Thursday, October 23, 2014

Handy Translation Tools

Frequently our patrons are working on records in other languages. Sometimes we have local people who are willing to help. Calling FamilySearch Support will bring help, but not usually with the translation of documents.

Most of us are familiar with using Google Translate to translate text from one language into another. This is a wonderful tool!

But did you know that the Google Chrome browser has the ability to translate web pages? (In my FHC Firefox is the default browser, but Chrome is available at the click of a mouse.)

During a recent Stake cultural activity we had hundreds of visitors, many of whom came into the FHC, where we had some excellent conversations! One lady asked if FamilySearch has any records from Ukraine. I showed her the browseable images and we did a search of the indexed records. But she could not read the Cyrillic alphabet, so the search results were gibberish to her. I switched from viewing the page in Firefox to to viewing  the page in Chrome, and I right-clicked on an empty spot on the screen. The pop-up menu included the choice "Translate to English". And in seconds the page was translated into English. Wow!

In the example above, the same exact page of search results is seen in Ukrainian and in English.
The Ukrainian version shows the names in Ukrainian, but the dates and descriptions are in English.

Monday, October 6, 2014

Relative Finder ... Wow!

In a recent FamilySearch newsletter there was a link to a BYU site called Relative Finder. I decided to give it a try, but I was not very hopeful. I am a convert. In 40 years of research I have not found any royalty or anyone rich and famous in my family tree. But I was curious. Like most researchers, I am used to dead ends and brick walls. But I am always hopeful that some new tool will bring new successes.

So I clicked the link to  and put in my LDS account credentials, and clicked to search all lists. Well! Surprisingly, I was related to some LDS pioneers and also Elder Jeffrey R Holland of the twelve! Wow! I was vaguely familiar with the fact that one branch of my May family had emigrated to the new world, where son John was somewhat prominent, and on the charts generated by the website, the May family proved to be my connecting link.

My wife became intrigued, so she signed in. She is from a convert family that has done research for even longer than I have. We knew that some of her ancestors were United Empire Loyalists and were descended from original settlers of Massachusetts and Connecticut, but we had never found any connection to royalty. Well, Relative Finder found hundreds of famous relatives, including Robert The Bruce, William The Conqueror, Charlemagne, and many other kings. Obviously the process of verifying these connections will be the work of many years of research. But it is exciting to see the possibilities.

I think it is important to avoid the trap of getting wrapped up in "celebrity hunting", when there are humbler and much closer ancestors who are available for temple ordinances. Charlemagne doesn't need to have his ordinances done for the 375th time. But there may be an Agnes Peabody or a Domna Haluszka somewhere in the family tree who is waiting anxiously for us to find her and see that her ordinances are done.

If you are looking for a way to spark the interest of long-time members who are disinterested in family history, maybe give Relative Finder a try. Once an interest is sparked, see if you can direct it into productive work.

Fall Family History Fair

This was the brain child of Helen Gwilliam, an Assistant Director of the Edmonton Riverbend FHC.
She organized the whole thing and did an amazing job of expanding it beyond the borders of a "genealogy open house". In fact it didn't take place at the FHC, or even in Edmonton, but in the nearby city of Spruce Grove. It was done in cooperation with Alberta Culture and included a wide variety of activities for young and old, from variations of hopscotch, fish pond, and sidewalk painting, to research classes and story telling. I taught some research classes, but that was the limit of my involvement. Everything was organized by Helen. The Parkland and Spruce Grove wards were heavily involved, as well as other members and non-members.

This was a display of brands and family stories,
one of many activities there.

Good work everyone and especially Helen! I could never have done what you did. You involved people that I would not have expected ... doing things I would never have thought of. You are amazing! Our FHC is really fortunate to have you on our staff.

Friday, September 12, 2014

Free LDS Accounts for Large Commercial Sites

Patrons at your FHC may ask about this. It has had a lot of discussion, but there still seems to be some confusion. Formerly, there was a need to wait for a personal invitation, but now that is unnecessary. Just click the links given at:  Since I live in Canada, my free account is with but I have access to the info on  I am spending a lot of time there.

