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

Thursday, March 31, 2022

Genealogy Live and Unrehearsed from Goldie May


Goldie May Genealogy Research Live and Unrehearsed

Richard Miller, the developer of the Goldie May research app, and I have joined together to present actual, live, unrehearsed genealogy research. Each episode will address a rather different and difficult research issue. This first episode looks at an end-of-line problem with a family in pre-1850 Kentucky and Indiana. The discussion shows how and where the issues are addressed and suggests sources for resolving the issues. You can subscribe to the channel to view each episode as they occur. Of course, the episodes feature using the Goldie May app to assist in identifying and resolving, if at all possible, the challenge in each episode. 

How do you compare the holdings of the online genealogy database programs?


How do you compare apples and oranges? The answer to this question is much easier than comparing any two of the large online genealogy/family tree programs. Let me start with as an example. 

Back on May 12, 2012, I wrote a blog post entitled "10,000,000,000 Records?" Here is a quote from that blog post.

First, I need to talk about collections. By latest count, has 30,671 collections that are listed in their World Edition. In contrast, for example,, as of 12 May 2012, has 1146 collections. However, as I have written before in this blog, the designation "collection" when referring to genealogical records has no commonly understood meaning.

On, a collection can be anything from a little over 1000 records in the Arizona, Civil War Service Records of Confederate Soldiers, 1861-1865 to over 90 million records in the United States Social Security Death Index. The same thing holds true on If they are counting their Public Member Trees, then there are 2,107,016,069 records listed in that collection alone and way down at the end of's list is the tiny "The Stone Family Association, 1910" with one record.

Hmm. How does that compare to figures from 2022? Quick math (even within my capabilities) says that it was ten years ago. Looking at on the date of this post, I see that the card catalog has listed 33,141 collections. That is an increase (my math again) of 2,470 collections in the last ten years. The largest Ancestry collection in the card catalog is still Public Member Trees with 1,895,402,199 which is a drop of 211,613,870 trees. Hmm, again. Also, about 26,000 of those "collections" have less than 1,000 records. Also, about 23,000 of those collections have less than 500 records and I could just keep going until I got to those with less than 10 records which occurs in about 1,166 collections. I guess my conclusion is the same as it was 10 years ago, the number of collections is meaningless. 

What about FamilySearch? Oh, they had 1146 collections in 2012. As of the date of this post, FamilySearch lists 3,089 collections but that is only in the Historical Record Collections of indexed records. There is no count available for those collections in the Catalog or Images. Again, the numbers are mostly meaningless. 

My measure is simple. If you find the record you are looking for, then the website is very useful. If you don't find the record you are looking for, the website is less useful. Negative results do have some value. 

Each of the large genealogy websites has its own unique records. We are presently in a much better place than we were ten years ago,. but I would still not put much confidence in any attempt at comparing the different collections based on claimed numbers of records, images, collections, or any other measure. 

Monday, March 28, 2022

New Videos Every Week on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel


With over 600 videos, the Brigham Young University Family History Library YouTube Channel keeps growing with 4 or 5 new videos every week. I am sure you can find videos with subjects that will help you with your genealogical research. My latest video is Beginning African American Research, and it should uploaded shortly. The last video I did that is already on the Channel is Beginning Native American Research. These videos are recordings of the Sunday Classes that are presented by the BYU Family History Library every week that the library is open. We also have webinars, weekday classes, indexing classes, and regularly produced short instructional videos. 

I will also be starting another series of videos focusing on how to approach specific research problems. These videos will be hosted on the Goldie May YouTube channel. I will be writing about these videos as they are uploaded. 

I am also scheduled for some MyHeritage Facebook Live presentations. You can watch for these on the MyHeritage Facebook Video page. Some of these videos are also featured on the MyHeritage Education Pages. 

I had several videos for RootsTech 2022 including this one. 

I am averaging more than one new video a week and some weeks I have three or even four. I realize with all the genealogy videos now being produced that it is impossible to even be aware of all of them. 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Changes to More than Cosmetic


Around the time of RootsTech 2022, introduced some substantial changes to their website without much publicity. Here is an article that gives an overview of the changes. "The New Look and Feel of the Ancestry® Website."

One improvement includes putting a link to your family tree right at the top of the startup page. Here is a screenshot of how mine looks like. 

The new links also give you a shortcut to the last people you were working on. Most of the rest of the page is personalized to give you links into current highlights and your DNA results. The right-side of the page has some simplified search fields with a link to a more advanced search. My experience so far is that I am able to get to work much faster than with the previous layout. 

Some of the options that were in the drop-down menus have migrated to the page also such as a link to the card catalog and some commonly used record collections. 

There have also been some changes to the look and feel of the family tree. 

