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

Sunday, March 31, 2013

Understanding the Changing Probate Terms

One of the interesting things about probate law is its conservatism. Many of the forms and much of the terminology have remained virtually unchanged for hundreds (perhaps thousands) of years. Probate procedures arise from the need to have an orderly method of disposing of a deceased person's earthly goods to avoid, if possible, contention and sometimes bloodshed. The procedures also arise from the desire of people contemplating death, in general, to provide for survivors and distribute their property according to their own wishes, rather than those of their family and friends. This repetitious and very common need has resulted in standard procedures depending on the culture of the deceased.

To the benefit of genealogists, these probate procedures have produced a huge amount of valuable family history related information. Unfortunately, to some extent, these records appear impenetrable due to the formulaic and archaic language used in the procedures and documents. Attorneys spend much of their time in law school just learning the language of law and any genealogist that wishes to use these valuable documents, must to some extent, make some of the same effort. 

Changes in the law in the United States during the past 50 years or so have dramatically changed the legal procedures for probate in many of the states and have also affected the terminology. If you were to visit a probate attorney today and discuss making a Will, you would likely become engaged in a discussion of Living Wills, Trusts and Powers of Attorney, rather than simply drafting a Will. I do not have the inclination to write a treatise on modern probate law but there are some radical changes in the terminology which I find useful to understand from the standpoint of genealogy rather than probate law as such.

First, the person making a Will is called the testator (male) or testatrix (female).  When making a Will, the testator appoints someone to administer or dispose of the estate. The word "estate" refers to any property that survives the death of the testator and needs to be distributed to the heirs and assigns. An heir is a peson designated by law who is entitled to inherit property from the deceased. An "assign" is a person, possible not designated by law, who is given a specific item of property. The giving of this specific property is called a bequest.

The main function of probate procedures is to have a way to provide for the orderly transfer of titled property such as real estate but the procedures also encompass the transfer of untitled personal property.

Now, beginning in about 1964 in the United States, the American Bar Association, with others, formed the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws or NCCUSL to draft suggested uniform laws. The idea here was to try to regularize all the differences in the probate laws and procedures that had arisen over the years between the different states in the United States and to try and curb some of the gross abuses such as outrageous billing practices by attorneys.

The Model Uniform Probate Code was promulgated in 1969 and although it was intended to apply to all 50 states, it was adopted by only sixteen states. When I attended law school beginning in 1972 in Arizona, we studied the "newly passed" Uniform Probate Code (UPC). Over the years, the remaining states have adopted portions of the Uniform Probate Code in a piecemeal fashion. So now, rather than having a somewhat uniform set of terms and procedures in the United States, we have all of the old terms and procedures in some areas and completely different terms and procedures in others. If you would like to read more, see Wikipedia:Uniform Probate Code for links to probate related articles.

One of the most obvious changes made by the UPC was to the designation of the administrator of the estate. Historically, this person (or persons) was called the Executor (Executrix) or Administrator (Administratrix) of the Will. The UPC changes that terminology to Personal Representative of the Estate. So, if you move from Arizona to California, not only does the law change, but many of the terms and definitions change also. It is this non-uniform application of probate law that makes understanding what is happening historically in any given state a challenge to genealogists. As a side note, many of the abuses addressed by the UPC are sill going strong in non-UPC states.

One result of the changes is that when I talk about probate in Arizona, a UPC state, with a person from a non-UPC state, I have to explain a whole new set of terms and procedures.

So what do I suggest? As with many areas of interest to genealogists, including not only probate, but real estate, court records, maps, and many other areas, we need to become educated in these specific areas in order to use the records and understand what we are reading and researching.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

New Quick Views on Genealogy Videos

This is the first in a planned series of Quick Views of Genealogy on uploading photos to's Family Tree Photos program. I would appreciate some feedback and suggestions for future Quick Views. If you have any questions or things about genealogy you would like explained, I will be putting these online as I get time, hopefully, pretty regularly.

Surname books and the Reed's Corner Mystery

Many genealogists would think they had died and gone to heaven if they found an entire book about their ancestors. It is true that some of my earliest memories of "family history" came from various books my father had accumulated over the years, but as I have done more and more research about my family, I have discovered that surname books are a mixed blessing at best and misleading at worst. 

One recent experience with an ancestor book came from the venerable Tanner family book cited as:

Tanner, Maurice, and George C. Tanner. Descendants of John Tanner; Born August 15, 1778, at Hopkintown, R.I., Died April 15, 1850, at South Cottonwood, Salt Lake County, Utah. 1923.

The copy of the book I have is a revised edition cited as:

Tanner, Maurice, and George C. Tanner. Descendants of John Tanner; Born August 15, 1778, at Hopkintown, R.I., Died April 15, 1850, at South Cottonwood, Salt Lake County, Utah. 1923.

These books are helpful in giving an overview of the family and supplying dates and places not otherwise easily available. Unfortunately, few of this type of book were written when the academic standards included adding source citations for the information contained in the book. Often, however, the author was personally acquainted with some or all of the older people in the book. The Tanner book is 698 pages long and includes a reference to my own father and his family. 

The detail of the information given lends credence to the contents, but the lack of source citations is frustrating when even a minimal amount of research begins to reveal discrepancies and inconsistencies in the narrative. As with many surname books focusing on the descendants of a certain ancestor, the Tanner book has only a very brief reference to the ancestor's progenitors.  

I recently focused on John Tanner's father, Joshua Tanner (b. 27 July 1757, d. 12 September 1807). These dates have been copied by literally thousands of family trees on the Web without questioning the authenticity for years. I have verified the birth place of Joshua Tanner in Hopkinton, Washington, Rhode Island but his death and burial are more problematical. The 1923 edition of the Tanner book is available online. Here is the excerpt of the book on page 9 referring to Joshua Tanner:

From this short account, you would be led to believe that Joshua Tanner died in or near "Reed's Corners, located in Washington County, New York with an exact date of death. As I previously noted, there are no sources cited for this information. Nearly all of the online family trees I have examined have copied this information without question. So when and where did Joshua Tanner die?

He does appear in the 1800 U.S. Census living in Argyle, Washington, New York. Here is a copy of the U.S. Census record:

Year: 1800; Census Place: Argyle, Washington, New York; Roll: 26; Page: 253; Image: 249; Family History Library Film: 193714.

Is there a "Reed's Corners" in Washington County near to Argyle? Apparently, none of the thousands of descendants of Joshua Tanner have questioned the Tanner Books authority on this subject. This seems to be the common theme among the vast majority of family tree gatherers; snatch the information from a book without question. 

