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

Monday, February 28, 2022

RootsTech Connect 2022 Update February 28, 2022

 

Many of the genealogical websites and program developers will be making announcements during the week of February 28th to March 5th. I will be posting a daily update of any that I run across or are sent to me. I get a lot of email and a few personal calls. Here is the first list of announcements for Monday, February 28th. 

MyHeritage.com has just added 269 million family tree profile records from Filae to MyHeritage.  If you have French roots, you will almost certainly find some family members in this collection. This addition comes alongside the 8 million other historical records we added from France and Norway since the beginning of 2022. See the blog post entitled, "New Historical Records Added in January and February."

This is just the start, here is an announcement from Ancestry.com

Use the new Ancestry Stories feature on the Ancestry mobile app to combine photographs, saved historical records, and text to craft a story about any ancestor or relative in your family tree. You can then easily save that story to your tree and share it with family and friends. Doing this could even connect you to family members who might have additional information or photos you would never have found otherwise.

More about Ancestry later. 

Here is another announcement about MyHeritage.com 

MyHeritage will be running a special offer for uploading DNA kits to MyHeritage. From tomorrow, March 1–8, 2022, people who have taken a DNA test with other services will be able to upload their DNA to MyHeritage and enjoy all our advanced DNA features for free — including Ethnicity Estimates, Chromosome Browser, Theory of Family Relativity™️, and more. If you tested with another DNA service and haven’t uploaded your DNA to MyHeritage yet, there’s never been a better time! Visit myheritage.com/dna/upload to get started.

I expect some more announcement. Oh, the Relatives at RootsTech feature is up and running. As of February 28th, I have 26,737 relatives who have registered for the conference out of a total of 516,055 total registrants.  

Saturday, February 26, 2022

Research Like a Pro with DNA, a new book by Diana Elder AG, Nicole Dyer, and Robin Wirthlin

 


Research Like a Pro with DNA
 
By Diana Elder AG, Nicole Dyer, and Robin Wirthlin
With a forward by Paul Woodbury
 
Published by Family Locket Genealogy
https://familylocket.com/
 
This book is an offshoot of the long running Research Like a Pro Genealogy Podcast by Diana Elder, AG and Nicole Dyer. It also follows a best-selling book Research Like a Pro: A Genealogist’s Guide. See Elder, Diana, and Nicole Dyer. 2018. Research like a pro: a genealogist's guide.
 
If you have a difficult ancestral problem, especially in your first six generations or so back, you need to consider whether DNA testing would help solve the problem. Genealogical DNA testing is no longer something new. It is a well-developed method for resolving genealogical “brick walls” caused by a lack of historical records. This book has been written from the standpoint of solving real-world problems. The explanations about the basics of genealogical DNA research are extensively covered. Each of the authors has written her own section of the book and each section builds on the strengths of the others. This is not a book for fast, light reading. It is a dense discussion of the basics with more than ample examples of how the basics apply to actual genealogical situations.
 
It is evident that the authors have personally used DNA testing in a variety of ways to resolve more types of situations than most people will ever encounter. In addition, there are also explanations of how to use a substantial number of the current websites and apps that complement DNA research. You can tell from the how-to examples of solving actual problems that the authors have used a wide variety of research tools. This book goes well beyond a simple beginner’s book to incorporate procedures that really do help you research like a pro.
 
For example, there is an extensive discussion with abundant example about starting with a research objective, including source citations (with a helpful list of major reference books on citation format), analyzing your sources and explaining and documenting your findings in a professional-level Research Report which could then be turned into a journal article for publication. There are also sections showing how the Research Report can be adapted to a potential journal article with suggestions for where the article could be published. 
 
The authors also encourage research logs and admonish readers to carefully document their research.
 
As an introduction and a future reference book, it is as complete as possible. DNA and the supporting genealogical research into existing records are co-dependent and this book shows how both can work together to solve difficult research relationship issues.

The book is available on Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle editions. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

Watch All the Keynote Presentations on RootsTech.org

 

Beginning March 3rd, 2022, RootsTech 2022 Connect will have eight impressive and memorable presentations by people from all over the world. All of this is free with your registration. You can register today by clicking on this link. https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/

Here is a link about the upcoming conference with additional links to a bio of each keynote speaker. 

https://newsroom.churchofjesuschrist.org/event/rootstech-2022#:~:text=Keynote%20speakers%20include%20Argentine%20singer,and%20Brazilian%20actress%20Tha%C3%ADs%20Pacholek.