The tree appears more compact, and the icons have changed. There is now a link to existing ThruLines® for each individual where that information is available. 

One completely new addition is the "Tree viewing options."

You can turn on or off some of ways you view your family tree. 

I like the changes. Anything that cuts down the number of clicks I have to make to do my work is an improvement. You might want to spend some time clicking around and see what more has been changed. 

Saturday, March 19, 2022

Delete or Detach Information on the FamilySearch Family Tree


To start off on this subject, it is important to know that changing or deleting information from the Family Tree should only be done when there are valid, specific. historical, genealogical sources supporting the change. Further, no information is automatically deleted by FamilySearch. You can also edit information as long as the information is not marked as Read Only. 

If you click on the Edit link for any of the fields on an individual's profile sheet, you will see something like the following.

The first field tells you how many people are following this particular person in the Family Tree. Each of those people will be notified about any changes you make to these entries. In addition, the list on the right side of the window shows you all the sources that support this particular entry, in this case, a birth record. There is also a Reason explaining why each field of the information is considered to be correct. 

In the lower right-hand corner, there is a link that will allow you to delete this information. Before you even think about making changes to an existing profile, I suggest you look at and study all the sources attached. The delete option should only be used if you have some overriding source that shows that the information is not correct. When you see sources supporting the existing information, you should carefully think about the consequences of ignoring all these sources. You also need to understand that because there are people watching this individual, one or more of them may immediately restore the information you delete and will also likely send you a message telling you not to make changes without a supporting source.  The more people that are watching a profile, the more likely you are to receive a message about any changes you make. 

Sometimes the information in a date or place field will be missing, incorrect, or lacking in detail. Adding source supported information and correcting deficient information is part of maintaining the tree. For example, if someone has entered an approximate date for either birth or death and you find a birth or death record, you should edit the information and make sure you explain why you made the change and attached a link to or a copy of the birth or death record.  

Sources added to an individual cannot be deleted. They can only be detached. A source tells where information about an individual can be found. 

In working on the Family Tree, you may find references to GEDCOM files or the Ancestral File. Both of these contain user submitted information and seldom contain any reference to the original historical source documents. If either GEDCOM or the Ancestral File are given as a reason for entering the information, neither of these will be considered to be a historical, genealogical source and the information will be questionable at best until the underlying documents are found. 

The rule is that any information added, changed, or deleted in the Family Tree must be supported by a valid, specific. historical, genealogical sources supporting the change. 

What will happen if you make a change or delete information that is already supported by sources? Someone will come along and correct your errors. But you will be wasting both your time and the time of the person who must correct your unsupported information. 

Friday, March 18, 2022

None of your information about your family disappears from the FamilySearch Family Tree when you die


Sorry for the long blog post title but it is the only way I can say exactly what this post is about. The Family Tree is a unified, collaborative, and cooperative family tree. However, for basic privacy reasons information about living people added to the Family Tree is visible only to the person who adds (uploads, types in, etc.) the information. As soon as a person is marked deceased, all that information becomes visible and discoverable on the Family Tree. However, it is possible that more than one profile for a living person was created. In that case, only those copies of the person (each with a unique ID number) who marks their living copies as deceased triggers the ability of anyone to see that information. Obviously, as people mark their copy of the deceased person as deceased, multiple copies (duplicates) of the person will start to appear in the Family Tree. 

At no time does the death of an individual impact the information (data, entries, etc) in the Family Tree. Anyone, including the close relatives of the deceased can immediately see all marked duplicates and all of the information that anyone, including the deceased, added to the Family Tree. Just as I or anyone else can see, correct, and change the information about any of anybody's deceased ancestors. Don't worry about me jumping over and try to work on your family lines unless I happen to be related to you in some reasonable way. 

FamilySearch takes extraordinary efforts to preserve all the information on the Family Tree. 

If you are still uneasy about your own information being preserved, you should make sure all your information is entered into the Family Tree. If you have any qualms about your information's integrity or permanency on the Family Tree, then by all means keep a copy on your own desktop program or on another online family tree. 

For members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, as soon as the Ward Clerk in the ward where the person resides learns of his or her death, the Ward Clerk can mark them as deceased and within a few minutes the deceased person will show up on the Family Tree. 

Here is another twist to the problem. What if the spouse is relying on the dead person's login and password? The rule is everyone using the Family Tree should have their own login and password (i.e. be registered as an individual). If you want to work on your spouse's family, then get them to log on until the Family Tree shows the first dead people and then anyone, including the spouse, can work on the lines. 

Enough said.

Thursday, March 17, 2022

Confronting the Changes on the FamilySearch Family Tree from GEDCOM files: Part One

Weekly notification of changes made to the people I am following on the FamilySearch Family Tree.

