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

Monday, November 27, 2023

Cyber Monday Sale for MyHeritage DNA

MyHeritage DNA kits are still at the unprecedented price of $33 — but not for long! Make sure none of your followers miss this rare opportunity to purchase a DNA kit at the lowest price EVER. is a major genealogy/DNA company in Europe and has a huge DNA testing base around the world. 

Sunday, November 26, 2023

5 significant issues on the website


It seems like I am involved one way or another with the website nearly every day. Subsequently, I have plenty of time to think about all the things that my own background and experience would change or improve. Here are five things that are likely not news to, and are probably things that you may have run across even if you did not view them as issues. 

1. The invisible Images section. 

The historical records on the website are searchable in three completely different sections. The first set of Historical Records is found on the dropdown Search Menu.  These Historical Records,, let you search by ancestor, but are limited to mostly indexed records with some unindexed records scattered in. Of course, the number of indexed records increases every day due to the contributions of volunteer indexers, but it seems that the only available report of the total number of indexed records is recorded as "more than one billion." The number of indexed records added to the website each week is reported a blog post entitled, A FamilySearch Monthly Record Update. in the FamilySearch Blog linked from a list of web pages on bottom of the pages on the website. One thing you can see on this list is the number of indexed records from computer-aided indexes or CAI. 

The second set of records are found in the FamilySearch Catalog. The Catalog contains both indexed and unindexed records. The unindexed records which are best searched by country, must be searched page-by-page unless there is some sort of index that was included with the historical record itself. 

The third and last set of records, the invisible Images Section, or those that are not yet indexed or cataloged and possibly make up the bulk of all the records on the website. The number is likely somewhat more that five billion records. FamilySearch is presently using the Computer Aided Indexing to add millions of newly indexed records to the website. See  for example, when the records are indexed they appear in the Historical Records collection. 

Where are these unindexed and not cataloged record? The are piled in the Explore Historical Images section of the website that is called Images under the dropdown Search Menu at the top of each page. Almost uniformly the people I talk to about the FamilySearch website do not know this set of records exists. Most people assume that when they do a name search they are searching all the records. As I pointed out above, the number of these "invisible" records is huge, possibly well over 5.2 billion. See 

My question is why isn't there more visibility and utility for the Image records? My other question is why doesn't FamilySearch explain what is and what is not available in each of the three searches; Historical Records, the Catalog, and Explore Historical Images sections of the website? For example, the "Historical Records" could contain a notice that said that a name search only searches indexed records which constitute on an "X" percentage of the records on the website. 

2. Two FamilySearch Catalogs?

Yes, you can search the "old" catalog under the dropdown Search menu, but, by the way, this catalog has not been updated for the past year. Now, there is a second FamilySearch Catalog called The FamilySearch Library Catalog. Where is this catalog? Is it somewhere on the website? Yes, but so far, I have not found a link. Here is the URL, Interestingly, the webpage is entitled FamilySearch Library Catalog with a link to "Our Catalogs." 

Yes, there are two FamilySearch catalogs on the same website. But there are no apparent links to the second catalog except if you know the link already.

3. The missing parts of the FamilySearch website.

Sometime, just for fun, you can try searching for a topic or an area of genealogical interest on Google using FamilySearch as part of the search. Here is a link for example.
Try another example, such as WWII. If you look down through all the entries you will find a lot of references to the FamilySearch blog. This is not quite invisible. It is linked from the bottom of each web page. You will find links to the blog from the Google search and to the Research Wiki, and also to the Catalog entries. I realize that there is only a limited amount of space on any web page, but maybe some of the items in the site map deserve to be linked a little more prominently. My favorite one is the England &Wales Jurisdictions Map that is also linked from the Research Wiki and is in the Site Map, if you know where to look for the Site Map. See (Yes, with two "pps")

Here are two more links to other "missing" parts of the website:

4. The Duplicate Fire Swamp.

The duplicate issue has been out-of-control since the day the Family Tree went online. It is true that FamilySearch got rid of a mountain of duplicates, but now with artificial intelligence, they should be able to get rid of the huge mountain left. The obvious duplicates for those of us who are doing English and the rest of the British Isles research are the left-over duplicates from the early extraction program where each individual was individually extracted for a baptism record, a marriage record, and a burial record. If a family has ten children (not unusual) there are three automatic duplicates not including those recently entered by inexperienced users and bulk entries from census and other projects. So ten children plus the adults can result in find 36 duplicates more or less or 35 assuming you have found one of the duplicate entries and have not just stepped off into the swanp. 

5. The excessive revolving door ancestors. 

Just looking on the day of writing this post. Francis Cooke, a Mayflower passenger who is completely and exhaustively documented had an endless list of changes with a few in the last week. He also has 28 sources. I can no longer do any research into my New England lines because of they are all revolving doors and I do not have the time or the energy to keep correcting people who do not need to be changed in the first place. 

These issue may be resolved some day, but since I am old, I doubt I will see the day. 

Monday, November 20, 2023

Your Story is Worth Remembering, a RootsTech Film


Here is the link to the actual video.

Here is a quote from the YouTube notes for the video.

In a world that often celebrates the extraordinary, watch as five individuals who've led seemingly ordinary lives through their own eyes, are reminded of the indelible mark they’ve left on the hearts of their loved ones.  

  We filmed their family members answering the question, “What makes your parent/grandparent extraordinary. The responses we received were nothing short of breathtaking— personal memories, touching anecdotes, and deep reflections shared together. Through the lens of personal stories, we recognize the transformative power of personal memories and experiences, and remember the importance of cherishing and celebrating the unsung heroes in our lives. Everyone's story is worth remembering.  

 Learn more here

Friday, November 10, 2023

MyHeritage's PhotoDater™ is now available on the MyHeritage and Reimagine mobile apps


PhotoDater™ was first released on the website back on August 13, 2023. Quoting from the announcement blog post:
PhotoDater™ is one-of-a-kind: MyHeritage is the only genealogy service that offers date estimation for historical photos. Using powerful technology developed by our AI team, PhotoDater™ gives its best guess when a photo was taken. This can help you unlock further clues about who appears in the photo and the event at which it was taken, to solve mysteries in your genealogy research. PhotoDater™ is completely free!

You can read a detailed explanation of the PhotoDater™on this blog post, "Introducing PhotoDater™, an Exclusive, Free New Feature to Estimate When Old Photos Were Taken."

Now, this amazing app is available on both the MyHeritage and Reimagine apps. The apps are available from both the Apple App Store and from Google Play. 


Monday, November 6, 2023

MyHeritage DNA Testing Holiday Sale


Click on this link to order.

There are only a very few companies that often DNA testing who have large numbers of users and a huge database of records. has both an exceptionally large number of users and a database of  19,611,003,679 records. I currently have 16,183 DNA matches on We have also solved family tradition mysteries using MyHeritage's database of people and matches. By the way, I helps to get DNA tests from more than one company. 

Friday, November 3, 2023

About Creating a No-source zone on the Family Tree


We are all acquainted with driving through areas where the speed limits change for safety reasons. I would like to see this concept applied to the Family Tree website. 

There is a natural conflict in genealogy between people with a casual interest who a just beginning to explore their family connections and those who a experienced. Traffic laws recognize that young students on their way to school need extra protection in crossing streets around schools. Children are also cautioned about crossing any street and are hopefully trained about the dangers of traffic. Equally, those who are new to genealogy are not automatically aware of the customs and procedures of the FamilySearch.og Family Tree website. 

Initially, it is important to know that the the Family Tree only works if it is treated as a source-centric family tree. This statement has been made numerous times over the years and is codified in FamilySearch publications. See the following list.

• FamilySearch. “View Sources in Family Tree • FamilySearch,” May 31, 2022.
“A Short History of FamilySearch Family Tree.” Accessed November 3, 2023.
“Authentication - FamilySearch Developers — FamilySearch.Org.” Accessed November 3, 2023.
FamilySearch GEDCOM. “FamilySearch GEDCOM Community.” Accessed November 3, 2023.
FamilySearch Wiki. “Tools for Using Family Tree/Search,” April 10, 2020.
Jr, Bennett Cookson, Ken Boyer, James Mark Hamilton, Kendall J. Jefferson, Daren Thayne, and Michael J. Wolfgramm. Genealogy investigation and documentation systems and methods. European Union EP1550958A2, filed December 28, 2004, and issued July 6, 2005.
Seaver, Randy. “Dear Randy: Should I Use FamilySearch Family Tree as My Main Genealogy Database?” Accessed November 3, 2023.
Tanner, James. “Genealogy’s Star: Sources in FamilySearch Family Tree.” Genealogy’s Star (blog), August 13, 2012.
———. “Rejoice, and Be Exceeding Glad...: A Survival Guide for the FamilySearch Family Tree: Part Two -- The Scope of the Challenge.” Rejoice, and Be Exceeding Glad... (blog), May 19, 2018.

(By the way, I am fully aware that I am citing myself in two of the examples given above).

Unfortunately, as the Family Tree (hereinafter Family Tree) evolved, it has failed to maintain a structure that would support a source-centric content. What this means is that users can make entries in the Family Tree without providing a source for the information entered. There are likely millions of entries that look like the following:

There is a good argument for allowing "new" users (like young students attending an elementary school) to enter into the complex world of genealogy without providing a source showing where the information was obtained. It is likely that at least some users will have personal information and contact with their parents. From my extensive experience helping users from Spanish speaking countries, there are people who can list sometimes three generations from memory. My suggestion is that the first four generations of a new user's genealogy be part of a "No required source zone." However, I would also suggest that the website continue to emphasize the need for sources. 

A "source" in the context of genealogical research is a citation to the location where the information entered can be verified. The word "source" as used in the Family Tree is ambiguous in that it is used to refer to a historical document giving information about an entry and to anything showing where the information was obtained. Because of this ambiguity, an entry such as "Personal Information" is acceptable but useless for verification purposes. But as the example above illustrates, there are a huge number of entires that have no "sources." From my standpoint, I am forced to treat these entries as nonsense. 

If the Family Tree had this kind of record, it would then be appropriate to require any entries in past the fourth generation to have a source. Presently, the Family Tree has a notice when there is no source attached, but that notice apparently has no effect on those adding unsupported entries. I would further suggest that, as I have begun writing in other posts, that an AI assistant for users could help both new and experienced uses and help to elimate the vast number of duplicate entries, and un-supported entries. 

Winners of the Free RootsTech 2024 Passes


Back in October 2023, I posted a link to a sweepstakes offering a free pass to RootsTech 2024. Here are the winners as determined by RootsTech. Each of these people should have been contacted by RootsTech about their free pass. 

The early registration discount will expire on November 19, 2023. Here is the link to register. 

RootsTech 2024 Registration

Thursday, November 2, 2023

RootsTech 2024 Early Bird Pricing Ends November 19, 2023


Click here to register:

AI could help the new user experience


Over the years, I have probably helped a few thousand new users of the website. I have never viewed the website to be even slightly "user friendly." The recent addition of a new startup screen for those logging in the first time is a major first step towards rectifying this situation. 

However, the screen does not show again if your login in still in your computer's cache. You can compare this to the still in existence startup page that has been around for quite some time. 

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has recently been in the news. However, AI has been actively used by computer programmers for many years. The earliest successful AI program was written in 1951 by Christopher Strachey, later director of the Programming Research Group at the University of Oxford. See

Here is one of perhaps hundreds of quotes that could easily be found online about using AI to improve the user experience. 

AI has the potential to greatly improve website personalization, providing users with a more personalized and engaging online experience. By collecting and analyzing data about user behavior and preferences, AI algorithms can make personalized recommendations and tailor the website experience in real-time. See The Role of Artificial Intelligence in Website Personalization.

The website has a huge database of information. For example, the Research Wiki has over 100,000 helpful articles about how and where to find information for new and experienced users. When I talk with someone who is just starting out using the website, I almost always guide them to the Research Wiki. Almost uniformly, the new users are amazed, overjoyed, and mostly surprised that instructions about how to do genealogical research are free and readily available. When time permits and when someone shows interest in actually doing research, I also send them to The Family History Guide.  

The challenges of the Research Wiki and the rest of the website is that they are "static." The user must supply all the initiative to finding the resources in the website. My wife and I are tasked with teaching all the new missionary volunteers at the BYU Library Family History Center. We start with how to login to the website. Immersing the website in AI would allow new and experienced users to actually use the website without fighting with it. For example, I have to log onto the website sometimes dozens of times each day. Every time, I have to go through the process of logging on the same way - every time. What if when I opened the program, it recognized me (like by Subaru does)? What if the website then asked me if I wanted to return to the last page of the website I was using or wanted to do something else? What if there was also a way to opt out of the entire process and go directly to the Family Tree? What if the website tailored the website experience to my use of the website in real time?

Another issue with the website is the lack of internationalization. Some modest attempts a have been made so far, but the website is essentially my same English speaking experience even when I am looking at in Spanish and usually it is even sometime harder to use when I elect to view the website in Spanish, for example. AI is quickly becoming a way to translate text faster and more accurately. Why is the Research Wiki in Spanish a weak experience compared to the English version? 

Let's suppose that the website not only asked me what I wanted to do, but had a way for me to start a conversation about my research goals. This expertise to help new and experienced users exists with the pool of genealogists such as those at the BYU Library Family History Center who have years of experience. Why not transfer this pool of experience to a website. Guess what, that is already available and done. That is essentially what is the basis for The Family History Guide website. By the way, The Family History Guide website is now linked directly from The Family History Guide is in essence the basis for an AI entry experience with the website. 

I will probably have a lot more to say about this subject in the near future. Stay tuned.

The New Improved Startup Page

Above is a screenshot of the vastly improved startup page. You can see from the startup page that a real effort has been made to engage new users of the program. If you sign into the account you will get your own personalized page but if you are a new user you can scroll down on the startup page to find out substantial information about the website. If you are registered, you will get the older startup page after you sign in. 

Here is an additional screenshot of the next scroll screen.

The links on the additional scroll pages provide navigational access to the website. In this screenshot, you will learn about the archive of historical documents that are available on the website. 

The next screenshot shows the next scroll down section of the startup page.

Here is the last segment of the startup page. 

I guess my comment would be, its about time.