Saturday, November 17, 2012

New numbers from FamilySearch

FamilySearch recently released the current size of their collections as of the 1st of November:

Total images published in Historical Records section: ................................................. 698.9 Million
          An image is a graphical representation (photograph) of
          an original, physical document.
Total records published in Historical Records section:................................................... 1.99 Billion
          A record is the information documented (transcribed)
          for a single life event. For example, a birth record, a
          marriage record, a death record.
Total searchable names in Historical Records section: .................................................. 3.07 Billion
          Searchable names are all (transcribed) names
          contained on a record. For example, a single birth
          record contains three names (child, father, mother).
Total collections on FamilySearch Historical Records section: .................................... 1,311 Collections

Update from FamilySearch

In August of this year, FamilySearch announced its next major U.S. community project-U.S. Immigration and Naturalization. The project will create an extensive, free, online collection of U.S. passenger lists, border crossing records, naturalization records, and more-invaluable to genealogy researchers. The online volunteer community is two months into the project and aiming to index 30 million records by the end of the year. Thanks to the contributions of over 85,000 volunteers, more than 15 million records have been completed already. See what U.S. Immigration and Naturalization projects are currently underway, or check on their status at
You can join the community of online indexers and arbitrators helping to make passenger lists and naturalization records freely searchable on To get started, visit
Current and Completed Projects
To view a list of currently available indexing projects, along with their record language and completion percentage, visit the FamilySearch indexing updates page. To learn more about individual projects, view the FamilySearch projects page.

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Immigration records update

U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Community Project Half-way to 2012 Goal of 30 Million Records

In August of this year, FamilySearch announced its next major U.S. community project-U.S. Immigration and Naturalization. The project will create an extensive, free, online collection of U.S. passenger lists, border crossing records, naturalization records, and more-invaluable to genealogy researchers. The online volunteer community is two months into the project and aiming to index 30 million records by the end of the year. Thanks to the contributions of over 85,000 volunteers, more than 15 million records have been completed already. See what U.S. Immigration and Naturalization projects are currently underway, or check on their status at

Sunday, September 23, 2012

Fragmentation of Efforts

After spending some time with Twitter, it is clear that there is very little concentration of effort for mutual benefit of researchers and those offering to help with the search. There are obvious exceptions to that observation:
  • Cyndis List-Links to sites all over the planet
  • Generous Genealogists (new site to offer genealogy help for free)
  • (huge data bases-paid site)
  • GeneaBloggers and other independent bloggers working to get the word out
  • FamilySearch and Wiki ( Billions of free records, increasing daily)
If you are really interested in consolidating information to be readily available, support efforts to digitize and index records. That process can be costly, but there are organizations that will perform that service at no cost to the archive. The financial problems with State and local governments is only going to make the access problems much worse! The recent uproar over Georgia is a prime example of what is in store as localities slash budgets.

The very size of Cyndi's List suggests that there is a serious need for consolidation. We could add to the paid sites but that excludes all but those with the funds to spend on something that might take food out of their mouths.

If you have research information to share, one place to consider is the FamilySearch Wiki. They welcome new information or additions to what is currently there. Have you looked at their offerings? Have you contributed?

If you are a researcher, consider using that great resource and those who can, to contribute to it.

We wish you well in all your family history work...

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

FGS announcement

The following announcement was written by and was announced today at the annual conference of the Federation of Genealogical Societies:
Partnership makes records available to and creates a vital source of revenue for local societies

Image001LOS ANGELES, August 30, 2012 –, an international leader in online family history research, today announced a national partnership with Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) to preserve, digitize and provide access to local records from genealogical societies across the country.

The collaborative initiative will help preserve genealogical records and provide a vital revenue stream for the societies. Throughout the remainder of 2012, will release records from the following pilot partners:
  • New York Genealogical and Biographical Society, the most authoritative source for research on New York families
  • Illinois State Genealogical Society
  • Williamson County (Texas) Genealogical Society
“As we aggressively grow our business in the U.S., we are looking to form partnerships that benefit both the genealogical community and,” said Chris van der Kuyl, CEO of brightsolid, the parent company for findmypast. “This partnership will benefit our customers by giving them access to records that can’t be found anywhere else and participating societies will receive royalties for record images viewed.”

The records are a fantastic addition to a growing collection of US records on FGS members who participate will reach new audiences as each society and their collection will be promoted by

The society collection complements the new US and international records that will be made available on and could include:
  • Newspapers and obituaries
  • Bible records
  • Cemetery records
  • Birth, marriage and death records
  • Land records
  • Court records
 “Through its partnership with, the Federation of Genealogical Societies is pleased to offer a way for its member societies to engage with content providers and publishers,” said Pat Oxley, President of FGS. “Currently, one of the biggest challenges for societies is the pressure to provide online content, while also growing their membership and operating budgets. Through this partnership, societies will generate income and entice new audiences.”

About (owned by brightsolid) is the U.S. site of findmypast, an international leader in online family history with over 18 million registered members worldwide. Findmypast connects people to core and unique U.S., English, Welsh, Scottish, Irish, Australian and New Zealand records dating back as far as 1200. 

About brightsolid is owned by brightsolid online publishing, a British-owned world leader in online genealogy, with over 45 years’ experience in family history and a record of online innovation in the field of family history nearly two decades long. With nearly 18 million registered users across its family of online genealogy brands, brightsolid hosts over a billion genealogical records from across the globe. The company reported a 75 percent growth in turnover and a 47 percent growth in gross profits in its most recent published accounts and was voted Best Genealogy Organization in the Online Gene Awards.

About the Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS)
The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) was founded in 1976 and represents the members of hundreds of genealogical societies. FGS links the genealogical community by helping genealogical societies strengthen and grow through resources available online, FGS Forum magazine (filled with articles pertaining to society management and genealogical news), and Society Strategy Series papers, covering topics about effectively operating a genealogical society. FGS also links the genealogical community through its annual conference -- four days of excellent lectures, including one full day devoted to society management topics. To learn more visit

Join new indexing project at FamilySearch

North American Indexing Volunteers Invited to Join New US Immigration & Naturalization Community Project

More than 160,000 volunteer indexers made the 1940 U.S. Census available for searching in just five months. The project was an unprecedented success that dramatically illustrated what the genealogical community can accomplish when united in a common cause.