Here is a screenshot of Argyle, Washington, New York from Google Maps:

As you can see, the place isn't very large. Here is the historical description of the town from Wikipedia
The town was formed from the Argyll Patent of 1764 while still in Albany County, Province of New York and became a town in Charlotte County when it was created March 24, 1772. Following the American Revolution, in 1784 the State of New York renamed Charlotte County as Washington County. Since many of the original settlers were from Argyll, Scotland, they adopted the name of their native land to the town. Although population growth was slow, the town was the most populous in the county by 1790. 
In 1803, part of the town was used to establish the new Town of Greenwich.
Joshua Tanner's daughter, Thankful Tefft Tanner Barber died in Greenwich, Washington, New York. Here is a reference from RootsWeb citing sources:
Thankful's actual death date was 30 May 1832 as shown by gravestone inscriptions from the "Alpheus Barber Farm" 3 miles north of Greenwich, Washington County, New York as follows:"BARBER, Tefft T., son of Alpheus and Thankful, d. of consumption, June 16, 1827, aged 25 years, 2 months and 5 days.""Thankful, wife of Alpheus, d. May 30, 1832, aged 51 years, 5 months and 12 days""Louisa M., dau. of Alpheus and Thankful, d. April 25, 1838, aged 25 years, 8 months and 24 days."Alpheus, d. Jan. 10, 1858, aged 83 years."(see
 There is a further reference to the Alpheus Barber Farm in the Washington County, New York NyGenWeb. Here is the entry:

Alpheus Barber Farm

location: Spraguetown, 3 miles north of Greenwich.

BARBER, Tefft T., son of Alpheus and Thankful, d. of consumption, June 16, 1827 , aged 25 years, 2 months and 5 days.
Thankful, wife of Alpheus, d. May 30, 1832, aged 51 years, 5 months and 12 days.
Louisa M., dau. of Alpheus and Thankful, d. April 25, 1838, aged 25 years, 8 months and 24 days.
Alpheus, d. Jan. 10, 1858, aged 83 years. 

Published in the NY Genealogical & Biographical Record, April, 1917.
Contributed by Willard's Mountain Chapter, DAR.
Archived in the Greenwich Free Library and the NYS library.
Transcribed by Mr. O.W.Tefft.

However, I find no reference to Josua Tanner's death or burial. In fact, the Geographic Names Information System of the United States Geographic Survey shows eight places in the U.S. with the name Reed's Corners and none of them are in Washington County, New York. Here is a screenshot of a search:

You will have to click on the image to see the detail. So what are we to conclude? How useful is the entry in the Tanner book? It would be helpful if we had a burial location for Joshua Tanner, but I have yet to find that information.

If you are fortunate enough to find and use a surname book, a word to the wise, use the information with discretion.

Friday, March 29, 2013

Just in case you haven't had enough of RootsTech 2013...

Not to rush the season or anything, I am always impressed when Costco puts up their Christmas decorations in July or August, but RootsTech is trying for a new record in anticipation. Here is the announcement I got today:

Mark Your Calendars for RootsTech 2014 
We're looking forward to next year's conference, which will be held February 6-8, 2014 at Salt Palace Convention Center in Salt Lake City, Utah. To accommodate the continued growth of the conference, next year RootsTech 2014 will move to a new area at the Salt Palace Convention Center with larger classrooms and a bigger hall for the Expo! 
Registration for RootsTech 2014 will go live later this summer. 
If you have a topic or presentation idea for RootsTech 2014, please email us. A call for presentations for next year's conference will go out soon. 
We'll see you next year!
Now, I already had the Conference on my calendar, but now I guess I have to start working on presentation topics. It might help if the RootsTech folks gave us some idea of the overall theme of the Conference. I would have submitted some different topics this year had I known that before the deadline for submissions. Not complaining mind you. Just noting the fact that this information might help anyone considering presenting at the Conference. I appreciate the move to a new area of the Salt Palace, but I like to convenience of the Radisson Hotel. Anyway, I guess we will start gearing up rather sooner than later.

Otter Creek Holdings, LLC releases Legacy Mobile

Otter Creek Holdings, LLC, the parent company of, has recently released its Legacy Mobile App for the iPhone and iPad. Here is the description of the App from the iTunes store:
Legacy Mobile brings together some of the newest technology in Family History! This tool is indispensable for the genealogist in all of us. 
- Create your own family tree.- Synchronize your family data with FamilySearch–one of the world's largest genealogy databases. FamilySearch data is now available to the general public and it's free!- Add pictures to anyone in your family tree. 
Try out our LegacyTec technology too! Just take a picture of a headstone at your favorite cemetery and LegacyTec will use your location and the picture to find out who it is and show you any known information about that person. If the person isn't in our database you will be given the opportunity to add it to!
Note: LegacyTec requires the use of GPS so it will only work on an iPhone or iPad with WiFi+Cellular data access.
Millions of gravemarker images have been uploaded to with the GPS coordinates and now you can go the opposite way, the App allows you to take a photo of a gravemarker and then look up the person buried in the grave and provide any known additional information about that person.

In addition, it will give you a synchronized download of all your family information in's Family Tree. It will be extremely interesting to see how this all works when I get time to go by a cemetery.

Update on Updating Updates

Genealogists are really quite a conservative bunch, but in some areas their conservatism runs to a fault. As a community, genealogists seem to resist computer program updates. Yesterday, I was telling a friend of mine, who shall remain nameless, about the recent update to's program connecting to's Family Tree. My friend is an interested genealogist and a sophisticated computer user. He confessed that he was still two versions behind in upgrading his RootsMagic program. Why is this the case? What is it about upgrading programs and operating systems that makes it an issue?

In some cases, such as the endless updates from Microsoft, even I get annoyed every time I have to wait while I shut down my computer, but most of the updates to programs are innocuous and involved clicking a few buttons to complete. But the real problem lies with people who ignore updates altogether. They seem to think that if they ignore the problem it will go away. Yes, it might go away and take all your data with it.

Maybe it is a lack of understanding of the basic idea behind computers that engenders the problem. Computers and the programs that run them are unlike other tools. If I buy a hammer at my local hardware store, I would never expect to receive a notice from the manufacturer at all, much less a notice that they had just manufactured a new version of the hammer and they want me to exchange the hammer for the new version. I would be even more surprised, if the hammer manufacturer sent me regular notices about new features and options I might obtain with my "updated" hammer. If my newly purchased hammer was defective in some way, I would likely take it back to the store and return it for a refund and buy another hammer. So why is software and electronic equipment different than hammers?

Think for a moment. Are you still using a cathode ray tube (CRT) old TV type monitor? Or have you been enticed by the banks of new flat screen monitors in almost every store selling electronics and purchased a new, really inexpensive, one? Do you now have an Internet connection that is faster than the dial-up one you had that worked through the telephone lines? Have you purchased a new car in the last few years and noticed that it can tell you the temperature outside, the temperature inside the car, the distance you have traveled and how far you can go before you run out of gas and many, many other features such as talking to you and having an internal GPS system? Have you noticed cell phone towers going in around your town or construction crews from cable TV systems digging up your streets? Do you own or use a cell phone? Does your phone connect to the Internet? Do you send and receive text messages?

I could go on an on, but you get the point. Technology changes almost daily. It is really about as changeable and unpredictable as the weather. So why do some of us view these changes as if they were on a treadmill, running fast, but not going anyplace? I can easily say that there are very, very few of the things that I do today that would have even been possible just a few years ago. Today, I can sit here in front of my computer and if I wanted to do so, I could see and talk to almost anyone in the world who had a similar computer system. Instantly and without paying any kind of long-distance fee. Some of the changes in technology have so impacted me that I am currently swamped with suggested sources from huge online databases for my genealogy. The fact that I am writing this blog post and you might be reading it sometime is, to me, almost a miracle in itself.

