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

Friday, May 17, 2024

Finally a way to quickly identify and correct entries on the FamilySearch Family Family Tree -- Family Tree Validator


I learned about this app at RootsTech 2024, a couple of months ago. I am sorry I have not written about it sooner but after talking to the developer, I was waiting for some changes before I went online with a post. 

The  Family Tree Validator, is a free Chrome extension by Robert Scott at Find My Roots Consulting. You can find this app by searching in the Chrome Web Store. 

This app does exactly what it says it does. It validates entries in the Family Tree and gives you way of directly correcting the issues identified. I have been suggesting both types of features to FamilySearch for many years. There is a series of slides on the Validator site that explain the extension. Here is a quote from the extension website about the Validator.
Ensure that the information in your family's tree on FamilySearch is correct and complete. Validator makes it quick and easy. 
The purpose of the Family Tree Validator is to find inconsistencies, errors, missing data in your family's tree. Because these errors are under the surface, you may not even be aware that anything is wrong. It will make suggestions on items that may help FamilySearch find additional matches. It can even find cleanup items like date and location inconsistencies. Best of all, it makes fixing these simple issues very easy! Validator checks that the information currently in FamilySearch about your family is 'reasonable'. That means common sense tests are applied EVERYWHERE. It checks all the information currently available, comparing husband and wife, children, parents and siblings. The extension further checks each attached source record that the information was fully added into FamilySearch. This saves you massive time in doing this review yourself!
The Validator extension works when you are looking at a particular profile page in the FamilySearch Family Tree. You can see an example from one of my family lines above. The advantage is that changes can be made directly from the app such as standardization without an extra step. Because it is a browser app, it is always available for use. Go to the website for complete instructions. 

The Fix Everything feature allows you to make all the suggested changes at once. This is an advanced feature and should be used sparingly. It is important to review and evaluate every possible change. No system can account for every possible place or other data. Care and accuracy should always be a main concern. 

If you are living under the entirely mistaken impression that your part of the Family Tree is perfect, I suggest installing this free app and testing in on a few of the entries you think are correct in every way. With the newly added corrections, this app is invaluable in making your entries closer to correct as it is currently possible. However, if it suggests a “correction” and you happen to disagree with the suggested change, you can always ignore the suggestion, but I would take it a bit further and do some additional research to see if the suggested change is accurate. You might end up learning a little history in this process. 

In my example above, all of the changes suggested were standardization issues. This is an entire separate topic. The Validator does point out that few of the places mentioned in Other Information section of the profile were or are standardized. This brings up another interesting issue of whether the places in Other Information need to be standardized. I am sure the Validator will bring up a lot of questions. I suggest being brave and install it and see if you can out guess it. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2024

Photo Scanner Introduced on MyHeritage App

New: Multi-Photo Scanner on the MyHeritage Mobile App recently added a powerful, state-of-the-art Photo Scanner to the MyHeritage mobile app! Watch the video linked above for a quick overview of the new Photo Scanner.

Quoting from the blog post:

Photo Scanner is a state-of-the-art feature developed by MyHeritage’s AI team. It enables quick and easy scanning of entire album pages or multiple loose photos in a single tap. The scanner then uses cutting-edge, cloud-based AI technology to automatically detect the individual photos and crop them, saving hours of work traditionally required with other scanners. Scanned photos are saved in a dedicated album on your MyHeritage family site.

This is a dramatic addition to the MyHeritage collection of photo enhancement and acquisition tools. 


Tuesday, May 14, 2024

Foundation for East European Family History Studies in-person Conference August 6-9, 2024

FEEFHS is holding their annual conference in Salt Lake City from August 6-9. This content-packed event features almost 60 classes on researching genealogies of Eastern and Central Europe. Several optional pre-conference workshops will be offered on August 5. Plus, we’ll host a welcome reception and offer an optional closing banquet with plenary presentation on our last night where we celebrate together. It promises to be a great gathering with rich opportunities for learning and hands-on research at the adjacent FamilySearch Library.

If you are looking for reasonably priced accommodation, the Plaza Hotel that hosts the conference offers a discounted rate for conference attendees. Registration, workshops, classes and social events will be held at the Salt Lake Plaza Hotel at Temple Square. Conveniently located in the heart of downtown, the Plaza is next door to the FamilySearch Library. Temple Square is across the street. Other historical sites, shopping, dining, and many arts venues are nearby. The Plaza Hotel is located at 122 West South Temple.