I was looking at the Community section on the website and saw a trending discussion about GEDCOM files being uploaded to the FamilySearch Family Tree. The gist of the discussion was gloom and doom about adding GEDCOM files to the Family Tree. Before I comment about the subject of changes to the Family Tree, I think that most of the comments showed a lack of understanding about GEDCOM. 

GEDCOM is not a program; it is a standard format for exchanging information between different genealogy websites and programs. When you download a GEDCOM file of your file, the GEDCOM Standard specifies that the information will be compatible with another website or program's file format assuming both of the websites or programs support and adhere to the GEDCOM Standard.  

Here is a more extensive explanation about GEDCOM from Wikipedia:
GEDCOM (/ˈdʒɛdkɒm/ JED-kom) (an acronym standing for Genealogical Data Communication) is an open de facto specification for exchanging genealogical data between different genealogy software. GEDCOM was developed by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS Church) as an aid to genealogical research.

A GEDCOM file is plain text (usually either UTF-8 or ASCII) containing genealogical information about individuals, and metadata linking these records together. Most genealogy software supports importing from and exporting to GEDCOM format. However, some genealogy software programs incorporate the use of proprietary extensions to the format, which are not always recognized by other genealogy programs, such as the GEDCOM 5.5 EL (Extended Locations) specification.

While GEDCOM X and several other specifications have been suggested as replacements, the current 2019 version, based on the draft from 1999, remains the industry standard 20 years on.

It is possible to indirectly upload a GEDCOM file to the FamilySearch Family Tree. I say indirectly because one of the steps before adding your file to the Family Tree is to compare the potential new information with the information already in the Family Tree. Let's say that the person uploading a GEDCOM file was the first person in his/her line to enter information into the Family Tree. The GEDCOM standard provides a path so that the information in the GEDCOM file is not lost. FamilySearch then takes you through a process where you identify any duplicates. Old GEDCOM files will very likely contain a lot of duplicate entries to those in the Family Tree. 

The process for uploading a file is quite involved and somewhat complicated. Here is a link to the instructions. "How do I copy information from my GEDCOM file into Family Tree?" In almost all cases, uploading your file into the Family Tree is a really bad idea, especially if you upload more than a few dozen names. The reason for this opinion is that it is very likely that a larger number of people will already be duplicated in the Family Tree and cause a great deal more work on the part of the people who are following and maintaining the Family Tree. Additionally, here is a quote about the effects of uploading a GEDCOM file from the article linked in this paragraph. 

If you choose to proceed, keep in mind that notes, sources, multimedia links, and information about living people do not automatically copy to Family Tree.

 Without sources, your uploaded entries may be removed by someone who is watching the Family Tree regularly (like I do).  I suggest starting to work directly on the Family Tree and use your GEDCOM information to enter the information person-by-person. You might be surprised that much of your research has already been done. If you are one of the few people who will be adding original research, I suggest that entering the individuals one-by-one with the source citations will ultimately save you time. 

More about this later. 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022 Update: Looking at the Latest Changes


If you use the website frequently, you are probably aware that many parts of the website have been changing over the past year or so. On the other hand, if you only visit the website infrequently, you may be overwhelmed with the changes. However, in my opinion, the changes are mostly cosmetic and don't change the fundamental use of the website. 

The first major change is evident once you sign in. You get a personalized page with lots of suggested topics and such, including some recently added photos and documents. 

But now, there is a notice telling you that this is all about to change. This is a screen shot of my homepage preview. 

This whole page is customizable and so yours won't look like mine. 

One of the major facelifts is with the process of searching for records in the Historical Record Collections. Here is a screenshot of the new search page. 

You can click on the More Option button for additional fields. 

The number of clicks you need to start a search has increased. 

One new feature addresses the issue of restricted records. There is a new browser extension that gives access to Premium Content. This is only available and usable in a Family History Center and specifically with computers on the FamilySearch Portal. 

There is also a new selection in the menu bar at the top of each page called the "Get Involved" option. Here is a screenshot of the new Get Involved page with an arrow pointing to the Get Involved menu item. There is also a mobile app. The new page gives you a few options for being involved including the ongoing indexing project. 

The Books collection of over 500,000 digitized books has also been redone.

There are also a number of activities listed in the drop-down Activities item in the menu bar. 

People using the FamilySearch Family Tree can also view a new discovery page. 

The only real issue is that during the time I was writing this post, I kept getting error messages that told me to reload. 

This is probably enough new stuff on the website to keep you busy for a while. 

Saturday, March 12, 2022

Comments on Scanning Photos


Film-based photos are one of most common genealogically valuable documents that genealogists acquire. In some instances, the number of photos acquired can be overwhelming. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, some genealogists are fortunate to have any images of their ancestors. The earliest photographs date from the 1850s but photography only became common from about 1870. Film photography is no a specialist interest among photographers. Almost all photography is now done digitally. 

