Thursday, December 1, 2016

Adding Date and Place to Memories on has now added the ability to add a date and place to your Memories items. Here is how to do it.

Sign in to and then hover over Memories at the top of the screen and click Gallery. By default it comes up in a grid view. Click the three lines icon in the top right to change to a thumbnail view.

Now you can click Add Event Date or Add Event Place to add more details about a photo, audio recording, document, or story. Just one more little detail that can help add value to the items you add to Memories.

I sorta expected that I'd also see the option to add the date and place if I had a particular item open in the viewer, but it doesn't seem to be any other place besides the thumbnail view in the Gallery. 

Now, if I only knew when and where most of the photos I have of my ancestors were taken!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Helper Information

FamilySearch has a feature in which an LDS family history consultant or FamilySearch Support agent can sign in as a "helper" for another person. Why would someone want to do that, and why should you let them?

  • Consultants might sign in as a helper to enter family history information or reserve names for temple work for a person who is not comfortable using a computer.
  • Consultants are more effective if they sign in as a helper and explore the tree before meeting with members and families to help them with their family history. They can see potential problems or temple opportunities ahead of a meeting and be better prepared.
  • Support agents sign in as a helper when people contact Support to ask questions about Family Tree. This allows us to see the tree the way the patron sees it, allowing us to more quickly understand and solve problems.
  • Support agents are instructed to never make any changes to Family Tree when signed in as a helper. They are to only use it as a tool to see what the patron sees. Consultants will sometimes make changes or enter information, but should only do that if the person they are helping asks them to. 
So, if a family history consultant or FamilySearch Support agent asks for your "helper information", this is what they want and how to find it:

You have 2 options. You can provide

  1. Your username (the one you use to sign in to and helper number OR
  2. Your first and last name, birth date, and helper number.
Here are the ways you can find your helper number:
  • From Sign in and then click your name in the upper right corner. In the dark box that pops up, click Settings. Your Account page opens. Scroll to the bottom of the page to find your 5 character helper number. 
  • From the Family Tree app on an Android device: Tap the 3 lines in the top left corner. Tap Settings. Your Helper Number is in the Account section.
  • From the Family Tree app on an iOS device: Tap More at the bottom of the screen.Tap Settings. Your Helper Number shows on the right panel in the Account section.
Your helper number is case sensitive. If it has any capital letters, you need to tell the helper that they are capitals.

As a precaution, you might want to change your Helper Number after someone has used it. You can't do that on the app, but you can do it online. Just go to your Account page where you found the number. Click in the box that contains your Helper Number and enter a different 5 letters/numbers. Any combination is fine, but don't use any special characters--just letters and numbers.  Then click Save at the bottom of the screen. 

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Correcting parent-child relationships in the Family Tree app

Sometimes you find that a person is attached to the wrong set of parents in Family Tree. Using the Family Tree app on an Android or iOS device, here is how you fix those problems.

  1. Navigate to the person who has the wrong parents showing.
  2. When you tap to open a person's record, you see a dark bar at the top that shows the name of the person, a photo if you or someone else has added one, the birth and death years, and the Family Tree ID. Under that, tap Parents. It's on a white strip on iOS and a green strip on Android. 
  3. Now you see the parents and your person along with other children associated with those parents. To the right of each name in the Siblings list is a pencil icon. Tap the pencil icon to the right of the person who should not be showing in this family. 
Both parents are wrong.
  1. Now you see the parents. Below them you see a red Wrong Parents link. If both parents are wrong, tap that. 
  2. You'll see a diagram showing the link you are breaking. If you want to continue, tap Continue in the top right of that screen.
  3. Enter a reason you are confident in removing the person as a child of these parents. Then tap Remove in the upper right. 
Only one parent is wrong. 
  1. Instead of tapping Wrong Parents, tap the down arrow to the right of whichever parent is incorrect. 
  2. Here you can change the relationship type. Tap Edit to the right of the current relationship type add change it to adopted, biological, foster, guardian, or step. 
  3. You can delete the relationship type or add one.
  4. You can also tap Wrong [Father or Mother] to remove the person as a parent.
  5. The next screen shows what relationship you are breaking. At the bottom you can tap Remove to just get rid of the incorrect parent. Or, if you know who the parent should be, you can tap Replace
  6. If you tap Remove, you need to enter a reason and then tap Remove in the upper right. 
  7. If you tap Replace, you can enter the name and other information about the correct parent and then pick from a list or create a new record. Or you can add by ID if you happen to know the Family Tree ID of the correct parent. For each of these choices, just enter the information on each screen and then tap the word in the upper right corner. 
So, just like with everything on Family Tree, you can fix the errors you see. Please do take the time to indicate clearly why you are making the change. That and adding sources to back up what you do go a long way to not only create a more accurate tree, but also to lessen the chances that someone is going to a) be irritated by the changes you make, or b) un-change your change.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Broad Record Searches

