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.

      Sunday, June 16, 2013

      PAF to be Discontinued

      PAF to be Discontinued
      A FamilySearch newsletter has apparently announced it. And other people in FamilySearch have confirmed it, although no specific date has been announced that PAF will no longer be available for downloading, and official support will cease. This is part of the trend to eliminate FS software in favor of web-based services.

      This decision saddens me personally, as I consider PAF an old and dear friend. We have spent tens of thousands of hours of quality time together, PAF and I. Yes, I have tried other programs, and they are still on my computers. They just don't get used. Actually, I purchased AncestralQuest to sync my PAF database with, and found it very useful for that purpose, but I find its data entry slower and more awkward than in PAF.

      What will I do when support for PAF ceases? I will carry on using it, of course! (I still use MS Office97, and it still works as well as it did 15 years ago.) If I find something I like better than PAF, I can always change. Or if PAF will not run on some future version of Windows, I will need to decide whether PAF is more important to me than the newest version of Windows.

      If you plan to continue using PAF, please Please, PLEASE make sure that you have a good copy of the setup software, so you can install it on your future Windows machines. If you don't have it, get it now before it goes away. Make sure your FHC has a copy too!

      What software should we be teaching in the FHC?
      Opinions vary. For years PAF has provided a common platform, where everyone serving in a FHC knew the basics. Many of us worry that if PAF is gone, chaos may ensue. Patrons may come to the FHC for help with any of the currently approved affiliate programs (see or even unheard of programs of their choice. There may be another alternative.

      On Thursday night a couple arrived at my FHC with the proverbial cardboard box filled with family records collected over two generations. They had no data files, just papers. I took them directly to Family Tree to see what was already there. Then we used Find to find or add missing ancestors to the pedigree charts. They left the FHC three hours later with an FOR with 38 names, and smiles on their faces!

      What if they had come instead with just a CD of data files from Heridis or The Master Genealogist? ... well, we help where we can. Maybe we can find them a support phone number for that particular software.

      Do we still need genealogy software? 
      Can't they just use Family Tree? That depends what they want to do. If they are focused entirely on dead people, FT is all they need. If they want to keep records of living people, they will need software. Family Tree hides the information on living people, so you can't input 300 of your living relatives and expect your relatives to see them when they sign into their accounts. That would violate the privacy laws in every country. And NO ... there is no way for FamilySearch to give a special dispensation to your patron's daughter-in-law!

      In Summary
      My advice, for what it is worth, is to focus on Family Tree, where possible. Avoid the software quagmire if you can. Decide what software your FHC can support, and include that information on your FHC's Wiki page, bulletins, etc. PAF is still an option in my opinion. It is simple to use and it always works! (We can't yet make that guarantee for Family Tree, but it is a useful tool and it should get much better over the next six months or so.)

      Print Charts - Delete Person

      Print Charts
      The ability to print Family Group Records  and 4-generation Pedigrees is a very welcome addition to Family Tree. This is done from the Person view, and not from the Pedigree view. The charts can also be saved as PDF files, which can be sent to others.

      If you wish to print charts without ordinances, look in the URL and change ords=true to ords=false and press the Enter key. The chart will be shown without ordinances. (The URL in non-member accounts does not have the option to show ordinances.)

      If you are using Firefox and the chart comes up blank, save the chart and reopen it to see the data. You can also use an external viewer, which will show the data. If the ability to change the URL is not important, you can change a setting in Firefox to automatically use your preferred PDF viewer. e.g. Tools menu > Options > Applications > Portable Document Format (PDF) > change the viewer to Adobe Reader (or whatever you use) > OK

      Delete Person
      This new feature has been causing mayhem in the hands of some users.

      Please instruct your patrons to NOT USE IT if they wish to remove someone from a family. Instead, they should delete the incorrect relationship. If they delete the person from the incorrect relationship, they are deleting that person from the entire database, destroying all of the correct relationships, ordinances, and links to sources, photos, stories, etc. Even records created by Membership Department, which are supposed to be protected, have been deleted! The only time this feature should be used is if the patron can prove that no such person ever existed. e.g. a wrong gender record, or a record that the patron personally created in error.

      There have been some real horror stories from the misuse of this feature, please do what you can to avoid further damage until the programmers can bring this under control. 

      Thursday, May 16, 2013

      We Can Help You

      Your local Family History Center and your ward Family History Consultants can help you with these features on :

      Searching for AncestorsHistorical Records – records of your ancestors from official sources
      Submitted Genealogies – unofficial family trees submitted by members
      Microfilm Catalog – find records on microfilm that have not yet been digitized
      Family Tree – this is where your ancestors want to be
      Resource Wiki – is a place to find what resources exist, and how to find them

      Preparing Names for the Temple (This is now done on the computer on the Church's family history site
      Create a LDS online account if you don't have one
      Recover a forgotten user name or reset the password
      Add or Find a name in Family Tree
      Reserve ordinances in Family Tree
      Print a Family Ordinance Request to print temple cards
      Share ordinances with the temple file, if you can't to the temple work yourself

      Documenting Your Family History in Family TreeAdd an online source citation you have found
      Create a source citation
      Add historic family photos
      Add historic family stories

      Finding Software to keep your family history records (Some of it is free)
      On click About (at the bottom of the page) and then click Products

      (And of course we can also help you to order microfilms and use them in our FHC.)