Thursday, February 24, 2022

Ancestry and FamilySearch Join Together to check Ancestry's automated Index of the 1950 United States Federal Census

 

https://www.familysearch.org/en/blog/indexing-1950-census

On April 1, 2022, the 1950 U.S. Census will be released and Ancestry.com and FamilySearch.org will join in a project to index the census schedules. Unlike the volunteer focused effort that was used for past census indexes, Ancestry.com will be using sophisticated Artificial Intelligence based handwriting recognition program for the initial indexing. Then FamilySearch.org's volunteers will get busy checking the accuracy of the computer-aided index. Ancestry will be indexing all of the fields of the records.

FamilySearch also indicates that volunteer checkers will be able to work on records related to their family and for their own locations of interest. 

It is anticipated that the indexing will take far less time than it has in the past. I expect that many other companies will obtain copies of the census and begin indexing activities. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Watch for my video presentation at RootsTech 2022 Virtual


Once the RootsTech 2022 website goes live, you will be able to see the list of presentations and videos for this year's event. If you are registered, you will also be able to build a personal play list of the classes and videos you want to see. Unlike the in-person conference, the classes don't fill up and you have the rest of the year into next year to watch it anyway. 

My video on the Great Migration was accepted and if you are interested, you can add it to your play list. Once the website is live, you can also search for presenters by name. The Conference is scheduled to open on March 3rd but the new website should be up sometime before that. You might want to register now and start checking the website to see when it goes live. My video will also have a syllabus and a long handout. 

Here is the link to register. https://www.familysearch.org/rootstech/

Virtual or In Person: What is the future of genealogy?

 

https://www.thechurchnews.com/global/2022-02-21/rootstech-2022-virtual-family-history-event-new-improved-features-242303

It is now the second year that the RootsTech conference has gone virtual. The attendance at the virtual conference in 2021 exceeded previous in-person attendance by over a million attendees (some estimates online have been 1.5 million or more). Additionally, the RootsTech.org website continued to. provide access to about 1,500 presentations and classes during the entire 2021 year into 2022. In essence, the RootsTech conference, which had been traditionally attended by 20,000 to 30,000 or so people, now has a global reach. Can the greater genealogy community ignore these numbers?

The entire world has suffered through a taxing pandemic where people have felt isolated and suffered the effects of that isolation. So, when the issue of virtual vs. in-person is raised, there are usually comments about the importance of meeting in person, making friends, interacting with other genealogists and so forth. These are all valid issues but what do they have with educating millions of people around the world about genealogy and family history?

Traditionally, I have taught thousands of classes in person at Family History Centers, in expos, conferences and other venues. There are important parts of teaching that seem to require personal contact. The largest in-person presentation that I remember was at RootsTech when I was a key presenter to about 3000 people. The largest number of views of one of my online webinars or classes, at the time this blog is being written, has about 65,000 views. My top three videos combined have over 100,000 views. Which activity is more productive for reaching out to a global audience? Virtual or in person?

The almost automatic answer from most genealogists would be both and both have their place. Because of the pandemic, I haven't taught a class in person for almost two years. But I have continued to teach online and have reached far more people than I would have teaching in-person. Do I feel isolated? In my case, no more than usual as a genealogist. 

If our goal for teaching is inclusive, a class held in a local library or other venue excludes all those interested people who do not happen to live withing traveling distance of the library. Even for an event such as RootsTech, even though a few people travel long distances to attend the conference, the time and expense of attending such a gathering is prohibitive to most genealogists around the world. The conferences have become like an exclusive club where only those with time and economic means can attend. In addition, the sponsors of such a conference spend hundreds and perhaps as much as tens of thousands of dollars when the cost per person is dramatically higher than the cost per person of a virtual conference. 

One interesting fact is that RootsTech does not tell its presenters how many views there have been to their videos. They may mention class attendance for a live class, but the total over the past year is not disclosed.  Why is this? We always got our class attendance when in-person at RootsTech and sometimes got criticized if the class attendance was low. 

What if the virtual conference is a bust? Then the loss is less than the cost of event rental, travel, set up, booth expenses etc. Failure of a virtual conference could be a reflection of the narrowness of the over-all genealogical market. 