Now many volunteers are turning their attention to the U.S. Immigration & Naturalization Community Project, an indexing effort to make passenger lists, naturalization records, and other immigration related records freely searchable online. Hundreds of thousands of North American volunteers are expected to contribute over the next 18-24 months, focusing initially on passenger lists from the major US ports.

Individuals, societies and other groups that want to participate should visit to learn more.

Current and Completed Projects

To view a list of currently available indexing projects, along with their record language and completion percentage, visit the FamilySearch indexing updates page. To learn more about individual projects, view the FamilySearch projects page.

 About FamilySearch

FamilySearch International is the largest genealogy organization in the world. FamilySearch is a nonprofit, volunteer-driven organization sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Millions of people use FamilySearch records, resources, and services to learn more about their family history. To help in this great pursuit, FamilySearch and its predecessors have been actively gathering, preserving, and sharing genealogical records worldwide for over 100 years. Patrons may access FamilySearch services and resources free online at or through over 4,600 family history centers in 132 countries, including the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Update on 1940 Census from FamilySearch

This is the latest on the remaining States of 1940 Census:

Many of you have asked what the latest status is for posting the remaining states that make up the 1940 US Census project. Today we will be posting 9 more states to the FamilySearch website. These states include Connecticut, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Maryland, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Wisconsin, for a total of 37,575,945 additional records.
As it looks now, we will have one more release before the end of the month, at which time the entire census index will be posted as a searchable index. Next week we expect to publish the remaining states of Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, South Carolina, and Tennessee. At that time we will also post the territories of Guam, Panama Canal, and US Virgin Islands. After that, we will have only the two territories of American Samoa and Puerto Rico, which we hope to have posted by the end of the month.
Once again we want to thank the tens of thousands of you who have worked so hard to help create this valuable census index. Your efforts have been remarkable and the results are applauded by many throughout the entire country.
As we bring this project to a close, we hope that you will continue to visit the FamilySearch Indexing site and index some of the other collections we currently have available. Now that you have been trained and have such great experience indexing and arbitrating, we invite you to continue using your skills to make more records freely available to all who want to discover their ancestors and their history.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Changing directions on indexing

Portion of a post on FamilySearch blog concerning the new records to be indexed:

FamilySearch’s amazing volunteers have made short work of the 1940 US Census, and soon it will be time to bid this incredible project farewell. Who knew more than 140,000 people would show up and rally so diligently around the 1940 US Census Community Project? The speed of completion surpassed everyone’s expectations, and the result is simply incredible! Thank you for contributing your time and energy to such a monumental project!
Now we have the opportunity to turn our attention and energy to another monumental task—one that is even larger than the 1940 US Census. We call this new initiative the “US Immigration and Naturalization Community Project,” and we want YOU to join us in this new adventure.

About Immigration and Naturalization Records
Immigration and naturalization records are important to everyone. As change occurred around the world, people moved and adjusted to their new situations. Many of these immigrants came to America because it offered the promise of a better situation than they could find in their native countries. Making these immigration and naturalization records accessible will help millions discover why and when their ancestors migrated and where they came from. As genealogy researchers, we have all had roadblocks that have stalled our ability to find out what happened to a great-grandparent or other extended family members. Working together as a community, we now have an awesome opportunity to finally unlock the information many people need to get past their roadblocks.

Immigration records

Here is a post from FamilySearch concerning immigration records and the Wiki resources:

U.S. Immigration Records are a powerful source of useful genealogical and family history records that can assist you in your search for your immigrant ancestors. Many of these records and indexes to these records are available in FamilySearch database. They can help you determine when an ancestor arrived in the United States, the port they left from in their home country and which port they arrived in when they arrived in the United States. They can also be used to identify other family and community members who traveled with them along with other personal information.
The FamilySearch Wiki provides some excellent instructional information about using these immigration records. To get to these articles, go to the FamilySearch Wiki and type the words Immigration records in the search field. Scroll down to see hundreds of valuable and useful articles on using Immigration records.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Stanley Thomas Wall

Stanley was born before 1920 and was married to Doris LeGate. They had two children and then were divorced. We are not finding any record of this man. He is not on Census records 1920-40, no marriage record or any other record. His name came from birth records for his two girls. The family lived in area around Louisville, Kentucky and across the river in Indiana. Any info on this man would be appreciated.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Cyndi Howells - Cyndi's List


What is Cyndi's list you ask?

 A comprehensive, categorized & cross-referenced list of links that point you to genealogical research sites online. As of this morning (because it changes daily) there are 319,841 links on the site in 189 categories. What started out as a service project over 15 yrs ago, now consumes the life of this one woman show. It seems to be an impossible task for one person, but requires organization and dedication. There is not enough praise that can be bestowed on someone who so completely dedicates their life to such worthwhile endeavors. Those in the genealogy community should be eternally grateful to Cyndi and others like her that serve us so well. Her website points out that this is the starting point for anyone using web resources for genealogy, (which would be all of us). Think of what has happened to research since the introduction of the www and everything that entails. We also owe a debt of gratitude to those who contribute and thus are listed by Cyndi. If not for them, there would be nothing to list. So here is a "big shout out" to all those who contribute in any way to this great work! She also appreciates those who contribute financially to her site.

Following is copied from her website and explains what she is doing and why.

 Why do you do all this?
The short answer is because I have fun doing this and I'm really happy to hear the great success stories that have come to people through using the list. The list began as a project for my local genealogical society in order to help our members find resources online. I want to make it easy for all researchers to find online resources for their genealogical research. I once read that the Internet is like a library with its books strewn all over the floor. I guess I'd like my list to be the card-catalog for the genealogy section of that library. And after all these years, I honestly believe that this is what I was meant to do. I’m very lucky that something I love to do has become a vocation.

