15 December 2013

FamilySearch Fan Chart interactive inside rotating marquee

One of the new things about FamilySearch.org this year is the huge rotating marquee that welcomes users. It takes up a lot of space on the home page, and one shortcoming is that it provides little practical usefulness. This is changing.

A few days ago the signed-in version of the Fan Chart portion of the marquee began to appear as an interactive version of your fan chart. It works differently than the actual fan chart page. This preview version can be navigated by clicking any visible name, but you cannot access a person page from this point. It is great as a way to preview the feature without ever leaving the marquee.

Maybe someday we will be able to search for names from the search portion of the marquee too.

06 December 2013

FamilySearch Catalog advertizes WorldCat.org and Archive Grid

These two links may have appeared today. It is the first time I remember noticing them. FamilySearch has been working with WorldCat (OCLC) for perhaps a year or two from what they've been saying in the past. This is the first noticable trace of this agreement I have noticed in the catalog. 

I understand that FamilySearch Catalog items should be showing up in WorldCat.org at some point. Archive Grid is part of the same website. 

Please don't overlook these two sources. The largest genealogical organization in the world (FamilySearch) has put prominent links here because they are extremely valuable catalogs. Almost any book has an entry in this catalog. I just helped a patron in our Family History Center find the location of a rare family history by showing him how to use WorldCat a couple weeks ago.

01 December 2013

Illinois Wilmette Family History Fair (March 22, 2014): Seeking local speakers

As a member of the planning committee and Family History Center staff, I have some local news to share today.

The Wilmette Family History Center in Wilmette, Illinois is hosting a Family History Fair on Saturday, March 22, 2014. The family history center is located inside a local church at the same address. The fair will be held at this location.

It is with respect and hope for increased community collaboration that we invite the community to attend. Registration information will be forthcoming.

We invite any societies to ask your experienced members or staff whether any are interested in speaking at this event. Those who express interest before the end of January 2014 will be considered. You may have those who you feel are good candidates respond at wilmette.fhfair2014@gmail.com

There are several time-slots open for local speakers for lectures. This is a free fair for the community, and we are unable to compensate speakers. Projection, laptops, and speakers will be set up for speakers to use.

Michael W. McCormick
Wilmette Family History Fair

RootsTech 2014: I'm not a developer, Why should I attend Wednesday?

What is Wednesday for?
At RootsTech this year, developers are being given their own day before the regular parts of the conference begin. That day is Wednesday, February 5. Anyone with a full-pass has access to all four days, including this first day.

The first day is marketed to developers and was previously called Developer Day. This day is known as the Innovator Summit.

In previous years these types of classes were mixed into the other days. In fact, for 2014 there are still some "DEV" (developer) marked classes during the other days too. Unfortunately the word does not always get out; some of the 2013 developer classes were never listed in the schedule for that year's conference. As of this weekend (30 Nov/1 Dec), there are some classes listed in the website that are not listed in the app.

See the RootsTech.org Session Viewer for the Innovator Summit.

Now if they are calling the first day Innovator Summit and all classes on those days are marked "DEV," than why would a normal user want to attend?

Insight into future products
In past years, many of my absolute favorite classes were developer classes. These classes give some of the best perspective into the technology we users will be getting our hands on soon. I love learning about the tools and features that are not quite released. These are likely to come in the next months and years.

Some of these classes are taught in a vocabulary that the beginning user can understand. Even more is understood for intermediate users. The advanced user can understand even more of the vocabulary. A good general guideline would be to read the class description and see if you have a basic understanding of what the class description is referring too. Another good guideline is to attend the class knowing that some terms will probably be over your head. As a user, you may be listening for the product manager's explanation of the concept. If they've been talking about nothing except computer code for several minutes you can always walk out, but I think you'll enjoy hearing the concepts.

Free lunch
"Lunch is provided free for all Innovator Summit attendees." (See Innovator Summit page)

My pick of classes
As I read the descriptions I was interested in the concepts of the following classes:
  • A New Tool for Recording, Analyzing and Displaying Genetic Relationships from Y-DNA, mtDNA and Autosomal-DNA
  • Sharing Photos and Stories with FamilySearch Memories
  • FamilySearch Family Tree and Collaboration Models
  • FamilySearch Industry Leaders Town Hall - The Latest Updates From Key Executives / Open Q&A
That is one for each time slot, though there were 3 at 4:30 that interested me. One was about FamilySearch Partner Services, and the other about findmypast's technology development.

Out of the whole day, I am most interested in the last bullet point above. This looks like a great opportunity to hear from and ask questions of FamilySearch executives. I think any advanced user would enjoy that one.

What do you think? Will you be coming to the Innovator Summit? Maybe for the free lunch?

28 November 2013

Doebel/Debler/Doebler from Schwäbisch Gmünd to Baltimore

Last July I wrote "I forgot to look for my great grandmom." That was a post about reviewing my genealogy, and finding a couple lines that I had overlooked, ripe for further research. I said I would write again about it, and so here I go.

On one of those lines, my research has been very successful.

My 5th great grandmother Barbara Doebel was born in 1829 and immigrated to Baltimore, Maryland from Nandlstadt, Oberbayern, Bavaria (Germany). When I found some of her relatives on some microfilms of Baltimore church records, I got her parents names. I think I got one more generation off of FamilySearch.org because of names someone else shared on the tree. Anyhow, that is where I was in researching that family until this year. Between July and now, we were able to extend several of Barbara's lines a few more generations in microfilmed Nandlstadt town/family-book records. 

It took a few months because I ordered the microfilms I needed through the FamilySearch Catalog to be sent from their library in Utah to a local branch where I live. A few times I had the wrong film because the books spanned multiple films and it was not clear which one had which families.  

When the films arrived each time I got an email letting me know, and I drove to the library to look at them. I photocopied and then scanned into the FamilySearch Family Tree all the relevant records, as I typed in the new names that I was finding.

After going through all the relevant records for Nandlstadt, I analyzed the records for next steps. The Nandlstadt records only took the families to a certain point. The Doebler surname had various spellings in the original records, and I will use various spellings too. The earliest Doebler in my line, in Nandlstadt records, had listed the town that this earliest Doebler was from: Schwäbisch Gmünd, Niederbayern, Bayern, Germany

See that record [click here].

Using the same kinds of microfilmed town/family-books for Schwäbisch Gmünd, the line could be traced all the way into the 1500's before the paper trail ran out. Now, that is a good example of having research success after overlooking clues on my tree for a few years.

26 November 2013

My FamilyTreeDNA Family Finder results and my Ancestry.comDNA

Yesterday I wrote about my early attempts at DNA testing in "An intro to my DNA and the tests I've been taking." That post introduced my Y-DNA and mtDNA, using testing I took from Ancestry.com in 2008 and 2010.

