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. 

Friday, September 1, 2017

Data Migration

Data Migration

FamilySearch Support frequently receives questions about moving family history data from one platform (website, app, database, operating system) to another. Where different operating systems are concerned, note that Ancestral Quest and RootsMagic are available for both Windows and MacOS. Web based products have the advantage of working with any operating system. Gedcom is also a universal system.

The most common questions tend to be moving data into or out of Family Tree.
There are multiple options for moving data in:

1. Re-enter the data. This will take between 2 and 7 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 and entering just a name, birth and death. 4 minutes per name is probably a fair average, if the patron is also adding christening, marriage and burial information. At 4 minutes per name, this works out to 6 or 7 hours for 100 names

2. Import a gedcom file into Pedigree Resource File, and match with Family Tree, one record at a time. Gedcoms seem to work best work best in "for PAF" format. (Click the images to enlarge them.) 

In my personal experiment (your mileage may vary), the time involved was:
Creating gedcom of 115 names: 4 minutes; 
Uploading gedcom: 4 minutes; 
Categorizing gedcom: 5 minutes; 
Compare: about 3 minutes per record, so a little faster than re-entry. 
Maybe 5 hours for 100 names. NOTE: This option cannot add living people. 

3. Using any one of the three 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 import a gedcom.   (This option can also export data from FT.)
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 as a group if there is a reason to do so); 
74 Already Linked (already linked to records in FT). 
In my experience 100 records might take 1-2 hours of time, depending whether you choose to accept all of the positive matches without reviewing them. 

Using RootsMagic 7 to Link and FamilySearch Family Tree

A recent option for RootsMagic users is to synchronize their database at and FamilySearch Family Tree. No gedcom is involved. This will be of special interest to Public users. can provide detailed instructions on using their product. Any requests for information should be referred to

Thursday, August 31, 2017

Microfilm Ordering Has Been Extended to September 7

Permission has been received by FamilySearch Online Film Ordering to extend microfilm ordering for an additional week. Instead of it ending on August 31 (today), it will end on September 7, 2017. 

Standard Dates and Places in Family Tree

The terms "standard date" and "standard place" in the FamilySearch Family Tree can be confusing. The date and place of every major life event is stored in two forms: the displayed form that is shown on most screens, and the standard form that the computer uses for it's own purposes (the Find function, Possible Duplicates, PDF charts, etc.)

To make searches work better, Family Tree uses standard dates and standard places. These are Family Tree's interpretation of the data that was uploaded or input. Sometimes these are totally different from the date and place displayed on the various screens of Family Tree. In other words, what we see and what the computer sees can be totally different. This is the reason patrons may be warned of a Data Problem when the data looks perfect. For example, the date may be shown as “12 January 1901”, but Family Tree may have it standardized as “12 January 1091”. A place displayed as “Scotland” may be standardized as “Scotland, St Helena” a place thousands of miles away.

When you are helping a patron with a possible date or place problem, how can you be sure what the Standard data is? The key is to hover the mouse pointer over the date or place until the Standard interpretation of the data is displayed in a pop-up.

If the Standard data is wrong, help the patron to edit it and then check it to make sure the edited data is standardized correctly. In the Help Center, see: Entering standardized dates and places (71996)

(Sometimes editing requires you to add a space at the end of the data, to force the system to bring up the list of standard dates or places to choose from. If the real place name is not on the list presented by the computer, clicking in the gray area will cause the computer to select the first place on the list as the standard place, which may be what you want. In any case choose the standard place closest to the actual place. In some countries the state and country may be as close as close as you can get, at the present time.) 

To reserve ordinances for an individual, there must be a standard date and standard place of at least one major life event. (birth, christening, marriage, death, or burial) See (52714) in the Help Center. If all ordinances have been completed, there is less need for standard dates and places, although there will be data warnings if they are missing.

When dealing with dates and places it can be useful to distinguish between FORM and FUNCTION. The standard form for a date is day + month (spelled in full in any supported language) + year
e.g. 12 July 1789, or 4 Mars 1654, 26 Junio 1862
The standard form for a place is the levels of jurisdiction from smallest to largest separated by commas. e.g. Breton, Alberta, Canada, or Harrow View, Harrow Wield, Harrow, Middlesex, England

In actual practice, a date or place may be in some other format and still function as standard. This is especially true of dates.  e.g.  7 FEB 1923, or 22 AVR 1855
And the date and place may be in a standard form and not function as standard.
e.g. Germany (and every other standard place name that has not been recognized as standard).

Hold the mouse pointer over the data to see how the computer interprets it. Once you know this information you are prepared to help your patron.

Saturday, August 5, 2017 Acquires Legacy Family Tree

One of FamilySearch's partner products has been acquired by another! As Family History Center workers we should be knowledgeable of both. 

I recently received this email from Daniel Horowitz, of 

There was no mention of how this will affect MyHeritage's own free desktop software Family Tree Builder.


Dear Bill

We extend a warm welcome to Dave, Ken, Geoff, Luc and the rest of the Legacy team who are joining the growing MyHeritage team, and we look forward to the road ahead, as we work together to make family history easier and more accessible for everyone.
MyHeritage blog post:
Daniel Horowitz
Genealogy Expert
MyHeritage Ltd., 3 Ariel Sharon St., Or Yehuda 60250, Israel

We’re delighted to announce today that MyHeritage has acquired Millennia Corporation, makers of the popular Legacy Family Tree genealogy desktop software and well-attended genealogy webinar platform, Legacy Family Tree Webinars. This is MyHeritage's 9th acquisition to date. 

We consider Legacy’s products to be highly complementary to our wide range of features and services. The acquisition will introduce MyHeritage users to Legacy’s valuable genealogical webinars, and will also provide Legacy’s hundreds of thousands of users with improved resources and access to new services. 

For more information please see the joint press release below and the following blog posts:

Please find the official PR below and an image attached.

Kind regards,

Daniel Horowitz and Geoff Rasmussen

Thursday, July 20, 2017

By-passing the "Signed in Home Page"

Patrons sometimes complain that the FamilySearch home page is too messy. Or that it mostly shows memory items that they themselves added, and that they do not need to see every time they sign in.

An easy solution is to help them create a bookmark to their Tree view and use that instead of the bookmark to the home page. e.g.

To do this, they can browse to their preferred Tree view and then bookmark that page. They can also add a desktop shortcut to that page by dragging the Lock icon or the word Secure from the address bar to the computer desktop.

Now when they use the new bookmark or shortcut they will be asked to sign in, and then taken directly to their preferred page. They will not see the Signed in Home Page unless they click the green FamilySearch icon in the upper left corner of the screen.