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

Saturday, February 27, 2021

Much of RootsTech to continue on for a year

Although some of the features of the RootsTech Connect 2021 website will end on February 27, 2021, much of the website, including the Sessions or classes will continue on at least until next year's RootsTech 2022. What has been discussed by many people, there is still an open question about whether or not RootsTech 2022 will have an "onsite" component. Given the time and effort that went into RootsTech Connect 2021, I am guessing that the next conference will look similar to 2020 with additional resources and perhaps some different venues. The one most important factor in this decision should be the global reach of this first virtual RootsTech conference. With over 1000 presentations, the existing website will become a major repository of genealogical information for as long as it is available. 

By the way, I actually have several of my own videos in the huge pile of classes or presentations on this year's website. They are all part of The Family History Guide and if you do a search for "The Family History Guide" in the Sessions section, you will see most of our videos. There are two more that are part of the Main Stage presentations. We now have about 130 videos on our The Family History Guide YouTube Channel also. Many of these videos can be viewed in up to 7 different languages. We will be expanding the language coverage in the future. 

So, if you feel like you missed something then you probably didn't. Make sure you make a playlist and work through it. It will be worth your time and any effort.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Where are the Records on the Website?


There are four main types of genealogically significant records on the website. They are as follows:

  • Indexed records in the Historical Records Collections that are also listed in the FamilySearch Catalog
  • Unindexed records in the Historical Records Collections that are also listed in the FamilySearch Catalog
  • Unindexed records that are available by searching in the FamilySearch Catalog
  • Images of records that are not indexed nor are they in the FamilySearch Catalog
Indexed records can be searched by name, date, location, and usually other relevant information depending on the information in the original record. 

When located by searching in the FamilySearch Catalog, unindexed records must be searched by location and date sometimes page by page. In some cases, the original record contains its own index which may be helpful in finding individual ancestors or relatives. 

In addition, there are records that are images only and very generally identified by the name of the records, a date, and a place. These records are indexed and have yet to be cataloged. 

Here is a screenshot of the drop-down menu showing the selections:

The "Records" link takes you to the Historical Record Collections. The "Images" link takes you to the images only records that are not yet in the catalog.  The "Catalog? link, of course, takes you to the catalog.

If you try to search for the name of an ancestor or relative and do not find any information, that does not mean that there are no records on the website, it just means that either you do not know how to search for the person or that there are no indexed records for that person. You can see a list of the indexed and unindexed records for general locations such as states or countries, using the interactive map on the Historical Record Collections page. 

When you click on a region, a pop-up menu will appear and you can select a more specific location. If I click on England for example I get the following list of records for that country.

This list can be very extensive. Here is a screenshot of the search page for the Images section.

The records are then organized by country and the subdivisions of countries. 

Thursday, February 25, 2021

MyHertiage introduces Deep Nostalgia: a really remarkable innovation


Deep Nostalgia Page has unveiled another amazing development, Deep Nostalgia. You have to see it to believe it. You can animate your family photos. This is in addition to colorizing, enhancing, and cleaning up those same photos. Here is the link to the Deep Nostalgia Page. Yes, that is a photo of me and my wife Ann shortly after we got married 53 years ago. Here is a bit more about the process from an email.

[We are] excited to announce the release of our latest feature for historical photos, Deep Nostalgia™! Deep Nostalgia™ animates the faces in still photos, and gives family history a fresh new perspective by producing a realistic depiction of how a person could have moved and looked if they were captured on video. 

The technology for animating the faces in photos was licensed by MyHeritage from D-ID, a company that specializes in video reenactment using deep learning. Deep Nostalgia™ uses several pre-recorded driver videos, which direct the movements in the animation and consist of sequences of real human gestures. A preferred driver is automatically selected for each face based on its orientation, and then seamlessly applied to the photo. The result is a short, high-quality video animation of an individual face that can smile, blink, and move. To achieve optimal results, the photos are enhanced prior to animation using the MyHeritage Photo Enhancer, which brings blurry and low-resolution faces into focus and increases their resolution. 

My grandchildren are impressed. They think it looks like Harry Potter technology and it does. You have to go to the Deep Nostalgia page to see how it looks. The photos are converted to an MP-4 video. The process does not change or affect the original photo. 