At the core of the problem, I am sure, is the issue of the cost of upgrades. Genealogists, as a group. seem to have a morbid fear of paying for software and hardware upgrades. For a person, such as I am, who has purchased literally hundreds of different computers over the years, this fear seems irrational. But it is real. I have seen people in the classes I am teaching literally have a near heart attack when I mention that an upgrade to an existing program might cost as much as $29.

Now, before you get all huffy, I am not insensitive to poverty, even genteel poverty. I well understand limited budgets and difficult decisions, but in many cases, I see no apparent correlation between the fear of updates and cash expenditures. I just updated my RootsMagic program for free. I just updated one of my Adobe programs for free. I just updated my Apple operating system for free. It is true that new versions of the programs might have a cost, but most of the updates and the ones I am focusing on, are maintenance updates.

Sometimes, I will be asked to look at someone's iPad for example, and I will see that they have 75 updates waiting to be installed. These are all updates to their existing apps and are free, so where is the connection here to a limited budget. The problem goes much deeper than simply dismissing it as a budgetary issue.

So, right now, go to the menu bar of your computer and look for a link to update the programs you are using. It might be in the Help menue or in the File menu or under the Apple in an Apple program or where ever, but there is likely a way to check to see if you have the latest version of the program. Now, do you hesitate to update your program? Why? Think about it. Why are you afraid to update your program? Hidden down in this fear is a basic conservative fear of change. You don't know what to expect from the new version and you are afraid that your might have to do something different. Guess what? That is absolutely true.

RootsMagic Responds Quickly -- Family Tree Bug Fix

Almost immediately after my post concerning the new progam connecting to's Family Tree program, I got an email from Bruce Buzbee telling me that the problem I pointed out had been fixed. I downloaded the update and the problem was gone. Hooray for RootsMagic. I wish all of the software companies were and could be this responsive. Here is the same screenshot I had before, but this time without the problem of showing the wrong person as the second wife:

Again, you will have to click on the image to see the details.

This is a milestone in progress of FamilySearch Family Tree. Many of the users of RootsMagic have been waiting for the implementation of the connection between the two programs. It is great to see some progress in this direction.

Thursday, March 28, 2013 Full Year and Fourth Quarter Financial Results reported the following:
Total revenue for the fourth quarter of 2012 was $131.1 million, an increase of 25.8% over $104.2 million in the fourth quarter of 2011, driven by growth in our core branded websites revenues.
If you would like to read the entire press release, see Reuters:  " LLC Reports Fourth Quarter and Full Year 2012 Financial Results."

Treelines wins Developers Award

Oops, I am reposting this. I guess I copied the name wrong once and kept going with it. The program is Treelines, not Timelines. Sorry Tammy. 

Here is an interview between DearMYRTLE and Treelines developer Tammy Hepps. Treelines won the RootsTech 2013 Developer's Challenge Award for their program. Thanks to DearMYRTLE for all of her interviews. She did an extraordinary job in interviewing.

Treelines is a visual photographic narrative program unlike any you may have seen before. Here is a quote from the Treelines website explaining the program:
We are something new: a tool focused entirely on the stories that your hard-won genealogical discoveries reveal. For example, an orphanage file urges you to reconsider what you thought you knew about your grandmother’s childhood. A letter connects the dots between your grandfather and the mysterious siblings he left behind when he moved west. A photograph brings you closer to the moment when your great-great-great-grandfather made history. The thrill of the chase of the elusive record may be what keeps us going, but the recovered stories these records outline are the bigger reward. We want to help you tell these amazing stories. 
Treelines aims to become the default tool you will use to curate and share the family stories you uncover. We are genealogists like you, so we will pick up exactly where your family tree leaves off without requiring duplicate work. It will be easy and low-effort. Here you’ll find a new outlet for expression that you can’t find elsewhere.
I enjoyed reading about Tammy and her accomplishments on the Treelines website. Here is a quote from the site:
Fanny Skversky’s great-granddaughter 
Fanny Skversky immigrated to Philadelphia from Chornobai, Poltava, Russia in 1905. Because she fell ill while crossing the North Sea, her mother and five siblings had to leave her behind in Liverpool while they crossed the Atlantic without her. She would spend four long months alone before she was well enough to follow them. 
Nearly a century later, Tammy A. Hepps, one of her great-grandchildren, graduated Harvard with a degree in Computer Science and embarked on a successful career managing web technology teams for large companies like Barnes and Noble, The New York Times, and NBCUniversal, as well as start-ups like SparkNotes and Dow Jones/IAC Online Ventures. WithTreelines, she combines her wide-ranging, hands-on digital expertise and her life-long obsession with genealogy to bring to life the family tree curation tools she wished she had had all along. 
Tammy is a board member of the Philadelphia Jewish Archive Center and a regular contributor to Chronicles, the newsletter of the Jewish Genealogical Society of Greater Philadelphia.
Thanks to Tammy and her staff for a great effort. Check out the program here.

RootsMagic -- First to share with FamilySearch Family Tree

At RootsTech 2013, RootsMagic was handing out cards with a link to Beta version of their popular genealogy database program, with the important announcement, "The first and only software certified to share data with FamilySearch Family Tree." I got one of the cards and when I got home, I downloaded the updated version to have a look.

Yes, it is true. The program does connect to Family Tree. Not all of the connections are yet complete, such as the fact that it still does not synchronize sources, but this is a real connection. Some other software products have claimed to connect to the Family Tree but are still working through, not the program on I would expect that this situation will change anytime, with more developers coming online during the next few days and weeks.

With this move, one of few obstacles to cutting off the connection between and the Family Search Family Tree will evaporate and we will be that much closer to solving the duplication and merging problems with FamilySearch Family Tree.

Here is the connection to the Beta program:

Of course it helps if you are already running Version 6 of Rootsmagic and it is not clear what happens if you have a previous version. I would expect that at some point, you will have to pay for the upgrade.

The first thing I noticed while checking out the connection of the new program was a discrepancy between the data in FamilySearch Family Tree and that in my program. When my paternal grandmother died, my grandfather remarried. My data shows the date of that second marriage, but on FamilySearch Family Tree, the notation is that the date pertains to his first wife. I did find multiple marriage dates in Family Search Family Tree for the second marriage, which I corrected, but the note in FamilySearch Family Tree still shows the date as pertaining to the first wife. Here is a screen shot to illustrate the problem:

You may have to click on the image to see the wording. I haven't figured out how to solve this discrepancy, if there is a solution.

So, the connection between RootsMagic and FamilySearch Family Tree may end up pointing out even more data problems that need to be resolved with FamilySearch Family Tree. I did verify that there was a connect between the two programs simply by making changes in FamilySearch Family Tree and seeing them appear in RootsMagic. We need a round of applause for Bruce Buzbee and his team for working through all the obstacles to linking the two programs. This is a great step forward and I would expect that others will shortly follow.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

New FamilySearch Family Tree Certified Products

In a blog post dated 27 March 2013, Gordon Glarke made the following announcement:

Partner NewsFamilySearch is pleased to announce that FamilyHero and BrowseHero are now Tree Access certified to work with FamilySearch Family Tree data.  “Certified” means the product is compatible with and has features that conform to our strict standards of quality.
Icon Accessor Tree Access indicates that FamilySearch Family Tree data can be read from the partner’s application.