Those were the only genealogical types of DNA tests I was aware of up till that time, but then in 2010 Family Tree DNA brought autosomal DNA testing to the market. It totally supercharged the value of DNA testing for genealogists. Instead of following only the direct paternal line (Y-DNA) or the direct maternal line (mtDNA), this test covers all ancestors DNA as inherited within the last 5-7 generations. Ancestors who were farther back than that may not have passed any measurable amount of their DNA on to you.

I ordered the "Family Finder" test in late 2010, and received my results in February 2011. I got some DNA matches and an ethnicity estimate. Unfortunately, I haven't taken the required time to learn how to use all the match tools they provide. There are plenty of other bloggers who explain this all much better than I will even attempt.

Ancestry.com released a similar test in 2012 and I took it too. Ancestry.com's user interface doesn't have so many tools to analyze matches, but Ancestry.com's test is more beginner friendly. My closest matches on F.T.DNA's Family Finder are five matches that apparently fall into the range of 2nd-4th cousin. Then there are pages more in the 3rd-5th cousin range. My closest matches on Ancestry.com's autosomal test are a few relatives who took the test for me, and sixteen in the 4th-6th cousin range at a 96% confidence. Then there is like another page full of the same range at 95% confidence before the rest which are all "distant" cousins with only a 50% or less chance of being related within any historically documentable range. With this review, it looks like there may be more matches on Family Tree DNA. Family Tree DNA may have more analysis tools, but in reviewing my own matches I have seen that the users are less likely to connect their tree to their results. Overall, I'd probably recommend starting out with Ancestry.com's test.

If you decide to get deeper into DNA testing, Family Tree DNA allows you to transfer your results in for less than purchasing the test again--although it does not work the other direction. For that matter, they have more specialized testing too (such as more detailed Y-DNA and mtDNA, as well as specific DNA marker tests).

These are just some general observations and I will forgo revealing any specifics about matches. Suffice it to say that out of all the suggested matches, we've been able to document the connections to only a few of them thusfar. More often I can see that we match a certain area or surname, but in many cases I can't find a surname that matches my tree either. It may take more research to document many of the suggested cousins.

One more interesting thing about my matches: Both of my grandmothers took the AncestryDNA test for me. One of them shows up in my matches as "Close family" (2-4 degrees of separation) and the other grandmother shows up as "1st cousin" (3-5 degrees of separation). A grandparents is actually 2 degrees of separation. Looks like I inherited less DNA from one of them than the other, which is totally believable and scientifically possible, though you can research that more elsewhere. For us, it is just a potential conversation piece to say I am more genetically like one side of the family than the other. If we are fortunate to know some of our ancestors, we can often identify a physical or personality trait we have inherited without a DNA test--although taking the test can sometimes be an interesting confirmation of things like this.

DNA ethnicity estimates are a fun conversational piece. I'll attach mine below.

Family Tree DNA

These percentages fairly well follow what I know about my ancestors from research, except for a few major discrepancies. I do not have any documented ancestors from the Middle East or Scandinavia. My own research suggests I have several more lines from Western Europe than from Ireland. There are several reasons why these kinds of percentages cannot be exact, although many in the genetic genealogy community believe the results will get more reliable with future developments. Again, I leave many questions unanswered. If you're curious to know more about genetic genealogy and don't know where to look, I'd be happy to point out some resources. Just leave a comment below.

25 November 2013

An intro to my DNA and the tests I've been taking

DNA testing has been around for a long time and the general public probably thinks of uses such as: paternity testing, ancient anthropology, and forensic science.

In about the year 2000, DNA testing for genealogy began to be popularized when Family Tree DNA began offering tests specifically for that market. Then in perhaps 2007 Ancestry.com either began or improved their DNA test marketing. At that early stage they were offering Y-DNA tests. To understand all this it is important to understand there are 3 main types of genealogy DNA tests. Y-DNA (usually you must choose STR or SNP markers though STR is more common for genealogy purposes), mtDNA, and autosomal DNA.

In 2008, I took my first DNA test, the Ancestry.com Y-DNA 33 STR marker test. I came up with 2 close matches that were both surnamed McCormick just like me. Because Y-DNA goes father to son only, it follows the straight paternal line and having a McCormick match is precisely the surname match I would have expected. We began to email each other, but because of the difficulties of Irish genealogy we have not been able to document our cousin relationship. I also found out that my paternal line is in haplogroup R1b.

mtDNA was not quite as developed as Y-DNA at first for genealogy, but in 2010 I ordered my first mtDNA test. My matches with that were not particularly useful for anything, but I found it interesting to know that my straight maternal line is in the H haplogroup.

That same year I also got Ancestry.com's upgrade from 33 STR markers to 46 markers for my Y-DNA test. I still matched the other two McCormicks on my list exactly, except for one marker.

So far you may be thinking, "Why would anyone take a DNA test when all they get is this?" Well, some people don't think it is worth the money. That is up to you, but I am all for using DNA to help with genealogy. I look at is as a long term investment for a few reasons. 1) As more people test, more matches may appear. 2) The money we spend on DNA testing helps these companies stay in business and therefore funds progress in the science. 3) This may help others who are adopted or otherwise will benefit by seeing you as a match when they test.

The next tests I took were the autosomal DNA tests with Family Tree DNA and Ancestry.com. I will discuss those next.

24 November 2013

Visa overstay and marriage, Is it lawful to do well?

I usually post about genealogy on this blog, but as any genealogist understands... it is all about families.

We fell in love and she looked at me with sadness in her eyes. Then came her warning: "I'm here on a tourist visa, and have overstayed: we will have a rough road ahead." She questioned whether I would still love her after seeing the difficulties of immigration, and I assured her that I would stand by her always. Neither of us believe in breaking the law. I pondered what it was that brought her to her decision to overstay her visa. She was serving a faith-based mission in the United States for more than a year and had no practical option to travel to her home country as required. She also was not successful in getting any other type of visa, so here she was in the USA doing faith-based service work, and because of the overstay many would consider her an "illegal." She completed her mission honorably and we both ended up in the same church congregation where we served in various assignments and became fast friends. We married, and now we live in two different countries due to problems with waiver law. We need American Families United. We need H.R.3431.

Action point: Contact your representative today and ask them to COSPONSOR H.R.3431.

The title for this post is a play on the New Testament book of Matthew 12:12.

Ancestry.com: Content Publisher Beta, Sharing your records collections online

I thought that I remembered Ancestry.com announcing a records collections online publishing service at a RootsTech conference a couple years ago, but I can't find any place on my blog where I mentioned it. It is one of those things that interested me and was newsworthy, but sort of disappeared.