Breaking News: MyHeritage to be purchased by US equity firm in reported $600 million deal


A news article in the Times of Israel dated 24 February at 11:07 pm with a headline reads: "MyHeritage to be purchased by US equity firm in reported $600 million deal." Hmm. Here are some quotes from the article.

The Israeli online genealogy platform MyHeritage announced Wednesday it has reached an agreement to be purchased by US private equity firm Francisco Partners.

A statement from MyHeritage said the sides signed a definitive agreement, but didn’t disclose financial details of the deal. Sources told Hebrew media the deal was valued at over $600 million.

 “This move will enable us to reach new heights, invest more resources in creating greater value for our users and to reach a larger audience. We’re incredibly excited for this next chapter in our company’s evolution,” MyHeritage CEO Gilad Japhet said.

That is about all I know at the moment.  

Explore the World of RootsTech Connect 2021


With over 500,000 people registered for the event, RootsTech Connect 2021 has an abundance of opportunities to visit, chat, and explore the world of the international genealogical community. Unfortunately, eating, sleeping, and other essential activities get in the way of being online 24-hours a day for three days. 

We started with the Virtual Expo Hall. Each of the vendors has a virtual "booth" which is actually a miniature website with a selection of videos you can view about their products. You can scroll down almost all of the screens and discover more information and content. Here is an example using our booth from The Family History Guide. 

First, you find the icon for the booth. This is the selection of the Society Sponsors. We aren't really a Society but I guess they didn't know where else to put us. 

You can see The Family History Guide in the bottom row of large icons. When you click on an icon, you see the virtual booth or mini-website.

From here, there are a large number of options, you can click on any one of the videos offered or you can click on a link to talk to someone, an expert, about The Family History Guide (or any of the other booths represented in the virtual expo hall) or join in a chat with the "Connect" button. In every case, there will be more options to explore. 

Of course, you should take advantage of all the presentations or classes. These are all "live" and you can go down through the list of over a thousand offerings and click on the plus button and add them to your playlist. If you get lost, click on the blue button at the top of the screen and ask a question. 

We are all adapting to an expanded online world that some of us didn't know existed until the pandemic came along and I am sure some of us don't like very much. But as I have observed, over time, the online world becomes the "new normal" and it really ends up expanding our ability to engage and interact with a much larger group of people. 

In your explorations, you may find a few real gems. Here is one example.

By searching in the Sessions tab, you can find a whole list of presentations about specific subjects. In this example, eighteen links to information about African American Research. So, take the plunge. Get clicking away to find out about what all of us in the genealogical world do all day every day. 

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

Visit The Family History Guide at RootsTech Connect 2021


The Family History Guide or will be live at RootsTech Connect 2021 beginning at 5:00 pm MST. You can join us on our live Chat with the link on the webpage. Here is where The Family History Guide is located in the Virtual Expo Hall. 

Beginning with the opening, we will be online 24 hours a day for the entire conference through Saturday Night. Drop-in and say hello or ask questions. 

New Website Now Online


The new website is now online. You might want to start looking over the options that are already available. The timer gives the number of hours until the official start of the RootsTech Connect experience begins but some of the functions of the website are already available. You can also see that there have been over 500,000 people register for this event. 

Look for The Family History Guide in the Virtual Expo Hall. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2021

Where in the World Will I be at RootsTech?


Hmm, obviously physically I will be sitting in front of my computer but it seems like a good idea to let people know where I can be found during the rest of this week. Of course, you can always email me or even talk to me on the phone (imagine that) but you can also play the "conference" game and find me online. 

1. I am helping out with the Salt Lake City, Utah Family History Library's RootsTech Connect Research Help. See I don't know how you would get to me personally, but if want research help, you can sign up for a twenty-minute session. 

2. That brings us to The Family History Guide or The Family History Guide is an Exhibitor at RootsTech. For three full 24-hour days, we will be online on the Exhibitor chat. When the website for this year's RootsTech Connect goes online, you can go to the Exhibitor Virtual Expo Hall. We have a fairly prominent link and during the conference from about 5:00 pm MST on Wednesday, through 9:00 pm MST on Saturday. I will be online off and on during some of that time also.