If you need additional help, call the toll-free support number for your part of the world to get help from a real, live person. This link will give you the contact info

The FamilySearch blog posting starts off by saying:
"Create Your Own Free Accounts with Our FamilySearch Partners
We’re excited to announce that all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as well as LDS youth ages 13-17, can now create their own personal accounts with, findmypast, and MyHeritage at no cost!"

Note that this offer is not extended to those who have a FamilySearch account for the general public, only those who have an LDS account. Why? Because these companies depend on subscriptions to pay their expenses. Giving free accounts to everyone who has a free FamilySearch account would quickly put these companies out of business. The deal, as I understand it is: the LDS Church is giving these commercial sites access to the world's largest repository of genealogical records (the Granite Mountain Record Vaults), and in return these companies provide LDS members with free access to their online records. These companies are also supposed to help index the records in the vaults. So it is a win-win situation. The indexes will be accessible on for free. We will all benefit from more records online than ever before.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Proving Your Pedigree

In my ward, I have been asked to teach a class during Sunday School on using Family Tree. I particularly enjoy using the Search Records link on the Person page as a way of researching and sourcing. I have always found Sourcing to be difficult, but this link has changed that. It has become easy and almost fun! Seeing the tally of sources for my ancestor increase, has almost become like a video game, bringing the satisfaction of improving your score. If you add a free and easy-to-use tool for sourcing online sources found on other sites, it just keeps getting better. I wrote the following handout for my class. Please note that my definition of "source" is just my definition. Better ones exist. If this handout is useful to you I invite you to use it or adapt it to meet your needs. You will probably want to add to it.
Note that Search Records allows you individually source multiple people on the same record by attaching it to one person, clicking the next member of the family and attaching it to them by name, etc. This is the preferred way of using sources.
Tree Connect does not seem to have that degree of specificity, you may need to identify the source as "James Watson household in the 1852 census, Edwardsburgh, Grenville, Canada West.", and then use the Source Box to attach the same source to all the members of the family. Tree Connect saves time and work.


Proving Your Pedigree

Sources are records that prove events and relationships, or provide strong evidence of them. 

Sources may be classified in these ways:
Primary sources are records created at or about the time of an event using information provided by someone who was present when the event happened.  e.g. birth certificate or marriage certificate, christening record from a church register
Secondary sources are records created at a later time. e.g. a census may be a primary source of relationships but a secondary source of birth information. A tombstone likewise.
Original Sources are original documents or photographic copies.
Derivative Sources are transcriptions or partial transcriptions of the document

Many good books have been written on sources. See Evidence Explained, by Elizabeth Shown Mills

Creating Sources in Family Tree
1. The easy way is to click Search Records on the Person page, find and Attach the source document.

2. An Alternative is to click Create Source in the Source area of the Person page and follow the prompts. This is much more flexible, as it allows you to use documents that are not online.

3. Tree Connect is a free tool that simplifies attaching online sources that come from online sites outside of FamilySearch, to Family Tree. Go to and drag the Tree Connect icon to your browser's bookmark/favorites tool bar.  Then when you find an online source you want to use, click on the Tree Connect bookmark, and follow the prompts to attach that source to the person.

The Possibility of Error
Even using the best sources does not eliminate the possibility of a mistake, but it sharply reduces that possibility. I had one line “proven”, based on finding the birth, marriage, and death records of my ancestor Elizabeth Goldring in a rural parish in Sussex, England. Then I received a photographic copy of a will that proved that the birth was for a different Elizabeth Goldring, who married in a different parish. Even using good sources, I had made an error. The marriage and death sources were for my Elizabeth, but the birth source was for someone else.
We do the best we can with the information available, and make corrections as needed.

What Should Be in Your Source Citation?
A source should identify the individual, the type of source record, where the record is found, and the key contents of the record. It should allow other researchers to find the same source.

Durability of Online Sources
Personal websites can have some of the best information one day and disappear the next day. Company and government websites tend to be more durable. FamilySearch has said that they will never change the URLs of the documents in their Historical Records collections. Some online sources are only available to paid subscribers. Get in the habit of quoting the key information as part of the source citation. That way the information will continue to be available, even if the source record disappears.