Of course, the positions for in-person vs. virtual could go on indefinitely but will RootsTech go back to in-person only? Not likely. Will they spend both the time and money to have an in-person and a virtual conference, sort of a hybrid? Only time will tell, but I am guessing once you go virtual, you will not want to give up the audience. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

MyHeritage adds Millions of Jewish Records from JewishGen

 

MyHeritage.com

Here is a quote from an email received on February 22, 2022.

MyHeritage has just published 5.8 million records from 28 collections from JewishGen. The release of these records — made possible thanks to MyHeritage’s collaboration with the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust and its affiliate, JewishGen, a leading website for Jewish genealogy — constitutes the first installment of a licensing agreement that will ultimately make almost all the JewishGen records accessible on MyHeritage.

The email adds the following:

The records in these collections will now benefit from MyHeritage’s powerful matching technologies, which automatically match historical records with the 83 million family trees on MyHeritage. Also, JewishGen records were available to search and view in English only, however, now international users will benefit from MyHeritage’s Global Name Translation Technology™, which allows individuals researching in other languages, such as Hebrew, Russian, or Greek, to search and view these records, with the names translated into their native languages.

This addition brings the number of records available on the MyHeritage website to 16,811,391,138. 

Live Genealogy Consultations Now Available for RootsTech 2022

The theme of RootsTech 2022 is Choose Connection. One way you can connect with the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah is to sign up for a twenty-minute consultation with a family history expert by a live Zoom connection. You can begin signing up now by clicking on this link.

https://www.familysearch.org/en/family-history-library/rootstech-research-consultations

This link will take you to this web page. 


If you have any questions at all about anything involving genealogy or family history, please choose a time to talk and ask your questions. You will be asked to fill out a form that will let the consultant expert know about your question in advance of the meeting. There is absolutely no charge for this service. After. the conference, you can continue to get online, live help from the consultants by clicking on the link on the Family History Library website for Research Help. 

Please pass this opportunity along to anyone who may need help now or in the future. Please take a moment to share this post on social media. Thanks. 

Monday, February 21, 2022

Revisiting Proof and Truth in Genealogy


 Can you prove it? Is what you post in your family tree the truth? In the context of genealogical research, do either of these terms have any meaning? Can these questions even be answered? Genealogical research focuses on a limited part of the world's history; that part pertaining to family and individual histories. It is rare that a genealogical researcher puts their family history into the greater context of local, national, or world history. For example, do you think the pandemic that started sometime in the year 2020 had any kind of impact on you or your family? Do you think that the Flu Pandemic of 1918-1919 had any impact on you or your family? How many people in your ancestral families died during the years 1918 and 1919? Do you know how many of them died of the flu? Have you even thought about why your ancestors died? Obviously, if one of your direct line ancestors had died before having children, they would not be your ancestor. 

What do these questions have to do with proof or truth? Let's take the cause of death as an example. Let's suppose in your research you discover records showing when and where your ancestor or relative died. Do you know how or why that person died? Why would that information be interesting or important? Did you know that a significant part of the greater genealogical research community is entirely motivated by discovering the causes of their ancestors' deaths? The reason is to determine if certain diseases are inherited and to further determine the frequency of inheritance. However, if you are doing such research, you will soon learn that medical diagnoses of the cause of death, going back in time, can be very unreliable. It is common that a person's death has multiple causes. Can we tell which of the causes was the "true" cause of death? Going back in time using the historical records available could you prove which of the potential causes of death were the true cause of death?

Historical "truth" depends entirely upon the accuracy and completeness of the preserved historical records. Since death certificates in the United States have been created only fairly recently, you are very unlikely to find a record stating the cause of death before around 1850 any place in the country and many states did not uniformly require death certificates until well into the 20th Century. The issues of historical and thereby genealogical proof and truth rely entirely on preserved historical records. Genealogical proof and truth are not abstract philosophical concepts, they are simply opinions and conclusions drawn from whatever historical records exist. 

For example, continuing the cause of death issue, here is a death certificate for William De Friez dated January 27, 1918. 


The cause of death is listed as lobar pneumonia. Here is an article explaining this cause of death. 

National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Bacterial Pneumonia Caused Most Deaths in 1918 Influenza Pandemic,” September 22, 2015. https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/bacterial-pneumonia-caused-most-deaths-1918-influenza-pandemic.

See also:

Brundage, John F., and G. Dennis Shanks. “Deaths from Bacterial Pneumonia during 1918–19 Influenza Pandemic.” Emerging Infectious Diseases 14, no. 8 (August 2008): 1193–99. https://doi.org/10.3201/eid1408.071313.