All this puts me online a minimum of 20 hours over three days. But it is also likely that I will be online with blog posts and with other meetings and with chat sessions and so, I will likely be online more than 30 hours in three days. 

Now, what about the RootsTech relative finder mobile app? I am currently at 18,857 registered relatives. I am not even sure what to do with this number of relatives. 

By the way, the latest number of people registered for RootsTech Connect 2021 is 433,255 registrants. Hmm. Sounds interesting. Hope I get to talk to a few people during or after the conference. 

Monday, February 22, 2021

Upload your DNA Data to MyHeritage and Get FREE Access to All DNA Features — Limited-time Offer! is running a special DNA upload promotion between February 21–28, 2021 so folks who have tested with other services can access all advanced DNA features on MyHeritage, absolutely free! Quoting from the recent email announcement: 

As you know, Genetic Groups significantly increased the resolution of MyHeritage DNA’s ethnicity breakdown to 2,114 geographic regions and our users have been raving about it ever since. But many people who have tested with services such as 23andMe, Ancestry or FamilyTree DNA Family Finder, were unable to join the fun.

MyHeritage allows you to upload your DNA data from other providers and get DNA Matches for free, but a one-time unlock fee of $29 (or a Complete plan with MyHeritage) has been required to access the advanced DNA features — and that includes the Ethnicity Estimate and the new Genetic Groups.

Well, we don’t want you to feel left out just because you tested with another service! For a limited time only, between February 21–28, 2021, we are waiving the unlock fee. You can now upload your DNA data to MyHeritage and get access to your Ethnicity Estimate, Genetic Groups, and other advanced DNA tools such as the Chromosome Browser, AutoClusters, and Theory of Family Relativity™ — absolutely free! These features will remain free forever for the DNA kits you upload to MyHeritage during this week.

You can upload your data for free by clicking here.  

Thursday, February 18, 2021

How accurate are DNA Ethnicity Estimates?


In our complex society, we all live with estimates. An estimate is a guess regardless of whether or not it is called an estimate, a prediction, or a trend. Not too long ago my wife and I contracted for some remodeling work in our basement. We got an "estimate" of the cost from a licensed contractor for a certain amount. Invariably, the amount we ended up actually spending was significantly greater than the original estimate. 

As the large online DNA companies began doing business, they promoted their "products" using estimates of the ethnic origin of people around the world. By matching DNA testing results with a pool of people assumed to be from a particular geographic area of the world, they claimed to be able to match you to your origins. Theoretically, this is possible if you have a large enough pool of reference DNA tests and some way to assign the results to a particular geographic location. See my previous post, "MyHeritage and the evolution of Ethnicity Estimates."

The question is how large is large enough? Here is a copy of my Ethnicity Estimate from

This estimate corresponds roughly with my own research over the past almost 40 years. Now, here is a screenshot of my estimate from 

There are some significant differences between these two "estimates." Why would there be a difference? This is an interesting question. Let's look at my eight Great-grandparents. All of them were born in the United States except one born in Denmark. If I look at the sixteen parents of each of these eight ancestors, I find the following:
  • United States - 6
  • Denmark - 2
  • England - 2
  • Ireland -1
  • Wales -1
I could keep going back looking at the birthplaces of each of my direct line ancestors (those from whom I could have inherited DNA) and I would still find some ancestors who were born in America back to the early 1600s. Other than Denmark, my research back as far as the 1600s with some few validated lines into the 1500s, none of these direct line ancestors came from Norway, Sweden, Italy, or any other part of the world. Going back into speculative ancestry, there may be one of two lines that finally connect with continental Europe in the Netherlands and France.

What do the DNA test results tell me that I don't already know from my long years of research about my ethnicity? The key to answering this question involves issues with specific ancestral lines. I have had DNA results help to answer some of the more difficult genealogical issues we could not answer with paper research. The value of DNA testing from this standpoint is undisputed. But again, what about these ethnicity estimates?