Sometimes when you are researching a family and you know that family lived in the same area for many many generations, you want to do a fairly broad search for possible record matches. This is also a helpful strategy when you've gotten a bit confused about a family line. Which fit where? Am I really on the right path or have I gotten families all tangled up?

To that end, I'd like to show you an option that is not terribly obvious on the Search page of that I find helpful when I am trying to do these kinds of searches and then save the results to chew over later.

Start by signing in to ALWAYS sign in--it makes a difference in your search results. At the top of the screen, click Search.

Enter your broad search terms. For instance, a surname and a birthplace or residence. Usually that's all I'll use for these sorts of searches.  Here is an example:

In my example I used the ? wildcard in the last name. The name sometimes shows as Herman and sometimes as Harman. I want to capture both in my search results. Now, click Search

At the top of the search results page, click 75 for the "Number of results to show".

Since this search gives over 30,000 results, I like to further filter them and download the results in sets of similar record types. To do that, click the Collections tab in blue just above the Search Result from Historical Records header. For a first run, I'll limit the results to census records. In the Census & Lists header, click Show all 11

Then click in the boxes to check the census records to include in the results. Since this family never lived in New York State, I click all except the New York State Census and then scroll to the top of the page and click Filter These Results.

Here is what I now see: 

Notice, at the top, that I can click the X beside any record set to remove it from the search results. So, if I decided I don't really want to see records after about 1900, I can click to remove 1910, 1920, 1930, and 1940 census records from the results. 

Now we're to the part I really want to show you. See the Export Results 1-75 button on the right in the image above? Click it. And you can save your search results in a spreadsheet (well, 75 records at a time). Open it with your spreadsheet program, such as Microsoft Excel. Repeat for 75 records at a time until you get all of them on spreadsheets. You can bring all the data into one spreadsheet after you've gotten them all downloaded. The spreadsheets include names, gender, birthdate, residence, other relatives on the record, marriage... all the information in the indexes. And the url to jump to a given record. 

You can bring all the data from the spreadsheets into one huge one and then sort in various ways and compare names, family members, dates, etc. It can really help when trying to sort out how families fit together. 

Handy tool. Give it a try. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Add or Edit Marriage Information on the Family Tree App

If you are new to the Family Tree app for Android or iOS mobile devices, you might be struggling a bit to learn how to perform basic tasks. So, let's learn how to add or edit marriage information for an ancestor.

Start off by finding and tapping the name of the person for whom you want to add a spouse; add a marriage, divorce, annulment, or common law event; remove an incorrect spouse, or edit an event.