How do you do all this?
  • I have had helpers and one part time employee in the past. Today, Cyndi’s List is a one-woman show again. It is a full time job, 7 seven days a week.
  • "Work" on the list means that I do each of the following things daily. My priority is to take care of the first two points below before I do anything else, the remaining points are not necessarily in order of importance:
    • Answer each incoming e-mail message. I have an auto-reply message that helps to let everyone know what the status is with my latest load of work.
    • Take care of all broken links & problems first (after all, what is the point in putting up the list if I'm not going to stay on top of correcting broken and non-working links?).
    • Add new links as I find them.
    • Add new links as I receive requests from users of the list.
    • Organize and sub-categorize each page as new ideas come up.
    • Add new categories and links as I come up with new ideas.
  • I originally created each and every page on my site by hand, writing the HTML code myself and using NoteTabPro to do so.
  • With help from donations by users of Cyndi’s List, I was able to hire a web development company, fusionSpan, to help me upgrade the site to its current state.
  • I periodically run a program on my site that checks links to be sure they still work and are accessible.
How did you get started on this list?
The list began as a one page set of bookmarks that I shared with my fellow genealogical society members at the Tacoma-Pierce County Genealogical Society. After that I expanded it to be a 6-page article for the society quarterly. On March 4, 1996 I published my personal web site and, as sort of an after-thought, I added my "list" of bookmarks. The original list was contained on one categorized web page with more than 1,025 links.
You must spend all your time online!
Regardless of how it may appear, I actually do have a life. A very busy life at the moment. The other things that fill my days are:
  • I have a wonderful son, Evan. Currently in the 9th grade, he is a terrific student.
  • We have three Boston Terriers that think the universe revolves around them.
  • I try to keep the house in some semblance of order and cleanliness, although I'm really starting to question what the term "clean" really means.
  • I also have many friends and family members that I'm very close to. I do spend as much time with them as I can.
  • I give classes & presentations to groups and societies regarding genealogical research on the Internet.
Where do you live?
No, I don't live in Utah or Australia. I live just outside Puyallup, Washington, 35 miles south of Seattle, right next door to Tacoma. Puyallup is famous for its eccentric founder, Ezra Meeker (hero or nut?), its strawberries, raspberries & daffodils and for its fair.
Are you a member of the LDS church?
No, I am not. I have loved spending time at my local LDS Family History Center in Puyallup and even filled in as librarian there in the past. I have many friends who are members of the LDS church. As a genealogist I’m eternally grateful for everything the church does to share genealogical research materials with the world.
When do you get any time for your own research?
I haven't been able to do anything serious with my own research since the web site went online in March 1996. I have several new, very patient cousins (online and offline) who are waiting to hear from me. And I have a very disorganized filing cabinet screaming at me to get it in shape. When I published my personal web site in 1996, I started to share my family names and some research. It is still online here: Cyndi's Family Tree.
Thank you for the kind words!
If there is one thing that keeps me working on this web site every day, besides my own obvious passion for genealogy and the Internet, it would be the tremendous notes of support and the compliments that I receive from each of you via e-mail every day. I appreciate every wonderful note and the thoughtfulness behind them more than you can know. It is very rewarding and fulfilling to know that the site is doing its work as an aid to my online friends. Thank you for taking the time to write and for letting me know how useful the site is and that Cyndi's List is helping you in your daily research online. I will keep working on it as long as you keep using it successfully!

Friday, August 3, 2012

1940 Census report

Here is the latest report from FamilySearch on 1940 Census:

Many of you have asked where we are with the indexing of the 1940 US Census project. Looking on the FamilySearch indexing page, you’ve seen that you can no longer find 1940 census batches to index or arbitrate on the indexing site. You’ve also seen that the interactive map has not changed for the past 2 weeks. Please be assured that progress is being made.
We have indeed finished all of the indexing and arbitration of the 1940 US Census. The remaining few weeks will be used to finish the processing tasks that have to be done to make the indexes  as accurate as possible and completely searchable. The folks at Church headquarters are hard at work getting these tasks done as quickly as possible.
On Monday, August 6, we will post 6 new states. These states include Arkansas, Washington DC, Missouri, New York, Pennsylvania, and West Virginia.  As it looks now, we will have two more releases before the end of the month, at which time the entire census index will be posted as a searchable index.
Once again we want to thank the tens of thousands of you who have worked so hard to help create this valuable census index. Collectively, we’ve shattered dozens of records. If anyone would have said that we could have started and completed a project like this in just 5 months without outsourcing any part of this collection, no one would have believed it. But we did it, thanks to the help of people like you. We had more than 150,000 indexers take part, some of whom indexed more than 100,000 records by themselves. This truly was a remarkable experience.
As we bring this project to a close, we hope that you will continue to index some of the other collections we currently have available. Now that you have been trained and have such great experience indexing and arbitrating, we invite you to continue using your skills to make more records freely available to all who want to discover their ancestors and their history.

Monday, July 30, 2012

Indexing Update from FamilySearch

Here is an update from the FS blog:

FamilySearch indexers are nearing the end of their own “Olympic” marathon. Is this the end—or just the beginning of something even bigger? Let the games begin! After four long years, we finally get to enjoy another exciting version of that international celebration of sport known as the Olympic Games. Few events at the Olympics symbolize human achievement like the marathon. Approximately 26.2 miles in length, the marathon demands exceptional fitness, incredible determination and a willingness to sacrifice personal well being to achieve glory for flag and country.
FamilySearch indexers are nearing the end of their own marathon called the 1940 US Census Community Project. It’s been a challenge, but incredibly, we’ve broken records with every step. Now we’re in the final stretch with the finish line rapidly approaching. Glory awaits, but as every athlete knows, you have to “push through the tape” and cross the finish line before the race is won. If our “race” continues to go as well as it has, indexers and arbitrators will reach the finish within days.
Olympic marathoners end their race on the track inside the main Olympic stadium. When the first runner clears the service tunnel leading from the streets outside the stadium and begins to “kick” toward the finish one-half lap away, thousands of fans erupt in a deafening cheer. It is a spine-tingling moment, charged with emotion. After more than two hours of intense individual effort, suddenly there are tens of thousands to help push weary legs the final 300 meters.
The adrenaline rush in those moments is exhilarating and the race-ending flood of emotions, ranging from relief to amazement to sheer ecstasy, can be overwhelmingly powerful. It’s that same well-deserved feeling we would wish for every 1940 US Census Community Project indexer and arbitrator who has tenaciously stuck with this marathon indexing effort from the starting gun to the finish line.
To you who have given your all to this project and tirelessly pushed through the indexing equivalent of heavy legs, shortness of breath, and doubts about your ability to endure, we can only hope in these final days of the project that you can somehow feel the silent but enthusiastic cheers of the literally tens of millions who are the recipients of your great gift.
The Victor’s Crown
The traditional symbol of Olympic victory is a gold medal, but anciently the symbol was the laurel wreath, woven from the supple branches and leaves of a wild olive tree. The 1940 US Census Community Project represents a major victory. Only the most wildly optimistic individuals would have suggested that the entire census could be indexed and arbitrated in less than 4½ months. But that’s precisely what we, the genealogical community, have done. It’s an achievement without parallel.
Among the project’s myriad astonishing statistics is the number of people who contributed to the creation of the US 1940 Census index. To date that number is hovering near 155,000—enough to make a decent-sized city—and it continues to climb even as we head into the home stretch. The enthusiasm for this project and for indexing in general is such an inspiration!
For all who have participated, from those who arbitrated thousands of names to those who indexed a single batch, we offer the victor’s laurel, a badge you can proudly display to show your part in making history. More celebrating lies ahead, but that can wait until we all cross the finish line together as the last of the full index is published to the world. Stay tuned for more about that in the near future.
The Start of a New Trend?
For now, let’s consider one of the “unintended consequences” of the 1940 US Census Community Project and another comparison to the Olympic marathon. The year was 1972. The setting was Munich, Germany. From the field of more than 70 competitors, a relatively unknown American named Frank Shorter emerged and surprised the world by beating the rest of the field by more than two minutes. His stunning victory was such an inspiration to Americans that it fueled a national running craze that continues to this day.
Great moments in history can inspire generations to take action and accomplish even greater feats. What greater achievements will the memory of the 1940 US Census Community Project inspire? Already it has swept up more participants than any other project of its type in history, but there are billions of additional records still waiting to be indexed. Could the 1940 US Census experience mark the beginning of a new culture of group giving in the genealogical community? We now know what we’re capable of accomplishing—is there any reason we shouldn’t just continue?
If your answer to that question is a resounding, “NO!,” then you’ll be pleased to learn about the US Immigration & Naturalization Community Project. It’s the sequel to the 1940 US Census project and records from this project are already available for indexing (just look for the “US (Community Project)” label).
If you need a rest from the “marathon,” everyone will understand. But if you’re thinking the 1940 US Census was just a good warm up and are wondering just how much more we can accomplish in the future, then get on board and full steam ahead! The race to remember our immigrant ancestors has just begun!

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints Finances

This is a report by the Church that should be of interest to those in Genealogy Community

Commentary —  12 July 2012

The Church and Its Financial Independence

Saturday, July 7, 2012

1940 Census report

Here is the latest report from FamilySearch:

No new states have been posted this week. States such as New York and a few others are so big that they take a lot of processing at the back end to make them searchable. Please be patient as we get them ready to post. I know that we are all excited to see new states posted, especially if it’s been a state you’ve been working on. We want to make sure they are as error free as possible and sometimes that takes a little extra time.  

Below are the latest statistics for the project. They continue to be very encouraging.
  • 115,886,258 names have been indexed and arbitrated.
  • 29 states have searchable indexes on These states include Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington and Wyoming.  
  • 4 additional states are 100% indexed and arbitrated and are in the final stage in preparation for posting.
  • 5 additional states are 90% or more indexed and arbitrated.
  • 14 states are 50% or more indexed.
  • 4 states are still less than 50% indexed. To see the status of each state visit the 1940 US Census state-by-state progress map on the FamilySearch website.
  • The 1940 US Census is currently 82% indexed and arbitrated.
  • 150,990 indexers have signed up to index the 1940 US Census.

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Records preservation

This is a copy of a blog post on record preservation that I believe you will find interesting from FamilySearch:

The LDS Church has been a pioneer for many decades in preserving important family history records, keeping them safe from the dangers of both man and nature. It took many years to build the Granite Mountain Records Vault, where microfilm records are safely kept today. But what about all this digital information that Family Search is generating to assist researchers on the Internet –how does that get preserved from generation to generation? As you might imagine, digital content is a bit more complex and fragile than microfilm to preserve long term. Digital preservation is a lot more than just tape backup. Let’s explore some of the nuances and complexities of long-term, digital preservation.

Volume of data: the digital pipeline in Family Search is generating somewhere in the range of 15 terabytes of images, or one million to three million pages digitally every business day of the year. The software to handle this volume did not exist when we started digital preservation. We push many of our vendors to come up with new technology to meet our needs as we stretch their capabilities and often break their products. We are also writing our own magnetic tape storage software because no products exist on the market that can handle preservation storage volume of this magnitude.

Data validation: on an annual basis, the preservation system has to be automated to check all the bits on every tape and make sure that there is no corruption. We store checksum values at multiple levels so the software can read the checksum, read the data, and compare the calculations to ensure integrity. It is very resource intensive to deploy tape drives for writing new data, while also using drives for the annual validation of every tape. It takes complex scheduling to balance the work between the two and assure that we don’t go too long without touching each tape for validation.

Media refresh: as the tape media ages, the system needs the ability to make copies on to new media, before unrecoverable errors begin to appear. There is no way to tell exactly when tapes will begin to fail, so the software has to keep a database of errors for every tape and every tape drive and look for trends that indicate a coming problem before they actually occur. If we rotate media too often, however, the system becomes too costly to maintain.

File format migration: do you have any WordPerfect 4.2 files lying around? How about a Lotus 1-2-3 spreadsheet or even something more obscure, where the software vendor is long gone, along with your installation disks? As years pass, the risk of not being able to accurately read a data file increases. Our preservation system has to account for this and be able to convert files from one format or version to a newer format. If files are not migrated in a timely fashion, massive amounts of data can become inaccessible or difficult to render accurately. Some file formats may be viable for a decade or more, while others could become obsolete within just a few short years or less. Is a PDF a viable rendering of an Excel spreadsheet? What about the underlying formulas, fonts, supporting data, and links to data sources? There is a significant risk of losing content whenever a file format is converted to a new format.

