Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Approximate Dates for Temple Submission Systems

Until the 1980s all submissions were done on paper.

1980s – computer submissions began: Submissions created in PAF were run through TempleReady in a FHC to check the IGI on CD-ROMs for completed ordinances.

1999 - FamilySearch.org went online (FamilySearch became the trade name for services of the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.) We were still using TempleReady and IGI.

2007-2013 - Submissions were done using http://new.familysearch.org (This parallel web site was a vast improvement in preventing duplicated research and duplicated ordinances, as submissions were checked against completed ordinances in real time rather than against CD-ROMs that might be a year or more out of date. Only Church members had access to new.familysearch.org, but the general public had access to FamilySearch.org.)

2013 to present -   Family Tree replaced new.familysearch.org 
Family Tree is an integral part of the FamilySearch web site. Family Tree is an open edit, source-centric database that resolved some major issues with nFS, and added Memories and easy sourcing using our billions of historical records. It is still not perfect, but it is better than the systems that preceded it.

Some day we hope to have a system as good as the record keeping that goes on beyond the veil, but we are not there yet. 

History of FamilySearch:
The Genealogical Society of Utah was organized by the Church in 1894. 
Later it was renamed the Genealogical Department, and it is currently the Family History Department of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We use FamilySearch as a trade name. 
(This can be confusing as the leader has the dual titles of "Managing Director of the Family History Department ..." and "Chief Executive Officer of FamilySearch International". He reports to a committee headed by Elder Bradley Foster of the Seventy, who report to the Apostles and the First Presidency). 

So basically GSU became the Genealogical Department, which became the Family History Department AKA FamilySearch.

Friday, May 25, 2018

A Farewell to the FHC?

After 8 years of serving in the Riverbend FHC, last night I completed by last scheduled shift and turned in my key. It seemed strange. I will still be available as an occasional substitute, but I will not have a regular schedule. Nearly 4 years ago I was released as director, and my wife and I began serving as volunteers, since our new ward was not in the Riverbend Stake. Her health has been declining gradually, so it will be a blessing to not need to drive into Edmonton to serve a shift every Thursday.

In the future I may have fewer opportunities to post about FHC concerns, but as I continue my mission in FamilySearch Help Division, and I continue to help ward members with their family history, I should still have suggestions from time to time.

Friday, May 11, 2018

What can we do to help patrons use their own accounts?

1. I saw a support case this morning where someone had reserved ordinances at a FHC by sitting down at an unused computer where the previous patron was still logged in to familysearch.org. But they did not realize what they had done until later.
"Can't FamilySearch just give me back my temple reservations?"
"Sorry, but to us it appears that the other patron reserved the ordinances. You can use private messaging to explain to the other patron and ask them to unreserve the ordinances or share them with you."

2. In my FHC someone had set 4 of our 5 computers set to remember the passwords. Ouch! It doesn't hurt to check periodically.

3. In the case of email, sometimes we are automatically logged into someone else's email account by simply going to that email page. This can be embarrassing for staff and patrons. All we can do in this case is remind patrons to log out of their email account and not just close the page.

From the FamilySearch knowledge base we have these instructions:

53344 Set up browsers to not save passwords at a family history center

Family history center patrons should not save passwords to websites when using a center computer. Use the instructions below to configure each browser so it does not remember passwords.

Microsoft Edge

  1. In the top right portion of the screen, click the 3 dots icon.
  2. Scroll to the bottom of the list, and click Settings.
  3. Scroll down, and click View advanced settings.
  4. In the Privacy and services section, find "Offer to save passwords."
  5. Click the blue button so that it turns white and you see "Off" to the right of it.


  1. In the top right corner of the browser toolbar, click the 3 lines
  2. Click Options.
  3. At the top of the Options window, click Security.
  4. In the Passwords section, click to uncheck the box beside Remember passwords for sites
  5. At the bottom of the Options window, click OK.

Internet Explorer [IE does not work well on our site]

  1. On the browser tool bar, click the down arrow beside Tools
  2. On the Tools menu, click Internet Options (the last item on the list). 
  3. In the Browsing History section, click to add a check to the box beside Delete browsing history on exit
  4. Click OK.


  1. In the top right corner of the browser tool bar, click the 3 dots
  2. Click Settings.
  3. At the bottom of the page, click Show advanced settings.
  4. Scroll to Passwords and Forms. Click to remove the check mark beside Offer to save your web passwords

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Ron Tanner's Latest Presentation

Ron Tanner is the manager of the FamilySearch Family Tree.

His presentations are an excellent source of information about recent changes and proposed changes to the features and functionality of Family Tree. This one is no exception. It is well worth the half hour it takes.


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 https://www.rootstech.org/rootstech-2018-videos 

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.