Icon Connector Tree Connect indicates that you can attach references about your ancestors to records, images, stories, and other media found on the internet. These attached sources of evidence can be viewed by anyone using FamilySearch Family Tree.

Shareor Tree Share indicates that you can reconcile tree data between the partner’s product and Family Tree.
Muddy Heros Icon

FamilyHero is Tree Access certified. The new FamilyHero integration into FamilySearch family tree allows you to view and analyze your family tree. FamilyHero is the only tool that provides a flat graphical view of your complete family tree that is not based on a pedigree chart. Use FamilyHero to see siblings, cousins, aunts, and uncles at a glance without the need for popup windows or view changes.Browse HeroBrowseHero™ is a new utility that brings the best of the FamilySearch website and the power of your desktop together. BrowseHero™ works by showing the FamilySearch website inside the tool, and adding many new and exciting features to the FamilySearch interface along with our patent pending Full Family Graph. With the ability to find errors and maintain local research notes alongside your FamilySearch tree in a single tool what’s not to love about BrowseHero™.
See these new products and previously certified products at
  DiamondThe diamond mark indicates products that were previously certified for

  Check MarkThe check mark indicates products that are now certified for Family Tree.
You may wish to check the products web page for more new enhancements and products. 

Can you record your genealogy entirely online?

Here is a link to a brief presentation by about what is "Coming Soon." I noted the comment in the short video that you can discover, build, preserve and share your genealogy (family history) entirely online. This message is clear that a local genealogy program is no longer in the agenda.  That's fine if you trust what is online. Are we now to tell those around us that they no longer need their own genealogy program running on their own computer?

This comment is especially interesting in its timing. Considering the fact that Family Tree does not yet have a printing function or a way to download the contents of the tree without using a third-party software program. What effect will this comment have on the viability of the desktop genealogy programs? How does Family Tree compete in this regard with other online database and family tree programs such as and and many other websites?

Am I to abandon my long-term commitment to local genealogy programs in favor of promoting online solutions?

Notwithstanding this comment, I will continue to promote the need to store your genealogy locally and have control of your own data unless I see that there is no other alternative.

Why is genealogy considered a "retirement" activity?

While driving home from Salt Lake City, Utah to Mesa, Arizona, we took one of the three or four routes possible and went through Moab, Utah. You may never have heard of Moab, but it is well known for two activities; mountain bike riding and Jeep tours. Just in case you are not acquainted with either of these activities as practiced in Moab, please see the following videos:

Please excuse the background music. As we drove through Moab and the surrounding area, we saw hundreds, perhaps thousands of people in both activities. Now, I have to admit that I have done both activities, though perhaps not to the extreme shown in the videos. But my point is simple, if you have any idea of the cost of either a rock crawler or a high tech mountain bike, plus the time invested and the medical and insurance costs, you can see that both these activities are time consuming and expensive.

The point here is that people will do what they are interested in doing and the cost of the activity is no measure of the interest. I priced a Jeep Wrangler recently with some of the equipment shown in the video and it was over $40,000, if you wanted to drive it on the road. Most of these vehicles are trailered to the location, so the owners have a regular truck plus this vehicle, plus the trailer.

All the time I hear complaints about how expensive it is to do genealogy. I also hear how little time people have to do genealogy. Let's face it. Compared to many, many common leisure activities, genealogy is very inexpensive. So why do we think about genealogy as something for old folks who are retired to do? Why do we have to make an effort to involve young people? Are the mountain bike people and rock crawlers worried about the participation of retired folks in their activities? Are they trying to recruit the youth?

Is there something so different about genealogy that we are concerned that people will simply stop doing it? Are we running out of genealogists, like we are of physics professors? Why will people spend thousands of dollars on a leisure activity like golf or other such activities and begrudge a few hundred dollars for genealogy?

There seems to be a whole cultural issue here. I am pigeon-holed as strange because I decided to quit my regular job and do genealogy. If I had decided to retire to one of the many "active retirement communities" in the area and spend my days playing golf, cards and gambling, I would simply have conformed to the expected.

I think we, as genealogists, need to articulate our interest in a way that validates the activity and recognizes the unique nature of what we do. I also see that we need to be inclusive but not in a way that  denigrates the core values of genealogy.

More about this later, I am sure.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Legacy Mobile App released

Sitting at RootsTech in an Unconferencing Session, I heard that the new genealogy app, Legacy Mobile was available for download. Of course, during the course of the panel discussion, I downloaded the app, but did not have time to look at it until today. Here is a description of the app from Otter Creek Holdings, the developer:
LegacyTec uses the latest and greatest in technology to bring up any information about headstones based on their GPS coordinates so that anyone with a smartphone in a cemetery can take a picture and find out more about the particular headstone they are visiting. Because of Otter Creek Holdings’ wide base of partnerships with other genealogical companies (i.e.FamilySearch,,Archives, My Heritage and more) this technology will make Family History research through multiple resources easier by incorporating innovative technology.
I found the program linked to's Family Tree and in a few minutes I had data about my family downloaded. The program also syncs data entered by the user with Family Tree. I have yet to have an opportunity to visit a cemetery with the program, but it is supposed to look up information about an individual fron a photo of their gravemarker or headstone.  The app will be available from both the Apple App Store and  the Android Store.

All Keynote and Class videos now on

Although I have somewhat of a personal interest in the Saturday Morning, 23 March session of RootsTech 2013, I wanted to let everyone know that all of the video sessions are now available online. If you missed RootsTech, you many wish to see some of what happened through the selection online. If you did go to RootsTech, you may have missed some of the broadcast sessions and can now spend some time catching up.

Zap the Grandma Gap Workbook

At RootsTech 2013, Janet Hovorka debuted her Zap the Grandma Gap Workbook to accompany her previously published book. Here is the description of the book from her website:
Brainstorm about what activities will synergize your descendants with their heritage. Questions to get you thinking and space to fill in the ideas that come to you. Filled with lists of resources, templates for games, instructions and procedures. Everything you need to zap the generation gap in your family and introduce them to their super grandmas and grandpas.
The book is filled with additional ideas for helping your children and grandchildren have fun activities related to family and family history.  The table of contents shows how many activities and links are provided by this extremely helpful book.

Janet is to be commended for her great effort in putting out this valuable resource.

Exactly how my blog was hacked or highjacked

It might be helpful to others to explain exactly what happened and how my blog was hacked or highjacked. The symptom of the hack or highjack was that when users, even me, accessed the blog, the page was involuntarily re-routed to another commercial and sometimes objectionable page. First of all, this is illegal activity and very destructive to the operation of the Internet. It took me some time to identify the source of the highjack and eliminate the problem. Meanwhile, I got several complaints and was extremely upset by the resulting issues.

