Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Friday, February 21, 2020

New Feature on the FamilySearch Family Tree: Unfinished Attachments

You may or may not have noticed a new feature on the Family Tree: Unfinished Attachments. These new links tell users when there is more information in the source than has been attached to people in the Family Tree. If I click on one of the links, I will see one or more entries showing people who are listed in the document on the left side showing the record but not yet attached to anyone list of people in the Family Tree on the right side of the screen. Here is an example.

In this case, the first person listed in white indicating he is not attached, Henry M Tanner, is mentioned twice and is already attached above so this name can be ignored. The second name does not belong to the family but could be a relative and you might now have a research opportunity. In this particular case, the second name, J Golden Kimball, is not a relative and likewise could be ignored, but if you want to make sure all of the people are included you could find this person in the Family Tree and attach this record.

What this example does show is that there is sometimes a lot more information in the records than we initially extract and periodically reviewing the records could give you a whole new line of research.

For more complete instructions, see the FamilySearch Blog post, "New FamilySearch Feature “Unfinished Attachments” Brings New Discoveries to Your Tree."

I am finding a lot of skipped and omitted information because of this new feature.

See our new Explorations Videos on The Family History Guide YouTube Channel

Explorations: Iceland

The Family History Guide is producing a whole series of Exploration videos. You can see all of them on our YouTube Channel. Here is another example of the series.

Explorations: France

Be sure and stop by and see us all at RootsTech 2020 in Salt Lake City, Utah on February 26 -29, 2020.

Thursday, February 20, 2020

How Complete Were the US Federal Censuses?
Gaining a historical perspective is difficult. Very few genealogists have an extensive background in history and particularly the history of the places where their ancestors lived and died. For example, let's suppose that in the year 2020 you live in a large metropolitan area of the United States. The current population of the New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA MSA (Metropolitan Statistical Area) is about 19.9 million people. See "List of metropolitan statistical areas 2018." Compare that figure with the entire population of the United States at the time of the first U.S. Federal Census in 1790 of about 3.9 million residents. See "U.S. Population Throughout History." Of course, back in 1780, the U.S. government did not count the Native American or Spanish populations. Interestingly, the population of Utah, where I presently live in Provo, is about 3.2 million or roughly the same as the entire United States in 1790. The current population of Utah County, where Provo is located, is roughly equal to the entire estimated population of the United States in about 1730 or about 600,000 people.

From a genealogical viewpoint, the actual number of people in the part of North America who would have been counted in a European immigrant oriented census if one had been held before 1790 was fairly limited. The estimated European immigrant population of North American (excluding Spanish speaking people) started out in 1610 at about 350 and increased to about 3.9 million in 1790. Between 1790 and 1850 when the U.S. Federal Census first listed the entire family membership, the population is estimated to have increased to 23.1 million. We always need to remember that population estimates are cumulative and a baby born in 1610 could have still been living in 1690. Likewise, the current population estimate of the United States of about 327.2 million people includes people who could have been born in about 1920.

Now getting into the numbers, here is a chart from the U.S. Census Bureau with the number of people counted in each of the U.S. Federal Censuses. You can click on the image to see more detail or on the link to see the original.
This still leaves the question of how accurate are these numbers? There has been a new study done as reported in the following article.

Hacker, J. David. "New Estimates of Census Coverage in the United States, 1850—1930." Social Science History 37, no. 1 (2013): 71-101. Accessed February 20, 2020.

Access to the article is limited to subscribers or subject to a paywall, but the abstract indicates that there has always been an undercount and that the 1870 U.S. Federal Census has the highest rate of omissions. Because of the relationship between the U.S. Census numbers governmental representation, the issue of an undercount is highly politicized. Estimates of undercounts from 1880 to 1980 range from a low of 1.4% in the 1980 U.S. Federal Census to a high of 7.4 % in the 1890 census which was lost due to a fire and government bungling. The older estimates of the undercount in the 1850, 1860, and 1870 censuses range from 9% to as high as 23%. See the following article.

King, Miriam L., and Diana L. Magnuson. "Perspectives on Historical U.S. Census Undercounts." Social Science History 19, no. 4 (1995): 455-66. Accessed February 20, 2020. doi:10.2307/1171475.

The fact that there is an undercount should alert genealogists to the possibility that an over-reliance on census records to exclusion of other records would be extremely unwise. If you apply the figures for the undercount to the estimates for the population, you can begin to see that a missing name would not be an unusual situation to encounter.

One solution is to search for people in multiple census records particularly if there are state or local censuses. Even if a person was overlooked in one census, it is always possible that the person was counted in a succeeding census enumeration. These issues with the U.S. Census do not affect the utility of the census records, but they do imply that the undercount renders the census records unreliable, the numbers merely show the need to do thorough and as nearly possible using all the available records. 

Wednesday, February 19, 2020

Teaching Classes at RootsTech 2020

RootsTech 2020 has a busy schedule of regular classes for the Conference but you should also be aware that there are lots more classes presented in the Expo Hall by the various companies and entities. You may find that these classes are more pertinent to each particular entity than those in the classrooms. Obviously, some of the booths are from companies that are selling their products but the people presenting the classes are not necessarily connected to the companies. There are also games, giveaways, and prizes.