The first digital camera was made in 1975 by Kodak engineer Steve Sasson. The original digital camera was about the size of a breadbox, and it took 23 seconds to capture a single image. See "Timeline: The evolution of digital cameras, from Kodak’s 1975 digital camera prototype to the iPhone." The Apple QuickTake camera in 1994 is considered to be the first digital camera under a $1000 that was generally available. The QuickTake camera has a sensor that was slightly more than 1 Megapixel. In 2007, Apple introduced the first iPhone with a built-in camera with a 2MP (megapixel) sensor and 2GBs of memory. 

Much of the advancement of present-day smartphones has focused on the built-in camera. Some smartphones are being advertised with up to 200MP sensors. But close examination of the claims show that the high number is actually equivalent to a 12.5MP camera, the ones current installed in Apple iPhones. 

For genealogists, the smartphone camera revolutionizes research. A researcher, with permission from a library or archive, can collect images of individual records making obsolete the need to use paper and pencil to make handwritten copies. Meanwhile, digitization efforts by a multitude of online websites are adding billions of digital copies every year. 

What about the existing collections of photos and documents in the possession an individual genealogist? New digitization equipment is measurably speeding up the process. My daughter and her family recently spent a couple of days removing over 9,000 photos from a pile of photograph albums. They then took the photographs to the Brigham Young University Family History Library and digitized the entire 9,000+ images in a few hours. The whole process could have been accomplished in two days. They used the library's high speed Epson FastFoto Wireless Photo & Document Duplex Scanner that can scan as fast as 1 photo per second at 300 dpi (a resolution of 300 dots-per-inch) Higher resolution scanning is available but takes measurably longer to produce and image. In this case, there is no intention of discarding the original photos, but as many of us have noticed, the quality of paper-based photos deteriorates over time. 

If you own a smartphone, you already have a way to digitize your documents. Several tools have been developed to enhance the use of smartphones in digitization process from stabilization devices such as tripods and boom arms to light boxes. 

One of the most sophisticated and reasonably priced solution is the This device expands you ability to take good photos using you smartphone or even a dedicated digital camera.

At RootTech 2022, Ancestry® announced a system of apps for uploading photos. See "Ancestry® Integrates Photomyne's Best-in-Class Technology to Help Mobile Customers Upload, Scan, Enhance and Share Family Photos" Quoting from the article:

Unlike other scanning tools, Photomyne’s AI technology uses the phone’s processor and their proprietary algorithms to:

  • Auto-detect image boundaries and auto-crop photos
  • Scan multiple images from one page and split into individual images
  • Enhance and restore the quality of images

In addition, announced the addition of a remarkable extension to his suite of photo enhancement and colorization apps that animates the story of an ancestor's life called LiveStory.  See

One of the great challenges of acquiring so many digital images is the process of indexing and identifying them. Both Ancestry® and have implemented sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) based handwriting recognition programs that will reduce the time now taken to index records from years to days. See Ancestry® to Apply Handwriting Recognition Artificial Intelligence to Create a Searchable Index of the 1950 U.S. Census.

However, when it comes down to processing a huge collection of paper-based records, the time-consuming part is still identifying and filing them in a retrievable fashion. I keep searching for the ultimate way to work through my tens of thousands of documents, but I always end up looking at each, one-at-a-time. 

Friday, March 11, 2022

Technology and Genealogy: An update


The most recent addition to the Apple family of computers is the Mac Studio. If you wanted to buy the top end with the Apple M1 Ultra chip, you would have a computer with a 20-core CPU, a 64-core GPU and 128 GB of unified memory. This in a computer that is 7.7 inches square. Oh, I almost forgot, it also can have to an 8TB SSD drive. This might not mean much to you but because we now have computers like this that are readily available for anyone with the money to buy, we have computer programs using a form of artificial intelligence that can read handwriting.

Just some perspective. The first Apple II computer that I purchased back in about 1982 had about 48KB of memory and the 5 1/4 floppy disks held about 360KB of memory storage. It was also as slow as watching grass grow. By the way, the average digital image of a 4" x. 6" photo is about 6.5MBs. So, the Apple II could not load or process one currently digitized photo. A one Terabyte SSD or hard drive will hold about 250,000 photos taken with a 12MP camera. My iPhone is hundreds of times more powerful than my original Apple II. I can also buy a reasonably priced 16TB hard drive to connect to my computer giving me the ability to store about 4 million images. 