What happens is that a highjacker gets access to a widget or gadget from an otherwise legitimate commercial enterprise and adds a small amount of computer code that reroutes the page upon which the widget or gadget is displayed. In some cases, the code might be embedded in the HTML for the target site's startup page. In effect, the code could be hiding anywhere, making it very difficult to spot.

I had started auditing all the HTML code on my page, but did not have time during RootsTech to get into it like I needed to and so I called on my son-in-law, an Internet programmer, for help. He was involved in a huge project of his own, but kindly spent the time to look at all the code on my blog site and analyze where the change had been made. He used some programming tools that show all of the Internet connections made by the site going both ways; to and from the Internet. He could see that something was constantly loading websites and using some of the snippets of code and doing a "Find" command, he was able to identify where in the site the code had been embedded.

It turned out that two gadgets had been highjacked. We had to remove several gadgets before we found the ones that had the bad code, but once they were removed, the site went back to normal. I reworked by entire site and cut out a bunch of gadgets that weren't necessary.

The bad thing about this all is that the bad gadgets or widgets are still out there waiting for someone to download them.

I am sorry if anyone was offended or inconvenienced because of the problem, but I am glad that I have a talented family that can help me when I need it.  As a final note, don't expect any help from Google Blogger.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Follow the Yellow Brick Road

Well, I have yet to determine if there are any wizards in Mesa, Arizona, but we are off to see for ourselves. The road is mostly cement and asphalt rather than bricks however, so the title to this post is misleading. No matter how many times I look at Google Maps it is a long way to Arizona from Utah and the nature of the Colorado Plateau is that there is very little cell phone coverage. It is still largely the untamed wild West.

I had a wonderful time at RootsTech 2013 and look forward to RootsTech 2014. But meanwhile, there are a lot of other conferences and classes in the future. I will be back to Salt Lake for the:

April Salt Lake City Family History Library Retreat 2013
Salt Lake Plaza Hotel 
122 West South Temple, 
Salt Lake City, Utah, 84101 
08 Apr 2013 - 12 Apr 2013  

 If you haven't signed up Go to Register Now to see the details.

A note about weather in Salt Lake City. It is either bad or good depending on your personal point of view. If you are an avid skier then the weather in the Winter is always good if it snows a lot. Otherwise, you will probably love to live in Mesa, Arizona. On the other hand, if you do live in Mesa, you may dream about going north for the summer. So enjoy the snow, the rain, the heat, the cold and the wind where ever you may be. Its the only thing we have to remind us that the whole world does not run on electronics.

I will be thinking of some good blog posts as I make the long drive home. So, you will hear from me soon.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

RootsMagic Clue really is online, this time

Sorry, I went brain dead and put up the wrong image. That's what happens when you have to deal with crashing websites.

RootsMagic Clue back online

Please check the next post. I got the wrong image up earlier. I had to remove a number of gadgets and images to find the one that was causing the hacking problem, but we have determined this one was not a problem. You may (or may not) have noticed that I removed a lot of gadgets.

Update on brightsolid's

brightsolid (with lower case letters) is one of the "Big Four" online genealogy companies. In a recent interview with Elaine Collins, Business Development Director, at RootsTech, we discussed the status of the various websites developed by In the U.S., the most prominent of these sites is Here is a list of the findmypast websites:

Elaine Collins indicated that quite recently, brightsolid has finished equalizing the data between the different websites. This means that all of the sites have the same data. The difference in the sites is mainly due to the cultural interests of the various countries. This is really good news for the U.S. subscribers to the website, because it means that all of the content of the U.K. site is also available in the U.S.

In the past, I have heard some dissatisfaction among U.S. users of the program due to the pay-as-you-go credit method of obtaining records. Elaine explained that users have the option of paying for a regular subscription to the websites if they wish to avoid the credit system of buying images. That program was developed for users who only wanted a very few images off of the system. By looking on, I see that a one year, World Wide, subscription would cost $199.92.

brightsolid also has several other valuable websites, including The British Newspaper Archive, a site where they are posting digitized copies of the entire British Library's Newspaper Collection, over 40 million pages over the next ten years. There is also the, a database of the 36 million people who were living in England and Wales at the time. The 1901 Census Online is a similar site with the results of that census.

brightsolid has some highly popular genealogy sites in the U.K. including Genes Reunited, a site with 750 million records including census records from 1841-1911 and fully indexed, fully searchable birth, marriage and death records from 1837-2005. Another of the family of websites is Friends Reunited, a 24 million member social networking site. is a U.S. site from brightsolid, containing the entire collection of U.S. Census records from 1790 to 1940.

You can probably see now why brightsolid is considered one of the Big Four genealogy companies. Thanks to Elaine Collins for insight into this major genealogical service provider.

Hacking Problem May Be Solved

My Son-in-law, who is an Internet Programmer, thinks he has found the problem in a hacked sidebar Gadget. We have likely fixed the problem, but if you see any more evidence of the site being sent to another unauthorized site, please let me know so we can go another round. Thanks for your patience.

Warning about an annoying hack

Unfortunately, what we have done so far does not seem to stop the unauthorized and highly illegal hacking of Genealogy's Star. So far, what happens is that at somewhat random times, if you access this blog, you are redirected to various sleazy link sites that make money preying on legitimate websites and searches. I have some expert Internet programmers and support people working on the problem, but it may be necessary to move the site. This is the drastic remedy for this type of annoying hacking.

Please excuse the inconvenience of being directed to an unauthorized site and return back to Genealogy's Star until the site is fixed or moved.

Assessment of RootsTech 2013

I think that one of the most interesting things about RootsTech is that it attracts a much wider participation than the usual genealogy conference. I really did get a chance to talk to a huge range of people with different interests and objectives. I would like to summarize some of the things I learned about that will have a significant impact on the technical side of genealogy and all other aspects of genealogy for some time to come,

These are not in any particular order and my comments are certainly not complete. I will try to focus on some of these items in future posts with more details and observations:

The Bloggers for RootsTech came from around the world. This was not necessarily a new development for RootsTech, but the participation of the Bloggers has matured. Three years ago at the original RootsTech 2011 Conference, the participation of the Bloggers was almost an innovation. But by 2013, they are an institution and the main method of reporting the events of the Conference. It is a privilege to participate with such an interesting, concerned and really kind group of very professional people who love genealogy and love to write.

This year, several presentations at RootsTech were streamed live to a wide international audience including the Keynote speakers. FamilySearch indicated that there may be a possibility that next year the broadcast could go to as many as 600 locations. Instead of have 7000 people attend the conference, we could have over 100,000. This is a major advance in the exposure of genealogy, serious genealogy, to many more people than have ever been able to attend such an event. Can you imagine it? However, I do believe that in the future, RootsTech, as a conference, will only survive if this is successful.

Some of the major genealogical companies used RootsTech 2013 to announce major upgrades to their products or introduce new products. This will certainly have the effect of attracting even more participation in conferences in the future.