As always, I will have a busy time at RootsTech 2020. I have a number of classes to teach. I will teach two classes at the MyHeritage booth; one on Thursday at 5:30 and one on Saturday at 12:30. Here is a link to the whole MyHeritage schedule. There will be classes almost all day each day of the Conference. MyHeritage has a full schedule of other activities planned. Here is a short summary from an email I received.
From the moment the Expo Hall opens, MyHeritage will have a jam-packed schedule of lectures, demos, and activities. You’ll have the opportunity to learn from talented genealogists and DNA experts, meet some of the people behind our innovative technologies, and have fun when you join our social activities. Did I forget to mention you can win some prizes? ;-)

Beyond all that, many booth surprises await. Travel back in time and experience the Mayflower in a way that will forever change the way you view this historical event. Colorize your black and white photos and see your family history come to life with our new MyHeritage In Color™ feature. Participate in lots of fun games and activities that will help you enjoy family history in a new (and highly entertaining) way.
I will also be teaching at the Brigham Young University Family History booth. This is a photo from last year

For BYU, my classes are at 1:00 on Thursday, 1:00 on Friday, and 4:00 on Friday. there is a full schedule of classes from other presenters every day during the conference.

I will also be available at the Media Hub with the other Ambassadors although I do not have a fixed schedule.

Finally, last but not the least, My wife, Ann, and I will be spending a lot of time teaching, helping, and answering questions at The Family History Guide booth.

Here is a photo of Bob Taylor teaching a class. Even if you don't want to listen to a class, you can always come by the booth and sit and talk for a while.

Look for me and be sure to stop me and talk.

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Historical Images Tool Finds UnIndexed Records in FamilySearch Catalog
To begin discussing the new Historical Images Tool, I think it is a good idea to know what it does and does not do. To understand what it does do, you need to understand why the tool was needed at all. Going back in time, FamilySearch's originating organization, the Genealogical Society of Utah (GSU), began microfilming genealogical records back in 1938. Eventually, the GSU amassed approximately 2.4 million rolls of microfilm. The GSU adopted the tradename of "FamilySearch" and began doing business as FamilySearch. In 2017 FamilySearch discontinued its microfilm circulation services. The majority of FamilySearch's vast microfilm collection (2.4M rolls) has now been digitized and are available online. The remaining microfilms (less than 350,000 rolls) are being digitally scanned and are projected to be completed sometime in 2021. See "UPDATE: FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm." Before this date, FamilySearch had already converted its record acquisition efforts from microfilm to digital images. Record digitization is ongoing with more than 300 camera crews around the world and as noted above, the remaining microfilm is also being digitized.

According to the FamilySearch Company Facts, as of January 2020, there are about 7.77 billion searchable names in the indexed Historical Record Collections with about 1.41 billion searchable digital images but there are another 1.73 billion digital images published only in the FamilySearch Catalog.

Now I need to explain a little about the Indexing Project. FamilySearch primarily used and current uses individuals volunteers to index the digitized records. You can read more in this article: "Indexing Makes a Difference." But as the FamilySearch Blog article entitled, "FamilySearch’s 2 Billion Digitized Records," states:
It’s important to note the difference between digital record images and indexed records. A large portion of the digital images on FamilySearch are unindexed. They can be viewed using an image viewer, but can’t be searched by name and other search variables like a fully indexed collection would be. 
Anyone can help in the process of indexing record images like these after they are digitized. Learn more about how indexing works, and give it it a try.
Now, finding the records on the website takes time and quite a bit of searching experience. I made this video a while ago to talk about this subject.

Where are the Digitized Records on

With all that, there was a need for a tool to find the unindexed records. The principal and really the only accurate way to find pertinent genealogical records is through identifying the exact place an event occurred in an ancestor's or relative's life. A general or vague place is almost entirely useless for research. Very few names are so unique that a name search will find only one particular individual.

Just recently, FamilySearch introduced the Historical Images Tool to help find those unindexed records. Hopefully, you already understand the need for this tool and will simply be thankful to have an easier way to search the Catalog but if you are just now learning where all the rest of the digital images are, I hope you understand what you have been missing.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Over a Million Colorized Photos in 5 Days from MyHeritage