Both and are using programs to recognize handwriting. Ancestry's handwriting recognition will be used to index the entire 1950 U. S. Census in a matter of a few weeks. See Ancestry® to Apply Handwriting Recognition Artificial Intelligence to Create a Searchable Index of the 1950 U.S. Census. FamilySearch volunteers will help with checking the accuracy of the indexing. See 1950 U.S. Census Community Project

Until now, using handwriting recognition to index documents was unimaginable. Checking the indexing will be ongoing, but it likely that the need for human indexers will decrease over the next few years. There are billions upon billions of documents and not all of them will be subject to computer indexing. You can participate in checking the accuracy of the handwriting recognition software both on a smartphone and on your desktop computer. See Get Involved

These advances underwrite the need for computer skills. We often think that a lack of computer skills is concentrated in the elderly population. According to the Pew Research Center, there is still a notable difference between U.S. adults under 30 and those over 65. But the study also notes that adoption of key technologies by those in the oldest age group has grown markedly since about a decade ago, and the gap between the oldest and youngest adults has narrowed. See "Share of those 65 and older who are tech users has grown in the past decade." What has been called the digital divide is rapidly decreasing dure to the availability and cost of smartphones. The main cause of the divide now is based on a person's relative economic level. Many older adults (those most likely to have an interest in genealogy) cannot afford the new technology. For example. an Apple iPhone can cost up to as much as $1,600. At the other end of the spectrum, some smartphones are free with a service contract from one of the providers such as AT&T and Verizon. 

My wife and I still spend a considerable amount of time helping older people with their smartphones and computers and Zoom has added another level of confusion and stress for many people. 

Some of the genealogically oriented apps (programs) are beginning to be so technologically advanced that they are going to measurably change the way we work with and record our genealogical information. For example, adds research helps and information analysis to the FamilySearch Family Tree. 

Digitizing photos and documents is still a human labor-intensive project. Very expensive document scanners can digitize books and some types of documents rapidly but most documents still need someone to place the document and turn the pages. 

I can say one thing for certain. The FamilySearch Family Tree will continue to change and will not be anything like we see today in just a few years. 

Monday, March 7, 2022

MyHeritage announces interactive timeline

We have just finished with RootsTech Connect 2022 and we are off and running with another announcement from This is a new way of graphically showing family relationships in a timeline. The information is enhanced by the graph to show birth and death dates with ages and parent/child relationships with ages. Here is a quote from the blog post announcing the new feature. 

We’re happy to introduce a new feature on MyHeritage: the Family Tree Timeline. The Timeline is a visual representation of one individual from your family tree, that you select, and his or her direct ancestors. The lifespans of these individuals (from year of birth to year of death) are mapped on the same axis to allow you to see them in relation to each other, which can provide refreshing insights into your family history.

The Timeline is a bright and attractive display, with each branch of the family displayed in a different color. The Timeline shows the ages of your ancestors at various points in their lives: how old they were when they had children, how long they lived, and how their lifespans overlapped with those of other family members or major world events. The Timeline can be downloaded and shared easily with your family and friends.

For example, it’s easy to visualize with the Timeline which of your 4 grandparents was born first, how old you were when each of them passed away, and so on.

Don't be fooled by the simplicity of the timeline. The timeline will also graphically show any inconsistencies, mistakes, and other problems with your individual family tree. The timeline can show up to nine generations. Here is an example of someone with no parent/child relationship. 

 The person identified as Jens Christian Jergensen is likely not a member of any family. In addition, there is an inconsistency with the age of one of the family members. 

This is another powerful tool in the MyHeritage toolbox. 

Friday, March 4, 2022

RootsTech Connect 2022 Update: The Family History Guide on the Exhibit Floor

The Family History Guide Association is the 501c(3) non-profit charitable corporation that supports the online genealogical educational and research website, The Family History Guide or I am currently serving as the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Association. We are staffed with volunteers and depend solely upon contributions for our financing. 

We have been participating in RootsTech conferences for the past few years both with a physical booth prior to COVID and a virtual booth at last year's conference. You can learn a lot more about The Family History Guide in just a few minutes by watching this video:

You may also see more information on our YouTube Channel.

RootsTech Connect 2022: Update on FamilySearch's use of Artificial Intelligence and Handwriting Recognition

I have been involved with learning about and reporting about handwriting recognition for genealogical research for a long time. I always thought about it being something distant in the future. Well, apparently, the future is now. In the past few years, organizations such as the Brigham Young University Family History Technology Lab have been working on developing handwriting recognition to the point where it could be useful. Let's just say that it is one of the major technological challenges of our day.

Here are some quotes from the blog post above about the process as it is being implemented by This is FamilySearch's new "Get Involved" initiative.

FamilySearch’s new artificial intelligence can now scan handwritten genealogical documents—millions of them—quickly and generate an index of the names and other information from those digitized documents. The index is far from perfect, but it’s impressive. Perfecting that machine index is where the Get Involved online volunteers come in.