Metadata and descriptive data: so you have a file from 5 years ago…who created it? What software version is required to read it? Where was the image originally digitized? Who is the owner of the original? Are there any restrictions on the use of the file in the future? Is this copy the highest resolution version we own, or is there a better image somewhere? What is the subject matter of the file? Are there people in the photograph? Is there important genealogical data contained in the image? The list of important questions goes on and on. Keeping track of the many types of metadata, indexes, and associated descriptive data is critical for our preservation system.

Documentation: a preservation system serves both currently living persons as well as future generations. We often pull images from preservation to avoid having to rescan originals or microfilm in the digital pipeline. A professional genealogist may need to see our highest resolution copy of an image to get clarity around handwriting. A future generation may have to open up our protected vaults and try to recover as much information as they can from our tape libraries and try to rebuild the family history information we have attempted to preserve. Documentation is a critical component of digital preservation. It is imperative that we document our data models, file formats, technology standards, software code, hardware specifications, and many, many other aspects of the digital preservation system. A future archeologist will not be able to simply put a magnifying glass up to microfilm to view our digital artifacts.

There are many additional complexities associated with operating a trusted digital repository. Hopefully, this article gives you some insights into some of them and helps you appreciate the efforts FamilySearch is taking to ensure that future generations are handed a pristine copy of their family records. We have not yet solved all of the challenges associated with building our preservation system –a task that will take many more years and possibly decades to prove out. We take our work very seriously and have a dedicated team of professionals looking after the world’s records. With contributions from many, we hope to enable future generations to learn of their heritage and make the same precious bond with their ancestors as we have.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Jacob Carroll

We don't know a lot about Jacob and would like to find his parents. He was born abt 1810 in Carter, TN and died after 1860 Census. He married Ann Constable 8 nov 1829 in Carter, TN
She was born abt 1812 in TN and died after 1860 Census
They had seven children that we have records on and can follow them

If you are related or have any information on this family it would be very much appreciated


When I was a boy we lived next to a pasture where livestock were raised for rodeo use. A small stream ran through the field. About two blocks away was a slaughter house. At the close of the day, they cleaned up by washing the floors and running it into the little creek. It then turned the creek red for several miles. If you got into the creek, you would find small disgusting creatures on your skin-Leeches. The dictionary says they are small segmented worms, but when they are on your skin they are just disgusting! They live by sucking blood from another animal that ventured where they lived in the water. So what, you ask?

There is a lot of discussion about the global financial mess that we find ourselves in, and much of that problem deals with Leeches of another variety. The attitude of entitlement is destroying the integrity of entire populations. This is not just a political problem, it is a moral problem endemic in our societies. If you are taking any kind of subsidy, pension, food stamps, insurance, etc that you don't pay for, you are a part of the problem. Most politicians don't have the courage to even acknowledge the situation. Lets look at some of specifics:

As means of getting out of the great depression, there were a number of programs that were tried, in order to get people back to work. Some were more successful than others. Large numbers of men were employed on government programs that gave them temporary opportunities to work and feel productive. At that time there was established what was known as Social Security. From the beginning, although the goals were noble, it was & is a huge Ponzi Scheme. The plan was to have current taxes pay for those that were retiring and would not be paying further taxes. That worked for a time but as is the case with  these types of plans, they are not self sustaining. The AARP is running ads telling the elderly that they have "earned" these benefits. This is simply not the case. Some believe that their money has been kept in an account somewhere, waiting for them to retire. The fact is that their payments went to their parents, the same as it is today. We who are paying FICA taxes are supporting those who are presently receiving checks. About 1,000 people are retiring every day and many of them are filing for benefits. Smaller families and the present economic conditions are making the problem worse.

Unions were organized to protect worker rights. As the movement evolved it resulted in abuses that looked great to workers but again are unsustainable in the long haul. Pensions are now being scrutinized because they are a dole that cannot be funded at the level that was promised and there is some outright fraud involved in the numbers. Congress has some of the most egregious examples of dole payments, funded by us the taxpayers. Politicians were not intended the be and paid like celebrities or sustained by the public for the rest of their lives. The  cozy connection between celebrities and politicians should be a warning sign. Their perks, such as insurance are inexcusable. Pensions and insurance plans are bleeding Municipalites and States into bankruptcy.

Health insurance and the cost of keeping people well is escalating for a number of reasons. Among them is the disregard for healthy lifestyles. Much of the present costs would be avoided by simply healthy living. Much of our present health problems are related to risky behaviors, unhealthy eating, tobacco and drugs, and we all pay the price. Insurance in its basic form is to pool resources to provide for individuals who will need it. We have a system where free care is given at emergency rooms, primarily to those who have chosen to not have insurance, which costs are paid by the rest of us.

Another group who drain are economy are the Entertainment industry and professional sports franchises. These people are idolized and billions are spent on activities that have little social merit or lasting value. People will spend money they do not have to buy tickets to concerts, lotteries and games. Pornography is the largest industry on the Web, and ruins lives, destroys families and wastes billions of dollars.

Is there any hope? We can get back to an attitude where we make our own success without waiting for someone else to pay our way. Spend less than we make. Live healthy lives including weight control and proper exercise. Serve others in any way possible. Eliminate selfishness and greed from our own lives and promote families. Vote for individuals who support these goals. Ultimately it is the people, not politicians, who will make the real changes required. Is that too much to ask to save the world as we have known it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Projects update on my Website

In the process of updating some of my work for clients on my websites and on You can now view 32 individual projects with thousands of surnames. Some were more productive than others and have posted requests for information on some of the lines. Of course none of them are "finished", since that is near impossible. There is much more that can be done. As I am revisiting the previous work, there is nearly always more fleshing out that can be added to what was done in the past. New records are available that were not previously. Some of the work was done at no charge to clients for various reasons and at this point is in the thousands of dollars. It was of no value to me but is still important and is included there.