It is highly likely that although the cause of death was pneumonia, this person had the flu. So, what was the "true" cause of death? Quoting from the above article.

The majority of deaths during the influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 were not caused by the influenza virus acting alone, report researchers from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health. Instead, most victims succumbed to bacterial pneumonia following influenza virus infection. The pneumonia was caused when bacteria that normally inhabit the nose and throat invaded the lungs along a pathway created when the virus destroyed the cells that line the bronchial tubes and lungs.

You might note that both of the articles above date from well before the present COVID-19 pandemic. 

In the case of William De Friez there might be additional non-medical records that would tell us if he caught the flu, but they would not be reliable. By the way, the earliest death records from Utah generally start in 1898 with Salt Lake City death records starting in 1848, Logan in 1863 and Ogden in 1890. This person lived in Modena, Utah, a small settlement in Iron County along the Nevada border. The doctor who signed the death certificate did so in Cedar City, Utah about 52 miles away from Modena hence the note at the bottom of the certificate that says, "No Local Registrar." 

Some of this additional information expands on and clarifies the information in the death certificate. Could I prove that William De Friez died of influenza? I might be able to infer or conclude that he did, but all we could safely conclude is what is written on the death certificate. However, he did die of a related disease during the flu pandemic. 

Now, let me take this a step further. Let's suppose that for some reason the cause of death was an important factor in a lawsuit. Would there be enough evidence for a jury to conclude that the cause of death was pneumonia? Actually, in most instances, yes. A government document regularly prepared in the course of the creator's duties is an exception to the hearsay rule. There are several exceptions that cover this type of document. The doctor would not likely need to be a witness.

There is usually an inherent ambiguity in historical records. Almost every document is subject to more than one interpretation. You can claim that you have proved some genealogical relationship but the reality of historical records mandates that your "proof" is nothing more or less than your opinion subject to the discovery of additional records. 

Part of the process of becoming a genealogist or historian is accommodating the evanescent nature of the preserved historical record. So please don't tell me about your proof or that you know your conclusion is true. Your proof may be valid but remember the limitations of relying entirely on a historical record. 

Thursday, February 17, 2022

Jumping to the Gap has Consequences

 

The highly popular fan chart view of genealogical relationships is usually misleading. The attention of the researcher is immediately drawn to the blank spaces and frequently, the decision is made to look for the missing ancestor. This happens with pedigree charts when the researcher clicks back to the "end of the line" and tries to find the missing person. A pedigree chart is not a puzzle where you are looking for missing pieces no matter how compelling this analogy is. Each of the individuals in pedigrees, family group sheets, or other lists must have a demonstrable parent/child relationships. When there are no citations to historical records that contain these relationships, the ancestral line ends. This might seem like an obvious irrefutable principle, but it is frequently ignored. 

Now, if you look at the fan chart image above, you can see three couples that are missing. But the real question is whether the individual in the center of the chart is related to any of these people at all. This fan chart appears to show that the missing people are related to the one in the middle position. The only way you and anyone else can determine if there are supported relationships is to look at each person and verify the sources that indicate a parent/child relationship. 

As a matter of fact, this particular line is very likely wrong. Here is a look at the husband in the generation before the blank space. 


I could go on and on, but the fact that the blank spaces are usually not the actual end of the line, is very common. Oh, by the way, if you don't see what is wrong with the above screenshot, you probably need to learn something about Danish records and naming patterns in the 1700s. 

One hint is this: the records attached as sources show Peder Jorgensen married to Johanne Andersdatter in Tornby, Hojorring, Denmark in 1742 and another person named Peder Jorgensen Bruun married to Christensdatter in 1753 in Vidstrup, Hjorring, Denmark.  The first child is born before the first marriage and the second child is born before the second marriage. In any event, the names do not match. 

If you were to assume that all this was correct and start looking for the parents of Johhanne Andersdatter, you would probably not have the right people to start with. Don't jump to the Gap.

Meet all the Keynote Speakers for RootsTech 2022

 


RootsTech 2022 is free and completely virtual. You can still register by clicking on this link. The conference is from March 3rd to March 5th, 2022. If you miss watching a presentation or video during the conference, you can continue watching for the entire year until the next conference. There are over 1500 videos scheduled to be shown. Register now for announcements about the upcoming event. 