When you tap a name, you see the person details screen. At the top is a dark bar that includes the name of the person, the birth and death dates (if available), the 7-character Family Tree ID, the portrait photo (if available), and three dots that give some other options. Directly under that dark bar is another bar. On Android, it's green. On iOS, it's white. To work with marriage information, tap Spouses on that bar under the dark bar.
Depending on the record and what has been added, you see the spouse, the marriage information and the children identified with that spousal relationship. And under that are the Add Child and Add Husband or Wife options. So, if you need to add an additional spouse, it's pretty obvious where to tap to do that. But, if something is wrong: the wrong spouse or problems with the marriage information, or you want to add missing marriage information, or a divorce--then people start scratching their heads and wondering how do to that. So, notice to the right of each bit of info is a pencil icon.
To edit or add marriage information for an existing relationship, tap that pencil to the right of the current marriage information. Now you see options: Wrong Spouse; Edit to the right of the marriage information; Delete Marriage Event; Add Event. Click the one for what you need to do, add the info, add the reason you are confident of what you're doing and it's done.

Incidentally, in my last post about the new look of the iOS app, I talked about messaging. At that time, the option to send a message to a user from the app seemed to not be working. Now it is! Notice that the name of the person who last modified this record is in blue. Tap it and you see any contact information the person has made public as well as an option to Send Message (well it's misspelled on the app as "Send Mesage", but we'll pretend we didn't notice that). The Send Message option sends a message to the user through FamilySearch. 

New Look and New Features for the iOS Family Tree app

This past week, the FamilySearch Family Tree app for iOS devices got a new look and a couple of new features. So, if you've been using the app and just gotten used to where to find things, guess what? It's moved!

Before we look at the location and purpose of the various icons, let me tell you about a new feature. The app now "remembers" the 3 most recent screens you have opened. For example, suppose I open the app to my pedigree. I tap my husband's name and then use the option to see his tree. And, lastly, I tap his maternal grandmother. 

Now, at the top left, I see a left-facing arrow and a word beside it--the word will indicate the screen I looked at just before this one. So, from his grandmother's page, I see "Pedigree", meaning my husband's pedigree. If I tap the arrow, it returns me to his pedigree. Now the arrow has my husband's name beside it, since that is the screen I was on before I saw his pedigree. I can tap to return to his page. Again it says "Pedigree"--this time it means my pedigree, since that is where I started out. And I can tap to get back to my home page. 

This probably doesn't seem like much of a change, but it might surprise you. Before, if you clicked to go back, you always went back to your pedigree view. Now, you might not. So, if you want to go to your pedigree view, tap Tree at the bottom of your screen.

The biggest change you'll notice is that you no longer see the 3 lines icon in the upper left that took you to various options.

Two icons continue to be in the upper right:

The History List (also at the bottom labeled Recents): tap to see a list of names you have visited before in Family Tree. You can also tap at the top of the list in the search box and enter a Family Tree ID to jump directly to a specific ancestor.

The magnifying glass: searches all of Family Tree for a person. You can search by name or by ID. It is different from the history list in that it does not just search for names in your tree, but in all of FamilySearch Family Tree.

The rest of your options are at the bottom of the screen:

At the bottom, we have already learned about the Tree button--I think of it as my Home button, always taking me back to square one.

The Tasks button loads your Ancestors with tasks list: it searches people you've recently viewed, your first 5 generations of ancestors and their children, and any part of your pedigree you have expanded. It shows ancestors with record hints and, if you are LDS, temple opportunities.

If you are LDS you see Temple at the bottom. This shows you your reserved ordinances list where you can share with temple or others or create temple cards.

More is where you now find Search Historical Records, Settings, Help, Other Apps and Sign Out. It also has a new feature: Messages. It does not appear that the engineers have incorporated the FamilySearch messaging option in this app. If someone has sent you a message from the Android app or the website, you see the message if you tap Messages. To the right, I THINK you could reply to a message sent to you by another user. I have no messages showing, so I'm not really sure how that works. Bottom line: Messages is limited in usefulness, since you have no clue that someone sent you a message unless you happen to tap More and then Messages. And you still have no way to contact another user from the iOS app.

So, a few new things, but mostly just a new look.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

The New Get Help on

Get Help on changed recently. so I thought it might be worthwhile to take give you a feel for the change and how to find stuff now.