As long as we view them as promotional or advertising, there is no problem at all. However, over time, the ability of these large companies to focus on more exact and specific geographical areas might help to support some more of my own research conclusions or help me to look at other options. But right now, telling me, for example, that I have "Mountain West Mormon Pioneers, is not really helpful for my own research. What this means is that DNA ethnicity estimates can suggest avenues for research and confirm research that has already been done, but it is not particularly useful in specifically identifying new ancestors unless the individual researcher has done an extensive amount of traditional research. 

For those people who obtain a DNA test and never make an effort to research a family tree, ethnicity estimates are merely entertaining and not really relevant. However, to the extent that a DNA test gives someone the incentive to begin actually doing some research, these tests and very useful. 

How accurate are DNA Ethnicity Estimates? Not yet particularly accurate but over time, they may become very useful tools for more and more people but only those people who become involved in researching their family lines and using one or all of the large online family tree websites. 

Monday, February 15, 2021

How to participate in RootsTech Connect 2021: A Survivor's Guide


The idea of an interest conference probably dates back to prehistory when the bow and arrow folks all got together to talk about new arrow tech. The origin of FamilySearch's RootsTech Conference is summarized in this explanation from Wikipedia: RootsTech.

RootsTech is an outgrowth of a conference started at Brigham Young University in Provo, Utah. The manager of Conferences and Workshops, Bob Hales, noted that their long running "Annual Genealogy and Family History Conference" held at the end of July each year was experiencing incredible interest in a track devoted to technology in genealogy. In 1997, Hales met with a local accredited genealogist and technology enthusiast, Alan Mann, to ask for his help in creating a new conference, breaking it off from the Annual Conference. They decided to hold this new conference in March of each year so as to avoid conflict with the July Annual Conference. The first event was held March 1998 and drew 400 paid attendees. By 1999, the second Computerized Genealogy Conference drew more attendees than BYU's Annual Genealogy and Family History Conference, coming from 49 states and 3 countries. Several strategies were employed to accommodate more attendees, including offering the same classes in evening sessions, expanding to other buildings (one of which involved transport by vans), and freeing more meeting rooms by moving exhibitors out of meeting rooms into the hallways. By 2001, the conference organizers turned away hundreds of registrations each year. In 2003, the only national competing event, GenTech, was cancelled, leading to further demand for the BYU Annual Computerized Genealogy Conference.

Over the years, other events were organized to be held a day or two before this annual conference to take advantage of the attendance of exhibitors and developers from around the world. This included the Family History Technology Workshop which displayed and discussed developments in technology for genealogists and the FamilySearch Developers Conference. In 2008, the LDS Church's Family History Department became co-sponsor of these events and the search began for a new venue. The 2010 National Genealogical Society Conference was scheduled to be held in Salt Lake City. With cooperation from the local Salt Lake City NGS sponsor, the Utah Genealogical Association, the Family History Technology Workshop, and the FamilySearch Developers Conference, the Computerized Genealogy Conference organizers met with NGS and proposed a combined NGS conference and Computerized Genealogy Conference, which was held in April 2010. The event was highly successful, and led to plans to move the Computerized Genealogy Conference to Salt Lake City for future events. The name of the conference was changed to RootsTech.

Interestingly, the Family History Technology Conference continued to be held and in the last few years was held on the Tuesday before the first day of RootsTech on Wednesday. Originally RootsTech held a tech conference for a full day on Wednesday. The RootsTech Conference in 2020, began early on Wednesday. For many years RootsTech keynotes and classes were made available on a limited basis on the RootsTech website. 

Then along came the pandemic. 

The 2020 Conference was held before the pandemic got rolling in the United States so the changes started coming as large events around the United States began to be canceled in March. Finally, it was announced that the 2021 RootsTech Connect Conference would be totally online. Physically attending a RootsTech Conference involved everything from finding accommodation to parking and weather reports. The virtual conference will eliminate many, but not all of those concerns. Let me highlight some of the issues and give my opinion about some possible solutions. 

First of all, RootsTech Connect 2021 will be completely FREE to all who register so the issue of getting a packet, printing off your conference badge, and all that will essentially disappear. No travel. No accommodations issues. No food issues. Nothing but you and an internet connection to worry about. 