This last week I was looking at a comment on some website that asked what is the best way to upload clipped obituary collections or other collections in custody of a small genealogical society or family history center. There were several good comments, but the best solution in my opinion was when someone shared the link to Ancestry.com: Content Publisher Beta. I read that, followed the link and it clicked! This was that one thing I had heard about long ago. I haven't had the occasion to use it up until now, but I wanted you all to know about this exciting tool.

Please leave a comment to share your own experiences with it. I'd love to know if it has been useful for your society.

16 November 2013

FamilySearch Site Map: What's missing?

I noticed a new link at the bottom of FamilySearch.org not long ago, called "Site Map."

This page attempts to list all the pages in the website or at least each product. Examples: It lists the Research Wiki, but not all 75,000 articles. It lists Family Tree, but not each person page in the tree... etc. etc.

This is an exciting development, because among avid FamilySearch.org users, many of us notice that certain pages seem hidden... and frequent website upgrades sometimes move the links to new locations.

Some die-hard users may even decide to use the Site Map page as their first stop instead of the prettier home screen. This would drop the number of clicks required to get to some of the obscure products.

In fact, some of these products don't even have links except for from here. Examples would be "Featured Pages." Pages like those have traditionally been linked to temporarily on the home screen as a highlighted item and then disappear. If you are particularly interested in one of the feature page topics you might still enjoy using them.

Even with the advent of the "Site Map" there are still several pages missing from the list. Can you help me identify them by leaving a page title and link in the comments?

Click for full size. Captured 16 Nov 2013.
List of products or website sections/features not included in Site Map:
External sites hosted/owned/managed/co-built/enabled by FamilySearch (a.k.a. Family History Department):
Note: Some FamilySearch collections are available on other websites such as Ancestry.com, MyHeritage, and findmypast.com

Social media presence:

04 October 2013

Introducing the New FamilySearch Indexing Tool, RootsTech 2014 preview

I've decided to write a few previews of stuff we will all learn about at RootsTech 2014. Earlier, I wrote about FamilySearch Obituaries. Another product coming next year at FamilySearch is an overhaul of the indexing tool, listed in the class schedule as: "Introducing the New FamilySearch Indexing Tool."

This is another one of my top pics for RootsTech 2014 classes to attend.
The RootsTech 2014 class list states: "Scott Flinders, the product manager responsible for FamilySearch indexing, will provide an overview and demonstration of the new, browser-based indexing tool being developed by FamilySearch."

Today (October 4, 2013), FamilySearch gave a presentation to Stake Indexing Directors which was available for viewing online. I've captured some screens and facts to provide you with this preview. If you don't want to know about this until RootsTech, I suggest you stop reading this.

As advertised before, the new system will be entirely browser-based so that downloading software is no longer required. Most of the basic workings of the system are still there, but everything has been enhanced in accordance with user feedback.

One of the first changes you'll notice, you will be able to use powerful filters and waypoint data to find a specific project to work on. You will be able to choose a specific town, county, or parish to work on, Flinders said.
The view of the actual work process provides all the tools we have come to know and love: Highlights, Lookup, International Characters, Handwriting Examples etc. Flinders pointed out that the traditional data entry modes are still there (table and form), and that two more are available. He said one was for indexers who like to index by column although I do not know how it differs from table mode. The 2nd new mode is "in-line" which will have you type the data in a box right where you see it on the screen, and move from one area to the next as you go. I'd like to try that.

The next thing I noted was Flinder's statement that "In addition to..." the current A/B/Arbitrate workflow, there will be a new A + Review workflow. At first I thought they were just doing a terminology change from arbitrator to reviewer, but it turns out that the new process will be entirely different. The reviewer will not compare 2 indexers' work, but will simply review the work of one indexer. Flinders stated that they believe the index quality will remain the same, and the output will rise 40-50%. Regarding the "in addition to" statement, he later clarified that the old system will be maintained and in use until they are able to migrate all users and stats to the new system. If the A + Review is successful, I think they will stop A/B/Arb when they close the old system, though this was not clear to me. This was perhaps the most exciting news to me because it means 40-50% more records for all of us! I would like to know what selecting "don't know" will do. For that matter, I'd like to know what happens if a reviewer says a data piece is wrong. It seems logical that wrong data be corrected by the reviewer, and "don't know" data get sent up the line to a more experienced reviewer, though nothing was said about that detail.

FamilySearch Indexing Groups are a major step forward as well. These groups come with better statistics reporting for group managers, group goals to motivate all users, an increased sense of "social media," among several other interesting features.

The list of improvements is impressive, although I must admit there are a couple which are over my head.

Further down, I've posted the slides that show the timetable for release.

And another thing is the new way to add indexing projects. Instead of requiring FamilySearch employees to add every new indexing project, specific volunteers can be approved to do this within the same website. Flinders mentioned that this will allow archives and other record custodians more control over adding their projects to the system, although I imagine FamilySearch will still require the images to be digitized and ingested according to their guidelines.

Phew! A lot of interesting facts and screenshots today. Come to think of it, I bet they'll be a lot more to learn by the time we get to RootsTech in February.

FamilySearch Obituaries, RootsTech 2014 preview

At the beginning of September, I looked at the list of RootsTech 2014 classes and found one about "FamilySearch Obituaries"

This is what it says: "Everyone deserves to be remembered forever, for free. FamilySearch Obituaries allows everyone in the world to publish and share the obituaries of their friends. They also allow everyone to be a part of the grieving and memorial experience."

I noticed some days or weeks before, when you upload a story @ https://familysearch.org/photos/stories, that has some identifying word like "obituary" that the story was now being referred to as an obituary. See the screen capture below from one obituary I pasted into the system. Notice the words: "Edit Obituary." The system typically says "Edit Story" in that same spot. The system is recognizing certain stories as obituaries and categorizing them as such.

Categorization seems like a good idea, but it must just be a sign of even more features to come. I imagine that a future feature will be to choose the story type manually. Maybe someday another story type beside obituary will be defined. I also imagined that there would be some ability to sort, search, or put in order stories according to category.

We know that categorizing photos will be a thing. Tim Cross, manager of Photos and Stories has confirmed that photos will be able to be categorized as either person photos or documents. This will change minor things about the experience. He said, documents will be tagged with rectangles instead of the circles used for persons. In addition, photos already uploaded will be able to be categorized as documents in the future. Tim said not to wait, but to upload them now.

Tim Cross will be teaching the class being held at RootsTech, about FamilySearch Obituaries. I presume that he will explain, in detail, his vision for this new stories category. I am always very interested in FamilySearch products that are under development. Unless this class conflicts with another I need to attend, I will be giving you a report afterward.

