Thursday, March 8, 2018

Help your Patron Enjoy RootsTech Recordings

Many of the best sessions at RootTech last week have been recorded. Typically, some of the recordings are only available for a limited time, so now is a good time for patrons to enjoy them.

Depending on the internet firewall in your building, patrons may or may not be able to watch them in the FHC. But in any case, they can be viewed at home. There is a lot of fun and learning available at 

Currently:Wednesday: 10 videos
Thursday:  10 videos
Friday: 9 videos
Saturday: 9 videos 
LDS: 9 videos

So about 47 hours are currently available.
Start with the ones that interest you the most.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Missing Pedigrees

For the past week or so we are seeing a lot of reports of missing pedigrees. If a patron reports that the tree view shows only the background, with no pedigree, you might verify this as their Helper. But the solution is usually very simple. Firstly ask them to click the Home icon, the little house on the far left side of the screen. If the pedigree appears, well and good. If it does not appear, ask them to click the Tree icon beside their name in the Recents list. If the issue persists contact FamilySearch Support.

A more complex missing pedigree issue is where the patron creates a new FamilySearch account, and of course their previously visible pedigree is not visible from the new account. In this situation, help them to recover the username and reset the password for the previous account.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Automatically Searching for Missing Ordinances

I am aware of three free apps that will try to find our relatives that are shown in the FamilySearch Family Tree as missing temple ordinances. They can save our patrons a lot of time, especially if their families have been LDS for a few generations.

Please note that the Brethren are currently asking each of us to reserve A FEW family names and personally take them to the temple, where possible. This should be a small number that we can personally complete in the next few months. We should not normally be reserving hundreds or thousands of names, since this will deny other family members the privilege of taking family names to the temple. I saw a notice this morning "I have a patron who has, quite literally, found and requested 200,000 + names using Take-a-Name.  He says it will take 20 minutes just to open his Temple List.  He is wanting to find 1 of those and unshare with the temple." (I would not want to be related to this man.)

Until the past year, we have been emphasizing the use of the Descendancy view as a way of systematically following the descendants of a known ancestor, looking for green temple icons. This is consistent with Church policy that we reserve ordinances for people we are related to by birth, adoption or foster relationships, and not unrelated people.

But I tend to get bleary-eyed and I may lose track of where I am after an hour or two of doing this. There is a better way. Let the computer search your family lines in Family Tree looking for missing ordinances. Some apps that can do this are among the 100+ free apps at https://familysearch,org/apps (A link to the App Gallery can be found at the bottom of most pages on our web site.)

The oldest of the apps I am referring to is Hope Chest. It runs as an extension in the Google Chrome browser. Early versions received a lot of criticism by some individuals, but recent versions have been better.

The most recent is probably Take A Name, which runs on Android devices such as smart phones and tablets. In the example above, it seems to be subject to misuse.

The most generally available of these apps is Find A Record, which will run on any current browser on any operating system. It has many other functions, but at this point I am focusing on its ability to search your family lines, (for the number of generations you specify), for relatives who are missing ordinances. In fact, I would initially remove the check mark from all of the other functions and focus on ordinances.

By automating the search process, your patron can spend more time on research and sourcing, while the app runs quietly in the background searching up and down their family lines.

Once the app has brought up a list of possibilities, the patron can click the ID numbers to go to the actual records where the ordinances can be examined for possible problems. In many cases there may be duplicate records found that need to be carefully merged (moving the best information and all family relationships to the surviving record.) So the apps automate the searching, but at least in the case of Find A Record, there is still a place for thought and prayer.

A friend mentioned that she would be helping the young men in her ward to prepare names to take to the temple. Beyond advising her to make sure they brought their user names and passwords, I suggested that she introduce them to Find A Record, as a way of having better success than using the Descendancy view.

Don't get me wrong. The Descendancy view is still a useful tool. I have spent days at a time using it, and I still use it on specific family lines to find where information is missing or incorrect.

Find A Record - A Free Multi-Tool for Family Tree
Besides finding missing ordinances, this app can help you to accomplish many tasks in Family Tree.
While it is looking for missing ordinances, you may want to take a few minutes to explore its other uses.

Friday, October 6, 2017

How do I upload a word processor document to FamilySearch Memories?

Your patrons may have noticed that common "document" types such as .DOC, .DOCX, .ODT and .RTF files cannot be uploaded to FamilySearch Memories as "documents".