FamilySearch’s new Get Involved experience is a hybrid web tool and mobile app. The handwriting recognition artificial intelligence is smart enough to know when it is not sure about something in its transcription and marks these instances—for example, in a name spelling on a birth certificate. Then online volunteers, using Get Involved, simply look at images of handwritten names the computer isn’t sure about and help correct them. With an interface that is super easy to use, volunteers can conveniently spend just a few minutes to review an image and offer edits or a few seconds to review one name. All work gets saved immediately, and it makes a difference quickly.

I suggest you might want to read the entire article. 

There is a FamilySearch Get Involved app

I will be writing more about this later when I make a video about the app.

Shotbox Portable Light Studios featured at RootsTech Connect 2022 has been around for quite a few years. I was impressed with the product and bought one of the first models. This portable light table structure acts both as a mounting system for your smartphone or camera and as a light box that erases shadows to produce commercial quality images. This is not a gimmick; professional photographers use light boxes to make commercial photographs. There are a lot of advantages for using a Shotbox for preserving both artifacts and documents over other usually more expensive solutions. 

It is easier to understand how a Shotbox helps to radically improve the quality of your images by viewing one of their many videos. The company is an exhibitor this year at RootsTech Connect 2022. Here is a screenshot of their Exhibit Booth on the Exhibit Floor of the virtual conference.

I am glad to answer questions about the shotbox. You can contact me through the Brigham Young University Family History Library Virtual Help Desk during the hours the library is staffed by the missinary/volunteers. 

New Scanning and Story Apps from has partnered with to add a new scanning feature to the mobile app. Here is a screenshot of the website.

The Ancestry mobile app includes the scanning capability. You can also tag the photos so they appear with your individual ancestors in your family tree gallery. I have tried this feature and it is seamless. It is a quick way to add all your photos to your family tree. 

You start by opening the Ancestry mobile app. Of course, you need an Ancestry subscription to build and view your family tree. Once you are registered and signed in, you can view your Ancestry family tree. Here is an example screenshot.

First, you click on the tree icon. Then select the scanning icon that appears in the upper right-hand corner. Then the following screen appears, and you click the plus sign. 

You then take the photo with your smartphone and it is automatically "cleaned up" or enhanced. You can then tag the photo and add it to the people on your family tree. 

Once you go through the process, it is quite simple. I had a hard time getting shadows out of my photos, so you have to find a light source that eliminates the shadows. 

If you are serious about scanning a lot of photos, say more than a hundred or so, I would suggest finding a way to steady your camera. I would suggest you explore I will be posting about Shotbox shortly. 

The Story app works within the Ancestry app to write a short story with a photo from your gallery. It is a link that now appears on the startup page. More to come I am sure. 

Are you ready to be amazed again? MyHeritage announces Live Story


This is my first LiveStory video about my Grandfather Leroy Parkinson Tanner. My wife, Ann, has already made two more videos. Quoting from the email. You have to remember that the person talking is no longer with us. In this case, I never met my grandfather. 
You can easily create a LiveStory from scratch, all you need is a photo and a short narrative written in the first person, and you can create a LiveStory in just minutes! But those who already have family trees on MyHeritage are in luck, because MyHeritage can create an automatic LiveStory for you by pulling details and photos from your tree. You can edit the narrative and add chapters and photos, customize the voice, and preview the result as much as you like until your LiveStory is ready to share with your family and friends.

Here are the links to the LiveStory Landing page and the blog announcement.  

Live Story Landing Page where you can see my short MyHeritage Live Story about my Grandfather in the Gallery of the Landing Page linked above. 

Blog Post

Here is the video explaining how this all works. 

Here is the entire press release also.

Tel Aviv, Israel, and Lehi, Utah, March 3, 2022 — MyHeritage, the leading global service for discovering your past and empowering your future, and Creative Reality™ startup D-ID, announced today the release of LiveStory, a groundbreaking new feature that creates captivating video biographies. LiveStory automatically produces an animated video of a user’s ancestor telling their life story, weaving together photos and details of their life into a narrative that is told by a speaking portrait of the person.

LiveStory is powered by some of the most advanced AI technologies available today. The technology for the speaking portrait was licensed by MyHeritage from D-ID, a company specializing in video reenactment using deep learning. MyHeritage first integrated D-ID’s technology in Deep Nostalgia™ to animate the faces in historical photos. Deep Nostalgia™ launched in February 2021 to wide acclaim and became a global sensation. MyHeritage soared to the #1 spot in the app stores in over 30 countries, and since its launch, nearly 100 million animations have been created. With LiveStory, MyHeritage and D-ID take this concept further by adding audio and building a compelling narrative of a person’s life events. The narrative is created automatically from the user’s family tree on MyHeritage, or entered manually, and is converted to high-quality audio using text-to-speech technology. Cutting-edge reenactment technology then animates the person’s face and mouth to speak the audio by generating a realistic lip sync. The animation is automatically enhanced with photos curated from the family tree, or uploaded and paired with the narrative. This results in short and engaging videos that users can download, share directly with family and friends, and post on social media.    