You do not need to wait until RootsTech 2014, but can see the landing page for FamilySearch Obituaries today at https://familysearch.org/obituaries

Sometimes typing key words after http://familysearch.org/, in your browser, will take you to pages that are being developed. That is how I found this one.

01 October 2013

FamilySearch Mobile App Demo

In the recent FamilySearch "My Family History Calling" newsletter, which I received 4 days ago, there was this link to an interesting video:

FamilySearch Mobile App Demo

From FamilySearch blog 09/19/2013: "Craig Miller, director of Product Development, introduced and demonstrated a new mobile app that allows users to use FamilySearch from the convenience of their own mobile device. This mobile app will be available in 2014...[bold added for emphasis]"

What will this app do? (answered in video)

At release:
  • View information
  • Add new information
  • View a picture
In the future:
  • Multiple picture support, and photo tagging
  • Use the app to take pictures or video that can be directly added to the tree
See the article with the link here.

For those of you who remember the FamilySearch Indexing App, and wonder how that fits into this new app, the same article reports the following: "DeGiulio said that in 2014, the existing indexing system will be replaced with a new indexing platform. This new platform will attract more indexers and will improve the quality and accuracy of indexes." Other sources explain that this will be a browser-based system. No indexing app has been announced. Stay tuned to my blog for major updates.

This is one of my favorite types of genealogy news to share. It has to do with something that will make life easier for users, and it has the cool factor of something cutting-edge for the FamilySearch community.

Perhaps we will have a surprise release of the app at RootsTech 2014, or perhaps they will simply show this video demo. You never know what is being worked on or when it will be released, until you do.

01 September 2013

My 2013 goals update: Q3

Personal Tree Research
Find 10 or more end-of-line extensions
  1. Frederick Bewig (emigration 1853) ancestors through ~1678
  2. Henrietta Ehlers (emigration 1853) ancestors through ~1748
  3. Johannes Schneider (b.1754) ancestors through ~1610
  4. Christina Adler (daughter emigrated pre-1849) ancestors through ~1660
  5. Mary Reinhard (emigration pre-1854) ancestors through ~1703
  6. Margaret Hahn (emigration pre-1845) ancestors through ~1726
  7. Frank Dunkes (emigration pre-1851) ancestors through ~1692
  8. Maria Dorothea Schimpf (b.1781) ancestors through ~1703
  9. Agnes Liebbard (b.1755) ancestors through ~1700
  10. Barbara Maerkl (b.1766) ancestors through ~1700
  11.  Franz Xaver Doebl (b.~1767) ancestors through ~[in progress]
Personal Tree Organization and Sharing
  1. Complete Rosetta Stone Spanish
    Much slower progress than desired
  2. Transcribe or help share 200 pages (family letters, documents etc.)
    I decided to use a simpler guage for this goal, it is the number of stories I have uploaded to https://familysearch.org/photos/stories under my FamilySearch account.
    Count: 70
  3. Share photos and other media on FamilySearch Family Tree
Career and Education
  1. Attend RootsTech 
  2. Teach a family history Sunday School 
  3. Help provide feedback and stay involved in social media 
  4. Continue as usual with work

03 August 2013

RootsTech 2011-2013: new old thoughts

This morning I was thinking about how fun it would be to be an official blogger for RootsTech 2014 so I looked back over my old posts about RootsTech. To my surprise, I noticed that I didn't have posts commenting specifically about my experience in 2011 and 2012. I only had brief mentions in a couple articles on specific topics.

I've done much better in 2013 with a nice post for each day:

My RootsTech 2013: Day 1 - FamilySearch reveals website beta and vision, BillionGraves tech plans

My RootsTech 2013: Day 2 - Ancestry.com breaking news, FHISO and GEDCOMX, handwriting recognition

My RootsTech 2013: Day 3 - I attend LDS training all day

Enduring Legacy blogger Michael McCormick featured in FamilySearch video @ RootsTech

Read my "new" old thoughts about previous RootsTech years:

RootsTech 2012: My experience

RootsTech 2011 (watched online): My highlights

Let me know what you think.

13 July 2013

I forgot to look for my great grandmom

I am in a state of disbelief. How could this happen? How could I forget her?

I'm always thinking about genealogy, investing significant amounts of time and money to find my own ancestors, and carefully thinking through the problems. How could I have completely forgotten to look for my great grandmom? She is actually my 4th great grandmom (Veronica Schuermer), but that is no excuse because I have a large 9 generation chart on my wall which I often stop to look at. There she is, one of the remaining lines that stops before the chart stops--my questioning gaze almost ignores her, I set her aside.

I remembered that I had worked on her husband's (Blasius Grein) line not long ago and figured I did not have the information I needed to go any further. I knew that I had extended her husband's line, but just assumed that I did not know where she was from and there is not much to do when you don't know where someone is from. At some point, I found that she and her husband immigrated together with the same surname. That means they got married before coming. Somehow I forgot about this important fact, and was still assuming that I did not know where she was from. When I wrote my July 4th list of immigrants, I started thinking about it again. When I finally realized that Veronica was probably from some place near her husband--if not the same town--I pushed the thought to research her aside, thinking I must have already looked at her husband's town (or else, how could I have found his ancestors?). And, if I looked at her husband's town, I must have looked for her. Although I could not remember doing it, I knew I couldn't have overlooked such a task--at least I thought I knew that.

It turns out that I never did look at the Boxtal, Germany microfilms--a realization that I only had today. I ordered the films a few days ago, but did so still thinking that I was going to be "more" thorough this time, and make sure I take my time in looking for Veronica--not just Blasius' family. I did not realize all of this until I searched my digital genealogy folders, and my e-mails for all mention of the surname Grein. There was very little to be found, and certainly nothing that indicated I had ever searched the Boxtal microfilms. I still had a hard time believing it. How could I possibly forget to look for my great grandmom? I think about my ancestors all the time, and who I can find more about--especially any immigrant lines that are not documented yet.

Then I started to put the pieces together. I read a post that I wrote back in August 2011. My parents and I ordered some films for a close-by town in early 2011 because we knew someone named Blasius Grein appeared there. Many Greins were in those films, but within a few months I found that our Blasius Grein was actually part of the "Germany, Births and Baptisms, 1558-1898" collection on FamilySearch.org. That collection revealed that he was from Boxtal. I actually used extractions on FamilySearch to extend the line multiple generations, but it said nothing about Veronica. At the time, I may not have known she was married to him before they moved to the USA. I never ordered the films. I was in college at the time, and became sidetracked. I suppose that I was satisfied with the extracts, and over time I forgot exactly what I had done. In 2012 I visited the Family History Library (FHL) in Salt Lake City, Utah several times, having much success. At no point during that time did I decide to look at the Grein microfilms. I am not sure why. Perhaps because of the major success for finding other new names, or forgetting about it.

