Thursday, September 24, 2015

Additional Search Links

As of yesterday, we now have four SEARCH RECORDS links on the Person page of Family Tree instead of just one.

Clicking a link to one of the commercial partner sites takes you to a warning that you are leaving FamilySearch. When you agree, it takes you to the partner site. But it does not log you in, if you are not already logged in. If you are already logged-in, it conducts a search on the partner site using the data from the Family Tree Person page ... very handy!

If you are not already logged-in, you will still need to sign in using your username and password for the commercial site (or it will allow you to sign up for a trial account).

Patrons may have questions about how this works. When they are using the FHC Portal, what happens when they click one of these links? I should find out during my shift tonight! 

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Recent glitches affecting many patrons

AdBlock Plus
A week ago AdBlock Plus did an update that affects many websites, including  Until AdBlock releases their next update, patrons using AdBlock Plus will find that many things on our websites do not work: For example: sharing, uploading to Memories, and the FamilySearch Link under SEARCH RECORDS (on the Person page) have disappeared or have stopped working. These problems will occur in all browsers that have this popular advertisement blocker installed. The solution is to turn off AdBlock Plus or re-configure it to make an exception. 
Chrome Pop-up Problems
About a month ago, Google released an update to Chrome that automatically turned ON the popup blocker. To print a FOR in Chrome, turn OFF the popup blocker. In fact, you can forestall this problem by turning OFF the popup blocker in Chrome in all FHC computers.

Browser-based applications have many benefits, but they also have some vulnerabilities, depending which browser and add-ons are being used.

Saturday, September 19, 2015

Errors in Standard Dates and Places in Family Tree

In Family Tree, the dates and places we see are not necessarily the ones the computer sees.
(You may want to read that sentence 2 or 3 times so it really sinks in.)

I have seen places spelled-out perfectly that have been interpreted (standardized) by the computer as being some other place in some other country. A bunch of my ancestors born in "Scotland" were standardized as born in "Scotland, St. Helena"! Ancestors shown as born in "Paddington, London, England" have been standardized as born in County Tyrone, Ireland". has left us a legacy of interesting "standard" forms! 

What has changed recently is that FT is informing us if a date or place has NOT been standardized. This is a major improvement but it is unable to detect places that have been WRONGLY standardized.

Hint: To see how any date or place has been standardized, see the pop-up when the mouse pointer is hovered over it.

Look at this record: 
Name: Robert Teal
Birth: abt 1790
of Holme, Yorkshire, England

Are the date and place of birth standard? You might think not from their format, what does the pop-up say? (Please don't change it as I may want to use it in a lesson.)

To Fix Errors: If a date or place is standardized incorrectly, edit it and choose a standard date or place that pops up.

Friday, April 24, 2015

Wild Card Searches

Perhaps we need to teach our patrons to be more creative in their searches. Sometimes they will be too specific to find what they are looking for. The "exact match" should only be used in rare cases. "Widening the search" may need to go beyond using just the name and the year and country of birth.

Surnames that have been incorrectly recorded or badly indexed/transcribed become a special problem. Most of us have a few of those in our family trees. There are times you need to search a specific place looking for a first name but ignoring the surname. First name searches are notoriously tedious. But if you can add family relationships to other family members who will be in the same document, it narrows the results. The disadvantage is that you can't know in advance who will be in the same document.

Using Wild Card Searches

There is real power in "wild card" searches. In card games, a "wild card" is a card that can represent any other card. In search forms, you can commonly use "?" to represent any single letter and "*" to represent any group of letters. On major sites, forget about "?" and just use the more general purpose "*".