From what I can tell, the idea is to get all kinds of help content on a given topic in one place. That way, if you search for information on a topic, you can see help articles, wiki articles, and online lessons without having to jump from one spot to another within the Help Center. Here's how I like to use it:

Sign in--always sign in. It makes a difference in what you see. Click Get Help in the top right corner of the screen. Notice that you have links to various options, but I like to put my search words in that search box right at the top. Then press Enter or click the magnifying glass icon.

This takes you to the Help Center. Notice that you see a search box with your search terms, so you can easily modify the search if you aren't getting good results. It defaults to showing you all content: articles, lessons, and wiki articles. But if I only want to see one kind of content, I can click one of the options and limit my results.

I'm not sure that it is going to stay exactly like it is now. I've heard that it is still in beta (test-mode), so we might be seeing more changes soon. 

One thing I like is that it does give me the online lessons and wiki articles in my search results. Too often I forget to look for those kinds of content when I am searching for help. It's nice to see them all together. 

I've heard some complaints about the new approach. Mostly it seems that people miss the Get Started and Frequently Asked Questions content. Getting Started is now a link on the pop-up you see when you click Get Help and has been updated. For LDS users, that page also now includes names and contact information for your unit family history consultants, which is nice.

If you click Help Center from that pop-up illustrated above, you'll see the more familiar look of the Help Center, in case you prefer that approach. If you click one of the icons to search on a topic, the results are the most frequently used help content for that topic, so you're getting the FAQs without them being labeled as such. 

Go explore the new Help Center. And, if you see ways it could be better, click the Help us improve banner along the right border of the page. 

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Why do family history if there are no temple ordinances to do?

Recently I was chatting with a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who explained to me that he had a relative who did family history and had added all their family to FamilySearch Family Tree along with photos and stories. He asserted that all the temple work was complete for his family. Therefore, he saw no point in involvement in family history at any level, because there was not "work" to do.

This conversation caused me to ponder a bit. What IS the point of family history for a Latter-day Saint? Why does God want us to do it?

The primary response from the average Church member would be that we do it in order to identify ancestors who have died without the saving ordinances of the gospel so that we can provide them the opportunity to accept or reject those ordinances. We certainly do that. But it does seem to be a terribly inefficient way to assure that all the human family eventually gets the opportunity to accept or reject the Savior. If that is what God wants to happen, I can't help but think He'd find a better way of going about it. After all, we mess it up pretty freely. I'm sure many a person has been linked to the wrong spouse and/or parents.  And many a person has had no written records of his or her life created and therefore the chances that we'd even discover the existence of a huge portion of the human family are near zero.

So, I turned to scripture to see what I might discover. The most often quoted scripture regarding this topic comes from the Old Testament book of Malachi, chapter 4, verses 5-6:
Behold I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord: And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.  
So, Elijah the prophet must return and do something or other that will cause fathers and children to turn their hearts to one another. Otherwise, the earth is cursed.

When the angel Moroni appeared to the prophet Joseph Smith in 1823, he quoted these verses differently:
Behold, I will reveal unto you the Priesthood, by the hand of Elijah the prophet, before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the Lord. And he shall plant in the hearts of the children the promises made to the fathers, and the hearts of the children shall turn to their fathers. If it were not so, the whole earth would be utterly wasted at his coming.
So, Elijah was to restore the priesthood. And the turning of hearts is a result of having promises made to those who went before planted in our hearts. And all this must happen or the earth will be wasted when Christ returns.

I could make a VERY long post on this and have given several talks on the topic, but I'll spare you. I'll assume the reader is LDS and has some basic understanding of our doctrines. (If not, and you are interested, post a comment to this and I'll be happy to answer your questions).

Cutting to the chase:
We know that the wasting of the earth if hearts do not turn to family isn't that God is going to blast it out of existence. Rather, the earth was created for the purpose of giving our Heavenly Father's children a place to learn and grow and progress and be united as families. Family is key to our eternal existence. We lived in a family before we came to earth and our life after this mortal sojourn is meant to be a family life. Families are the ideal place to learn to be more like God. Our hearts need to turn to family--and to the promises God has made to families. The most important of those promises is the promise of the Atonement--of forgiveness of sin and the opportunity to return to God and to be eternally united as families.

