started track in room 155, which is in the North extension to the Salt Palace Convention Center. Be forewarned. The 1st floor lobbies of the Salt Place and the North extension are not directly connected. To get to room 155, cut through the Expo Hall, or go up to the 2nd floor, over to the extension, and then back down to the 1st floor.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 Believe it or not, I’m not the only ambassador. There are 46 RootsTech 2017 ambassadors who registered to have their social media information shared amongst ambassadors and their readers. Check them out. You’ll find old familiar general-interest writers like DearMYRTLE, Judy Russell, Randy Seaver, and Thomas MacEntee. There are a couple dozen more that I know are terrific. (Apologies for not listing you here.) Other names you are all familiar with are ambassadors but didn’t submit to this list: Dick Eastman, Lisa Louise Cooke, Diane Hadad, etc. There are non-genealogy bloggers (whose readership surpasses all us genealogy bloggers).

RootsTech 2017 50x50 Dear Ancestry Insider,

Thanks for giving us these links to Innovator Showdown semifinalists! I am really excited about four out of the ten, and would like to be able to weigh in with the judges....is that possible anywhere?

Meredith A. Lane

Dear Meredith,

You won’t have the opportunity to participate in narrowing of the field to five finalists on 8 February 2017. I’ll publish their names. But there is a people’s choice award and my guess is you can participate from home. The 2017 Innovator Showdown will be broadcast live on RootsTech.org at 10:30 am MST on Friday, 10 February 2017. Voting for the people’s choice award will be via text message. I assume the RootsTech broadcast will show the phone numbers so that you can vote from home. (I haven’t asked, so I’m not certain.) Either way, you’ll enjoy watching the competition.

For more information, read “Third Annual 2017 RootsTech Innovator Showdown Boasts $100,000 in Prizes” in the FamilySearch media center.

---The Ancestry Insider

RootsTech 2017 50x50 From 8 February 2017 to 11 February (the week of RootsTech) is the Family History Library  discovery center grand opening, according to their Facebook page.

The state-of-the-art discovery experience, is free and open to the public. The discovery experience hours will match the Family History Library.
Monday 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.,
Tuesday - Friday 8:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.
Saturdays 9:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Extended hours will be offered Saturday, February 11th in conjunction with RootsTech 2017 Family Discovery Day.

“Our guests, particularly those who are completely new to family history, will be able to enjoy fun, personal discoveries through interactive technological experiences with their family's history,” said Tamra Stansfield, manager of the Family History Library.

For more information, see “Family History Library Discovery Center” in the FamilySearch Wiki.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 According to a private RootsTech source, RootsTech will have the video streaming schedule this week. (Since I write on weekends, perhaps it is already online. I’d check RootsTech.org to see.) Unlike previous years, this year all the keynote speakers will be televised live. (Last year, the Bush mother/daughter duo were not broadcast. Was there another one? Doris Kearns Goodwin? My guess is that people who make their living partly by speaking, don’t like to damage their income stream. I think that’s fair. But I digress…) Even some Innovator Summit presentations will be broadcast.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 The RootsTech syllabus will not be available for download on RootsTech.org this year. I’m disappointed, but fine with that decision. Some presenters make their living partly by presenting; posting their handouts for anyone to easily find and download seemed inappropriate. Individual class handouts are still freely downloadable; but you must do it through the RootsTech App. One big complaint there: the handouts download with obnoxious names like 641956154d1a58ea4cdc9e636cc562a5_1. How am I supposed to remember that that is the handout for Kelli Bergheimer’s “Getting Started in Genealogy” class? If you want to read the handout in iBooks, or keep notes in Adobe Acrobat, that’s a big issue.

Purchase a printed copy of the entire syllabus for $35 through the registration webpage.

RootsTech will not have printers onsite for printing handouts. You must prepare beforehand by printing desired handouts at home. I have a fancy, network-connected printer that has its own email address. From the RootsTech App I can email handouts directly to my printer. It couldn’t be simpler (for me). Frankly, though, I plan to use the handouts on my iPhone or iPad. It is still a good idea to prepare before the conference. Download desired handouts before you come. Then you don’t fight bandwidth issues as thousands of people start downloading handouts at the start of each class.

Be sure to print or download backup classes as well, in case the classes you want are full.

RootsTech 2017 50x50 Toni Carrier, a RootsTech Ambassador from Lowcountry Africana, wrote an article laying out the African American track of classes at RootsTech this year. “This year, for the first time, you can fill your entire time at RootsTech attending sessions on African American genealogy!” she wrote. Read “Great African American Genealogy Lineup at RootsTech 2017”  on her blog.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

Fee Increase for Immigration Records

Fee increase by USCISOn 25 December 2016 I received an email from the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services warning of an upcoming fee increase, to be effective 23 December 2016. Yup. Two days before they sent the email. That’s your government at work. The new fee schedule webpage states:

This chart lists USCIS' fees effective December 23, 2016. Applications and petitions postmarked or filed on or after December 23, 2016, must include these new fees or USCIS will reject your submission.   