Quoting from the blog post entitled, "MyHeritage in Color™ Goes Viral: Over a Million Photos Already Colorized!"
5 days ago we released an amazing feature, MyHeritage In Color™, which automatically colorizes black and white photos with breathtaking results. 
We are indebted to Jason Antic and Dana Kelley of DeOldify for developing the wonderful colorization technology upon which this feature is based. 
The response has been incredible. The feature is a sensation: in the first 5 days, more than a million photos have been colorized — and the numbers keep growing! Users from all over the world have been stunned, and sometimes tearful, at how adding color can revive memories of their loved ones and change the way they relate to the photos. Many have shared with us that the colorized pictures have sparked interest in family history among the younger generation, and that seeing their ancestors in color makes them feel more real and tangible. Hardcore genealogists have been “complaining” that they will never get any other work done and spending long nights colorizing all their photos and marveling at the new details that suddenly emerge. Even people who have had a hard time connecting to genealogy before, have been scouring their homes for black and white photos to scan and colorize and are enthusiastically sharing the results with family and friends. It’s addictive! What a joy for genealogy! 
If you haven’t joined the fun yet, try it for yourself at Anyone can colorize up to 10 photos for free, and an unlimited number of photos with a subscription.
The number is not surprising when you realize that MyHeritage has over 109 million users. Only less than 1% of the users would have to do 1 image each.  As you can see from the quote, you can colorize up to ten photos for free, but I can assure you that a subscription is worth the money.

Here is one of my old family photos showing my great uncles, Evan and Ivan Overson.

Here is the colorized version from MyHeritage.

The black and white photo is underexposed but you can see all the detail in the colorized photo. There is a link to colorize photos on the website. You can also sign up for a free subscription with some significant limitations from the paid subscription.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Stymied by the Immigrant: Part Two

Immigrants seated on long benches, Main Hall, U.S. Immigration Station.
1991 was the year with the largest number of immigrants to the United States when a total of 1,825,595 people obtained legal residence in the United States. See "Table 1. Persons Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status: Fiscal Years 1820 to 2018." But the percentage of immigrants residing in the United States hit its highest percentage in 1890 with 14.8% of the population. The number of foreign-born people living in the United States was a record of 44.4 million in 1917. The current percentage of immigrants living in the U.S. is about 13.6% of the entire population; lower than the record. See "Key findings about U.S. immigrants." Despite current beliefs, the highest number of people who obtained permanent residency in the United States in 2018 did not come from Mexico, the highest number came from the Caribbean. See "Table 2. Persons Obtaining Lawful Permanent Resident Status by Region and Selected Country of Last Residence: Fiscal Years 2016 to 2018." In 2016, ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) removed a total of 240,255 aliens, a two percent increase over FY 2015, but a 24 percent decrease from FY 2014 and the total number of Immigration and Customs Enforcement Removals has been dropping since 2012. Any numbers involving immigration are confusing because of the differences between legal entry, naturalization, deportation, and removal not to mention the political and social implications of such numbers.

Why should a genealogist be concerned about the details of the law and the numbers of immigration? This series isn't about immigration per se. It is about genealogy. The statistics can go on and on, but what they show for genealogists is that everyone in North and South America on every pedigree line will either find an end of their line with no more records available or an immigrant. Here is the rule: literally, every person (including the Native Americans) living in the country has immigrant ancestors if you believe the common consensus among scientists. See "A New History of the First Peoples in the Americas." From 1607 to the present, anyone from the United States who traces their ancestry back will eventually be looking at the existing immigration records.

So, from a genealogical standpoint, we should all be concerned about immigration. Since the passing in 1892 of "An Act to execute certain treaty stipulations relating to Chinese or the Chinese Exclusion Act." Immigration into the United States has become steadily more controversial and complicated. For example, here is a short summary of what happened with the Chinese Exclusion Act.
The Chinese Exclusion Act was a United States federal law signed by President Chester A. Arthur on May 6, 1882, prohibiting all immigration of Chinese laborers. Building on the 1875 Page Act, which banned Chinese women from immigrating to the United States, the Chinese Exclusion Act was the first law implemented to prevent all members of a specific ethnic or national group from immigrating. 
The act followed the Angell Treaty of 1880, a set of revisions to the U.S.–China Burlingame Treaty of 1868 that allowed the U.S. to suspend Chinese immigration. The act was initially intended to last for 10 years, but was renewed in 1892 with the Geary Act and made permanent in 1902. These laws attempted to stop all Chinese immigration into the United States for ten years, with exceptions for diplomats, teachers, students, merchants, and travelers. The laws were widely evaded. 
Exclusion was repealed by the Magnuson Act on December 17, 1943, which allowed 105 Chinese to enter per year. Chinese immigration later increased with the passage of the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which abolished direct racial barriers, and later by the Immigration and Nationality Act of 1965, which abolished the National Origins Formula.
At one point in my legal careers, because of my Spanish speaking background, I decided to see if I could extend my law practice into immigration law. I visited a lawyer friend who was involved in the immigration practice and borrowed some of his reference books on immigration. Almost immediately, I determined that the only thing worse than dealing with immigration was trying to work with U.S. tax law and I decided not to represent clients in either area. Fortunately, none of us need to become experts in current immigration law to research our immigrant ancestors (but it helps). The earliest records go way beyond looking at passenger lists and as we move from the 16th Century into the 21st Century the volume of records increases dramatically. For example, in my quote above, each of the changes in that one immigration law series creates a different set of records that could be searched to find the identity of an immigrant.

This series is going in-depth to discuss and identify those records that assist genealogists in finding their immigrant ancestors. Stay tuned.

For the previous post see the following:

Part One: