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

Friday, September 30, 2022

Consider donating to The Family History Guide

As the end of the year approaches, please take a few minutes to click on the link above and consider donating to The Family History Guide. We are preparing to return to RootsTech 2023 in person but the cost of a booth and all that goes with having a presence in the Expo Hall has skyrocketed in price. In short, we need a lot of money by the end of the year to be able to see our friends and make new ones at RootsTech 2023 on March 2-4

You can donate directly through our website by scrolling down the page to the Donate link. 

Or you can read about donating on The Family History Guide Association website. The Family History Guide is a qualified 501(c)(3) public charity organization, and all donations are tax deductible. 

Another way to donate is by indicating The Family History Guide as your choice on the website and making all your Amazon purchases through the website rather than simply defaulting to The websites have exactly the same prices and availability but your purchases through the website create a small donation to your designated charity and if you designate The Family History Guide, then a check is sent to us with your donation. 

There aren't many ways to donate directly to the genealogy community and please consider The Family History Guide. 

What happens to your FamilySearch Memories when the contributor dies?,they%20may%20be%20easily%20found

This new article was posted recently and answers questions about a person's FamilySearch Family Tree contributions but leaves some questions unanswered. 

First and foremost, dead people do not have privacy rights except in some very limited circumstances involving famous people. Here is a quote about this issue from Wikipedia: Post-mortem privacy. 

Post-mortem privacy is a person's ability to control the dissemination of personal information after death. An individual's reputation and dignity after death is also subject to post-mortem privacy protections. In the US, no federal laws specifically extend post-mortem privacy protection. At the state level, privacy laws pertaining to the deceased vary significantly, but in general do not extend any clear rights of privacy beyond property rights. The relative lack of acknowledgment of post-mortem privacy rights has sparked controversy, as rapid technological advancements have resulted in increased amounts of personal information stored and shared online. 

 There are a lot of misunderstandings and inaccurate information and beliefs about this area of the website. I suggest a careful examination of exactly what the above article says and what it does not say. I am not going to try and interpret what it means, you can do that for yourself, but it you have any questions. I am available, as usual, through the BYU Family History Library Virtual Help Desk. Here is the link to the Virtual Help Desk Page and the hours it is open. You can ask the missionary at the desk to contact me and talk to me directly on a Zoom meeting or make an appointment to talk. 

Heredis 2023, an alternative desktop genealogy program


Heredis is a stand-alone, desktop, French genealogy program that has been around for the last 28 years. It is popular throughout Europe but not well-known in the United States. It comes in English, French and German Versions. It is also available for both Microsoft Windows and Apple OS. Here is the content of the announcement about the new Heredis 2023. 

The Heredis worker co-op is glad to introduce Heredis 2023, which will be available for download starting September 20, 2022, on This latest version of the software was conceived and designed so as to provide genealogists with an even more complete tool, meeting the needs of ALL genealogists. A genealogist who acquires Heredis should now be able to do it all with the software!

The list of features of the program is impressive.  Heredis is designed like many European genealogy programs and will look different than those from the United States. Some of the features are likely unique to the program. Here is one example.

This is a circular fan chart with up to 12 generations. It is highly customizable. For example, the chart can show descendants as well as ancestors. 

Here is a screenshot listing some of the features.

You can download a demo and try it for free at

Thursday, September 22, 2022

RootsTech 2023 is ramping up will be both in-person and online and March 2-4 is just around the corner. I am already writing my live presentation and working on my series of six videos. I am looking forward to being there in-person and seeing live people for a change. 

The classes and presentations from the past two years of RootsTech online are still mostly available. I am sure there will be some changes but It will be interesting to see how it turns out. 

As usual, if you are traveling to Salt Lake City, Utah to attend RootsTech in the Salt Palace, you need to know that Salt Lake is changing rapidly. There is new Hyatt Regency Hotel that is part of the Salt Palace Convention Center. Here is a photo of the construction from Google Streetview.

The hotel is opening in October 2022. There is a lot of other construction going on in the downtown area of Salt Lake City also. You might want to start checking for hotels and other accommodations. Remember that March in Utah can still be cold and snowy. 

Hope to see you at RootsTech 2023. 

How Reliable are Hard Drives, SSDs, and Online Storage?

We come to depend on our electronics as we do genealogical research and preserve our family history. In this presentation, I ask and answer a series of questions:

  • How reliable are hard drives, SSDs, and Online storage?
  • What is a backup?
  • Which is better, a flash drive, a hard drive, or an internet backup?
  • How many important photos do you have on your smartphone?
  • When was the last time you backed up your smartphone?
  • How many times have you lost or broken your smartphone?
  • When was the last time you checked to see your computer’s operating system?
  • When did you last update your computer’s operating system?
  • How old is your computer?
  • When did you last update your smartphone?
  • Where do you store your data?
  • What would happen if your computer failed today?
  • What would happen if you lost your smartphone?
Backing up your computer and other devices is a simple way to avoid catastrophic loss. Think about it. 

Friday, September 16, 2022

Stuck on the Immigrant: Looking for Italian Citizenship


If you are as involved in helping people with their genealogy as I am, you have likely gotten a question from someone who is trying to obtain Italian Citizenship by Descent. There are a number of websites about the process, some taking advantage of the people applying or providing assistance and others that merely tell an applicant what to do. Here is one such website from the Consolato General D'Italia in San Francisco.

Many of these inquiries are coming to me because I am acting as a consultant for FamilySearch. By and large, the people calling are well aware of the requirements and are merely looking for copies of the documents from the website. The problem, in most cases, is that the records are either hard to find or restricted to viewing in a FamilySearch Center.

In reading the requirements for those looking back on their ancestral line, there is one major catch which states, 

  • Category 5: your direct paternal or maternal ancestors were born in the United States from Italian parents and they never renounced their right to Italian citizenship.

The issue here would seem to be if an Italian immigrant obtained citizenship in the U.S. However, the rule in the US is that the United States allows foreign nationals to naturalize and become U.S. citizens and the country also allows people to hold dual nationality. People who are citizens of foreign countries may become U.S. citizens and they may not be required to give up their current nationality.

If you think you qualify you could investigate whether or not dual citizenship is advantageous to you personally. Be careful in applying, you might get more that you expected. 

Live and Unrehearsed Research from Goldie May

Goldie May Live and Unrehearsed Episode 24

The Goldie May series continues with more videos. Each of these videos will give you insight into how to do research online. There are now 24 of these episodes and we will continue to provide them about once a week. Here is the link to the Goldie May YouTube Channel where you will find 23 new short videos about Goldie May. You will also find all the previous Live and Unrehearsed videos. 

If you have an ancestor that you would like to see featured on the research videos, let me know and thanks for watching. 

Thursday, September 8, 2022

What Happened to RootsWeb?


RootsWeb is a free genealogy community that uses online forums, mailing lists, and other resources to help people research their family history. Founded in 1993 by Brian Leverich and Karen Isaacson as the Roots Surname List, it is the oldest free online community genealogy research website. This short explanation does not give the entire history, however. The current ownership shows up in the tag line at the bottom of the startup page as "RootsWeb is funded and supported by and our loyal RootsWeb community." There is a link here to the following page.

The website is loaded with ads and clicking on a link may take you to a website that is totally unrelated to genealogy or research. However, much of the old information is still on the website and although the website is no longer a go to destination as it once was, it is still possible to find valuable information if you are willing to spend time clicking and learning about how to navigate through the old content. However, clicking on some of the existing links will take you to pages with nothing but ads. 

It appears that many of the message boards are still currently active. Some of the other projects on the website may also be active. There is a link to the USGenWeb Project and to a few other interesting and valuable links but the RootsWeb website is nothing like it was originally. 

One interesting issue is that when going to the Message Boards, I was automatically logged into I don't know what would happen if you did not have an account. So, I am not sure how much more help the website is anymore beyond using 

Saturday, September 3, 2022

Mapping your way to success with BYU Family History Library Videos

I realize because I am doing so many videos, my blog posts are taking a hit. I am not sure how I could work harder or faster, but the videos are reaching a lot of people. Fortunately, I am not the only person making videos on the BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel. We have posted eight videos in the last week. I posted three of those eight. But I also had one more posted to the Goldie May YouTube Channel

I would assume that anyone would have a hard time keeping up with all these new videos. 