But here is a new twist: the Conference will go from about 7:00 pm Eastern Standard Time in the United States until about 10:00 pm Eastern Standard Time on February 24, 2021, for 24 hours a day. Yes, It will be online 24 hours a day for those three (or four) days depending on how you count and depending on where you live. So, does anyone really expect to stay awake for the entire Conference? No. The key here is that all of the class sessions are being prerecorded and will be online for a year until the next conference. 

I am going to add a rumor here. Rumor: Over 400,000 or more people will be registered for the Conference by opening day. What does this mean for the people trying to listen to the Conference during the actual dates when it is supposed to be held? We hope that RootsTech has the bandwidth to handle all these people trying to listen to the same class at the same time. But if you miss a class remember you have a year to try to hear it. 

What else? You need to know that beginning on Monday, February 22, volunteers from the Salt Lake Family History Library and from the BYU Family History Libary will be online offering FREE help sessions. You do have to register for a time and again, if the demand is too great, the volunteers will be available for a long time after the conference. Here is the link to schedule an appointment. I will be online about 3.5 hours a day from Monday through Saturday helping answer questions. This is an ongoing service from the Salt Lake City, Utah Family History Library and will soon be available from the volunteers at the BYU Family History Library with the same scheduling program. 

So what is the strategy? Try to listen to as many of the keynote addresses as you can during the conference. Then realize that the classes are not scheduled for any particular time. They are recorded and like YouTube videos, you can watch them any time you want. Start selecting the classes you want to watch and then start watching. You have a year to complete your selections. 

What will happen next year? Hmm. What if the pandemic has subsided and we could all go back to an in-person conference? My best guess is that the next conference (and all those hereafter) will be online. The economies of scale are too great and the number of people reached is way too big for RootsTech to regress and hold a live conference. Just a guess, but probably correct.

Now the Exhibit Floor. Well, not really a floor because it all virtual also. The Exhibitors will all have virtual booths online that you can visit. Some of their presentations and videos that are usually shown when they attend RootsTech will likely be available on their own individual websites and YouTube Channels. For Example, The Family History Guide will be online 24 hours a day during the conference. We will also have a bunch of new videos and announcements about the website. Look for us in the Virtual Exhibit Hall. 

Now, what about major announcements? I am sure that this year's RootsTech Connect 2021 Conference will hold a number of surprises and special offers and all sorts of interesting things. You may have to dig around a little and look but keep looking you never know what you will find. You might want to study the Session List very carefully. Just a word to the wise. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021

RootsTech Connect 2021 posts Main Stage Stream Schedule and Sessions, the website for RootsTech Connect 2021 has posted links to the Main Stage Stream Schedule and the Virtual Exhibit Floor as well as a list of the class sessions. You can see the links on the screenshot of the home page. There are about 16 Keynote Speakers and over 1000 classes. You need to remember that almost all of the content of this Conference will be online for a year. You also need to remember that the entire Conference is free. 

Register here:

Genealogy on the Internet Archive


Genealogy on the Internet Archive or the Internet Archive should be on every genealogist's list of important genealogy websites. Over the past few years, the Internet Archive has grown almost exponentially in its content and many of the resources available on this website are unique. Here is an idea of what is available. 

Here are what the icons mean:
  • About 527 billion web pages in the Wayback Machine
  • About 28 million texts including ebooks
  • About 6.5 million videos
  • About 15 million audio files
  • About 2.2 million TV programs
  • About 628,000 software programs
  • About 3.8 million images
  • About 224,000 music concerts
  • About 998,000 collections of the rest of the stuff
This whole website calls to mind the image of Smaug the Dragon sitting on his huge pile of gold. How do you even begin to comprehend what is on this one website? Ignoring the Internet Archive is like ignoring all of the online genealogy websites combined. 

Friday, February 12, 2021

MyHeritage adds United States, Border Crossings from Canada, 1895-1956

 Quoting from an email announcement:

During the late 19th century many immigrants to the U.S. arrived via passage from Canada to avoid harsh inspections at U.S. ports like Ellis Island. The collection, which includes images, is significant as it offers important details of travelers as they made their way to the United States. The MyHeritage index offers additional details not found in other versions of this collection, such as information on family members.