The number of people involved in RootsTech 2013 is an indication that the ideas of conferences and seminars is changing. I heard that some of the complaints about RootsTech were that there were no "geographically" oriented classes, such as how to do research in Poland or whatever. I suggest that there is place for that type of class in conferences such as the BYU Genealogy Conference and others. The large format, large class type of presentations at RootsTech are more suited to the types of presentations that did occur. From my experience, it is pretty hard to carry on a question and answer type class with more than 20 people and get through a lesson plan. I think the genealogical world is moving towards a proliferation of small local or regional conferences and seminars, with a few very large national conferences every year. There is no doubt that, if it continues, RootsTech will be the largest and most influential of these conferences.

The format of the Conference has evolved and, as with any event, it is hard to predict which classes will attract people and which will not. But overall, I think the size of the event has improved the quality of the instruction and the focus of the classes. I was especially appreciative of the Unconferencing sessions and the smaller classes. These give those with very special interests and smaller audiences a chance to participate. As usual, there was far too little time to do everything, see everything or talk to everyone.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

RootsTech 2013 - Day Three -- Goodbye to Everyone

We never have enough time at RootsTech to see everyone we would like to see and talk to everyone we would like to talk to. For me the highlight of the Conference was, of course, being invited to give part of a Keynote Address. But I had many other very interesting experiences. Here is a list of some of them:

  • Having chance to meet the other Bloggers and renew friendships and make new friends at the Bloggers'  Dinner sponsored by FamilySearch
  • Meeting with the FamilySearch Research Wiki Contributors at a breakfast meeting in the Family History Library
  • Meeting with developers and vendors
  • Talking to attendees at the conference from all over the world especially those who took the time to stop and talk to me
  • Talking to the other Bloggers in the Media Hub
  • Getting to know several of the staff from Israel
  • Conducting an interview with Elaine Collins of brightsolid
  • Teaching a class, participating in a panel discussion and helping teach another class
  • Touring the Mormon Tabernacle and seeing a Mini-Concert by the Tabernacle Choir
  • Attending part of the Storytelling Presentation

I know there were a lot more experiences, but it is late and time to go.

RootsTech 2013 - Day Three - Episode One

As you may or may not know, I got involved at the last minute doing one of the Keynote address for Thanks so much to them for the opportunity, but I regret that it had to happen in such a sad way. My condolences to Gilad Japhet and his family. I hope I did an adequate job in representing them at RootsTech. My presentation on Thursday is now available on the website as the Keynote will be shortly.

Now, on to other events. Of course, I had to make time to see my cousin Ron Tanner, the FamilySearch Family Tree Product Manager and his presentation on Family Tree. He talks of My-Tree-itis, the desease that says that we "own" our genealogy. This issue carried over to The solution is what FamilySearch has done with Family Tree, opening it up to let everyone change the information. His presentation, somewhat toned down, is available on the website.

We have quite a bit more to do here today and I will be very busy. I hope to write more this next week with reflection, especially about some of the new products and updates of existing ones. One thing I did solve with a visit to the booth for the local Pictureline store in Salt Lake. One problem I have is taking photos in a copy stand mode. I found an extension arm/tripod combination they had on display will solve that problem.

There is more to come.

Living with genealogy

How do we accomodate genealogy into a busy lifestyle? One of the more common issues I hear from younger people who are interested in genealogy is that they are so busy that they have no time to do genealogy. Now, we raised seven children and we had four children when I graduated from law school. I have always been involved in my church, civic organizations and I have a whole variety of hobbies and special interests. I know what it is to be busy. In fact, I am still busy.

Whenever I hear that someone is too busy to do something, I remind myself of one word: priorities. We choose to do what we are interested in doing. But many times we get caught up doing things that we like to do or are in the habit of doing, but really aren't our priorities. For example, some people have the priority to sit down and read or watch the news every day. I do not spend any dedicated time to the news. I catch what I need to know at times and places when I cannot do anything else. I use technology  and electronic devices to give me information when and where I want it. If you are really honest with yourself, even brutally honest, you will have to admit that you spend a considerable amount of time every day doing things that don't really need to be done.

Now, I don't pretend to be an expert on time management, but I do know that you have to set priorities to get anything done. This is especially true of something like genealogy, which probably does not rank very high on most people's list of essental things to do each day. If you really want to do something, such as genealogy, then you need to move it up on your list and start making it a priority. When you tell me you don't have time to do something, you are really saying to me that the activity is not your priority.

For most people I know, genealogy, as an activity, competes with many, many other activities and is usually categorized as a hobby or leisure activity. It competes with work, maintaining a family, and in the leisure time activity, it competes with entertainment, sports, gardening, bird watching, and a multitude of other activities. As I found out recently, it also competes with health and keeping alive.

For some, the competing activities are overwhelming and totally time consuming. So what is missing is the interest and motivation to move family history or genealogy off of the back burner and put it into your lifestyle. When you start thinking of genealogy, not as an obligation or a task that is to be completed some day, but as an essential part of your lifestyle, you will give up some other alternative choice of an activity and begin to do genealogy.

Why would you want to make that choice? That is a complex question that can only be answered by the individual. Our dilemma as genealogists is helping other people to see the value of putting genealogy into the mix of activities they feel are worthy of attention. This turns out to be a difficult and, in some cases, almost impossible task. Young people have an automatic alternative, they are young and their optional activities are almost limitless, but as we get older it becomes much harder to do some of our youthful activities and as the choices narrow down, we have to evaluate our priorities.

For example, when I was a lot younger, I was a technical rock climber with ropes and pitons and all that. This is no longer a viable activity for me. I had to realize at some point in my life that rappelling down a cliff was no longer an advisable option. How hare would it have been at that time in my life to convince me to give up rock climbing and downhill skiing to do genealogy? You don't even need to speculate.

So, one of the challenges of the genealogical community is helping people move genealogy and family history into a higher position of priority in their lives.

Friday, March 22, 2013

RootsTech 2013 - Day Two - Episode Three

I had some interesting discussions with a great variety of different organizations and companies. Right now, I am sitting in a class with Daniel Horowitz of His presentation is on Crowdsourcing. This subject has the goal of reducing the time involved in building complex or very large projects.  Example from Lego

  • Create a project, share your concept, see what other people think.
  • Get supporters for a chance to become a product developer
  • Pay the developer and percentage of the profits

Many genealogical projects can benefit from crowdsourcing, such as the current Indexing project. Another example of crowdsourcing is the navigation system called The common factor is a gain for the person who is volunteering to help with the project.

Genealogy is particularly susceptible to this with its own Indexing program. The best recent example is the indexing done with the 1940 U.S. Census records. uses crowdsourcing in its Smart Matching program. Smart matches compare the information in the user's family tree with all of the other family trees in entire data base.

I had the experience of sitting next to the winner of the annual Developer's Award. She is Tammy Hepps who won the award for her program, More about this later, but this a very interesting new idea about how to display and gather genealogical data, stories, photos and other information.

I also had a very productive discussion but short discussion with Dovy Paukstys of Real-Time Collaboration the developer of This is also a topic for a later post.