FamilySearch encourages the use of sources, but they are not required when reserving temple work.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Setting up FHC Computers

The FHC Tech forum had a posting today that I wanted to pass along. Many of you subscribe to FHCNET, but this other forum is used mostly by Stake Technology Specialists. I think it will be of interest to FHC Directors and staff. Some of it will be of interest to many of us as individuals. This website is created and maintained in the FamilySearch Europe, Middle-East, and Africa Support.


"OK, so we got a cascaded computer today....

"The computer came with a Vista License on the side, but instructions to call the helpline for a license.  The kindly missionary referred me to:

"Where I find a website that not only has an activation script for my non-Windows7 licensed computer, but also a website that has centralized ALL the coolest software that any FHC would want to install and run in their center... There is even a 615MB installer that does the following:

"This program will install automatically all the software marked as preferred on this page, and also standardize users, wallpapers and the login screen. It needs to be executed with the user 'Patron' and administrative rights."

"I can't believe just how much effort goes into stuff at Church headquarters that is NEVER communicated to STS all over the country.... we are left to flounder around doing our own thing, spending countless hours duplicating efforts world-wide."

Monday, November 25, 2013 Family Tree Updates

  • Stronger Caution for Merging Persons
    They have added a message that we hope will help users realize that they should merge records only after careful consideration.
    Knowledge Base Article # 61051 “Resolving Common Merge Situations”  can be reassuring for patrons who are nervous about what to merge and what not to merge. It offers a chart of circumstances to consider and encourages decisions.
  • More Cautions for Deleting People from Family Tree
    To help users make better decisions about when and whether to delete a person from Family Tree, we have added stronger messages to help them understand the implications of what they are doing. We also require them to acknowledge that they have reviewed the relationships and have entered a reason statement.
  • Pedigrees of Unmarried Users
    If the user is not married, they see their parents in the main position of the pedigree, with themselves shown as a child. Previously, the user was in the main position. Their parents and ancestry were shown, but the half of the pedigree intended for the spouse’s ancestry was blank. This change allows single users to view a complete tree. Response from single patrons has been mixed.
  • Life Sketch
    This mini biography is right at the top of the person page drawing attention to details of their life.
  • Latest Changes now show 25 at a time instead of 10 
    This reduces the time required to search through recent changes.
  • Notes Migrated from New Family Search
    Many patrons have used Notes to document their research and provide supplementary information. The notes on individuals and relationships from nFS are now added to Family Tree.
  • Print the Fan ChartThis option is available from the Person details page in the same box as the Print Pedigree and the two versions of Print Family Group Record.
    It will bring up the seven generation colored fan in a PDF version which can then be saved or printed.  (You may see 4 but 7 will print) This may work best in Chrome and Internet Explorer.
    (In Firefox, it will have the same problems as the print pedigree or family group records.  Please see Article 56376 for Mac and 56384 for Windows or 56353).