 I have been following the progress on the 1940 Census with great interest, and reporting it here and on Twitter. It is gratifying to see the amazing amount of time being donated for this great cause! Thanks to FamilySearch for the statistics they supply on the project. I am also grateful to them for making so many records available to search online. The project to digitize and index all the film in the Mountain Vault is going better than anticipated and will be a great blessing to those searching for their family roots. These records are original documents or copies of same and are priceless. Some of what was filmed no longer exists. The experience with fires has shown the value of filming records (1890 Census). The filming continues as we speak, but is now done with digital equipment which saves a step in the process of making them available to search. Technology will continue to be used to advantage as it becomes available.

Happy hunting everyone!!!

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Family Update

This will be on a  more personal note.

My mother died last Friday surrounded by her seven children and some spouses. It a blessing for her, as she has been ill for some time and unable to live alone. Her obituary follows:

Verna Challis

  |   Visit Guest Book

Verna Fish Challis
Verna Fish Challis passed away peacefully on May 18, 2012, surrounded by her loving family. She is now reunited with her loving husband Donald W. Challis. She died as she lived, expressing her love for each of us, and brightening our lives with her hugs and smiles. Verna was born on March 10, 1924 in Snowflake, Arizona to Roland W. Fish and Susan Freeman. On January 8th 1943 she married her childhood sweetheart Donald W. Challis in the Salt Lake Temple. They were blessed with nearly 60 years together. She wanted everyone to know that she loved the Lord. She always strove to follow His example. She was a member of the LDS Church and served faithfully in many church callings, and also in the community. She was a wonderful mother. She knew, kept track of and cherished each of her grandchildren, great-grandchildren, and great-great-grandchildren. So many others, also, have been treated as family. In all of this love and service she remained a strong and independent woman. She had an amazing memory, and a love of learning. Her love for others was unconditional and never rationed or reserved. She knew each of us, our talents and interests. She admired and encouraged us. She loved so much and is loved by so many. We wish to thank Intermountain Hospice for their loving service. Survived by her children, Donald W. Challis (Lorraine), Suzanne Limburg (David), Lynne Rowley (Richard), Brian Challis (Gunn), Janet Dawson (Thomas), Woodruff Challis (Ruth), Winifred DeMann (Alan), Marlene Lane; 46 grandchildren; 107 great grandchildren; 5 great great grandchildren; and sister-in-law Ruth Challis. Preceded in death by her husband Donald W.Challis;, 5 brothers and sisters; and son-in-law David G. Limburg; grandson-in-law Scott Kessler.
Funeral services will be held Thursday May 24, 11 a.m. at the Murray South Stake Center, 5635 South Fashion Blvd. (approx 350 E) in Murray. Friends may call Wednesday, 6-8 p.m. at Jenkins-Soffe Mortuary, 4760 South State, and Thursday 9:30-10:30 at the stake center. Interment, Murray City Cemetery. In lieu of flowers please donate to the LDS Church Perpetual Education Fund. Online condolences:

Published in Deseret News from May 20 to May 21, 2012

Friday, May 18, 2012

William Robertson

William was born 18 jan 1812 in SC
Married Marian Robeson who was born 8 jun 1818 and died 24 mar 1849
Married Permelia E Keeney born 16 jan 1842 and died 28 oct 1875 Fairview, Caldwell, MO
We have the children of both wives

Need info on the parents of William. Anything on this family would be welcomed!

Saturday, May 12, 2012

William V Pettit

William was born abt 1823 in Wrightstown, Bucks, PA
He died before 1870 census
Married Rachel Philips 31 aug 1848 in Trenton, Mercer, NJ
Seven known children born in PA

His middle name may be Vaughan
Parents could be George and wife Catherine Ferrell
George was son of John and wife Mary Philips
George had brother named William Vaughan Pettit

Any information on this family would be appreciated, especially any links to Parents

Friday, May 11, 2012

Burns/Murphee Family

William R Burns was born abt 1796 in NC

Married before 1837 to an unknown wife who died before 1846

On 1850 census he is married to Anna and has a daughter Frances

Clarissa Murphee was born abt 1821 in Mississippi and died 1875 in Gonzales, Texas

Any info on these people would be welcomed!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

William A Humphrey

William was born abt 1810 in Alabama according to Census records
Married Orpha abt 1833 in Arkansas
Lived in Sevier County Arkansas from 1833 to after 1860
1870 Census they are in Upshur County Texas and is last record we have
They had at least 9 children in Arkansas and we have names and dates for them

Any information on this family would be very much appreciated
Would like to know Orpha's maiden name and her parents
Need William's parents names

Friday, May 4, 2012

1940 update

Here is the latest stats from FamilySearch:

 It’s great to see that we are not losing steam after our first month of indexing the 1940 US Census. In fact, the opposite is true. We’re still increasing the number of indexers joining our ranks by more than a 1,000 to 1,500 new indexers each day. By this next Monday, we may have passed the 100,000 mark of indexers who are working with us. That is a great milestone, but we can’t let up our efforts and sit on our laurels. Let’s keep telling our friends about this project and see how many more people we can get involved.
Below are the latest statistics for the 5th full week of our combined efforts to index the 1940 US Census. These are stats that everyone can be proud of.
  • So far, 26.85% of the entire project has been completely indexed.  That’s more than a quarter of the entire census completed!
  • We have 96,232 indexers and arbitrators.
  • Twelve states have been indexed and are being processed in preparation for posting on They include Alaska, Arizona, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Nevada, New Hampshire, Oregon, Utah, Vermont, Virginia and Wyoming.
  • Four states are 85% or more complete. They include: Hawaii, Louisiana, Mississippi, and Montana.
  • The Delaware, Colorado and Kansas indexes have been posted on and are available to the public for searching.
  • A total of more than 36.5 million records have been indexed and arbitrated to date.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

New Research Results

We are continuing, as time allows, to post previously completed projects.
Some have been updated with new records and additional generations added.
There are presently 19 projects that have been added to main website as well as RootsWeb's WorldConnect
WorldConnect gives a number of options that are not available with trees and is FREE
You can access my website and WorldConnect at this address:


