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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Problems Adding Sources in Family Tree, Record Access

For the past two or three weeks, FamilySearch has experienced a peculiar issue. Some sources, including indexes that we use from Find My Past, fail to attach to the records in Family Tree. Some of the common record collections involved are the 1851 and 1881 UK censuses and the 1940 US census. There is a work-around. If you do not add the residence data, the sources attach normally.


This is a good reminder that many of the record collections accessible at do not belong to FamilySearch, and are made available through a contract with an organization that has legal control of those records. As contracts are added (or terminated), sets of records suddenly appear (or disappear) from the collections on

What happened to the (fill in the blank) records? The answer may be that the government (or other agency) got a better offer and decided that selling access made better economic sense than giving the access away for free.

So we cannot guarantee that the records that are available in FS today will be there next week. We should teach our patrons to make the best of the opportunities currently available.

FamilySearch will negotiate the most generous accessibility possible. In some cases the records are accessible to everyone. In other cases they accessible only at a FHC (in the Portal, not in a personal account). In some cases they are only accessible to Church members, whose tithing finances the operations of FamilySearch. And some items can only be viewed by one person at a time. Other items or entire collections may quietly disappear. But it is not by our choice. We are doing the best we can for our patrons.