What makes it even more perplexing is that I've spent a couple thousand dollars this year to hire experts in countries of origin and towns that have not been filmed by the LDS FHL. It has been very successful, with hundreds of direct ancestors resulting. I believed that I had exhausted the resources for my German immigrant lines, as far as what has been filmed for Germany and available through the FHLC. This was all based on faulty memory.

I'm not sure that Veronica will be from Boxtal, but at least now I am not working on false assumptions anymore when it comes to her. I know that I can at least start with Boxtal and then look at surrounding parishes. At least now I am back on track.

I have a very similar story that happened to me with another immigrant line, where I never did order the films. This other example was another one that I started to review because of writing my July 4th list. I realized that I had overlooked it so many times, thinking that I must have already viewed the films or something. Needless to say, I've ordered that film too.

I'll let you know how it goes. Moral of the story: even if you are a genealogist 24/7, you might be forgetting one of your relatives. Pull out a 9 generation chart, make a detailed list of certain types of people that you like to research (immigrants, military, etc), and then carefully verify that you really have pursued all the leads that you think you did.

11 July 2013

Reader Comments: FamilySearch Groups (my thoughts)

In response to my post, FamilySearch Groups, child of FamilySearch Forums, I received the following feedback. The author was concerned about whether FamilySearch Groups could replace forums, and what the real practicalities are. She also mentioned a previous attempt at Groups on another platform that FamilySearch chose to discontinue.


There was a 'Groups' site put up for a while on a sort of simplified MySpace platform with irrelevancies such as popularity votes (do not belong on a genealogical-information or technical-information discussion board), photo albums (ditto), options to 'join' groups on a narrow range of topics. The 'group' *owners* could edit or delete others' posts. There was no geographic-location (such as country/state/county) or topical hierarchy and no way to do a subject search. Separate registration was required, but there was no statement on the pages as to site ownership, privacy policies, etc. It is long gone. ... the 'Groups' site I described was very short-lived, an experiment for feedback, announced to Forums viewers. It was not designed in such a way as to be able to fulfill the functions of the Forums.

A 'social network' would not be a replacement for the Forums (or what they could have been if given a chance, publicized and un-buried). There is also the FS Facebook site, which can not fulfill the Forums' function. Perhaps you or someone could share what the purpose/organization is of the Yammer-hosted site -- actually in practice, not dreamed-of goals. Then someone reading it might be inclined to ask for an invitation.

My response follows:

Okay..., your request is a fair point. I did not explain the realities of this new FamilySearch Groups yammer site. I was simply making an announcement so that people who wanted to check it out could do so. I agree that it is better if we can understand what it is actually for. :)

When I say it is like a replacement for Forums, I am not making an official statement. I am simply expressing the thoughts of some of the FamilySearch staff, that they are trying to see if this can help fill that void in some ways. I agree that it is significantly different than forums, and for some people will not fill the same need.

I personally find the groups are best so far for insider interaction. In fact, that is what yammer has tried to provide, a social network designed for use internally by companies. Each company can have their own social network and they are not connected to any other yammer network. Partially, it depends on what the user wants and what they like. I find it is a decent place to have open conversations with other Family History Consultants and get success stories and advice about how to run a local family history program well, and what has worked for them. It seems great for this so far.

Some of the FamilySearch staff and volunteers over yammer think it will expand to more than this, but only time will tell I guess.

Caleb Love is the new Community Development Manager and is one of the people behind FamilySearch existing on yammer. He posted slides that explain yammer and what it can do, but you can't see them unless you get into Yammer. https://www.yammer.com/familysearchgr...

I think if they [FamilySearch] want more involvement they should make a blog post or something, but [in my perception] they are not all on the same page and are not sure if they are ready to recruit people. It is just another optional place to talk, and like I said I think it is best for internal-like questions about how to run a successful effort to serve patrons and stuff like that.

Feedback author's response

Michael, thank you for the explanation.

What you describe was indeed one of the seldom-utilized functions of the well-hidden and now-defunct Forums message-boards formerly hosted on FamilySearch.org.

Some more thoughts from me

Do I really have to log into yet another website to keep up with things?
When I first joined the group, it was not clear to me what the purpose was or how it would work. One of my first worries was whether I had to spend time logging into yet another social site to keep up with things. It turns out that there are several options so that you do not have to log in. Personally, I use the Yammer app on my smart phone to get instant notifications when anyone says something in a conversation I am in. You can also choose what kinds of e-mail notifications you get (and even reply via e-mail to post back to the thread). So that concern turned out to be no problem at all.

What is the void? What was the void?
I have some doubts about how well this site will catch on with the overall genealogical or FamilySearch community. I also have some doubts about the ability to use it to replace forums. Then again, I never thought forums had really established itself as anything worth replacing. In having the Forums beta, I think we were climbing a mountain towards a goal that I don't think we ever reached. I'm not sure that the need was clearly defined, well enough. When I think of forums, the first thing I think of is posting a question that could sit out there for years (about one of your ancestors) until a distant cousin stumbles on it and responds. I have had significant levels of success over long periods of time in reading and posting to such forums on sites like Genealogy.com, Ancestry.com and other more specialized sites (like sites for Scottish or German forums). The forums on FamilySearch never had enough exposure to feel relevant to me--even though I used them--, and I don't miss them. I don't remember ever doing a Google search for an ancestor and seeing a result in a FamilySearch forum. This has happened several times for me in respect to other forums such as the ones I have mentioned (Ancestry.com, Genealogy.com etc.). There are a lot of places online for genealogists to talk to each other, so it seems to me like an internal place (Yammer) fills the only major void we had. It is a great place to encourage each other among volunteers, missionaries, and consultants, to build moral, and share success stories. It also feels like a good place to be heard by more FamilySearch employees about issues related to your volunteer assignment. Because it is more closed, it is good for conversations that might discuss ward family history programs and other more church-specific efforts. The other voids are filled by existing external websites (outside FamilySearch control). Unless I am missing the vision? I would love to have a response from FamilySearch, and hear all of your thoughts too. What are the voids, as far as online communications are concerned? What should FamilySearch seek to provide?

Features I like:
When you view your own profile page, you see all the conversations that you have been involved in. This way it is easier to find things. You also can look back at your unread messages screen, notifications screen, and e-mails in your external inbox (if you have those turned on). It is much better than Facebook in the sense that you can search the site to find posts. Facebook does not allow searching for text inside groups. You can also tag posts to make them easier to find, but I have not been using that. Once you are in, you can invite any friends whose e-mail addresses you know (so that not everyone has to fill out the form to join).