  • Changing the Order of Sources on the Person Page
    For some time, sources in Family Tree could be dragged to a different location in the list. This can be helpful when certain sources should be emphasized or de-emphasized because of their relative importance.
     Previously, this feature had no buttons or other visual indications that you could move the sources. You just had to know. There are now arrow icons that make this process more visible and easier. Hover your mouse over the source you want to move, and arrow icons appear to the right side of the source. If a source can go either up or down, you get up and down arrows. Click the appropriate one, and the source moves one line up or down.  If a source is at the top of the list you only get a "down arrow". If it is at the bottom of the list, you only get an "up arrow".
  • Wording of the Tag Option for sources changed to Tag Event
    To associate a specific source with a vital event, you tag it. The wording of the option used to do this task has changed from “Tag” to “Tag Event” to be more descriptive.
  • Giving Feedback to FamilySearch
    It is now easier to send feedback to FamilySearch. Just scroll down to the footer, and click Feedback.
    You will see a screen that asks if you want to report a problem or want to offer a suggestion or compliment.
    If you click Suggestion or Compliment, you go to our Get Satisfaction community. Click on Share your idea
  • Report abuse on person page This feature is intended for reporting misuse of Family Tree that violates the terms of use. Some examples of misuse include:
    Offensive or abusive language
    Information that might harm or embarrass living relatives
    Links to external web pages with inappropriate content
    Solicitations for business or research services
    The report abuse feature is not intended for reporting incorrect data about a person (names, dates, and places) that another user has added. The process for resolving those issues involves adding sources, entering good reason statements, discussions, and contacting contributors.
  • Print Family Group Record without SourcePreviously, all family group records printed from Family Tree included sources. Some of these printouts were 15 or more pages long. You can now print a family group record with sources and ones without sources.
  • Selecting the Default (or Preferred) Spouse or ParentsIt is now easier to indicate which spouse or set of parents should show up by default on a pedigree. If a person is linked to multiple parents or spouses, the Family Members section of the details page has a check box you can click to select the one you want to show up by default on your pedigree.
    Works in IE and Firefox but NOT in Chrome
  • New Features for Photos and Stories
    1,000,000 photos have been added to the Photos and Stories Website.
    It was the hope of Family Search designers that this site would awaken interest in patrons to preserve their family history.  It is working!

    Find photos and stories in Google SearchFor some time you have been able to search for photo from within the Photos and Stories tool on We recently made the same index available to Google, meaning that Google searches now have access to the words, names, and phrases that are included in the tags, titles, and descriptions for the photos you upload and the stories you share. So, the priceless family memories you add to Photos and Stories just might be found and enjoyed by relatives and friends that are not yet be familiar with FamilySearch. Visit Google Search and give it a try!
  • BadgesIf you’re seeing small blue dots all over the Photos and Stories pages, don’t rush out to see your ophthalmologist. You are simply seeing a new indicator (“badge”) that tells you at-a-glance how many tagged people, comments, and stories have been added for each photo.
    There is also a badge that shows how many albums the photo appears in. Since it would be impossible to show all the comments, stories, album names and people names all at once, the badges let you know what more there is without having to click on each item to check.
  • Link a Person's photo to Family Tree by ID Number
    Every person listed in Family Tree is assigned a unique person identification number—called a PID. The number can be found in several places.
    It is simple to link the faces tagged in the photos you upload to people listed in the Tree using the PID. A tag in a photo will show a red dot with an exclamation point, indicating that the person is not linked to Family Tree. Clicking on the person reveals the “Link to Family Tree” option which, when selected brings up the “Identify this person in Family Tree” dialogue box. At the bottom of the dialogue is a place to paste in the PID of the person you want to link to. This is a quick and easy way to make links that will allow other family members to see the photos you upload. If you have the Family Tree open in one window and the Photos tool open in another, it is easy to copy and paste the number into the right place and make the link.
  • Documents - now in BetaOn the current Photos and Stories navigation, you have options to view all your photos, view by people tagged, view by album, view stories, and search by keyword. There is a new classification for uploaded material: Documents. This is a frequently requested feature—to be able to designate an uploaded image as a document. Documents will still be taggable (and linked to Family Tree), but with squared-off edges instead of the circles used to tag faces. In addition to introducing the Documents classification, we will also start offering the ability to upload multi-page PDFs.
    Adding documents is a step toward a new Photos and Stories site design that will be based around albums. In addition to general refinements to the look and feel, the new design will make it easier to preserve family memories, organize them, and share them with family.   If you have uploaded a document as a photo, there is no need to upload it again as a document – you can change a photo to a document on the site.
  • Change a Photo to a DocumentTo change a Photo to a Document, you can follow these steps:
    Open photo in the beta viewer.
    Click Options (on the bottom right of the photo).
    Click on Change to document.
    This will work on photos that you have uploaded.

From Familysearch Family Tree and the Photos and Stories Website.
      Changes continue to roll-out almost daily! Watch for them!

      List and explanations compiled by Sister Dorothy L Brown, used by permission.
      I have omitted her graphics to conserve space on my blog.