Filing fees increased for most forms, and we published updated versions of the forms at uscis.gov/forms. We strongly encourage customers to download and submit these new versions, which are updated with the new fees and have an edition date of 12/23/16. We will accept prior versions of forms, with the exception of Form N-400, until February 21, 2017. However, all filings postmarked December 23, 2016, or later must include the new fees or we will reject them.

Immigration Benefit Request New Fee ($) Old Fee ($)
G–1041 Genealogy Index Search Request 65 20
G–1041A Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Microfilm) 65 20
G–1041A Genealogy Records Request (Copy from Textual Record) 65 35

That’s a pretty substantial increase. I’m glad they gave genealogists advance warning.

The email explained that:

Our agency is funded almost entirely by fees. By law, we conduct a fee review every two years to ensure that we recover the full cost of processing immigration benefits. The Genealogy program has not increased its fees since the program was created in 2008.

If you have any questions, please write to Genealogy.USCIS@uscis.dhs.gov.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

FamilySearch Reviews 2016 Accomplishments – Part 2

This is a continuation of yesterday’s article. FamilySearch recently published a review of their 2016 accomplishments. Here is the information plus commentary and a comparison with their 2015 figures.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: HelpHelp

“In 2016, FamilySearch added a Help Others feature to guide consultants and more experienced genealogists in assisting others. People seeking help provide their username and a helper number that allow helpers to look online at their records, find opportunities for research, and help guide that research,” wrote FamilySearch’s Diane Sagers.

Facts and figures:

  • 15 million volunteer service hours. This is up from 12 million in 2015.
  • 11 million of those hours contributed by indexers. Up from 9 million.
  • 315,000 volunteer indexers. Up from 304,000.
  • 3.7 million hours contributed by service missionaries. Up from 3.
  • 4,807 service missionaries. Up quite a bit from 3,850.
  • 4,960 FamilySearch Centers. Formerly called family history centers. Up from 4,891.
  • 103 new centers this year. My math says the difference between 4,891 and 4,960 is 69, but there were centers that closed as well. The Layton FamilySearch Center alone replaced 48 family history centers (according to a 27 November 2016 article in The Davis Clipper).
  • 3,108 centers outside the U.S. This is up 244 from 2,864 the previous year. This is wonderful news. Some countries of the world don’t allow FamilySearch to loan microfilm. Researchers in those countries can now access records in their centers that aren’t available otherwise.
  • 1,852 centers in the U.S. This is down 175 from 2,027. This is discouraging since many records on FamilySearch.org are only available to the general public in FamilySearch centers.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: Discovery ExperiencesDiscovery Experiences

In 2016, FamilySearch opened a new FamilySearch Center in Layton, Utah; broke ground for a large FamilySearch library in St. George, Utah, that will include discovery experience stations when it opens in 2017; and began remodeling the first floor of the Salt Lake family history library to include discovery experiences.

Facts and figures:

  • 375,000 RootsTech Attendees. [Fine print: Includes in-person, online, and local Family Discovery Day events.] This is up 75,000 from RootsTech 2015.
  • 133 million FamilySearch.org visits. In 2015 they reported 291,000 visits per day, which yields 106 million visits. (Techie comment: If I am not mistaken, FamilySearch uses the Adobe Omniture definition of a visit: If a person views a sequence of pages, that counts as a visit. If they take a break of more than 30 minutes, it counts as a new visit. If they visit for more than 12 hours, it counts as a new visit.)
  • 7.4 million registered users.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: MemoriesMemories

“Family history is about stories; it is more than dates and facts,” said Steve Rockwood, CEO of FamilySearch. FamilySearch added the memories gallery view, added user-to-user messaging, and has the ability to make audio recordings.

Facts and figures:

  • 5.6 million memories [stories, photographs, documents, and audio recordings] added in 2016. Last year FamilySearch reported a total of 10.3 million memories, so the total must be about 16 million. 
  • 4.7 million photos added. Added to the 9 million total last year, FamilySearch.org now has 14.5 million.
  • 521,000 documents added. These are documents that users have scanned and uploaded to FamilySearch.org. They now have 1.6 million total. I hope everyone is scanning and uploading your home sources (birth, marriage, death, and military discharge certificates; funeral programs; newspaper announcements; Bible pages; etc.). Don’t have a scanner? Use your cell phone camera.
  • 362,000 stories added. With 747,000 last year, FamilySearch now reports having 1.1 million.
  • 50,000 audio recordings added. FamilySearch reports the total is now 92,000 recordings. That is disappointing. Tom Jones has said, “What should be our first priority is to do what future generations cannot do.” (Jessica Murray, “Answering the Big Genealogy Puzzle With Tom Jones,” Ancestry [Blog] [http://blogs.ancestry.com : 25 August 2014].) Recording elderly relatives is one of those things.