Regardless of my questions/concerns (which I hope will be addressed), I'm excited and pleased to be part of FamilySearch Groups.

To request to join, fill out the official form: https://lds.qualtrics.com/SE/?SID=SV_a60ZNWgw39q5nrn

08 July 2013

Big FamilySearch Announcements at RootsTech 2014 (my speculations)

RootsTech is where the new genealogy technology is revealed.

[Updates inside brackets, and some lists re-arranged to show completed items in chronological order]

Like any good genealogy technology enthusiast might, I have come up with ideas about what the future could bring. I know some serious gentechies will doubt my authority to make such statements, so let me tell you up front that this post is 99% opinion. No authority has been assumed. You might want to read it though, because it is 1% truth.

Why would I know anything worth reading on this topic? I've been at the last 2 RootsTechs, and watched the prior one online. I also make a hobby out of finding out what is coming at FamilySearch. I read their blog, their feedback pages--employees drop details about what is coming--, other blogs, talk to employees, and participate in numerous other ways to be sure that I am as well informed as possible. FamilySearch deliberately does not give a lot of advance detail about some of their projects, so staying informed of what they are working on takes some real effort. I will be happy to reveal my sources for any point you ask for more detail on.

The "Big FamilySearch Announcements at RootsTech 2014" title is just used here as an eye catcher. Deadlines are rarely given for the projects listed below and may appear before or after RootsTech. Now that we're done with that disclaimer, on to the list.

PS. If you want more explanation [or my source] about a topic please ask nicely in a comment. I'll be happy to respond to comments in future posts. There is a lot more I could say about any of the given bullet points.

Family Tree
  • Generate a pre-filled search form by going to search from a person page on the tree [added ~7/19/13]
  • Attach FamilySearch historical records directly to the tree without having to go to the source box [added ~7/24/13]
  • Selectively share living people on the tree with private groups
  • Attach a source like a census to everyone in the household all at once
  • Use cell-phone texting to interact with Family Tree (especially for countries with poor Internet)
  • Full media-included data transfers across platforms (e.g. Ancestry.com, FindMyPast)
  • [See a list of most likely historic record matches from inside a person page]
  • [Show photos on family tree view]
  • [Attach uploaded images/files to sources]
  • Audio interview and/or photos app
  • Use of the FHC printers to upload photos directly to FamilySearch.org
  • New photo viewer with zoom capability
  • Link multiple photos together (such as in multi-page documents)
  • Browser-based indexing 
  • Index corrections
  • Handwriting recognition, being studied
  • FamilySearch Linking beta comes of age 
  • [Indexing API so 3rd parties can create indexing apps (e.g. phone, Facebook, tablets)]
  • [Indexing projects can be made by societies and eventually individuals (e.g. family bible page)]
  • Specific page results
  • Better user interface
  • Provide link or searching of Community Trees
  • Finish listing all Family History Center collections
  • WorldCat will finish listing all FHLC collections
Historical Records
  • Collection-specific search fields (census, vitals first) [added ~7/29/13]
  • Volunteer project to list records at various archives
  • Expansion of US Public Records Index
  • More Italian and Latin American indexing
  • Ability to merge record text into the Family Tree during attach process
  • Notable progress on Ancestry.com-FamilySearch USA probate project
  • [Some of the following: Family Photo Albums, Information on Origin of Surname, Oral Records, Yearbooks, Newspapers]
User Interface, Help, and Social
  • Improved home page, easier navigation
  • FamilySearch Groups and other social media
  • Integrated help
  • [New LDS features to help church members integrate better with the ward and their own families]
Can you help me add to this list with things you know are being worked on?

I did a much more detailed list in January 2013: RootsTech 2013: What might FamilySearch reveal?
Some projects are in development for years, and some die out before ever going public. For example, it is still not clear what happened to the Kinfolio project. FamilySearch Labs only ever lists a very small fraction of ongoing projects.

04 July 2013

My Immigrant Ancestors: A detailed list

Note: All names link to the individual in FamilySearch Family Tree for more information, and a photograph (if available). A free account will be needed. Several New England lines on my tree end before reaching an immigrant. Those and some of the very distant, or uncertain immigrants have been left off the list. When a family came together, I list the youngest person in my direct line as the immigrant.

I hope that this increases visibility of these names so that if a cousin ever searches for one of these names they will find it. I also want to make the point for July 4th, that our nation is made of immigrants. In process of making this list, I have already thought of some new research questions. Have a list on your blog? Leave a link in the comments section.