I have a great-great grandfather named James. He lived in southern England in 1817-1891, a time and place where records are generally very good. Unfortunately, his surname gets spelled about 20 different ways. Some of these are: Fosberry, Fausbrey, Forsbury, Fosbury, Foursberey, Feresbury,  ... You get the picture! This is a prefect situation for doing wildcard searches. Which letters will probably occur in all renditions of his name? F*SB*R*Y

So, if instead of searching for James Fosberry, I search for James F*sb*r*y, I have a much better chance of finding him. It will bring up a much larger list of search results, but I will only have to go through it once rather than going through 20 smaller lists of search results. And last night, I finally found his marriage certificate on by using this wild card search. His name is clearly written as "James Fausbury". I could recognize his wife's name too. "Ann Walder" is one of the variations she used. I believe that she and James were both illiterate, so this would contribute to the confusion. The marriage date on the certificate was a year prior to the birth of their son George in the same county. It is definitely the right couple.

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Training videos from RootsTech 2015

I viewed the videos on this page, and enjoyed all of them, including the one that I thought might have the least to offer me, consultant training. In this one, the software engineer was asked a lot of tough questions and I enjoyed his answers about up-coming solutions to some common problems. You may have been faced by the same questions.

For example:

When will we be able to merge IOUS records?
How did the IOUS mess originate?
Why does FamilySearch have commercial partners?
When will all of FamilySearch's records be indexed?
At what point will long-reserved ordinances be automatically released?

shortened URL for use in newsletters, etc.:  

I loved the fact that these could all be downloaded. They can provide good training in the FHC.

Other RootsTech sessions are available from 

Friday, February 27, 2015

Family History Research Basics For Consultants

Training Video for Consultants

This morning I saw a posting by Cathy Anderegg that I thought I should share.

"Cathy Anderegg: Great little, quick video on Research Basics for Consultants. Nifty.… 
Family History Research Basics For Consultants | FamilySearch.orgBrowse hundreds of online genealogy courses to help you discover your family historyon FamilySearch about a video course for Family History Consultants."

I checked the video and it is excellent and packed with information. It may need to be viewed multiple times to absorb all of the information.

The link is

Please share this video with consultants and staff at your FHC. And with others who have responsibilities in family history.


New FamilySearch Partners

Two new FamilySearch partners have been announced. They are: - The New England Historic Genealogical Society

Started in 1847, this is the oldest genealogical society in the USA. It is perhaps the best site in the world for New England research. - This seems to be a social media site for building your family tree. I am not sure what it has to offer that is not offered by FamilySearch Family Tree or by the other partner sites, but I hope to learn more. 

If you have an LDS Account, you can get your free partner accounts from:  Hold that thought! Apparently is not currently included on that page, but American Ancestors is! 

Thursday, February 19, 2015

FamilySearch Apps Gallery

At present there are 25 family history apps available to download through the Apps Gallery. Some are free, some have a modest price. Some apps are for only one operating system, other apps may be available for others. There are brief descriptions on the Apps Gallery page itself and links to the home pages of the various apps.

Check out the Apps Gallery at

Blogger Lisa Louise Cook in her Genealogy Gems newsletter refers to other apps useful for genealogy:
"While the FamilySearch App Gallery is a great resource, it isn’t a comprehensive home for ALL family history related apps. And a lot of genealogy-friendly apps aren’t categorized as such in Google Play or the App Store. Learn more about TONS of apps to further YOUR family history in Lisa’s book Turn Your iPad into a Genealogy Powerhouse. This book introduces you to the tablet/iPad way of “thinking” (it’s different than how you use a computer). It gives you an in-depth look at over 65 genealogy-friendly apps, 32 fabulous tips and tricks and links to online videos where you can watch things for yourself. Got a tablet? No problem–apps available in Google Play are included, and the tips include clues about features to look for in your brand of tablet."


For more on LDS mobile apps see:
Mobile Applications

Some of my favorite LDS apps that are not for family history include:

LDS Gospel Library 
- Scriptures
- General Conference
- Church Magazines
- Lesson Manuals
- Other Manuals
- Music
- Videos
- Etc.
(This is the app that replaced my briefcase!)