Thursday, September 1, 2022

Age, Technology, and other Myths and Concerns


My introduction to computers began in about 1969 at the University of Utah. However, my intensive involvement began in 1982. Since then, I have used some model of computer almost daily now for over 40 years. Much of that time was also directly involved in providing both computer and genealogical support to other people of all ages. During all this time, I have often heard about how young people are so computer literate and old people are not. However, in my opinion based on experience with both old and young, I find the real difference is education and income. People of whatever age, with more education and income are more likely to be computer literate than those of lower income and less education. Most children's competency with computers depends on their education level and the income level of their family. 

This opinion is supported by an extensive survey conducted by the Pew Research Center's study entitled, "Digital divide persists even as Americans with lower incomes make gains in tech adoption." Quoting from this study:

Roughly a quarter of adults with household incomes below $30,000 a year (24%) say they don’t own a smartphone. About four-in-ten adults with lower incomes do not have home broadband services (43%) or a desktop or laptop computer (41%). And a majority of Americans with lower incomes are not tablet owners. By comparison, each of these technologies is nearly ubiquitous among adults in households earning $100,000 or more a year.

Americans with higher household incomes are also more likely to have multiple devices that enable them to go online. Roughly six-in-ten adults living in households earning $100,000 or more a year (63%) report having home broadband services, a smartphone, a desktop or laptop computer and a tablet, compared with 23% of those living in lower-income households.

A common opinion held by many older adults is that children, usually teenage children, are all computer savvy. My own experience is that their knowledge of computers is generally limited to operating a smartphone for text level communication with a high emphasis on computer games and YouTube. Again, referring to the Pew Research Center "Teens, Social Media and Technology 2022."

YouTube tops the 2022 teen online landscape among the platforms covered in the Center’s new survey, as it is used by 95% of teens. TikTok is next on the list of platforms that were asked about in this survey (67%), followed by Instagram and Snapchat, which are both used by about six-in-ten teens. After those platforms come Facebook with 32% and smaller shares who use Twitter, Twitch, WhatsApp, Reddit and Tumblr.

What is missing from the use of computers for entertainment and communication is learning. I probably spend nearly as much time online as any teenager, but I do not play games and I spend very little time on social networking apps. 

There is, of course, a remnant of people old enough not to have had access to computers while they were still young. But when you realize that some of us who are old have been working with computers for more than 40 years, the idea that being old somehow equates to a lack of computer literacy is just not reasonable. 

When I was very young, my mother could not and therefore did not drive a car. She finally did learn to drive but she never learned or even wanted to learn how to operate a computer (or even a typewriter for that matter). The reasons for both her lack of driving skills and her antipathy to computers came from complex social issues. As I said above, I think that computer use is more of an economic rather than entirely social issue. Unless you have a job or an overriding interest in learning about computers and you do not have a significant measure of disposable income, you a much less likely to be motivated to spend the time and the money to have a computer or use a computer. 

How does this apply to genealogy? Genealogy has become almost entirely computer driven as billions of newly digitized additional records are made available online every year. It is presently very unlikely that you can do original research into original records that is not being duplicated by someone else without verifying that there are no records online in digital format. Even though there is still resistance to online family trees in some segments of the genealogical community, it is abundantly clear to me that good genealogical research will increasingly depend on your personal computer skills. 

I am constantly confronted by complaints about irresponsible activity on family trees. A major part of what is viewed as spam activity comes from a lack of understanding of computers and computer systems. This is especially true for an open, source-based, cooperative family tree such as the Family Tree. As time passes and computer users become more sophisticated, many of the shortcomings of an open, wiki-based family tree will be resolved. Presently, the growth of the online genealogical community is far out pacing the learning curve needed to operate these programs effectively. 

As time passes, I am sure that many of the issue of family trees will be resolved.