Instruction for Eastern European genealogists and family history researchers will occur over four days with eight interest-area tracks. Topics will encompass countries and regions of Central and Eastern Europe, including areas of the former Austro-Hungarian Empire, German Empire, Russian Empire/USSR and more. Other topics will include DNA, minority and ethnicity research, general resources, and technology for family history.

I will be teaching three classes:

  • Using an AI Chatbot to Translate 133 Languages 
  • Discovering the Records of Eastern European Minority Populations 
  • How Historic Polish Boundary Changes Affect Genealogical Records

Wednesday, May 8, 2024

Who Do You Believe:? The Accuracy of Inherited Genealogy


Many genealogists "inherited" their interest in genealogy from a relative: parent, a grandparent, or some other relation. I became interested in genealogy in a different way, but I still inherited a lot of documents and information from two great-grandmothers. One of my great-grandmother published an almost 700 page book about her ancestral lines. The other great-grandmother left a pile of boxes 5 feet tall with thousands of documents and letters. In addition, for over fifteen years, by visiting the then Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, I accumulated a pile of photocopied family group records and pedigree charts over three feet tall. This all began about 42 years ago. Consistently, for all of those 42 years, I have been involved in correcting and augmenting the massive amount of information I initially received from my relatives and ancestors. Fortunately, all of that paper has now been incorporated into the Family Tree. 

But what I found over the last 42 years is that the initial information was incomplete and in very many cases inaccurate. The fact that my great-grandmothers spent a major portion of their lives "doing genealogy" did not make their efforts particularly accurate or complete. 

As I have worked with other would-be genealogists over those many years, I find a common theme. The theme is the same from hundreds of people. The theme is the story of the perfect genealogical relative; the researcher who spent his or her life gathering genealogical information about the family with an accuracy that is now carved in stone. 

Much of my 42 year genealogical effort has been spent correcting the errors I and others have inherited from these perfect ancestral genealogists. This monumental effort is ongoing due to newer generations of would-be genealogists who insist that their perfect ancestral genealogist recorded on paper or old Personal Ancestral File disks is absolutely correct and anything that appears to disagree with the perfect ancestor in the FamilySearch Family Tree has to be wrong. It is very hard to argue with perfection. 

The reality is that we have an enormously larger availability of historical records than my great-grandmothers had to use in doing our own research. One quote from one of the published books by one great-grandmother is a perfect example of the changes wrought by technology. Here is the quote: 
We know our ancestors were in London as early, possibly about 1700 to 1735. Perhaps in the future records will come into our hands to prove where they came from to England. We hope so. We have gathered names from various countries, cities, churches, through correspondence, &c.. and have them on hand, but cannot connect them to our line. We have also quite a number who are connected. Overson, Margaret Godfrey Jarvis. George Jarvis and Joseph George De Friez Genealogy. [Mesa?, Ariz.]: [M.G. Jarvis Overson], 1957.

The answer is I now have records dating back to the early 1600s in the Netherlands with this same family. This does not diminish or denigrate the work done in the early 1900s on my lines, but it does illustrate the fact that, in many cases, those "perfect genealogists" realized the limitations of their work which are now being considered to be perfect. 

Now, I am in no way disparaging the work done by these wonderful people. I have always felt honored to have such diligent research that was done, but I now have a lot more information than they had access to and unless there are citations to actual historical records the traditional paper-based genealogy has little value. We are now coming to the end of the major transition that began in about 1970 and now those people who did the original work are all gone and most of their children are now gone. I have also seen a significant decrease in people bringing me questions about pre-computer information. Although, it is interesting that the use of this "ancestral" record is still haunting the FamilySearch Family Tree. You can see this phenomena by looking at almost any person in the Family Tree from New England and born before 1700. Here is a randomly chosen example. 

You can see the list of changes by clicking on the image or going to John Kenyon I KNQL-7VM in the Family Tree. The reality here is that there is no controversy or question about this family and none of these changes have been made because new documents have been found. The last source added that pertained to this individual or family was added almost ten years ago, but the changes just keep coming from people who have outdated and unsubstantiated inherited records.