Where Deep Nostalgia™ amazed millions by animating the faces of beloved ancestors, its successor, LiveStory, gives voice to one’s most interesting family stories in a remarkable new way. LiveStory is fully customizable; the narrative, photographs, and voice can all be edited and previewed until the desired result is achieved. LiveStory currently supports 31 languages, dozens of dialects, and hundreds of voice personas, as well as male and female voice options. 

MyHeritage has established a policy to prevent abuse of the technology and the creation of “deep fakes”. LiveStory is intended to be used only on photos of deceased people, typically one’s own ancestors, and should never be used on a photo of a living person without their permission. Use of content that is obscene, false, or offensive is expressly prohibited.

Some may find the feature uncanny, however, initial reactions to LiveStory have been outstanding. Noted genealogist James Tanner called the feature “jaw-dropping” and “more than fabulous” after seeing a LiveStory of his grandfather. Writer, author, and renowned lecturer Lisa Alzo was moved to tears by a LiveStory of her late father and said, “I am in awe of this technology. LiveStory gives us a whole new way to experience and share family stories that will resonate with younger and older audiences alike and is particularly useful for generating video biographies of people who lived before video was invented.”

“LiveStory takes storytelling to the next level,” said Gilad Japhet, Founder and CEO of MyHeritage. “With this latest viral feature, MyHeritage continues to lead the world of online family history in both vision and innovation. Our use of AI to breathe new life into historical photos is unique and is helping millions of people cultivate a renewed emotional connection with their ancestors and deceased loved ones. Genealogy is all about telling and preserving our family stories. We keep showing the world how fun and compelling genealogy can be.”

“Following the dizzying success of Deep Nostalgia™, we are thrilled to team up with MyHeritage once again to create another mind-blowing experience that will change the way people interact with family history,” said Gil Perry, Co-Founder and CEO of D-ID. “LiveStory leverages AI-powered video reenactment to give voice to the stories of our ancestors. We are delighted by such a moving and inspiring application for our technology and our strong, ongoing partnership with MyHeritage.”

LiveStory is a freemium feature on MyHeritage, available on desktop, mobile web, and the MyHeritage mobile app. Users can create several LiveStories for free. Beyond that, additional use requires a subscription. LiveStories can easily be shared with friends and family on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, and other social media.

What more can I say? Amazing. Jaw-dropping. 

Thursday, March 3, 2022

RootsTech Connect 2022: a breakthrough tool for genealogical research is a Chrome extension that works directly with FamilySearch. I can say without equivocation that this is the first genealogy app that directly helps me with my research and also helps me graphically explain some of the difficulties with the Family Tree experienced by those people I help and support.

You can get a feel for the Goldiemay app with the free version that includes the following:

  • An Automatic Research Log 
  • Screenshots
  • Collaboration
  • Collection Hints 
  • Export to CSV

In case you don't know, a CVS or comma separated values file is one that is compatible with most spreadsheets and table making programs such as Microsoft Excel.

The regular price for Goldmay Pro is $240/year with a RootsTech discount price of $190 good until March 7, 2022. Here are the features of the Pro version which in my opinion, which I will explain in detail, makes it worth the money. 

  • Automatic Research Log 
  • Screenshots
  • Collaboration
  • Collection Hints 
  • Export to CSV
  • Subway Map (the NEW timeline) 
  • Save windows & tabs 
  • Place lookups in catalogs, WorldCat, Google Maps
  • Create tasks from catalogs
  • Auto-search Collections
  • Adjacent Collections
  • Search Playlists
  • Automatic citations
  • Citation export

There is also a Plus version for the regular price of $120/year with a RootsTech discount to $90 also good only through March 7th, 2022. The Plus version does not have Automatic Citations or Citation Export. 

I need to disclose that I was given a Pro version of the app for evaluation.

Now, why would I tell you that I liked the app and then tell you what it costs? Simple, I didn't want you to read my blog post while I write to you about the app and then have you find out its cost. I also know that most genealogists are likely on a limited budget, and they really have to want to use a website or app to pay money for it. I also know that some genealogists will only use "free" websites. 

So, what do I think about the app?

I believe that most of the inaccuracies and other problems with entries in the FamilySearch Family Tree are caused by people ignoring the places where the events in their ancestors' lives occurred. 

Goldiemay is a research assistance app. It helps you not only by suggesting research objectives but also by graphically showing you what your sources are telling you. 

Let me give an example from one of my ancestors or relatives on the Family Tree. 

Here is the person with Goldiemay open in separate window. 