RootsTech 2013 - Day Two - Episode Two

It is amazing what is going on here at RootsTech 2013. There seems to be an endless stream of interesting people to talk to and discover new opportunities. Right now I am sitting in a panel discussion for the Family History Information Standards Organization or FHISO. This is the core of one of the main issues in genealogy today, the ability of all these desktop computer database programs and the online family tree programs and the online data base programs with respect to the sharing and transfer of data files including text, images, audio and video. The atmosphere in the room could be described as tense. On the panel are the following:

  • Robert Burkhead - FHISO
  • Bruce Buzbee - RootsMagic
  • Joshua Harman -
  • Drew Smith - Federation of Genealogical Societies
  • D Joshua Taylor - brightsolid

This is a necessary and interesting topic. There are, of course, other organizations thinking about and working on approximately the same issues, but this particular effort has attracted some of the larger genealogical commercial organizations. One question for discussion is where FamilySearch stands with regard to the establishment of a standard. There will be a lot more about this organization to discuss in the future. Since I originally got nominally involved in the BetterGEDCOM organization, I was interested when FHISO was established as, what appeared at the time, as a response to BetterGEDCOM. But, after some discussion I do not see their goals as opposites but rather as complements. I don't think this should be or is an either or proposition.

In addition, I have had a very productive interview with Elaine Collins, Business Development Director, for brightsolid ( There will be more about that in the future. I have a huge backlog of writing over the next few weeks to resolve.

RootsTech 2013 - Day Two - Episode One

Because of some interesting circumstances, my participation in RootsTech has just gone into overdrive. More about this will be coming out today. But as a result, I am very busy at things other than writing blog posts. I hope to catch up sometime today but I doubt it. I have several meetings the next few hours and will keep typing as I can.

One comment, in a previous post, I talked about the commercialization of genealogical records. I noticed at the Key Note this morning by Tim Sullivan of that they are committing $100 million to spend on records. Think about this. I will come back to this later.

Genealogy's Star Hacked

It has come to my attention that there is an illegal hack from my blog sending out pop-ups and linking to other pages. This is not authorized. I am so sorry for an inconvenience. I understand that I many have to move my blog to a new template or take some other such action to get rid of this pest. Please have patience until I have time to address this issue.

What is RootsTech all about?

RootsTech is more than just another trade show/conference where people get together to talk about products and pump up employees. The core of the RootsTech Conference is a celebration of family values and turning the hearts of the fathers to their children and the hearts of the children to their fathers. It is far more significant to the stability and values of our world than mere commercialism. We cannot become bogged down in the short view of product announcements and vendor special offers. We need to absorb the spirit of the gathering and realize that finding out about or families, our ancestors and our culture is a fundamental need that can only be fulfilled by keeping the records and preserving the past.

As we scurry around listening to presentations and talking to vendors, we need to take time to reflect on the greater significance of what we are doing here. We are attempting to unlock the past and bring to life the lives, the loves, the hates, the joys and sorrows of our ancestors. In this task, we cannot fail. We must continue to work and strive to make our stories go on into the future and not be lost in the mists of time.

We may be small minority, those of us who are interested in this preservation process, but we are an essential link. The past is prologue to the future and if we forget the past, we will have no future. At least no future that will benefit us or our families.

Listen to the spirit of RootsTech and not to the noise of the Conference or the Vendors area.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Land That I Love

As Bloggers, we were invited to attend a special in depth tour of the Mormon Tabernacle on Temple Square and then attend an open Mini-Concert called "Land That I Love" featuring the Irving Berlin song "God Bless America." It was a fabulous, and for some of us, a once-in-a-lifetime experience to  go behind the scene, so to speak, and see those parts of the Tabernacle that are usually off-limits to the public.

We enjoyed a tour of the music library with over 1 million copies of sheet music used by the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and the tour also included their dressing rooms and a look at where all of the dresses for the ladies in the choir are handmade in the Tabernacle.

Our tour guide was extremely knowledgeable and very entertaining. We learned of the rigorous schedule of try-outs and schooling required of potential Choir members before they can even begin to sing with this world-famous organization.

The concert was superb and I once again realized the technical musical excellence of the Choir. It was a fantastic experience and will be long remembered and talked about. Thanks to FamilySearch and the Choir for this marvelous opportunity.

RootsTech 2013 - Day One - Continuation Part Two

One of the most interesting aspects of attending a huge conference such as RootsTech is the opportunity to network with people from around the world. In the afternoon, after spending time talking to various people, I attended a class on taught by Daniel Horowitz. I will have a lot more to say about after the Conference. I am persuaded that the future of genealogy involves the type of record/family tree integration.

I appreciate all those who attended my presentation on Maps. It was broadcast over the Web and I have gotten several comments from around the U.S. about those seeing the presentation. Thanks to all and especially to FamilySearch for the opportunity to speak.

RootsTech 2013 - Day One - Continuation Part One

Facts are the heart of the stories, Syd Lieberman. You really need to hear his story.

D. Joshua Taylor is well known in the online genealogy community and he is now working with, was the concluding keynote speaker. These presentations are online and available to be viewed, both live and as recorded webcasts.

Presentation by FamilySearch on upcoming developments at NEHGS Luncheon.

Family History has many challenges. Preserving records. New technology. Collaboration. Each of these areas are a concern. FamilySearch is all about preserving the stories and records.

Upcoming features:
  • Integration with
  • Consolidation of all individual and family information under Family Tree.
  • Redesign of Family Tree
  • Adding Photos and Stories to Family Tree (already available)
  • Changing color, contrast and enhancing fonts
  • Photos and stories added to Ancestor Page (Individual history page in Family Tree)
  • Added a different navigation through fan chart 
  • Step-by-step wizard to start entering information into Family Tree
  • Simple link to FamilySearch Family Tree chat
  • Tagging and linking individuals' photos to Family Tree (already available)
  • Share photos to social networking sites such as Facebook
  • Create photo albums (already available)
  • Quick identification of people ready for LDS Temple 
  • Increase design for ease of reading
  • Focuses and filtered searches in Historical Record Collections (already available)
  • Additional help resources 
  • Created simple step-by-step way to get started with genealogy
  • Ways to volunteer
  • Save the heritage, so that people can tell their stories
  • FamilySearch is here to stay and is committed to preservation
  • Invite to a grandparents' day for adding stories to Family Tree
  • Leaving a Legacy
Sorry about the long list, but that was the most efficient way to record the information. 

RootsTech 2013 Day One, Introduction

Well, I just might get a few minutes to write in between talking to people and maybe, making it to some classes. I had a delightful time meeting some of the FamilySearch Research Wiki contributors at a breakfast meeting at the Family History Library. It was very important to me to finally put faces with some of the people I have been working with for years. I am extremely grateful for all the work they have put into this marvelous project called the Research Wiki.

3.2 billion names now online. This is the banner headline. As Dennis Brimhall explains, these are really 3.2 billion stories waiting to be told. His review of the history of the record acquisition is concise and well presented. His emphasis is what will FamilySearch look like in the future? The first goal is to expand the interest in family history and attract more people.

His question: What will our great-great-grandchildren wish we would have done? That is a thought provoking question. He says, we need to make sure everybody has a right to exist. This is likely a topic for a blog post. He says that 40% of the people born on the earth today will have no record made of their lives at all. We need to know about the stories that might be lost today.