We are to be involved in family history for what it does for us as much as for what we are offering to others. As we learn more about those who gave us life, we learn to love them and look forward to meeting them in the next life. We come to feel connected and that changes us in ways that are hard to express. It fills a need in the human soul that you just can't fill any other way. As Alex Haley expressed it, that yearning for connection is "bone-marrow deep."

Everyone who gets involved in this work becomes a better person at a fundamental level. It doesn't matter what sort of involvement it is as long as it turns our hearts to family. It can be showing photos of ancestors to children and teaching them what we know about those who went before. It can be cross-stitching a family tree, scanning and preserving old photographs, interviewing older relatives to learn about their lives, compiling stories of your ancestors for future generations to read, researching records to grow your family tree, going to the temple to perform saving ordinances. The list is as long as your imagination.

As our hearts turn to family, not only do we become better, but our families become stronger. And, ultimately, I think our hearts turn to our entire human family and our eternal Father in Heaven. That is why everyone should be involved in this work. It's not just a nice hobby. It is a bedrock principle of the gospel.

Thursday, October 6, 2016

Refreshing the Family Tree apps

It is not unusual to make a change to a person's record on the Family Tree app on your mobile device, but the change doesn't show. Or you make a change or addition to a record from the website and it doesn't show on the app. Here are ways to force the app to refresh.

Left to its own devices, we are told that changes or additions you make on the website can take a few hours to a few days to synchronized with the app. You can wait it out. Not being the patient sort, I usually want to hurry it up. You have a few options. (All require Internet access.)

Download Pedigree
You can download the pedigree afresh. To do that from either Android or iOS devices, tap the menu icon (3 lines) in the upper left. Then tap "Settings". Tap "Download Pedigree". This brings a new copy of your 6 generation pedigree down from the website and will be up to date.

This is usually not my first choice, as I then have to re-expand the tree and some of my history list can get lost. But it works.

Clear Cache (Android only)
On an Android device, in that same Settings section, you can tap "Clear Cache." That gets the latest data from the website without downloading a version to use offline. I don't see that option on iOS.

Refresh Person
If you just have one person whose information needs updated, the fastest thing is to just refresh that person. To do that, find and tap the person. At the top of the person page, in the dark bar that includes the person's name, tap the 3 dots on the far right. Tap "Refresh Person." That will bring in the current information on the person from the website.  

Sign Out
You can sign out and sign back in. 

Refresh a tab or list (Android only)
On an Android device, you can refresh a tab for the person to retrieve the must recent data. From the person screen, tap the tab you want to refresh. For instance, Memories. Then swipe down. It's a little tricky to figure out where to start the swipe. You need to start it just below the green tab bar. You'll see a small circle spinning as the page updates.

Sometimes, I'll open my history list (a fast way to get back to an ancestor I have been working on) and find it empty. Swiping down works well to get that list to refresh too. Again, this only works on Android devices. I have not found a way to do it on iOS devices. In the upper right is an icon that looks sorta like a clock with an arrow going around it in an counter-clockwise direction. Tap that to see your History List. Swipe down to refresh the list. Again, you have to start the swipe at the right spot or nothing happens. Start the swipe at the level of the first name on the list--below where you see the magnifying glass and the words "Type the ID to find a person". You see the spinning circle as the list refreshes.

Friday, September 30, 2016

Tree Views and the App

On, you have a choice of ways to look at your tree. The default is the Landscape view. This is much like the traditional pedigree chart except that each box represents a couple, instead of an individual.

The Portrait view is the only view available on the Family Tree app, and is also an option on the website. It shows the portrait photos you or others have added to your ancestors. It's a nice one for showing to other people, since it's kinda pretty. You can opt to see the same portraits in other views. In the example above, I have turned off the portrait option. I do that with all my pedigree views unless I am presenting and want it to look nifty. Loading the photos take a bit longer than loading the pedigree without photos.