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

Research Consultations at RootsTech 2022 Virtual Conference

 

https://www.familysearch.org/en/family-history-library/rootstech-research-consultations

The Salt Lake Family History Library and FamilySearch.org are sponsoring an online consultation service before, during, and after RootsTech 2022. Of course, all these consultations are online Zoom meetings and are scheduled for twenty minutes each. There is no charge for the consultations. When you sign up, you will be asked to fill out a form that tells the consultant what you want to learn from the consultation. You are welcome to sign up for more than one consultation, but you are limited to one a week. There will be a lot of the people signing up so you might not get a consultation during the conference, but this is an ongoing project that will continue into the next year. Here is the link with the explanation about the consultations again.

https://www.familysearch.org/en/family-history-library/rootstech-research-consultations

I will be doing about 70 or so consultations during the week before, during, and after RootsTech but it will probably be chance if you happen to talk to me. 

If you don't share it -- You lose it! -- Part Two

 


I need to start by noting that the original documents of the Mary Ann Linton Morgan collection are housed by the Brigham Young University Special Collections Library as part of the Harold B. Lee Library. Where I donated the collection after digitizing it in its entirety. Here is a screenshot of the collection webpage. 

http://archives.lib.byu.edu/agents/people/2781

The digital version of the Mary Ann Linton Morgan Collection is also available on the computers at the Salt Lake City, Utah Family History Library, as I mentioned previously.

If you live somewhere near a university, that university probably has a library, and the library would likely have a Special Collections department or division. Special Collections usually house the library's rare books and documents. Many genealogically important documents are one-of-a-kind. This includes letters, journals, diaries, and many other important resources. All of these can be considered rare and depending on the emphasis of the specific library's collection, they may want to preserve your particular documents such as letters, journals, etc. It doesn't hurt to ask, but you might want to have an inventory of the documents and an explanation of their historical significance. For example, letters or a journal from an early resident of the area near the library or someone who fought in one of the wars might be of interest. 

What the Special Collections libraries do not want are paper pedigree charts and family group records unless there is some significant reason why the information in the records would not already be online or that the records were created by a historically important person. I might add that the FamilySearch Libraries also do not want paper pedigree charts and family group records. 

Other institutions that may house your collection include local libraries, genealogical societies, historical societies, state libraries, and archives. 

You might believe that only famous people warrant having their "papers" preserved. This is not completely correct. History is made by all the people living at a particular time and the desirability of any document or collection of documents may depend on the document's age rather than any consideration of the prominence of the person who created the documents. For example, any letter written by a soldier who was fighting in the U.S. Civil War is a valuable collector's item and sometimes the envelopes have more value than the letter itself, but both together are even more valuable. 

Another common way that people share their genealogy is to put the information and copies of the digitized records online. However, putting your information online raises the issue of digital preservation. This is especially true if the information is put online in a "private" family tree or other private venue. Privately held information seldom survives online for very long even given the short history of online storage as a possible solution for preservation. Digitized documents are usually stored in one of three file formats: PDF, jpeg, or tiff files. These file types are the most likely to survive technological changes over time. For a discussion of each type of digital preservation of these file formats see the Library of Congress Preservation Directorate

One format chosen by many genealogists is to publish their data in a printed, paper book. However, very few of these books preserve information that is not readily available in some other venue. For example, if I were to decide to publish a descendancy book about my Great-great Grandfather, Sydney Tanner and his descendants, it is highly unlikely that I would be preserving anything that was not already readily available online. This is due to the fact that books about Sydney Tanner and his descendants already exist and his online entries have extensive documentation. For example, see the following:

De Brouwer, Elizabeth. 1982. Sidney Tanner, his ancestors and descendants: pioneer freighter of the west, 1809-1895. Salt Lake City, Utah (4545 S. 2760 E., Salt Lake City 84117): S. Tanner Family Organization. See also: https://www.familysearch.org/library/books/records/item/264534-sidney-tanner-his-ancestors-and-descendants-pioneer-freighter-of-the-west-1809-1895

The issue here is how do we save that which is unmistakably unique and separate it from those parts of our collections that are readily available online or in print format? We do that by digitizing the original records and storing them in a venue that is dedicated to preservation. For genealogists, that venue is the FamilySearch.org website. Don't confuse the Family Tree portion of the website with the document preservation section entitled "Memories." No one can erase, change, or delete one of your memories unless you do so yourself.  You can preserve documents, photos, audio files, and stories. The Family Tree portion of the website becomes the way to organize the Memories by individuals and families. If you digitize or copy an original source document and add it as a Memory, and then link it to an individual, the document cannot be removed even if the source citation to the document is detached. The major limitation is that Memories attached to a living individual can only be seen by the person attaching the Memory until after individual dies. You can change the tags identifying people in the photos. 