But .PDF documents can! We are guessing that since some file formats are proprietary, there was less risk of legal headaches by using PDF, since released the file specifications into the public domain a few years ago. Also PDF has become an internet standard file format.

So the question becomes, how can our patrons convert word processor (or other) documents to PDF so they can be uploaded to Memories?

A word processor (or other) document can usually be "saved" or "printed" or "exported" as a PDF document. This is a built-in feature of recent computer operating systems, such as Windows 10.
(When printing, select Microsoft Print to PDF as the printer, to create a PDF version of the document.)  Easy-peasy.

What about patrons with older computers and older software?

In this situation, they can choose to download one of the free PDF writers from the internet such as CutePDF or PrimoPDF. There are probably a dozen to choose from. We assume no responsibility for their use, of course. Once installed, it appears as a new printer that can be chosen. Anything "printed" to the PDF writer creates a perfect PDF copy of itself.

For further details on uploading PDF files see: Knowledge Article "393331  Uploading PDF files to FamilySearch Memories" in the FamilySearch Help Center in the Get Help menu.

The PDF document can be uploaded so long as it is less than 15 MB in size.

A 15 MB PDF document can be 100 pages or more in length. The fewer photos involved, the more pages will fit within the 15 MB limit.

We are glad to help …

“So you are using Office97 in WindowsXP? No problem. But for uploading, you will want to use the most recent version of Firefox or Chrome that runs on your system.”

“We are glad to help you prepare your document to upload it to FamilySearch memories.”

* There are also file conversion websites that can be used to convert word processor documents to PDF. But that is a different process.

Sunday, October 1, 2017

Building the Family Tree

This involves “data migration” - Moving family history data from one platform (memory, paper, website, app, database, operating system) to another.

Where different operating systems are concerned, note that the same personal database software may be available for both Windows and MacOS. To transfer data between these OS, just install the appropriate version of the software. e.g. Ancestral Quest for Mac will use data from Ancestral Quest for Windows. Or use GEDCOM to export the data from one program and import into the other. [This paragraph has good general information but may be slightly off topic.]

Web-based products have the advantage of working with almost any operating system, whether you have heard of it before or not. The browser is crucial, the OS, not so much!
You want to use Firefox in Linux Mint or Ubuntu? No problem!
Or you prefer Chrome in Android or iOS? Great!
But you want to use some unknown browser on Windows 10? Hmmm… maybe try Chrome, Firefox, or Edge instead!

We will look at some options available to our patrons … 

1. Data Entry
This is not the first option we like to suggest to our patrons but it is a viable option, especially if a small number of records is involved. If you are adding data from a book it is the only option. 
This will take between 2 and 10 minutes per name, depending on the user’s keyboard skills and the amount of information on each person, and any duplicates found. 
2 minutes assumes a high level of familiarity with the site, and entering just a name, birth and death, with no possible duplicates. 4 minutes per name is probably a fair average, if the patron is also adding christening, marriage and burial information, and resolving duplicates. 
At 4 minutes per name, this works out to 6 or 7 hours for 100 names. 
[Note that the times given are based on my own experience and your times may vary considerably.]
56435   Adding a parent, spouse, sibling, or child to Family Tree

Unstandardized Place Names - An Obstacle to temple work?
Ordinances require a major life event with a standardized date (e.g. “About 1655”) and a standardized place name. Patrons want to add the most exact place whether it is in our Standard list or not. And they can usually do that. 
For example, if the actual place name is Olavskilden, Akershus, Norway. This place name is not accepted as standard, but the larger jurisdiction of Akershus, Norway is accepted. By inputting the full place name and clicking the gray area of the form, the system accepts the top standard place from the list. By saving at this point, the unstandardized complete place name is saved, and so is the standardized version (each in its own special storage).
71996   Entering standardized dates and places

2. Import a GEDCOM - GEnealogical Data COMmunication (GEDCOM)
GEDCOM is a file format for transferring data between different software and websites that support its use. But some “GEDCOM” files include extended features that do not conform to our GEDCOM standard. 
When exporting a GEDCOM for use with FamilySearch, it is best to specify that the GEDCOM file is “for use with PAF (Personal Ancestral File)” so that incompatible features are automatically filtered out. 
For example, a patron phoned to say that after 2 days her GEDCOM file from Family Tree Maker had still not finished uploading to FamilySearch. Using Teamviewer, the patron was helped to create a new GEDCOM file “for PAF” which uploaded in 5 minutes.