Monday, April 30, 2012

Tilden John Custer

Tilden was born 19 jan 1880 in Mills, Potter, PA
He married Jennie Elizabeth Franell in PA before 1904 and after 1900 census
Family is found on 1900-30 Census records
He died from an accident 5 may 1936 in Buffalo, Erie, NY
Buried in Bald Eagle Cemetery in Blair PA with Jennie and two children
Have found no record of his birth of any kind
The 1880 Census in Mills is very poor quality

We could use some info on this family to find his parents

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Amanda Stein

Amanda was born abt 1815 in SC according to Census records
She married Elijah Bryant abt 1831 in KY
Their life together and children are well documented
She spent all her married life in KY and died there in 1885
Her parents and life before marriage are unknowns

Any info on this family would be appreciated

1940 Census-Who cares?

This is a report on the progress on indexing the 1940 census as of 24 of April from FamilySearch:

1940 US Census Indexing Report—April 24, 2012

We’re half way into our 4th week of indexing the 1940 US Census and we’re making excellent progress. As of April 24th we have the following statistics to report:
  •  So far 18.9% of the entire project has been completely indexed.
  • We have 83,795 indexers and arbitrators working to index and arbitrate the census records.
  • Five new states have been indexed and are being processed in preparation for posting on They include: Colorado, Delaware, Kansas, New Hampshire, Oregon, and Utah.
  • The Delaware index has been posted on and is available for searching.
  • An additional eight states are 90% or more indexed. They include: Alaska (98%), Arizona (95%), Florida (93%), Idaho (99%), Nevada (99%), Vermont (92%), Virginia (99%), and Wyoming (98%). To see the status of each state, visit the page.
  • A total of more than 26 million records have been indexed and arbitrated to date.
We continue to see new people signing up to be indexers and arbitrators. In the last 4 days we’ve added nearly 8,000 new indexers.  That’s remarkable! With our numbers growing and with each of our indexers and arbitrators getting more experience under their belts, we are finding that each day we outperform the previous day’s work. This is great to see this kind of excitement. As we’ve said before, please tell your friends and neighbors about your indexing experiences. Show them how they can be involved.

Thank you for joining this effort to index the 1940 US Census. It’s good to see so many people enjoying themselves as they give of their time to help the entire community by indexing this valuable collection of American records. (end of Quote from

What does it matter that there is such excitement and what does it mean for the future of research and records availability? It is a clear indication that there is a broad interest in making records available at no cost! That does not imply that there are no costs, just that those cost are not passed on to those who will get the benefits of a free product! This is not the only example of such cooperation resulting in a good product and free to search. The 1880 Census index, Ellis Island and cemetery records are other fine examples. We heartily endorse these efforts and encourage many more. Some States, such as Illinois, are indexing their Vital Records and making them available. However, there are still States that have made their records private and thus only available to close family members with a fee! Pressure must be placed by citizens of those States on their legislators to change this archaic practice and open their records!

We congratulate all organizations and individuals who are promoting, in any way, free access to records!

Friday, April 27, 2012

Silas Henry Sweet

Silas was born about 1836 and died before 1898
He married Malvina Augusta Garner 13 feb 1860 in Franklin, Ohio
Children were Emma Jane, Henry Charles, Cinthia Lucinda, Lewis, Wm, Mary Elsie
Civil War veteran
Family appears on 1860 and 1870 Census records
Have not found Silas on 1850 Census

Any info on this family would be appreciated!

John Edward Mitchell

John was born 12 mar 1872 in Buncombe, North Carolina
He married Lillian Isabella Alderman 22 nov 1894 in Wayne, NC
He died 6 jun 1921 in Richmond, VA
They had two children: Robert Edgar and Lillian
Have not been able to locate John on 1880 census with his parents
Lillian's father was  Amariah Biggs Alderman, a minister and the family was possible Quaker
Anyone familiar with this family?

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Andrew Jackson Ward

Andrew Jackson Ward was born 16 mar 1833 in Illinois to unknown parents.
He first appears on 1870 census in Johnson County Illinois, having married Mary Jane Taylor 2 nov 1855. They do not appear on 1860 Census.
The family is on the 1880 Census in Williamson County which borders on Johnson.
AJ, as he was known, died before the 1900 Census, 30 jan 1899 in Pine, Ripley, Missouri.
We have a picture of his headstone
Found no record of AJ on 1850 census. They were farmers and owned land in Williamson in 1857.
Moved from Illinois to Ripley Missouri 1880-1899
There were 9 children in the family and we have a lot of information on them

We would welcome any information on this family that would help to extend the pedigree for AJ and his wife Mary Ann. We have her parents, but nothing beyond.

Asaph John Hall

Asaph John Hall was born 17 oct 1801 in New York
Married Chloe Sackett Merchant 26 feb 1823 Cazenovia, Madison, New York
Died 17 dec 1836 in Fenner, Madison, New York

If you know of this person or are related to him, we would appreciate info!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Thompson/Brown Family

James E Thompson was born abt 1844 in New York.
Married Catherine M before 1869 in New York City Area.
1870 Census family is in Brooklyn
1880 Census in Brooklyn
1910 Census in Richmond, New York
Children  were: Joseph F, Catherine, Annie, Maggie and Sarah

Robert E Brown was born abt 1832 in New York
Married Mary E Wood before 1855 in New York
1860 Census in Middletown, Richmond, New York
1870 Census in Castleton, Richmond, New York
1880 Census in Staten Island, Richmond, New York
Children were Susan, James J, Deborah, Morgan, Dominick Raymond, Emma, Sarah, Mary, Robert, Henry, & John

The connection between these two families? Dominick Raymond Brown married Catherine Thompson. We have been unable to trace these lines any further than shows here. We don't have maiden name for Catherine M, or parents for James E Thompson or Robert E Brown. Being in the NYC area, there are many possibles.

If you are related to these families or just have information on them it would be very much appreciated!

James Painter

James was born 9 sep 1854 in Tennessee and died 16 sep 1907 in Lewisville, Lafayette, Arkansas.

