Last week I spoke at the BYU family history conference and it gave me the opportunity to review a number of software products that have been either released, or significantly updated over the past year. There are some truly outstanding products on the market that have emerged. Over the next few weeks I’ll introduce (or reintroduce) a few of these great products.
When thinking about our family tree we often think upwards. Finding additional direct line ancestors is often our goal. This is a good thing to pursue, but if your family tree is anything like mine, it can be a difficult task. I have had many family members who, for decades, have been researching my ancestors.
You’ve heard the story before. Girl meets boy. Boy falls in love with girl. Girl proposes. And soon the couple finds themselves standing in a county clerk’s office asking about marriage licenses. Marriage records are an incredibly valuable resource for genealogists. Marriage records can give information about family members, dates, places, and more. FamilySearch.org has a large collection of records relating to marriage records. In this class, we will discuss the history of marriage records, learn about marriage records from different localities, and then talk about the resources of FamilySearch.org relating to marriage.
When I purchased the newspaper about four and a half years ago I did not understand the genealogical value of community papers. Unlike the large daily newspapers that are struggling to stay alive, community newspapers are, in general, doing well. They provide content that can be found nowhere else. There is very little content online or being written, other than in social media, about the events at a local level. This is the staple of community newspaper content.
What did our great great great grandparents care about? In many ways this was the focus of the talk by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at RootsTech.
This last week I was part of the beta test for LDS Member access to MyHeritage, FindMyPast, and Ancestry. I set up free accounts. It was easy to do and the access to more experiences and records is great. Just after I set up the accounts I received a welcome email from MyHeritage. It was a nice email and invited me to do a few things on the site. I went back to the site and added a little more information to my tree. I liked the ease of adding information on MyHeritage and thought that their process of adding me as a new customer was good. Today, however, the real fun began.
Several years ago I made trip to the Family History Library. I was just beginning to do family history research and I had my laptop with PAF installed and all the information that I had been given by my mother and grandmother. My grandmother had spent her entire life researching. She had done much herself (I have about twenty family history books with stories and photos she created) and had hired professional researchers as well.
RootsTech started out with a bang. The conference will have more than 30,000 attendees with more than 4,000 youth attending on Saturday. The conference will also be broadcasting to more than 600 locations worldwide. These locations will hold local family history conferences in conjunction with RootsTech. It is expected that the total number of individuals that will participate in RootsTech, either directly or through one of the local conferences, will be nearly 150,000. That makes RootsTech the largest family history conference in the world, and it is right in our back yard. If you have time on Saturday to head down to the Salt Palace it will be worth the trip. On Saturday, Neil L Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles will be speaking along with Elder Foster and Elder Packer of the Seventy. Studio C will be performing and John Bytheway will be speaking.
Many people who become involved in family history research look at what other people have already completed on their common lines and then begin research where the first blank appears. There is a reason that Grandma or Aunt Clara stopped where they did. It was hard research!
This week’s column is a little more personal than normal. During the holidays my family came together. I am the youngest of six children and all of us except one of my sisters met at my dad’s house one evening. We talked for a number of hours. We reminisced, complained about our health, and shared information about our families. It was a nice evening.
Family history is really exciting for those who do it. Those who have not been bitten by the bug may feel overwhelmed or disinterested. I love helping individuals begin their family history and always maintain that you can research like a professional even if you are not one. Simply learn to do it right the first time and fix it right for future generations, and you will have some great (fun and interesting) training material for them when they are ready to begin.
When working on your genealogy, remember to follow up on any mention of a funeral home. Their records provide researchers with information about the individual’s death and more. They may show just a few details or the minutia involved in planning a funeral down to what flowers were sent and any clothes or beautician services purchased by the deceased’s loved ones. Details like who paid for the funeral might help identify family members and their addresses. Ministers who are listed as performing the funeral service provide clues as to additional church records that you will want to locate and research.
RootsTech is fast approaching and the conference looks better than ever. 2014 RootsTech will be held at the Salt Palace from February 5 to 8. February 5 will be a new day dedicated to software developers and will be called the “Innovators Summit”. This day will go back to the roots of RootsTech and have time dedicated to the developers so they can be in the exhibit hall during the main conference.
One of my favorite parts of Christmas is getting the mail. I love Christmas cards. Cards are such a wonderful part of the season, getting to hear from family and friends that we don’t have the opportunity to hang out with as much as we may like. I like the ones that are simply signed and I love the newsy Christmas letters too.
One of the most common things I hear from individuals is that all their ancestors have been found. I have yet to ever to find someone for whom it is true that all their ancestors have been found. From an ancestral perspective at 10 generations we each have 256 ancestors. If you include their children and spouses the number is more likely to be about 2,000.
Family History can be a solo activity. It is ironic that the nature of genealogical research is often that it isolates us from our families. We find ourselves alone in a family history center or The Family History Library at a computer or a microfilm reader looking at records. We spend time pouring over transcriptions late into the evening when the rest of the family has gone to bed.
MyHeritage announced this week that they have reached a landmark agreement with FamilySearch. In the announcement they said, “MyHeritage, the popular online family history network, and FamilySearch.organnounced today the signing and commencement of a strategic partnership that forges a new path for the family history industry. Under this multi-year partnership, MyHeritage will provide FamilySearch with access to its powerful technologies and FamilySearch will share billions of global historical records and family tree profiles spanning hundreds of years with MyHeritage. This will help millions of MyHeritage and FamilySearch users discover even more about their family history.
