Friday, August 30, 2013

Indexing experiences revealed

Community Corner: Indexers Share Their Stories

Community CornerToday the indexing community spans the world, with volunteers participating in this meaningful work on nearly every continent. At FamilySearch, we frequently receive stories from indexers like you who are excited to share their positive and life-changing experiences. Here are two of the stories that we’d like to pass along.
Everyone Can Make a Difference, Heber, Utah (Name Withheld)
Every summer, a campground in Utah welcomes thousands of young women between the ages of 12 and 18 for a week of fun and adventure. Recently, this camp hosted a few young women with special needs. One of these beautiful young women was afflicted with cerebral palsy. Her condition was so limiting that her father had to sit behind her in one of the paddleboats and hold her upright because she only has control of her right forefinger. Even with her physical limitations, this amazing young woman has indexed 400,000 names. That number isn’t a mistake—400,000 names indexed with only one finger! While this young woman may be physically challenged, she knows that she can contribute to this great work and does so enthusiastically.
The Power to Change Lives, Kyiv, Ukraine
Pavel started indexing over three years ago when invited by friends to participate. He desired to help but didn’t fully understand the importance of the work he was helping with. Still, he continued to index and recently opened a project and had an experience that dramatically changed his understanding.
As he was indexing a child’s last name and date of death, the name stuck in his mind, as it was a very interesting surname. A few names later, he saw the same last name for another child, and the parents were the same. Later in the document, he found the same last name and parents for another child. Going back, he saw the first child had died at the age of one. The second child he had recorded was only three. Further down the image, a record indicated that another child of the same family had died at the age of six. Just two days later, a fourth child passed on, followed by another sibling, age eight. In all, the family lost five children in only a few short days.
Further down, another entry appeared for the mother. All had died in the terrible Russian cholera epidemic of 1910. Finally, after the father had buried all of his children and his wife, a final entry noted his own death. But against all the record-keeping norms of the day, the father’s record listed not cholera as the cause of death, but sadness.
Struggling with his emotions, Pavel explained, “After I read all of that, I couldn’t do indexing for a while. I understood—I cared now; I cared about everything that was happening to the children.
“In retrospect, I see that our life continues, and stories may repeat themselves. It’s not just with my mind that I now understand. Now I feel it in my heart. After that [experience], I started to be more attentive to my children and those who surround me.”
Share Your Story
Do you have a story you would be willing to share with the indexing community? We’d love to hear from you! Send us your stories to be featured in future newsletters, including any of the following:
  • Stories you’ve found while indexing.
  • Success stories resulting from your efforts.
  • How indexing has helped you in your own family research.
  • Why you index and what indexing means to you.
  • Fun things going on in your community to encourage others to index.
If you have something to share, email your stories to

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

FGS will join RootsTech in 2015

Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) to Team up with RootsTech for 2015 Conference

Rootstech-Crowd22 August 2013 – SALT LAKE CITY, UT.   RootsTech announced on August 22, that The Federation of Genealogical Societies (FGS) will hold its 2015 National Conference in conjunction with the popular RootsTech conference in Salt Lake City, Utah, February 12-14, 2015. RootsTech, hosted by FamilySearch, has quickly become the largest family history conference in North America. The unique culture of the RootsTech conference attracts growing throngs of attendees from around the world both in-person and online seeking to discover and share family connections, stories, and history.
FGS represents the over 500,000 members of hundreds of genealogical societies and presents an annual national conference program that helps strengthen and link the genealogical community. Conducting both conferences at the same time in the same facility gives interested attendees the option to conveniently benefit from both conference programs for a nominal additional cost.
The Salt Palace Convention Center will be the common venue, and both FamilySearch and FGS will produce a unique event addressing the educational needs of the family history, technology and genealogical society communities. Attendees will see familiar elements of both events including dynamic keynote presentations, hands-on workshops, a Society Showcase and free Expo Hall.
“The FGS conference attracts genealogy society leaders that serve the needs of genealogy patrons worldwide, and RootsTech caters to a very different audience of all ages seeking to discover, preserve, and share their family stories and history,” said Dan Martinez, RootsTech Director of Marketing. “Holding the two annual conferences in the same venue will create a rich learning environment and increase benefits to all attendees.”
Registration details for both events will be available in August 2014.
FGS President D. Joshua Taylor states, “FamilySearch has been a valued partner and sponsor for FGS during its past conferences. It only makes sense for both organizations to work together and produce what will be the most talked about genealogy event of 2015.” Taylor added that such an event brings the best of RootsTech and FGS conferences together under one roof and will offer genealogists and family historians a wide array of activities and educational opportunities.
About RootsTech
RootsTech is a unique global family history event where people of all ages learn to discover and share their family stories and connections through technology. The first annual conference was held in 2011, in Salt Lake City, Utah. Hosted by FamilySearch and sponsored by leading genealogical organizations, the conference includes hands-on demonstrations and forums to provide a highly interactive environment and accelerate learning. Content is geared all skill levels and ages, including a Family Discover Day for youth ages 12-18.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Search for records right from FamilyTree

CEO Corner: Now You Can Find Historical Records about Your Ancestors Right from Your Own Family Tree