I hope you have had the opportunity to hear and see this on the Internet, if not, look for the posting of these presentations as webcasts in the near future. You will want to hear Dennis Brimhall's story. Remember to record and tell the story and tell and document the stories happening right now.

Be sure and check some of the other Bloggers' posts. There is way too much for any one person to comprehend. Preserve and Store and Share Our Story. That should be our theme as genealogists, bloggers and family historians.

The companion speaker with Dennis Brimhall is Syd Lieberman, a master storyteller. You need to see this.

New Developments from FamilySearch

At RootsTech's first Keynote Address, CEO Dennis Brimhall introduced several new innovations from FamilySearch. Among those is a new logo seen above in a screen shot from a preview of the logo given to the Bloggers. In addition, FamilySearch is introducing a new interactive Fan Chart. Here is a screen shot of the chart:

Please excuse the quality of the image. I had to increase to the contrast to see the outline of the Fan Chart. The information in the Chart is generated by FamilySearch Family Tree and when you click on any individual in the chart, that individual moves to the primary location in the middle of the chart and the chart is redrawn with the new information reflecting the new individual in the middle of the chart. It sounds a little complicated to explain in words, but it works pretty slick in real life.

There was also a new startup page for but I didn't get my camera out fast enough to get a picture. No exact timetable was discussed in last night's meeting with the Bloggers.

Hello from the Keynote at RootsTech

Here we are, finally, at RootsTech in the snow and blowing wind, but here. There are over 6700 attendees and an additional almost 2000 young people registered for a Saturday session. All 50 states and many more from other countries. This is a large group.

Dennis Brimhall, the CEO of FamilySearch, is the first speaker and you can watch him live online. I will defer to the online opportunity and if you are reading this log in to and see it for yourself.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RootsTech 2013 to be broadcast around the world

In a pilot program, FamilySearch revealed that the RootsTech Conference would be broadcast to locations around the world with simultaneous translation for those who do not speak English. Thanks to Holly Hansen of Family History Expos, she was able to research some of those locations. Here is the list from the Family History Expos Blog:

Beaverton Oregon West Family History Fair
17140 SW Bany Rd.
Bearverton, OR 97007

Bogota Colombia Feria de Historia Familiar
Carrera 53 # 113-05-Barrio Alhambra
Bogota, D.C.

Klein Texas Family History Fair
16535 Kleinwood Drive
Spring,Texas 77379

Los Angeles California FamilySearch Library Family History Fair
10741 Santa Monica Blvd
Los Angeles, California 90023

Powder Springs Georgia Family History Fair
Powder Springs Stake Center
2595 New Macland Rd
Powder Springs, Georgia 30127

Rio Rancho New Mexico Family History Fair
310 Loma Colorado
Rio Rancho, New Mexico 87124

Sao Paulo Brazil Feira de Historia da Familia
Av. Francisco Morato, 2340 Caxingui
Sao Paulo, SP 05512-300

Of course, the live sessions will be broadcast over the Internet according to the schedule on

Is there a Genealogy Age Gap?

My recent post on the Genealogy Age Gap has engendered some interesting comments. I would like to quote one comment in particular from Anonymous:
Wow, as a 30-something person who DOES do genealogy and who KNOWS many young people who are interested, I have to admit that your post is insulting on a few fronts. "We are especially uninterested in our family." What?! First of all, I am a stay-at-home-mom and wife - my family is EVERYTHING to me. I started doing genealogy for my kids' sakes, but I soon realized that my entire extended family in benefiting from my work. Second, we are not educated enough to do genealogy research? I have a Master's Degree and just about every young person I know, even my 22 yr old sister, has the computer and research knowledge to begin basic genealogy research. You don't need to like history to embrace genealogy - you need to show people how it tells life stories. Everyone loves a good story, esp. when it's about a family member. Do you remember what it was like in your 20s and 30s? Here's how mine went: College, grad school, plan wedding, work, work, surgery on leg, move, have baby, more surgery, have another baby, move again. Not a whole lot of time for genealogy research. Oh, and let's not forget that genealogy isn't not cheap - right now, saving for my kids' college funds and our retirement funds is sort of a bigger priority for me and my husband and it will be for awhile. I just started a genealogy blog last year and I can't tell you how many of my contemporaries comment and say "Wow that's so cool, I wish I could find that stuff out about my family." We ARE interested. My suggestion to YOU and other "older" people who seem to hold unreasonable and completely untrue stereotypes about young people is to stop insulting us and instead use your enthusiasm for and knowledge of genealogy to welcome us into the fold.
First of all, I would like to commend Anonymous for her interest in genealogy. But I think her comments that my post was insulting goes a little too far. I am sorry if she felt insulted. As I pointed out in my reply to her comment. She finds herself in a very small minority. First, she has an advanced degree, second, she is married with two children and third, she is interested in genealogy. Obviously, my comments were not directed at her or her peer group. Let's look at one fact, worldwide for an example of the small minority we as genealogy belong to.

According to the U.S. Census website, there are today, 7,073.445,406 people in the world. OK, so how many of these could be considered genealogists? Are we going to classify everyone who has an "interest in their family" as genealogists? Or even potential genealogists? Let's do some guessing here. I think a fair and liberal assessment of the number of "actively" interested genealogists could be somewhere about the total number of people with online family trees. How many are there in this category? Unfortunately, these statistics are quite difficult to obtain. claimed about 2 million paid subscribers worldwide in 2012. Let's triple that number as an estimate of the number of family trees worldwide, say 6 million or so. This is about .08% of the world's population. If that holds true in the United States, only about 27,000 people out of the U.S. population of 315,525,293 would be interested in genealogy. I think the numbers are likely higher because more people in the U.S. proportionately are interested in genealogy than some other countries. Let's assume, for the purpose of illustration, that half of the world's genealogists, as defined by an online family tree, live in the U.S. or about 3 million. (I personally think this is quite a high estimate, but useful for illustration). That means that .04% of the U.S. would have a family tree online or about 126,000 people. This seems high to me, but it is possible. What would be the age spread of those 126,000 people?

Well, some statistics are available to give us an idea. Those are the statistics of who reads the genealogy blogs. That is relatively simple using My readership is predominately over the age of 55, with a graduate degree, no children, and browsing from work. The readers are pretty well evenly split between male and female. So in a few years, Anonymous, the commentator, will fit right into the demographic.

As a married, 30 something, with a husband and a stay-at-home mom with two children, Anonymous has put herself into an even smaller minority since in that age group only about half of all the people are even married.

The point is that the Anonymous commentator finds herself in a very small minority. I could go on quoting statistics, but the reality of the situation is that genealogy is a very small special interest activity and the question I ask and asked is how do we expand that interest into a population that is really not interested in the same things we are.

Of course my assumptions are always open to discussion and used for illustration only. I do not claim to be exactly accurate but only generally so. I could start citing statistics about the general educational level of people in the U.S. but that would be too discouraging.

I must admit, that I associate with a whole lot of genealogists. But the antipathy of the general population towards genealogy is marked. My blog post was intended to start people thinking and it looks like I did. Thanks for all your comments but I will still be reporting at RootsTech about the makeup of the attendees.