Search the U.S. Border Crossings from Canada, 1895–1956 collection now

The records include the individual’s name, age, gender, date of arrival, arrival port, marital status, birth date, birth place, last residence, destination, port of departure, and nationality, as well as the names and addresses of family members both in the United States and the home country. In addition to immigrants seeking citizenship in the United States, many of the records in the collection pertain to U.S. or Canadian citizens passing through the border for work or travel. 

The dates of these records highlight the fact that U.S. immigration policies changed dramatically from the 19th  to the 20th Centuries. Remember, if you have your family tree on MyHeritage, these collections will be included in your Record Matches. 

Here is the link to the new collection. Search the U.S. Border Crossings from Canada, 1895–1956 collection now

Thursday, February 11, 2021

MyHeritage and the evolution of Ethnicity Estimates


Over the past few years, I have seen the impact of DNA testing on genealogical research. One of the first things that brought DNA testing to the attention of the larger family history or genealogical community was the Ethnicity Estimates provided by the large online genealogy family tree and database companies. Inevitably, these early Ethnicity Estimates began to change over time as a natural consequence of the increased number of DNA test results available and the huge increase in both the available online records and online family trees. I am more surprised at the reaction of the people to the increased focus of the Ethnicity Estimates than I am to any of the changes that come from the increase in information. 

Here is an analogy. When digital cameras were first introduced, they had sensors that contained less than 1 Megapixel of information. The images were small and if you tried to look at any detail, the whole image became blurry. Fast forward to today. Now we have image sensors and techniques that can produce over 320 Gigpixes of resolution. See "The World's Highest Resolution Photographs Made Here."

What is doing is almost the same thing. They are looking at ancestral relationships with higher and higher resolution and are able to see more detail. Here is a blog post with some new information about this increase in detail. 

Genetic Groups — New User Interface Improvements

If you have a DNA on the website, you might want to seriously consider adding information to your family trees using the Record Matches so that you can begin to see more detail in your own DNA estimates. 

Wednesday, February 10, 2021

Find Your Relatives at RootsTech Connect 2021

If you have registered for RootsTech Connect 2020, you can sign up to have both an online and mobile connection to those of your relatives that have registered for this year's free, completely online conference. Bear in mind, that as of today, there are already over 260,000 registrants. Here is what the link to my relatives shows me on the day this post was written. 

Due to the fact that I have over 30,000 DNA matches on and almost 12,000 on, I am not a bit surprised. I have at least a half a dozen relatives who live in my immediate neighborhood. Guess what? You likely have the same number as I do but you may not be aware of who they are. My huge number comes from doing genealogy for almost 40 years now. 

For the instructions about how to find your relatives click on this link:

Free Access to Marriage Records for Valentine's Day from MyHeritage is offering free access to all marriage records for Valentine’s Day, from February 10–16.  The offer includes all 158 marriage collections with 462,808,849 records. During this limited-time offer, you’ll be able to access these records for free even if you don’t have a MyHeritage plan. Please note that free registration to MyHeritage will be required for non-MyHeritage users. 

In addition, you can enter the MyHeritage Valentine’s Day competition by sharing your colorized, enhanced, or color-restored wedding photos on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram with the hashtag #LoveInFullColor and tagging @MyHeritage for a chance to win. Three lucky winners will be awarded their choice of a Complete plan or a MyHeritage DNA kit! Alternatively, you can share your photos and stories by sending them to with #LoveInFullColor in the subject line. 

The competition closes on February 14, 2021, so hurry up and share those photos. 

Monday, February 8, 2021

DNA solves genealogical problems we didn't know we had


Because of the rise in genealogical DNA testing, news reports commonly contain accounts of people who unexpectantly find that they are not related to the parents that raised them or have surprise relatives in many different types of relationships. My personal DNA discoveries go back as far as six generations. The latest discovery involves my own surname line, the Tanner family from Rhode Island and New York. 

Tanner is a fairly common surname in England, Switzerland, and parts of the German-speaking parts of Europe. My family shows up in the 1600s in Rhode Island, and no further connection has been demonstrated to Europe, but it is assumed that the original immigrant came from England. There are several different unrelated Tanner families living in Rhode Island during the 1700s despite assumptions by careless researchers to the contrary. My particular Tanner family line is well documented back eight generations to three brothers (not the three brother immigrants nonsense) who were born in the early 1700s and participated in the Seventh-day Baptist Church. DNA testing becomes tenuous at this level. 