When I have a Family Tree profile page open and then open the Goldiemay app, the app immediately connects to that person. Now there is a whole list of features including a lot of research suggestions, but I am going to write about just one feature that complements the way I have evolved into analyzing the information in the Family Tree exactly. It is the new Subway feature. 

This may look quite simple but in just one or two seconds it summarized all the events in this person's life and shows me a representation of the location of each event. When you hover over an event you can see what it is, when it took place and where it happened. This just saved me going through all the sources one-by-one to see if the locations work. Well, we do have a problem. This person was supposed to be born on 28 October 1772 in Goochland, Colony of Virginia, British Colonial America but the next source we have puts him married on 10 June 1794 in Carlisle, Nicholas, Kentucky, United States. Do we know this is the same person? How do we know that? After looking at this chart, we can quickly determine that Carlisle, Kentucky was not founded until 1816. Thus, calling into question all the supposed births recorded. This graph gives me all the events quickly and summarized. But then you can overlay the graph with each or all of the family members. Here is what happens when I add in the graph for his wife. 

Except for the historical significance that the places are likely wrong we now know that we have no specific birth information for the wife (green line). Now let's add a child (we can add them one by one or all at the same time).

The child (red line) was also born before Carlisle was founded, in fact, I have just been saved the time to look at all the birth records for all the family members. 

What else does this graph do? I will have to come back when I find a better example but here is one, I used to show that a person was not part of the family. 

The blue line is the mother, Zilpha Hammond Ellis. The green line is the first child listed. The third line, the red line is the second child listed. This graph shows where each event occurred in each of these people's lives. All of the children except the first child Elizabeth Ellis (green) were born in Connecticut. Eliabeth is recorded as born in Massachusetts in 1755 and the next child Rebecca (red) was also born in 1855 but in Connecticut. As I keep clicking and adding or subtracting children, it becomes obvious that the outliers are the two daughters listed as born in 1755. This shows that there is a lot more research that has to be done and that likely one or both of the daughters who are outliers will not be part of the family. 

I am not aware of any other way this can be done so fast even if I were to try and graph it all myself. I would usually put the information on a spread sheet and spend quite some time adding in all the details whereas, I can add another child with just a click. Here is what it looks like with all the children added. 

You can see that there is a lot of work that needs to be done on this family before what is presently in the Family Tree can be believable for the time period and the places involved but the two daughters born in 1755 in different places. 

The app provides a lot more information. So, I have to suggest that you take some time to watch the videos and look at the free version of the program. 

Here is a link to the vendor area of the RootsTech website. I do not know how long this link will be working but it works now. 

Here is the link to the website again.

MyHeritage announces a new 1950 U.S. Census Content Hub at RootsTech

MyHeritage announces a new 1950 U.S. Census Content Hub today at RootsTech Connect 2022. You can listen to the MyHeritage Keynote Presentation on the RootsTech Main Stage any time after the Keynote is scheduled to be presented. See

Here are the links for the information about the new content hub. 

  1. MyHeritage 1950 census page:
  2. U.S. Census Hub:
  3. Blog post sharing more details about the release of the 1950 census:
On this dedicated hub, visitors can learn about everything related to the 1950 census, prepare for its launch, and search the collection as soon as it goes live. 

Of course, the 1950 Census is not live until April 1st, 2022 so this is all just in preparation. You will be able to see the census and all the content at that time. 

There will be a lot of information about the censuses also as shown below. 
  1. Advanced search capabilities: Using MyHeritage’s search engine, you can search for your ancestors according to any criteria and not just name, home address, or enumeration district. You can also search according to multiple search criteria at once, allowing you to zero in on what you're looking for faster. MyHeritage’s sophisticated search algorithms can even identify nicknames and name variations from other languages.
  2. Free access to fully indexed records: We will be investing a great deal of funds and efforts in fully indexing the 1950 census records as soon as the images are released. Once this project is complete, we will be offering free access to the indexed 1950 census records. 
  3. Easily flip between records within the family: MyHeritage allows you to easily flip between census records of individuals in the same family group. Family members are listed on the record page, and you can click their names to go to their records.
  4. Explore related records: When you are viewing records on MyHeritage, you’ll see additional historical records that mention the person you are researching. Our database includes more than 16 billion records and is constantly growing.
  5. Receive automatic Record Matches: When you build a family tree on MyHeritage, you won’t even need to search actively. MyHeritage finds historical records that mention the people in your family tree and delivers them straight to your inbox.
  6. Extract new information straight to your family tree: Extracting information from historical records and placing it on your online family tree is as simple as a few clicks on MyHeritage.
  7. How-to video: We have already released a short video explaining how to research U.S. census records on MyHeritage, which you can find on the pages I linked to above.
I am looking forward to writing more about this great resource.