Import a GEDCOM file into Pedigree Resource File, and match with Family Tree, one record at a time.  In my personal experiment (your time may vary): 
Creating GEDCOM of 115 names: 4 minutes; 
Uploading GEDCOM : 4 minutes; 
Categorizing GEDCOM : 5 minutes; 
Manually Compare: about 3 minutes per record, so a little faster than data entry. 
Maybe 5 hours for 100 names.
NOTE: This option cannot add living people.
61144   Uploading GEDCOM files and copying the information to Family Tree

3. Synchronize with Family Tree
Use any one of the software packages that can synchronize with Family Tree. (Legacy Family Tree, Ancestral Quest, RootsMagic). If the data is already in the software’s own database format, there is no need to use a GEDCOM, just synchronize with Family Tree.   
Note that each software company supports its own products. FS does not provide support for them. 
418381   Importing or uploading information into Family Tree 

This option can also export data from FT.
53455   Exporting or downloading information from Family Tree 

In my example, I selected 381 records, and it took 5 minutes for the software to categorize the records:
114 Positive Matches (almost certain, but check if you wish); 
25 Possible matches (requiring maybe 2 minutes each allowing for possible duplicates); 
96 Not Matched – Deceased (they can be added as a group); 
72 Not Matched – Living (they can be added if there is a reason to do so); 
74 Already Linked (already linked to records in FT).
100 records might take 1-2 hours of time, depending whether you choose to accept all of the Positive Matches and Not Matched without reviewing them. 

4. Using RootsMagic 7 to Link and FamilySearch Family Tree
A recent option for RootsMagic users is to synchronize their tree at and FamilySearch Family Tree with their local RootsMagic database. No GEDCOM is involved. 
This is not a FamilySearch product and or process, but is an option available to users of this particular product.
It may be of special interest to Public users, who are not currently able to link their tree with FamilySearch. 
Any requests for information should be referred to
56291 Support for third party products

I apologize that some of the knowledge articles cited are vague. 

Friday, September 8, 2017

Resources for Teaching a Family History Class?

We often get questions on this topic. Currently, the Church has no official family history course that I am aware of, since the DVD course was discontinued 2 or 3 years ago. If you have access to the old DVD, you can use it, but the focus of the program has changed to become more centered on Find, Take, Teach, which may be why the old course was discontinued.

FIND - Find a relative needing temple ordinances, check for duplicates and try to verify which ordinances are needed, and obtain permission if it is required.

TAKE - Print a temple card and take it to the temple to do needed ordinances.

TEACH - Teach someone else to do the same.

Temple and Family History Consultant
What is currently available seems focused on training for those with family history callings, rather than the general membership.Take the time to familiarize yourself with this training on family history callings:

The Family History Guide 
Other than that, the first teaching resource I tend to think of is The Family History Guide by The Family History Guide, LLC This is a huge resource! You can use it to create many different family history classes.

FS Family Tree User Group
One place where you can find prepared curricula for courses is this website.
A look at their Training by Audience page alone is very impressive.

It is very possible that none of these is exactly what you need for teaching your class, but I encourage you to take the time to look at them again, if you have not looked at them recently.

You may have your own favorite resources. I would like to hear of them.

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Why Create an Account for Someone with no Internet Access?

We often ask elderly Church members with no computer or internet access to register for an account. 

Why?  That is not necessary. Any member can sign in as a helper for any member (whether or not the person they are helping has registered).

Using the Help Others Feature as a Helper (53466) says in part, "For a Church member without an LDS Account: first name, last name, birth date, and the last 5 digits of the membership record number."

Temple and Family History Consultants are encouraged to use the Consultant Planner in Get Help, rather than use Help Others, but the same principle applies. 

All members of the Church, regardless whether they have registered for an LDS account, do have one unofficially. Without registering, the patron cannot access the account, but their helper can!

So as a TFHC, you can use Add in the Consultant Planner to add that patron as one of the people you are helping. Then you can sign in as their helper to add information, edit information, reserve ordinances, print temple cards, or share names with the temple. 

Advantages of the Consultant Planner, include the fan chart that gives a quick overview of the other person's ancestors (including the gaps), and the ability to work with the same patron over a period of time without needing to sign in multiple times as their helper. 

Please let other know about this, as it seems to be an unknown feature.

I frequently see cases where a Consultant is running into a series of roadblocks trying to create an account for their patron or trying to recover the username and password for an account created for the same person by a previous consultant. If your patron has internet access at home or somewhere else they frequent, it is preferable that they register, of course. This back door approach is for those who do not have a computer or internet access, typically the very elderly or severely handicapped.