But how do we know what is historically and genealogically significant?  That is the real question. What we do is err in favor of preservation if there is the slightest possibility that the information contained has not already been preserved. Do we destroy the originals after they have been digitized? No, never. That is why I have discussed some of the alternate ways of preserving records. A handwritten journal or a letter is unique and irreplaceable. 

More to come. 


Friday, February 11, 2022

Comic Maysoon Zayid Brings Her Powerful and Hilarious Story to RootsTech 2022

 


RootsTech 2022 is just around the corner and FamilySearch is announcing new Keynote speakers. Remember that the entire RootsTech 2022 experience will be free and online. You can register anytime at RootsTech 2022. You are not expected to view all of the 1500 or so presentations and keynotes during the three days of the conference, you will be able to access the content of the conference during the subsequent year. 

Maysoon Zayid bills herself as a comedian, actress, disability advocate, and tap dancer. What she is, is an inspiration. Injured at birth, Maysoon grew up with cerebral palsy. Doctors told her parents she would never walk, so she learned to dance. “You can do it! Yes, you cancan,” her father would tell her, and she never stopped believing it. Her powerful story, told in her unique, hilarious style is sure to delight the worldwide online audience attending RootsTech 2022 (March 3-5, 2022). Register for free at RootsTech 2022 to watch Maysoon.

During the conference, the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah will be providing online, in-person, family history research consultations. You can visit the Family History Library Website to sign up for a twenty-minute consultation with an expert. I will be online for consultations during the week before, during, and the week after the conference with an expanded consultation schedule just as the other missionary/volunteers will be also. Of course, the consultations will also continue throughout the year as they have in the past. 

 

Monday, February 7, 2022

FamilySearch adds New Family Groups Feature


 New Feature Makes It Easy to Collaborate and Share Ordinances with Family Groups

This new feature from FamilySearch allows members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to share temple ordinances with family members. Our family was chosen to participate in this new feature some time ago before the feature was released, and we have found it to be very helpful. The article linked above has all the details about how this feature works and how to start using it to share ordinance work for the temples with other family members. 

There are several issues addressed by this new feature. The first was the need to print ordinance cards for sharing and to physically share cards with others. It was difficult for members to keep track of the work that was done and to retrieve the physical cards from others once shared. By allowing ordinances to be shared "on demand" where family members can print just the specific cards they need at a particular time, the whole process of physically distributing cards is avoided. In addition, FamilySearch now send each member who has done the research and created the ordinance opportunities with a list of all the ordinance performed. Presently, it is still necessary to take a physical ordinance card to the temples. In addition, some of the temples no longer support printing cards 

With a family group, every member of the family who wants to participate can be added to the group. Those who have ordinances to share can then add those ordinances either from their reserved list or from those names that have already been shared with the temples. This creates a pool of names that any group member can access for temple service. As is probably the case in many families, our family has a few people who are doing research and adding names to their own reserved or shared lists. This new feature lets the family work as a unit to do the ordinance work for those who have been identified.

The whole process is much simpler than it sounds. Please read the entire blog post article for the details. This has been a long-requested feature and avoids the need for last-minute requests for names and other issues. See New Feature Makes It Easy to Collaborate and Share Ordinances with Family Groups.

If you are reading all this and wondering what it is all about, I suggest this article published by the Church. Baptisms for the Dead.

Saturday, February 5, 2022

Back to Back to Adam

Thomas Cole, The Garden of Eden 1828

The FamilySearch.org Family Tree recently expanded their searches back to 900 A.D. Previously, almost all searches were confined to about the mid- to early 1500s. Why the expansion in the search capabilities? Those of us living in European derived countries will immediately think of European Royalty and be alarmed at the extension. Why would we want to add searches into records going back into Royalty? This automatically opens up another huge avenue for duplication and imaginary pedigrees. But wait. There are places in the world where valid pedigrees go back further than 900 A.D and this includes countries such as China, Korea, and Japan. The cut-off stopped some researchers from finding valid connections. 