Ancestry.com this week announced the acquisition of Find-a-Grave. Find-a-Grave has been a volunteer-led effort that has provided grave information for individuals all over the United States. Through the efforts of their volunteers they have amassed the largest collection of grave information online in the United States.
Family history is increasingly being done on mobile devices. The introduction of the iPad and the new Android and Windows tablet devices means that family history information can be carried anywhere. It has also made capturing photos of documents, headstones, and other sources much simpler. FamilySearch is working on a mobile application that will be available for users next year and this week Ancestry announced a number of improvements in their mobile application. Mobile has become a growing part of Ancestry’s business. The following are the improvements to their mobile application. It is free and can be found in the app store.
This last week Ancestry.com announced a new agreement with FamilySearch to publish a billion new records over the next few years. The agreement and relationship between FamilySearch and Ancestry is significant and will add a large amount of new records that have never been published before.
The Federation of Genealogical Societies conference is going in right now in Ft. Wayne, Indiana home of the Allen County Public Library. The Allen County Library is one of the largest genealogical libraries in the United States.
Over the past several years FamilySearch has been working with a number of commercial companies, other non-profits, and many archives to help publish more records. FamilySearch now has more than 200 cameras operating worldwide in archives capturing images of birth, marriage, death, probate, military, and a variety of other records. This work adds to the more than 3.3 billion images already in the Granite Mountain Records Vault.
This week FamilySearch and the other libraries involved in their book digitization project (BYU, Allen County Public Library, Clayton Library, and Mid-Continent Library) announced a milestone of 100,000 books published online. The effort to digitize books that are out of copyright, and make them available on FamilySearch.org has been ongoing for several years, but has picked up speed over the last two years.
Robert Kehrer is the product manager in charge of developing search at FamilySearch. This last week Robert wrote on the FamilySearch blog about some new features being released on FamilySearch. These new features are a wonderful new addition for helping to find ancestors quaickly and accurately . The following are the details of the changes.
Most individuals involved in family history know about the wonderful Family History Library in Salt Lake. Here, researchers from around the world come to find information about their ancestors. It has long been one of the best places worldwide to do genealogical research.
I had a great experience earlier this week. My son has shown some interest in family history. My wife has ancestors in England that we have been researching for some time and I was stuck on where to go next. I invited my son down to the Family History Library and we spent about two hours with a research consultant in B-2 (the British Area). One of the research consultants helped us and I learned a new technique for finding ancestors and learning more information about them. In the space of less than two hours we were able to identify more than thirty new ancestors we had not found before and gain clues about many others.
Over the past few months I have had the opportunity to try out MyHeritage.com. MyHeritage has been around for a few years now. Their primary product has been family trees and they have specialized in helping families work together.
When many people think of family history, they think of Aunt Mabel. The image conjured up is that of someone who is a little eccentric whose idea of a good time is going to a cemetery to take rubbings of headstones or visiting a county courthouse to pour through county records.
Wednesday night, at the blogger dinner, FamilySearch made a number of announcements. First off, they released that there are more than 6,700 registrants in advance of the conference. This makes RootsTech the largest genealogical conference in North America. In only its third year that is a remarkable achievement. It has become the “not to miss” conference in the genealogical world. If you did not pre-register you can still register at the door. A one day pass is only $89. The exhibit hall is open for free.
After six years of development and testing FamilySearch has released its Family Tree product to the general public. I have written about new.FamilySearch.org and then Family Tree a number of times over the past few years as FamilySearch did regular releases of the software to try to perfect the experience for those researching their ancestors.
The growth of indexed family history records has allowed the development of new family history experiences. The goal of a variety of companies has been to allow individuals with less genealogical experience to have success.
It is nearly time again this year for RootsTech. This has become one of the best genealogical conferences in the United States, and it is right in our back yard. The conference runs from March 21-23. This year will have more sessions, a bigger display floor, and larger attendance that ever before.
I published this article a few years ago, but recently I have received some questions about it again so I thought I would re-print the article. If you have information that shows your line traced back to Adam, I don’t mean to offend you. I only hope to dispel the misinformation that exists on this topic.
If you have Mormon immigrant ancestors there is a resource of which you may be unaware. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has substantial records of those who travelled to Utah during the period when the saints were commanded to gather to Utah.
There has been significant focus on the Social Security Death Index by Congress in the last year. It is a good example of government reacting to public misunderstanding and actually making a problem they are trying to solve worse rather than better.
Recently the Social Security Administration reported the most popular baby names from 1901. The following is the list. This may give you some insight into why your grandparents or great grandparents have their name:
Virtually all of us are immigrants. Our ancestors may have come across on the Mayflower, or in one of the subsequent waves of immigration. We may have ancestors from Germany, England, Wales, Scotland, Italy, Africa, China, Japan, Mexico, Brazil, or any one of a hundred other countries that have made up the wonderful melting pot that has formed the United States. We are a nation of immigrants.
The online world has created many opportunities to find additional information and connect with others who are researching our ancestors like never before. The ability to search indexes and view the original images from home at our convenience is changing the world of family history. Digital is here to stay and will continue to enhance our ability to identify our ancestors, but it does bring some challenges.