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.