But what about the imaginary pedigrees that are all over the FamilySearch Family Tree that go much further back than just to 900 A.D. It has been a while since I wrote about this subject. In past posts, I have referenced an old article I have quoted a number of times. Here is the link to the article and my earlier quote. 
In an article in The Ensign Magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for February, 1984, Robert C. Gunderson, Senior Royalty Research Specialist of the Church Genealogical Department wrote a short article entitled "I've heard that some people have extended their ancestral lines back to Adam." He states,"In thirty-five years of genealogical research, I have yet to see a pedigree back to Adam that can be documented. By assignment, I have reviewed hundreds of pedigrees over the years. I have not found one where each connection on the pedigree can be justified by evidence from contemporary documents. In my opinion it is not even possible to verify historically a connected European pedigree earlier than the time of the Merovingian Kings (c. a.d. 450–a.d. 752). Every pedigree I have seen which attempts to bridge the gap between that time and the biblical pedigree appears to be based on questionable tradition, or at worst, plain fabrication. Generally, these pedigrees offer no evidence as to the origin of the information, or they cite a vague source."

Now someone sent me a link to another more recent article; "In my family records I found an interesting genealogy that ties us into one line of European royalty going through Charlemagne back to one Antenor, King of the Cimmerians, then to Judah, and thence through Abraham and Noah to Adam. Can you tell me how reliable lineages such as these are?" The answer comes from a genealogist and an author I have long admired and to whom I credit much of the beginnings of my interest and knowledge about genealogical research, Val D. Greenwood, temple ordinance specialist for the Genealogical Department of the Church (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints). I will not quote the entire article. You need to read it for yourself. My writing about the subject does not seem to have much effect. 

Back on March 4, 2016, the Brigham Young University Family History Library was starting a new series of webinars. One of the first webinars I did was "Why you can't trace your ancestry back to Adam." It has about 5,000 views, much less than some of my more popular videos. The comments bring up so more interesting issues such as the reliability of translations and such. 

I can say with certainty after many years of helping thousands of people with genealogical questions, that I have seen very few accurately documented pedigrees that extend back past the early 1700s. Of my own overly researched lines, the longest verified pedigrees go back to the 1600s and stop. That is all. I have no royal lines, Now, if you look at the Family Tree for my lines, some of them do go back to Adam. I have spent some time pruning off those lines, but that is a life-long pursuit and not one for those who tire easily. 

Wednesday, February 2, 2022

If you don't share it -- You lose it! -- Part One


 I am writing about losing all the genealogical work you have done during your lifetime. Literally, if you do not share your work with others, particularly those in your family, you will lose it all when you die. I may have written about this before, but it bears repeating. A few years ago, I was invited to a neighbor's house. We were fairly new in the area, and I did not really know much about the person who invited me over. She told me that her mother had done extensive genealogical work during her lifetime and had, at the time, recently died. She invited me over because she wanted to know what to do with all that genealogy stuff. When I visited her home, she showed me a rather large room that had shelves from floor to ceiling. In addition, there were several large file cabinets in the middle of the room, The shelves were filled with 3-right binders full of genealogical information and documents as were the filing cabinets. The amount of information in that one room probably came somewhat close to the pile of documents and records I have in my basement.  I offered to come and go through all the binders, books, and files and tell her what was worth preserving and what could be thrown away. She thanked me and I left. I reaffirmed my offer several times as I saw her over the next few weeks. 

Sometime much later, she mentioned she had moved all the stuff to boxes and that was the last I have heard of the huge amount of work done by this now deceased genealogist. There were several things wrong about this scenario. The deceased genealogist had apparently failed to let anyone in her family or otherwise about the need to preserve some or all of the work she had done. Because I did not have access to those particular records, I have no way of knowing whether or not some or all of the information about the genealogist's family has been preserved online. I don't remember seeing a computer in the room, but there may have been one. 

With such a huge body of work, the idea of preserving it all can be overwhelming. I have spent a huge amount of time digitizing nearly all the records in the many boxes down in my basement but now I have the larger task of identifying and preserving the digital images. Some of the images are really bad and should be re-scanned, but like everyone in the world, I am on the ultimate conveyor belt and probably do not have enough time left to work through the entire collection. I do have a constant program of moving the images to the FamilySearch.org Memories section of the website. But that is a one-by-one process. The files that I have presently are about 7 TB of storage space. 