A search of 1860 and 1870 census shows nothing for such a person born in TN.
He appears on the 1880 Census in De Roane, Hempstead, Arkansas.
On 28 jul of the same year he married Elizabeth J Burns in Hempstead.
By the 1900 Census in La Grange, Lafayette, Arkansas they have three children:
Hattie E Painter
Carmen E Painter
Dewey Jennings Painter
The marriage record does not show parents of bride or groom.
Census records spell name different ways

Would appreciate any info on this family!!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Albert Kimball Dane Family

Albert Kimball Dane appears on a number of records, but this post will deal with the 1850 Census in Lawrence, Essex, Massachusetts. Family # 1030. extracted the surname as Dare but that is incorrect as proved by other records where the spelling is correct. The family is listed as follows:

Albert K Dane     43
Mary H      "         42
William H Roberts 17
Mary A    Dane     13
Lucy B        "         11
Albert P       "          7
Eliza E (Ellen)  "       3
Emma K          "       0
Joanna Knowlton    63
Margaret Kennedy  17

Everyone in the family was born in MA except Margaret who was from Ireland
Learned from other sources, Mary is daughter of  Joanna. Albert and Mary had their first recorded child in 1837, so they were likely married in 1836

Of particular interest is the child listed first with the different surname: William H Roberts. Who is he? Is he a child by Mary with unknown father from previous marriage? Since he is listed first in the family it is unlikely that he is a simply a visitor or servant as is likely with Margaret. Mary was 25 when he was born.

He is the correct age to be the same person as W H Roberts, the subject of a previous post by that name.

 Are there descendants of Albert alive you can shed light on this family? There may also be members of Knowlton family who may be familiar with the story here. I would appreciate any light that be shed on this and will be happy to share what I have learned as well.

WH Roberts

WH Roberts appears on 1860 census with wife Sarah age 26,. Frank K 3 and Mahala D 4/12. They were born in MA, NC, MA and OH respectively. They are in Spencer, Hamilton, Ohio. WH is listed as Conductor on Railroad. That is only record of family that can be confirmed. On 1850 census is William H Roberts age 17 with Albert K Dare family. He is listed as first child and may be the son of Mary H, the now wife of Albert. There is also listed at bottom of family Janna Knowlton 63. That surname is important because Frank "K" as listed on the census is actually Frank Knowlton Roberts.

Frank appears on subsequent records with his wife and family. Have not located the family of WH and Sarah on any other records with that exception, including 1870 and 1880 Census records where they should appear. Is anyone familiar with this family? Was his name William H? Did the parents die before 1870 and so where were the children before Frank appears on 1900 census? There is no record of Mahala other that 1860 census. Was WH the son of Mary (Dare)? So many questions and no answers.

Any help with this family would be very appreciated!

Extraction and Indexing

Extraction is the process of making information on a document into a more useful form. For as long as cameras were available for that purpose, paper records have been filmed and stored. Those films were then available to peruse on film readers. This was a great improvement in record preservation, and still goes on today. That process also made it possible to store vast amounts of information in a relatively small area. The down side is that, unless there was an index included on the film, it was a process of looking through endless images to find the desired document. There was also no guarantee that the desired record was even on the film, and so much time was and is still lost in unproductive searches. The next step was to index the film by adding another film with the new index and referencing the other film. This was a big improvement, but still required going to the place the film was located, putting it on the reader and finding the right page. That process is is still used extensively in the lack of anything better being available.

Where are we now in this process of improving access to records? As just stated this the best that is available in many areas, mainly because of cost. Paper copies are still being lost by disintegration due to improper storage, fire, water, etc. Even more sadly, paper is discarded because of lack of storage space. Once a paper document is lost due to any cause it often cannot be replaced, and the information is lost forever!

With the advent of computer technology, there are now options that were not even imagined just a few years ago. When I started "doing genealogy" it was an entirely different process than it is now. My first records were hand written or typed. The sheets were bigger than a standard typewriter, so to type group sheets and pedigree charts required a special typewriter which I never had. Copies were made on a mimeograph because copiers did not exist yet. This was only 50 years age and how thing have changed!

The process of making indexes is clearly not new and has been done since records were kept. Sometimes, because of the chronological nature of the record, such as vital records, the record itself was an index if you knew the date when the event occurred. Even those records usually were indexed by the person keeping the record on a yearly basis. The books were then labeled accordingly. Records are still kept in that fashion where digital records are not used yet.

There are computer programs now that can take a paper or film record and make an editable copy of that record. What does that mean is terms of access? When it is possible to scan an image and make such a copy it can be done at incredible speed and without even having to look at the image except to make corrections. That technology is now being used to convert images to digital format where it can be stored and thus accessed, in a very small space. That is where E-books come from.

Millions of rolls of film are being processed, as we speak, to make these records available to search by computer and other means being offered. Computers as we have known and loved, are getting smaller and mobile and who knows what is next. We can now share information wherever we may be, with anyone we wish, anywhere in this big world! The filming of records being done now, is being done with digital cameras,
which eliminates the film copy of the record. All of these improvements add speed and accuracy to the process. Much of the film digitization and indexing is expected to be completed, at present rate, in about 8 years.

Enter the 1940 US census and the wild excitement over that record and the process of making it available to use by the public. Census records are private for 72 years from the date they are recorded, which is why it is just now being released. The estimate of time to provide an index was six months. It is exceeding expectations at this point. The original excitement may wear off and the process slow, but it appears to be heading in the other direction. There are tens of thousands who are working on this record. The process is three fold: Extraction onto computer, second extraction of same record by another person, and arbitration by a third if there are discrepancies in the two records. That record is then entered into the dbase for that area. This becomes part of what will be the final product-An index of the 132 million persons enumerated on the Census with very valuable information on who they are and relationships.

Where are we in this process? As of this time we are 14.19% complete with two States complete and many more nearing completion. This link will take you to the page where you can see the results on every State.

Want it faster? Sign up and do it!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Welcome to my blog

This is going to be new experience in some ways, but dealing with a subject I have been familiar with all my life, which is getting extensive! I will be concentrating in these posts on brick walls I am working on for clients and other pertinent items.
Particularly excited to be helping build an Alliance of professionals in the Genealogy field known as GARB (Genealogical Alliance for Reciprocal Benefit) The balance of the post is a press release which can be viewed on my website:

Have a great day (it is dark and dismal at the moment here in Highland)

Don Challis