      Sunday, March 31, 2013

      What is where?

      Reminder: at it is currently possible to watch some of the main sessions online.
      At RootsTech some future changes and additions to were announced, so check for these over the next few weeks.

      What is Where?

      There seems to be some confusion over how and where to do searches on
      I would like to take a moment to clarify this.

      Below the words "Discover Your Family History", you will find these menus. (These links are live.)
      1. Records is already opened, allowing you to search through primary source records that (a) have been indexed by FamilySearch, or (b) posted as browseable images by FamilySearch, or (c) indexed by commercial companies and made available on FamilySearch.
      (a) These records have names that are computer-searchable, and often have original page images. Where there are page images, these can be viewed for free. This is where all the records indexed by FamilySearch are made available.
      (b) These are original page images where names cannot be searched by computer, but where the images can be viewed online for free. You need to know the time and place to find specific names and events.
      (c) These are indexes from companies such as Fold3,, and so the index is computer-searchable for free, but viewing the original page images is done on a paid site.

      2. Genealogies is where you will find family trees submitted by patrons to Ancestral File and to Pedigree Resource File. These are fully computer-searchable.

      3. Catalog is where you will search the Family History Library Catalog for microfilmed records that have not yet been digitized or indexed. If the microfilm has been digitized, there is a link (in red) to that particular data set. At present the majority of the FHL holdings are only available on microfilm film. Films rented at will be sent to the Family History Center of your choice for viewing.

      4. Books allows you to read approximately 40,000 books placed online for researching families.

      5. Family Tree is located on the upper menu. To use it you need to sign-in
      This is where we can work together to build a family tree of humanity.
      It is " described as "open-edit" and "source centeric", everyone can make changes and is expected to provide sources.
      What can you find in Family Tree?
      (a) It contains family trees and individual records submitted by patrons (so there is some overlap with Genealogies).
      (b) It also contains the IGI (International Genealogical Index) submissions and extracted records (so there is some overlap with Records).
      (c) LDS Church Membership Records for deceased individuals (useful to those researching LDS ancestors).
      (d) Sources with links to original records (this is in the early stages but is building).
      (e) Historical family photos (still in beta, but going public soon).
      (f) Historical family stories (still in beta, but going public soon).
      (g) Hidden records of millions of living people, hidden to protect their privacy.
      (h) Visible records of living people you have added. (No one else can see these records. There is no way to share them with other patrons.)
      (i) LDS patrons have access to a little additional information: visible records of their living parents, spouse, and children; and temple information.

      So, where to search depends on what you are looking for.

      Over the next few months we can expect many exciting developments: New data sets in Records, as more Indexing projects are completed; and in Family Tree, the public release of Photos and Stories, new charts, better interfaces with affiliate software programs, adjustments to the "look and feel", and so forth.

      Hold onto your hats!

      Tuesday, January 22, 2013

      Fill-in, Save, and Email FGRs and Pedigree Charts

      On the FHCNET Forum there has been some discussion of having charts that can be placed on a website, Facebook page, or blog. The idea is that relatives can download them, fill them in, save them, and email them to you so you can update information on their branch of the family. e.g. in preparation for a family reunion.
      ( )

      I created a Family Group Record and a Pedigree Chart in Excel97 format. This is as close to a universal file format as I could find. Any office software created since 1997 can normally read these files.

      If these would be any help to you, you have my permission to use them as you see fit.

      Here is a snip of the pedigree chart ...

      Mac Genealogy Lesson

      Mac Genealogy – Can Be the Best of Both Worlds

      A good Mac genealogy software site: Updated Genealogy Software (as listed on the site above)
      What are most popular? Probably Reunion and Family Tree Maker, where I live.

      What will sync with and eventually At present the only choice is MacFamilyTree, although FamilyInsight will sync Family Tree Maker Mac with nFS/FT.

      Is there free software? Yes!!! Personal Ancestry Writer II
      Find the instructions and download link at
      or at click the link to PAWII on the left hand side of the page. The author describes it as what Mac PAF 2.3.1 might have become, if it had continued to be developed. (Mac PAF was Mac OS9-based software.) 

      Macs and Windows
      Macs can run Windows software, with help. e.g. BootCamp, Crossover, VMWare Fusion, Parallels
      These will allow you to run Windows genealogy software in addition to Mac software, if you choose. 

      FamilySearch Software?
      Why is FamilySearch not developing Mac Software? Actually FamilySearch is moving away from developing software for any particular OS (operating system). Instead it is developing web sites that can be accessed from any computer that has an up-to-date browser. (Safari works fairly well, but Firefox or Chrome sometimes works better.) Being web-based means that the material can usually be accessed regardless whether you are using Mac OS, Windows, Linux, iOS, Android, Unix, FreeBSD, BeOS or whatever OS you may prefer. 

      Maintenance: Being web-based also means that we need to delete the temporary internet files frequently. And if a page fails to load correctly, make sure that the pop-up blocker is turned OFF. Then click the screen reload/refresh  icon to reload the page. On many computers pressing the F5 key will also refresh the page. 

      [These are the notes I created for last week's class on Mac Genealogy. -  Bill Buchanan]