  • Samuel McCormick, born 1831/1834, 3rd great grandfather;
    Ireland (Strabane, County Tyrone), through Philadelphia ~1849, settled in Burlington, New Jersey;
    have photo
  • Margaret Caldwell, b.1836/1840, 3gg;
    Ireland, through Philadelphia before 1850, settled in Burlington, New Jersey;
    married Samuel McCormick, 16 October 1864;
    have photo
  • Robert Hosie, b.1826, 3gg;
    Scotland (Abbey Paisley, Renfrewshire), New York 1833, s. New York and Massachusetts;
    have photo
  • Elizabeth MacGregor, b.1826, 3gg;
    Scotland (Busby, Renfrewshire), through New York ~1839, s. Massachusetts;
    m. Robert Hosie, 16 August 1846;
    have photo
  • John Philip Ament, b.1835, 3gg;
    Germany (Heuchelheim, Gießen, Hessen), New York ~1837, s. Oneida, New York;
    m. Eva Esch;
    have photo
  • Barnhard Esch, b.1802, 4gg;
    France (Hunsbach, Bas Rhin, Alsace), New York bef.1833, s. Oneida, New York;
  • Margaret Mathias, b.~1800, 4gg;
    Germany/France, New York bef.1833, s. Oneida, New York;
    m. Barnhard Esch
  • Thomas Schilling, b.~1820, 4gg;
    Germany (Pommersfelden, Franconia, Bavaria), Baltimore bef.1845, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Margaret Hahn (Anna Margaretha Hahn), b.1818, 4gg;
    Germany (Pommersfelden, Franconia, Bavaria), Baltimore bef.1845, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Thomas Schilling, 11 August 1845
  • Henry Lindemann, b.1835, 3gg;
    Germany (Oberramstadt, Hessen), Baltimore aft.1863, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Catherine Schuchmann, b.1840, 3gg;
    Germany (Oberramstadt, Hessen), Baltimore aft.1863, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Henry Lindemann, ~1863
  • Conrad Grauling (Konrad), b.1820, 4gg;
    Germany (Bleichenbach, Oberhessen), Baltimore bef.1850, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Christina Pabst, b.1826, 4gg;
    Germany (Bobenhausen II, Hessen), Baltimore ~1846, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Conrad Grauling
  • Frank Dunkes (Franciscus, Franz), b.1810, 4gg;
    Germany (Wallnsdorf, Berching, Oberpfalz, Bayern), Baltimore bef.1851, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Maria Anna Wipfelt, b.1821, 4gg;
    Germany (Memmelsdorf, Bamberg, Bavaria?), Baltimore bef.1851, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Frank Dunkes, 6 July 1851
  • John F. Hanna, b.1848, 3gg;
    Ireland, Baltimore ~1867, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Catherine Schumann
  • Conrad Schumann (Johann Conrad), b.1808, 4gg;
    Germany (Roßdorf, Darmstadt, Starkenburg), Baltimore 1836, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Mary Martha Huebner, b.~1828, 4gg;
    Germany (Melkendorf?), Baltimore ~1849, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Conrad Schumann
  • Henry Ripke (Johann Heinrich), b.1818, 4gg;
    Germany (Langforden, Oldenberg), Baltimore bef.1852, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Elisabeth Vaske (Anna Elizabeth), b.1828, 4gg;
    Germany (Essen, Oldenberg), Baltimore bef.1852, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Henry Ripke, 15 February 1852
  • Henry Bewig (Heinrich Johann Friedrich Julius Böwig), b.1845, 3gg;
    Germany (
    Obersickte, Braunschweig), Baltimore 1853, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Katherine Hecker
  • John Jacob Hecker (Johann Jacob Christian Hecker), b.1816, 4gg;
    Germany (Gellershausen, Waldeck), Baltimore bef.1845, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Catherine Lückel (Charlotte Catherine Elisabeth Christine), b.1819, 4gg;
    Germany (Braunau, Bad Wildungen, Waldeck), Baltimore ~1845/50, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. John Jacob Hecker
  • Daniel Dougherty, b.~1826, 5gg;
    Ireland (Donegal), Baltimore bef.1847, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Mary Ann Carr, b.~1828, 5gg;
    Ireland (Donegal), Baltimore bef.1847, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Daniel Dougherty, 30 October 1847
  • Rosa Steil (Teresa Rosa), b.1850, 4gg;
    Germany (Nandlstadt, Oberbayern, Bavaria), Baltimore bef.1860, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. John Thomas Dougherty
  • Blasius Grein, b.1825, 4gg;
    Germany (Boxtal, Wertheim, Mosbach, Baden), New York 1852, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Veronica Schuermer, b.~1830, 4gg;
    Germany (?Mosbach, Baden), New York 1852, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Blasius Grein
  • Albert Davis-Tebens, b.1831, 4gg;
    Germany (Wiesteling/Zwisterich/Schwistering/Wistering, Hanover), Baltimore bef.1854, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
  • Mary Reinhard (Anna Maria Aloysia Reinhard), b.1830, 4gg;
    Germany (Hochstadt am Aisch, Bavaria), Baltimore bef.1854, s. Baltimore, Maryland;
    m. Albert Davis-Tebens,
    22 January 1854
Please leave a comment if you suspect you are related to any of these.

Happy Independence Day? - A Nation of Immigrants

Warning: This post contains opinion about our broken immigration system along with a little history and genealogy.

Unfortunately, in our 237 years as a nation, we still have not learned to treat all immigrants fairly and with compassion.

history.com states:
"in the Mid-19th Century...The influx of newcomers resulted in anti-immigrant sentiment among certain factions of America’s native-born, predominantly Anglo-Saxon Protestant population. The new arrivals were often seen as unwanted competition for jobs, while many Catholics–especially the Irish–experienced discrimination for their religious beliefs. In the 1850s, the anti-immigrant, anti-Catholic American Party (also called the Know-Nothings) tried to severely curb immigration, and even ran a candidate, former U.S. president Millard Fillmore (1800-1874)..."

I am a full 1/8th Irish.

Today, many of the same people who have Irish ancestry are proud of their heritage. I am. Some of these same people are now speaking out against other ethnic groups such as Latin Americans. This behavior is a sad example of the natural man who repeats the pitfalls of our bigoted history.

I always knew that many of my ancestors must have struggled to get here, but I feel this much more clearly now that I am helping my wife to immigrate. She is from Mexico and has felt the sting of prejudice in things as simple as thoughtless comments that others give about our country being "overrun by Mexicans." Such thinking is entirely bigoted and should not have place in the heart of any American. Shortly after we married, we went to Mexico. She only had a visa and we were not well prepared for the difficult immigration system. They border patrol made her stay in Mexico and I had to come back to the USA to keep my job. You might argue that we made a mistake in going to Mexico, but even if you feel that way, I hope you have the compassion to be sympathetic. Should people be punished for wanting to visit their parents? The fact is that my wife and I have been apart for over 9 months in our first year as a couple. I did not set out to marry a foreign born person, but to me it was not a factor. I knew it would be hard to do the paperwork, but it is turning out harder than I expected. I never regret marrying her for a moment, but I am saddened that our great country can't process such a family sensitive case any quicker.

A person should be judged by their personality and not by their ethnicity. They also should not be given unjust or overbearing consequences such as large amounts of time away from a spouse. This Independence Day, may we all remember that God loves everyone just as much as he loves you or me.

02 July 2013

Helping FamilySearch at ALA 2013

Last weekend (June 27 - July 2) was the American Library Association conference in Chicago, Illinois. FamilySearch emailed local Family History Center Directors and Consultants, inviting any interested volunteers in the area to participate at their exhibit hall booth. I jumped on the opportunity.

Can you spot the FamilySearch sign?
In the past couple years, I have often been amazed at how involved FamilySearch is with the larger community. It was only in the past year that I learned that FamilySearch attends non-genealogy conferences like those of ALA and NAGARA. The library community loves FamilySearch. One example of FamilySearch's work that happens behind the scenes became especially evident to me during the conference. I met the manager over FamilySearch Books and learned that he was there to build relationships. I had assumed that all the FamilySearch employees at the conference were manning the booth, but he only came over for a few minutes between his networking efforts.

During the last hour things slowed down and I made a tower out of these leather FamilySearch bookmarks.
Many attendees came up to me at the booth to express their gratitude for our services. I volunteered all day Saturday and after having an amazing time that day, I went back for half of Sunday. We promoted FamilySearch.org for personal use, and other FamilySearch resources. We also offered information about becoming a FamilySearch affiliate library and being able to receive our microfilms. Our 4-6 volunteers/staff were often all speaking with people at our booth. Our 8-10 computers running FamilySearch.org were mostly all in use at several points.