Dennis Brimhall--Formal smaller image
In my 18 months at the helm, I’ve been excited about all the new features we have been releasing here at FamilySearch. However, we have a new search function that is one of the most effective new tools that FamilySearch has ever created: search records within an ancestor page in FamilySearch Family Tree.
I have yet to see anyone who tries this amazing feature who doesn’t find huge research success. Searching for records from within an ancestor page in FamilySearch Family Tree is a great new way to find historical records you may not have found in your previous searching.
Login to, and go to Family Tree.
  1. Click the name of a deceased person in the tree, and click Person to go to his or her Person page.
  2. Click the new Search Records link. FamilySearch searches our historical records using the person’s name and first vital date.
  3. The search results open in another browser window and show records that match for the person. Click a record to see the details of the record or to see a copy of the original record.
  4. The full record will be displayed. To add the record to the person on Family Tree, click Attach to Family Tree. You can also click Add to My Source Box to add the record to your source box.
  5. If you click Attach to Family Tree, a box will appear with the name of the person to whom you want to attach the record. If the box does not appear, click History List to show the list of people you recently viewed in Family Tree, or click Search Family Tree to begin a search for the person to whom you want to attach the record.
  6. When you click History List, you will see a list of people you viewed in Family Tree or people you set as a root. The History List remembers the last 50 people you put at the root of the tree or whose personal details page you looked at. When you find the person you want to attach the record to, click Select.
  7. Verify that this is the correct person. Fill in the reason the record is valid for this person. Then click Attach.
Keep in mind that this search feature may not find all the records that are in the FamilySearch database. The records that are found are based on the ancestor information used for your search. That information consists of the person’s name and the earliest vital date (birth, christening, death, or burial) on the person’s record. The automatic search will find a lot of the records in the database, but it may not find everything.
If you think more records may be available, try other search strategies to find all available records. For example, if the record contains a woman’s maiden name, you won’t find records about her that show her married name only (such as census or death records).
The new Search Records feature on ancestor pages in FamilySearch Family Tree searches for vital dates with a range of plus or minus two years. Previously, it only used an exact year date. This date range is useful for finding records such as census records in which birth dates may have been calculated and may be slightly off.
I am sure you will be delighted with how this great new feature makes it easier to find records you may have missed that are specific to an ancestor or records that have recently been added to the FamilySearch online collections.

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Teaching children to love Family History

Teaching Children to Love Family History

Genealogy a Family AffairKristiana Silver knows that genealogy and family history aren’t just about old people. It’s not something that you have to wait until you are retired to start doing. Family history is also about young kids and mid-lifers learning about their ancestors who were also kids and teenagers once upon a time. It’s learning about people how lived, played and enjoyed doing the same things we do today. That’s the message that Kristiana Silver of Salt Lake City, Utah is teaching her 4 young sons. Her boys range in age from 4 to 10 years old. They enjoy a trip to the cemetery as much as their mom does. In fact, she’s teaching a lot of other people that same message.
BillionGraves blogger Liza Moncur has shared some fun things that Kristiana Silver does with her boys to teach them a deep love and appreciation for their ancestors. You might be surprised to see how much her boys know about their ancestors, even at their young age. Click this link to read more about what Kristina Silver’s does with her young family to teach them about their ancestors in a way that her young boys find fun and exciting.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Want more records?

If you are complaining about a lack of records, there is something you can do about it. No matter where you live on the planet there are projects underway to digitally copy and index records. Records are being intentionally destroyed, but many more are dying of old age. I was in the Bear Lake County court house in Paris, Idaho recently. The books are beautiful and in excellent condition. That is not the case everywhere. In many cases, it is a race against time and indifference to the value of records. Get involved in the race to preserve our history!

Monday, August 5, 2013

Family History Books available digitally for first time

FamilySearch Family History Books Reaches a New Milestone

Danish old records--shutterstock_120903430FamilySearch has announced they have reached a milestone in their collection of Family History Books found at  More than 100,000 books have now been scanned and published online by the partnership of the Family History Library, Allen County Public Library, Brigham Young University Harold B. Lee Library, Brigham Young University Hawaii Joseph F. Smith Library, Church History Library, Houston Public Library – Clayton Library Center for Genealogical Research, and the Mid-Continent Public Library – Midwest Genealogy Center.  Family History Books are available to search and use on the website and can be viewed by clicking Search and then clicking Books.
The majority of the online books are family histories, with a smaller portion made up of cemetery records, local and county histories, genealogy magazines and how-to-books, gazetteers, and medieval histories and pedigrees. These valuable resources are viewed by more than 100,000 people a month.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

New additions to photos on FamilySearch

Find Photos of Your Ancestors on FamilySearch

FamilySearch People PageNot long ago, the Photos landing page was redesigned to include access to a new tool—the “Find photos of your ancestors” automated search. Clicking the blue button initiates a search of your tree to find closely related people that have been tagged in photos—by you or anyone else—and you are taken to your People page with the results. In some cases, people are finding photos uploaded by someone else of more than 50 ancestors—pretty great, right?  Try it by clicking the blue button (you’ll need to sign in):
Try it!
It’s very possible that I just lost my readers, and you are now discovering photos of ancestors that you have never seen before. Good enough. But just in case I held on to a few of you, here is some more information on a couple of interesting features that can be found once you get to the People page.
“Filter people by” drop-down
In addition to viewing all people, you can filter the view on the People page to view those:
  • Added by you
  • Added by someone else
  • Those not linked to Family Tree 
View my relationship 
Clicking on the golden ribbon (indicating that the person was added by someone else) will launch a pop-up window that shows how you are connected to the person. This feature makes it easier to understand family relationships when the name or photo might not be familiar to you.
View My Relationship
We hope you enjoy these new Photos features and that you will share them with your family members. Remember, the more they add to Photos and Stories, the more you will see on your own People page. It is a perfect way to see favorite family photos that you remember but haven’t seen in a while. Take my aunt for example. She called me the other day, trying to find a photo of her grandpa in a truck that she remembers looking at with her family, but she can’t find her copy. I am now on the lookout in my collection for this photo, and when I find it, all I will have to do is upload it to FamilySearch Photos and Stories, tag my great-grandpa and link him to Family Tree, and she will have her own copy.