Coming forward two generations brings us to the first Tanner who joined The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1832 soon after the Church was organized. John Tanner was born in Rhode Island in 1778 and moved to Washington County, New York around 1818 and later moved to Bolton, Warren County, New York on the shores of Lake George. He had a large family with three wives in succession and 21 children. Most of his children also joined the Church and moved west with the migration of the Church members across the country to the Salt Lake Valley, Utah where John Tanner died in 1850. 

Four of John Tanner's oldest children died young before he left New York, but three of the children did not join the Church and lived out their lives in the eastern part of the United States. His oldest child, Elisha Bentley Tanner, lived in New York state. Here is where the DNA testing comes into the story. My side of the Tanner family is descends from the oldest son who moved west, Sidney Tanner who was born in 1809. Elisha Bentley Tanner was born in 1801 and died in New York City, New York, in 1858. Few, if any of John Tanner's western U.S. descendants have spent any time researching Elisha's family. 

My two DNA tests have accumulated thousands of DNA matches. Unfortunately, relatively few of them have a corresponding family tree making it extremely difficult to determine any common ancestral connections. Most of the connections made by the genealogy websites, and, link me to my fourth generation ancestors. However, a connection to an actively researching genealogist on the Elisa Bently Tanner line highlighted how little attention my own family had spent researching these "cousins." 

The validation of this relationship has been in existence for quite a few years. This situation highlights a common issue that genealogists tend to research only those members of a family that are their direct-line ancestors and usually ignore the rest of the children. Although this issue with Elisha Bentley Tanner was known for some time, it took a direct contact from another genealogist directly to me to get me interest in looking at that line.

Saturday, February 6, 2021

New Website for the Salt Lake City, Utah Family History Library


New Family History Library website

Although the main Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah and most of the Family History Libraries and Family History Centers around the world are either closed or have moved to providing online support, it is a breath of fresh air to have a new more visible website for the Salt Lake City Family History Library. 

Here is a quote from the news release announcement. 

The new webpage enables guests to better access existing site services, such as visitor information, collections and hours of operations, and introduces many new and expanded services. For example, patrons worldwide can now schedule 20-minute appointments for free personal research consultations with a specialist. And book look-up services will be coming soon.

David Rencher, the chief genealogy officer for FamilySearch and director of the Family History Library, says this resource is just the beginning of plans for the library’s updated web presence. “Moving forward, we will build out the webpage to help our patrons’ and guests’ expanding needs with a global reach.”

The webpage is available in German, Spanish, French, Portuguese, and Chinese. Japanese and Italian languages will be added soon.

“The Family History Library offers the largest collection of genealogical materials in one place, making it a premier destination for family history resources and genealogical expertise,” added Rencher. “Its mission is constantly expanding to meet the evolving needs of guests throughout the world—and at no charge.”

Although the library itself is currently closed due to a global pandemic, it is now able to create more of its signature personalized discovery experiences online for patrons worldwide.

It is nice to see that the webpage is on the website but like many of the resources on the website, there are no clear links to this or the other hidden resources. There is not even a link in the obscure Site Map or any other way to find the website other than a general Google search or whatever.  There is no clear way, other than using Google, to find anything on the website that is not specifically linked in one of the menu items. The new webpage does appear in a general Google search for the Salt Lake City Family History Library. 

Friday, February 5, 2021

FamilySearch Infographics for 2020 Genealogy Highlights


If you look at these numbers, you can begin to see the scope of having a totally collaborative Family Tree. There are 1.7 Billion sources on the Family Tree at the end of 2020. These are all attached to specific individuals. Think about this huge resource. Where else can you find that many documented people organized by families? Of course, there are some duplicates but overall the Family Tree is becoming more and more reliable as the days and years go by. 

Here is a quote from a news release entitled, "FamilySearch 2020 Genealogy Highlights."
Contributors added nearly 100 million relatives to the FamilySearch Family Tree in 2020 for a total of 1.3 billion people in the world’s largest collaborative—and free—family tree! Users also added 300 million sources from their family records or hints generated by FamilySearch from its growing online record collections. These sources help strengthen the genealogical soundness of ancestor pages.