For more information see “FamilySearch 2016 Year in Review” on the FamilySearch Blog and “FamilySearch 2016: Connecting families across generations” on the Deseret News website.

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

FamilySearch Reviews 2016 Accomplishments – Part 1

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: Family Tree[THE INDICATED BULLET WAS UPDATED 14 JANUARY 2017 TO ELIMINATE MY BAD MATH.]
FamilySearch recently published a review of their 2016 accomplishments, just as they did last year for 2015. As I did last year, I thought I’d present the information here, along with commentary, and a comparison with their 2015 accomplishments. I found a few surprises.

FamilySearch organized the accomplishments around the five discovery experiences presented in Steve Rockwood’s 2016 RootsTech presentation.

Family Tree

In 2016, FamilySearch made Family Tree more stable, made it possible to merge duplicates, added more record hints, made record hints more accurate, added user-to-user messaging, and broadened the ability to identify your relationships to persons in Family Tree.

Facts and figures:

  • 1.1 billion persons in FamilySearch Family Tree.  FamilySearch has previously reported that 28 billion people have lived since 1500 AD. Few records exist that uniquely identify people who lived prior to that date. Had FamilySearch met their objective that there be no duplication in Family Tree, then the Tree would contain 4% of all the recorded people in the world’s history. However, there is a lot of duplication in the Tree. 1.1 billion is the same size reported last year, so the number of new persons must be less than 100 million.
  • 561,759 new contributors in 2016. This is up from 120,000 in 2015. I think this includes those who contribute in any way, not just the addition of persons.
  • [Updated 14 January 2017]3.45 million total contributors. That sounds high, even though participation is considered a mandate for members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Current Church membership stands at 15,634,199. Total contributors was up from 2.47 million in 2015.

FamilySearch 2016 accomplishments relative to: Searchable RecordsSearchable Records

“Millions more searchable records were added this year as employees and volunteers digitally converted FamilySearch’s vaults of microfilm for online viewing and added millions of new record images from archives across the globe,” wrote FamilySearch’s Diane Sagers. “Partnerships formed with other genealogy search companies, such as Ancestry.com, FindMyPast.com, and MyHeritage.com, broaden its searchable databases.”

Around the world, 320 camera teams digitally preserved over 60 million records in 45 countries. FamilySearch reworked the U.S. census collections in 2016.

FamilySearch, along with the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture, other organizations, and 25,000 volunteers, indexed and published records from the Freedmen’s Bureau. “These records are pivotal for African American research because they document freed slaves and others who struggled to redefine themselves after the Civil War.”

Facts and figures:

  • 5.57 billion total searchable records online. This is 260 million more than the 5.31 billion reported last year.
  • 275 million total records indexed [during 2016]. This is up from 110 million in 2015. According to the math, volunteers indexed 15 million more names than FamilySearch published. Makes you wonder if they have a growing backlog.
  • 37 million non-English records indexed. FamilySearch must be having trouble recruiting non-English language indexers, since that is just 13% of the total. On the positive side, 37 is up quite a bit from 19 million in 2015.
  • 125 new 2016 historic records collections. This is down from 158 the previous year.
  • 2,174 total collections. It was 2,049 at the end of 2015.
  • 60 million record images published. FamilySearch cut in half the number of images, 122 million, published in 2015. That is disappointing. One possible explanation is that FamilySearch now publishes some record images exclusively through their catalog—much the same way that NARA does with their catalog. If you are not using the catalog as your primary search mechanism, you are missing out on what looks to be millions of records.

See tomorrow's article for more information.

Thursday, January 5, 2017

#RootsTech 2017 Semifinalists Announced for Innovator Showdown

RootsTech's Innovator ShowdownDid RootsTech ever announce the Innovator Showdown 2017 semifinalists? I can’t find an official announcement anywhere. RootsTech silently updated the Innovator Showdown webpage, but fortunately allowed a couple of the judges, Jill Ball and Christine Woodcock, to personally make the announcement and the news spread around the blogosphere.

The ten semifinalists are:

Champollion 2.0

CSI: Crowd Sourced Indexingimage


Double Match Triangulator




OldNews USA



According to Christine, there were 42 submissions to the contest and the judges were given 21 of them for consideration. Christine said there were four criteria for their review:

Family History
Submissions must be directly or indirectly related to family history.

Quality of Idea
Includes creativity and originality.

Implementation of Idea
Includes how well the idea was executed by the developer.

Potential Impact
Will users get excited about this, is it applicable, does it solve a genuine problem?

The Innovator Showdown will be held Friday, 10 February 2017, at 10:30 MST during RootsTech and can be viewed online at Rootstech.org.