The Fan Chart view is good for seeing the holes in your family and deciding where to do some research. It's also a nice looking chart and one people often opt to print and display. The screen displays 5 generations. When you print, you get 7 generations.

The descendancy view allows you to select an ancestor and see his or her descendants. You can click the arrows to expand any section to see spouses and children of each individual. Many folks like to use this to see descendants with data problems, record hints, research suggestions, or temple opportunities. This is a popular view for those with full trees who want to work on collateral lines.

Because this view can be so useful for seeing where you can immediately do work on your family lines, many users of the Family Tree app wish they could see the same view on the app. I have no idea if such an option is under consideration. But, in the meantime, you do have a nice way to see which descendants within 3 generations of a given ancestor have tasks for you to do. It is called the Descendants with Tasks list. I wrote about it in an earlier post. The post has instructions on the older version of the Android app. The option is available on both Android and iOS.

Since you don't want to have to go to that other post to see how to get the list, here are the steps. They are the same for both Android and iOS.
  1. Open the app and sign in if the sign in screen appears.
  2. Find and tap an ancestor for whom you want to see a list of descendants who have tasks. It shows 3 generations.
  3. On the details screen, in the dark bar at the top that includes the name of the person, tap the three dots icon--on the right of that dark bar.
  4. Tap Descendants with Tasks
  5. The list generates--it can take a while if there are a lot of tasks.
  6. If you are LDS, tap a green temple icon to see available ordinances or a yellow-orange icon to see what additional information you need to find for a person or couple.
  7. For all, tap a blue icon to see record hints and attach sources to the person.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Finding Submitter Information Using the Family Tree Apps

Sometimes you want to know who has submitted information about an ancestor. For instance, you might see changes to a record that seem incorrect. Or you are just curious to know who the unknown "cousin" is who knows so much about your ancestor and where they found the information.

If you use the Family Tree app on a mobile device, you have a limited ability to see submitter information. Really, all you can see is the display name of the submitter. You can't see other information such as contact information that the person might have made public.

If you're curious as to how you can see the display name of a submitter using the app, here are the steps.
  1. Open the record of a person on the tree.
  2. Tap any piece of information on the details screen, such as the birth or death.
  3. One of the fields you see is labeled Modified on the Android app and Last Modified on the iOS app. There you see the date of the most recent change to that piece of information and the display name of the person who made the change.
Sometimes, if you know the person and the chosen display name is a variation on the person's name, the display name is enough for you to know which family member made the change and you can get in touch if you want to discuss the change.

Otherwise, if you want to contact the person, you'll need to open a browser on your mobile device or other computer and go to Find the same person on Family Tree and click to open the details page. Click the same piece of information about the person that you were looking at on the app. 

Again, you see the date of the most recent change and the contact name of the contributor. But this time, the contact name is a link, so you can click it.

A card pops up with whatever information the contributor chose to make public: name, email address, phone number, mailing address. If the person gave you some of that information, you can get in touch to discuss the change. 

If the contributor did not choose to make any information public, you can click the Send a Message link in the lower left corner of that box. It looks like a paper airplane in flight.
A box appears where you enter a subject for your message and your message. When you click Send, a message goes to the email address the submitter used when creating an account, unless the person chose not to see such messages. In addition, when a person signs in to, in the top right corner are three words: Messages, Volunteer, and Get Help. If a person has unread messages from another Family Tree user, a number appears beside Messages. If said person happens to notice that number and knows what it means, they can click Messages and read and respond to your message.  

Of course, you can see the difficulty. If a person does not make any contact information public, they are either very cautious, or don't want to communicate with other Family Tree users. Chances are also good that they have no idea that the Messages link is even on the home page. And, even should they happen to notice it and to notice the number beside it and be curious enough to click it, they are not guaranteed to respond. 

But it's still worth a shot. I have in fact made contact with some other users who provided me valuable information or who agreed that their change was not a valid one and we were able to amicably agree on the correct information. 

