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.