FamilySearch also made changes in its tree data that will help search engines more effectively index the tree’s content to make it more discoverable online. New features give users the ability to add tags to people they follow in their tree and in Memories; they can now make certain memories private, bookmark an album, create searchable labels (tags), and build slideshows for an ancestor. The popular ancestral fan chart can now be viewed on the Family Tree mobile app, and users can view or print up to seven generations in a variety of fun options.

 You can read the entire article here:

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

RootsTech Connect expands its Keynote Speakers and Performers


RootsTech Connect 2021 is dramatically and internationally expanding its lineup of Keynote speakers and Performers. The free online conference will be held from February 25th to the 27th, 2021. The newly announced lineup is on the Keynote speaker page of the website. You can register for the free conference on the website. 

There are presently eight speakers announced. In addition, here are the current performers. You need to go on and listen to these fabulous singing groups. All of the below came from email announcements sent out by

Ladysmith Black Mambazo 
This year, RootsTech Connect 2021 is proud to announce that 5-time Grammy Award winning Ladysmith Black Mambazo is joining the lineup of keynote speakers. Don’t miss the opportunity to hear this group perform and feel the impact of their story and heritage.

What Is Ladysmith Black Mambazo?
Ladysmith Black Mambazo is a male acapella group that performs in the musical traditions of their South African homelands. The choir is well-known for performing in Zulu styles, highlighting their roots through their rhythms and harmonies.

bless4 as Keynote speakers and performers
bless4 is a pop group formed by four Kawamitsu siblings—Akashi, Kanasa, Akino, and Aiki. Although all of the siblings except for Akashi were born in the United States, the family moved to Okinawa in 1997 when their father, Haru, felt a longing for the place where he grew up.

In 2003, the siblings formed bless4 and debuted with their single “Good Morning! Mr. Sunshine.” The group hasn’t slowed down since. Since its formation, bless4 has released 3 albums and 10 singles. In the 18 years since their initial debut, the Kawamitsu siblings continue to impress audiences around the world with their musical talent.

Here is another speaker that is not on the list above. 

Bruna Benites Keynote speaker
Bruna Beatriz Benites Soares was born on 16 October 1985 in Cuiabá, Mato Grosso, Brazil. Shortly thereafter she met her first soccer ball. We’d like to give you a detailed description of her very first goal, but the truth of the matter is, our researchers have thus far been unsuccessful in uncovering the story.

Let’s just say that she scored lots of goals growing up and that it didn’t take a genius to see that the youth had talent.   

Will Hopoate Keynote speaker
William Hopoate was born in 1992 in New South Wales, Australia, and is of Tongan descent. Hopoate is also known as “Viliami” in Tongan, but he often goes by the nickname of “Hoppa.”

Hopoate began playing for the National Rugby League (NRL) when he was 18 years old. He started his professional career playing for the Manly-Warringah Sea Eagles.

The emcee of RootsTech Connect will be Nick Barrett.
Nick is a historian. He has been one since he was young. Pursuing his early interest in history has led him to notable achievements. To list a few: obtaining a Ph.D. in history from King’s College in London, becoming University of Nottingham’s Honorary Associate Professor in Public History, completing several genealogical and historical research books, and becoming president of the Federation of Family History Societies.

Tita the Soccer Star Keynote speaker
Tita, also known as Milton Queiroz da Paixão, is known as one of Brazil’s best soccer players in its history. He was only 18 when he entered the professional league Flamengo, which was Brazil’s most popular team at the time. Tita is well-known for playing the forward position.

At the young age of 20, Tita was named Brazil’s Soccer Selection while playing for Brazil’s national team. During his time on the team, Brazil’s national team won the 1989 Copa America. Tita continued playing, and he participated in the 1990 World Cup, where his team made it to round 16.

He played in 32 international matches for the national Brazil team between 1979 and 1990 and scored six goals. In his club career, he scored over 135 goals.

Tita went on to play for clubs in Germany, Italy, Mexico, and Guatemala. He played with soccer legends such as Zico and helped Bayer Leverkusen win its first cup. He has also supported Flamengo throughout his career, helping them in their most successful season.