It was fun for me to feel like an insider and talk with some employees of FamilySearch who contribute so much to our genealogical community. I was pleased about the location of the conference, and the opportunity to go to the building that bears my surname. I was even pleasantly surprised to recognize other volunteers that I did not expect to see. If you ever have such an opportunity I highly recommend it.

Out of all the places I could take my picture with my surname... :)

Living on FamilySearch.org

If you spend as much time on FamilySearch as your loved ones spend on Facebook, perhaps you are living on FamilySearch.org. That could be me.

Today's post is about a different topic though.

United States, Public Records Index, released June 28, 2013.

This collection is a major step by FamilySearch to include records of living people. This index is obtained from a third party.(1) There are many websites that feature the addresses, numbers, suggested relatives, and even birth date of almost everyone in the USA.(2) That isn't new, but FamilySearch has only now joined the list after noticing demand, and a careful overview from their legal team.(3) In helping beginners, I have seen them try to type the name of a living relative. Finding living relatives is an important part of genealogy. I'm an advocate because I found many cousins this way. I also use such sources for my career as an investigative genealogist and heir searcher. With the recent panic about identity theft and privacy, many question whether this historically public information should now be restricted. Names and addresses have been public since the 1800's in cities who have developed city directories, and when phones became popular, that data was public in phone books. Possible relatives may seem new, but is done by comparing individuals living at the same address. This analysis can be done in databases with ease because of computers. The Internet also makes it easier to show birth dates. Heir searchers, mineral and property rights workers, and other investigative careers rely on all of this data to complete their work and distribute assets to the correct persons. The data aggregation is done by 3rd parties, but comes from public sources like phone books, property records, tax records etc. Such records can be found on many county websites.

This data contained in this collection is described on the collection page and associated wiki page. The collection name actually appears to be a place holder for future locality expansion. The collection today only includes New York City. The current description reads:

"This collection is an index of names, birthdates, addresses, phone numbers, and possible relatives of people who resided in the five boroughs of New York City between 1970 and 2010. These records were generated from telephone directories, driver licenses, property tax assessments, credit applications, voter registration lists and other records available to the public."(4)

1. Source information, "From a third party aggregator of publicly available information," https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2199956.
2. Examples: Ancestry.com, U.S. Public Records Index, Volume 1. Intelius.com. ZabaSearch.com etc.
3. Conversation with Dan Peay, multi-area manager and collections strategist at FamilySearch.
4.  https://familysearch.org/search/collection/2199956

01 July 2013

FamilySearch Groups, child of FamilySearch Forums

On November 18, 2009 FamilySearch introduced FamilySearch Forums to consultants and center directors (volunteers at any of the 4,600+ Family History Centers). Thanks to Renee of Renee's Genealogy Blog for posting the announcement. Click through to read it.

Even though message boards and forums have been around since the early days of the Internet, at the time, I think this was somewhat of a new thing for FamilySearch. The forum web software that was used on FamilySearch was not top-of-the-line by any means. As often happens with discontinued features, there are people who miss the forums. In my view, they never were as good as existing forums on sites like Ancestry.com and RootsWeb. They never did quite catch on, so the community and content value was lower. FamilySearch felt they were not good enough to promote with high visibility and that a better 3rd party format was needed. I believe the forums were never officially taken out of beta.

Since 2009, FamilySearch has started more than 100 research help Facebook pages. These were built in 2011 and 2012. FamilySearch sees a need in the community to provide ways for people to communicate in real-time online. FamilySearch Skype research groups was a short lived project that ran through 2012. Other platforms have been tested internally to find out what methods are most helpful to the community.

The FamilySearch Forums were officially closed on December 31, 2012. Thanks to James Tanner of Genealogy's Star for posting the announcement. Click through to read it.

For my internship with FamilySearch, I actually got to help with the Facebook genealogy research pages. I felt that it was better than the forums because it allowed more social interaction, notification options, a cleaner/brighter look, easier to invite others to get involved etc. One of the biggest downsides of Facebook is that you cannot search the text of wall posts, and that can be important when you are looking for an old question or answer.

FamilySearch Groups has brought together the best of both worlds. Built on the social enterprise platform known as Yammer, FamilySearch Groups feel a lot like using a Facebook wall with the addition of important features like searching all posts.

Update: Sorry for the bad link to FamilySearch Groups. I took it down. You must be added by someone who is already in FamilySearch Groups. FamilySearch has made an official request form for those who want to join. Click here to fill it out.

Although it is in its early infancy, Groups is available to the public. Official invitations are scarce because FamilySearch recognizes that much more should be done before creating large influxes of traffic. If you are into testing new things or social media, you should to join right away. You'll need a new account because it runs on a 3rd party framework called Yammer.

When people see the site for the first time they often wonder how to keep track of posts in the new environment and how it can benefit them. Perhaps that will be the subject of future posts.

27 June 2013

FamilySearch's new website for Archives

FamilySearch has a page for archivists and potential collections donors. This page gives summaries of the records services FamilySearch can provide to archives and government agencies.

It can be accessed via the About page of FamilySearch.org (a link at the bottom of the new layout).

FamilySearch Archives has a fresh, more inviting look. The most notable additions appear to be a map showing the number of digitization cameras in each country, and a form for collections agents to initiate contact with FamilySearch.

This is an improvement over expecting such people to wait for FamilySearch to solicit relationships or cause them to fight their way through the Support system that other questions go to.

What do you think of the new design?

26 June 2013

My 2013 goals update

Personal Tree Research
Find 10 or more end-of-line extensions
  1. Frederick Bewig (emigration 1853) ancestors through ~1678
  2. Henrietta Ehlers (emigration 1853) ancestors through ~1748
  3. Johannes Schneider (b.1754) ancestors through ~1610
  4. Christina Adler (daughter emigrated pre-1849) ancestors through ~1660
  5. Mary Reinhard (emigration pre-1854) ancestors through ~1703
  6. Margaret Hahn (emigration pre-1845) ancestors through ~1726
  7. Frank Dunkes (emigration pre-1851) ancestors through ~1692
Personal Tree Organization and Sharing
  1. Learn Spanish
    I explored lots of programs before settling on a goal to complete the 5 levels of Rosetta Stone. I am on level 2, but still would like to complete the program by the end of the year if possible. While my own ancestry is not Hispanic, I can see I will have the opportunity to serve others in this area.
  2. Transcribe or help share 200 pages (family letters, documents etc.)
    This one is low priority, but worthwhile.
    I have about 20 letters/documents in two collections:
    Palmer B. Holdridge Civil War Letters
    Transcriptions of family letters
  3. Share photos and other media on FamilySearch Family Tree
Career and Education
  1. Attend RootsTech 
  2. Teach a family history Sunday School 
  3. Help provide feedback and stay involved in social media 
  4. Continue as usual with work