Many of my scanned images and the original negatives and photos are preserved in the Overson Family Photograph Collection at the University of Arizona. Here is a screenshot of the collection webpage.


Another large collection that I digitized is at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah. This is the collection of the Mary Ann Linton Morgan documents

Not all of your documents fall into the category of records that need to be preserved. During this series, I hope to discuss the ways that your genealogical information, documents, and photos can best be preserved. I must forewarn you, however, that I will recommend uploading your information to the FamilySearch.org website. But I will also explore other avenues for preservation such as the Special Collections libraries spread across the world. 

Food Network's Molly Yeh shares her unique path to fame at RootsTech 2022

 

https://www.familysearch.org/en/newsroom/girl-meets-farm-molly-yeh-rootstech-2022

Quoting from the above news release:

What do an Asian father, a Jewish mother, a Juilliard School degree in classical percussion, and life on a sugar beet farm add up to? A popular cooking show on the Food Network, of course! Author, blogger, and star of the hit television cooking show Girl Meets Farm, Molly Yeh, will share her unique path to fame with a worldwide online audience at RootsTech 2022 (March 3–5, 2022). Register for RootsTech 2022 for free.

Molly grew up in the Chicago suburbs in a home filled with good food and good music, and encouragement to be creative in both the musical and culinary arts. She recalls the delightful sounds of her father, a professional musician with the Chicago Symphony, practicing his clarinet, as well as the delicious smells of her mother’s cooking. She says she knew early on her musical calling in life was percussion—“hitting stuff,” as she describes it. She tells how she would sit on the kitchen floor playing the pots and pans as if they were drums while her mother, a former chocolatier, turned out tasty meals and treats.

When she went away to New York to study music at the famed Juilliard School, she took her love of food and her drive to create with her. That passion soon evolved into a blog, My Name Is Yeh, where she would share creative recipes combining flavors from her diverse heritage. 

All of these wonderful keynote speakers will be available by registering for free at RootsTech.org.


Watch Elder and Sister Soares at RootsTech 2022 Family Discovery Day

 

https://www.familysearch.org/en/newsroom/elder-soares-rootstech-2022

Quoting from an email announcement from RootsTech 2022:

Elder Ulisses Soares, an apostle of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and his wife Rosana, will be the featured keynote speakers at Family Discovery Day during RootsTech 2022 (March 3–5, 2022). Family Discovery Day is a free, all virtual event.

Part of the Soares’s message will originate from their homeland of Brazil, where they have deep roots. Both were born in São Paulo, Brazil’s largest city, and both will draw from and share their family experiences on-location.

“Family history isn’t all about the distant past,” says Elder Soares. “You can look to your own recent experiences and stories or history as it unfolds right here in the present. You can establish your own traditions. It is a combination of the past and the present that makes you uniquely you.”

As a special witness of the Savior Jesus Christ, Elder Soares says culture, heritage, and traditions, along with life experiences, help people understand who they are, but this is only part of their identity.

“You cannot fully understand the breadth of who you are without understanding whose you are! Do you understand that you are literally a child of God? Have you discovered what that divine heritage means for you?”

To enjoy the Soares’s message and the full Family Discovery Day program on March 5, 2022, or any of the complete online RootsTech 2022 virtual conference, register today for free at RootsTech.org.  

You can read the entire announcement at https://www.familysearch.org/en/newsroom/elder-soares-rootstech-2022

 

Kindex revisited, a document-based online searchable archive

 

https://app.kindex.org/

My first blog post mentioning Kindex.org was posted in 2015. Kindex.org is one of the survivors. Over the past few years, I have seen dozens of genealogy-oriented start-ups come and go. It was interesting every year at the large RootsTech.org conference, to walk around the vendor floor and see all the "new" companies. One year the big push was on storytelling companies, other years the emphasis has been on publishing companies. According to the Small Business Administration, this is the failure rate of small businesses. 

About two-thirds of businesses with employees survive at least 2 years and about half survive at least 5 years. As one would expect, after the first few relatively volatile years, survival rates flatten out. (Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics, Business Employment Dynamics.)

 I have been involved in a number of small businesses over the years and I am well aware of the statistics. However, our family operated graphic-design business lasted more than 30 years until all of us got too old to continue. 

Kindex.org has found a niche using the freemium model where there is a free entry level and then a staged premium level. I will be writing more about Kindex.org in the future.