LDS Tools
- Ward and Stake Directories
- Callings (e.g. Who is the Primary President in Yellowhead Ward?)
- Lists
- Calendar
- Meeting Houses
- Maps
(You can only see information pertaining to your own stake, which is somewhat unfortunate as I serve in a different stake's FHC. My stake doesn't have one, so I am serving as a volunteer.)

If you have favorite apps that you use for family history or other callings, I invite you to describe them the Comments.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Grandma's Pie

I just became aware of a new website from BYU called Grandma's Pie.

It connects to FamilySearch Family Tree and shows a pie chart of the countries your ancestors were born in. Moving the mouse pointer over a slice will your ancestor's names who were born there. There is a slider that allows you to select the generation of ancestors you want shown.

It quickly identified one of my ancestors as being born in Saint Helena. I knew that wasn't true, So I checked in FSFT and discovered that the error originated there. "Scotland" was standardized as "Scotland, Saint Helena", an obvious error, easily corrected in FSFT. Without Grandma's Pie, I might not have spotted that error. Thanks!

A bigger problem for me was that when the country of birth is missing from FSFT, Grandma's Pie failed to use the christening information. I sent feedback suggesting that this be changed.

I enjoyed their site. I think it would be of interest to some of our patrons.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Last night at the FHC

Yesterday evening, we had 8 teenage girls and one leader in the Riverbend Family History Centre. Neila Davidson, the director, was also there to help us. The goal was help the girls to become "submitters of temple ordinances" as defined in the quarterly reports. i.e. someone who has Printed a FOR (family ordinance request) or else Shared ordinances with the temple.

Steps involved included, finding people:
(1) related to the girl by a definable relationship
(2) dead for at least a year
(3) who were missing one or more temple ordinances
(4) who were born over 110 years ago or for whom permission was granted by an immediate family member

Step 3 included checking for duplicate records and merging them. (This immediately eliminated some good prospects.)

One girl was ecstatic that she had found a missing ordinance that "the experts" in her family had missed! It was a sealing, so she will need to give the ordinance card to an adult who can serve as proxy, but she will have accomplished her goal of submitting an ordinance.

Three of the girls were from long-time LDS families, the others were second or third generation LDS. I was able to help two girls to find missing ordinances and print Family Ordinance Requests. A third girl was also able to print a FOR. This has to be the most FORs I have seen printed in our FHC during a single shift! A 4th FOR will be printed when permission is received from the girl's grandmother, a former FHC director. It was a hectic, but very rewarding evening.


For the last two Thursday evenings I have been able to spend a few minutes of my shift at the Riverbend Family History Centre searching  the newspaper archives at

My experience with digitized newspapers has usually been negative. The OCR (optical character recognition) has been so poor that searching them has usually been more frustration than it is worth. I was happy to discover that the OCR quality at was generally excellent. My search criteria were: Buchanan Neepawa

It is sure handy to have a unique place name like Neepawa to search!

Encourage your patrons to give it a try with their family lines. For people born in the last 100 years it can be one of the best resources, and it is free at the FHC.

Friday, January 16, 2015

The FamilySearch Family Tree (FSFT) keeps getting better and better. If you are a family history consultant or serve in a FHC you should find this site helpful.

It contains some very good lesson material prepared by people that I consider experts.

A word of caution: The site sometimes has a problem with the registration process. It may bring up a screen that asks you to invite all of your email contacts to join this group. If it happens, do not allow it to do so! There should be a link that allows you to decline this offer. If you cannot find this link, close the page.

I believe you can use the material without registering. If so, that would be a good option.

Note that this is not an official FamilySearch site but is operated by people who have a strong background in FamilySearch. They have some valuable cautions about common mistakes made when using FSFT and suggestions for avoiding these mistakes. They come across as quite strong on avoiding doing ordinances for duplicate records, which I appreciate. I like the comparison "Doing ordinances for someone whose ordinances are already done, is like ignoring the pioneers stranded out on the plains and rushing to rescue those who are already safely in the valley."

Get Help on also contains good material, but check out too.