One thing you can do to increase the chances of getting a response is to be courteous in your email or message. If you are showing your "righteous indignation", you're more likely to make someone angry than you are to get any information from them. I think it helps to remember that people are not out there rubbing their hands together in glee and deliberately messing up family tree data. People do the best they know to do--and sometimes they make mistakes--and usually it is innocently done. So, be nice. 

Hopefully, options to see contact information will eventually be added to the apps too. The engineers are frequently improving the apps, so I for one will be watching for this to be added.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Attaching Image-Only Sources to Family Tree

I am jumping up-and-down-happy-dance delighted with a new feature on If you are a regular reader, you may recall a post about the importance for going to the catalog to find more images of more records. The problem has been that it was somewhat awkward to then attach those images as sources. You could add to the source box and then attach to each ancestor. Sometimes the Attach to Family Tree button would show and sometimes not--for no apparent reason.

Now life is better! The wonderful FamilySearch engineers do listen to our feedback and they have made the Attach to Family Tree button on those images simply wonderful. Here is how it works now. You'll never dread going into the Catalog to find scanned images and get them attached to your ancestors again.

Here's how I attach a marriage license image to my grandparents and each of their parents (all the names listed on the license).

First, of course, I find the image on the digitized microfilm (see It Matters How You Search for a Record). Then I click Attach to Family Tree button in the top left.

A side-panel pops up. The Source Title auto-populates. I can edit it if I want to. 

I scroll down and to fill in the Notes field with information about what is included in the record. I can also add this to my Source Box, if I feel so inclined. Since I was going to get it attached to all the people mentioned in it right away, I do not put it in my Source Box. I click the Next: Select Person button.
I have a choice. I can find the person in my history list. But, since I opened the catalog to search for the film in a separate tab, I choose to just go to the other tab and copy my grandmother's Family Tree ID and enter it in the Go To: box.
There she is, with a lovely green check-mark by her name. And, best of all, below her name are her spouse, children, and parents. So, I can just scroll down the list and add the source to her husband and to her parents, since they are named on the license. Pretty slick!

After I mark the family members to whom I want this source attached, I enter the reason for attaching the source and click Attach. Now, I also want to attach it as a source for her husband's parents. So, I click Back: Select a Person
I put his ID in the Go To: box, just like I did hers. Since the record is already attached to him, he shows with the message: "This image is already attached". 

But, I can scroll down to his parents, and get it attached to them too. Then click Next and continue with the reason statement and attach button.

Fantastic! And actually much easier and faster than the current interface for attaching indexed sources to families. I love it. Go try it out!

Friday, August 26, 2016

Nifty New Stuff on the Apps

The Family Tree apps are constantly improving. Here are some of the recent additions that I find cool.

Interview questions for audio recordings

On the Android Memories and Family Tree, and the iOS Family Tree app only, they have added a list of possible interview questions to use when you want to record an interview with a family member.

Android Memories

  1. Open the app
  2. Tap the microphone icon at the top.
  3. Tap the in the upper right.
  4. Browse the list of questions. If you like one, tap it.
  5. Tap Start and ask the question as you begin the recording. 
Android Family Tree
  1. Open the app.
  2. Tap a person.
  3. Tap Audio in the green bar near the top
  4. Tap + in the lower right.
  5. Again, the questions -- continue as for Memories app.
iOS Family Tree
  1. Open the app.
  2. Tap a person.
  3. Tap Memories.
  4. Tap + in the lower right.
  5. Tap Record Audio.
  6. The possible questions appear. Continue as for the Android app.
When you finish and save the recording, the system uses the topic question as an automatic title for the recording. Of course, you can edit it.

Search historical records without opening a person's record

I love this! Before, you could search records for a specific person, but you couldn't access Historical Records otherwise. Now, in the Family Tree app for Android or iOS, you can go directly to Historical Records and explore to your heart's content. You need WiFi or Data Plan access to the Internet for this to work.

On Android, open the app and tap the menu icon in the upper right (three dots). Tap Search Historical Records

On iOS, the menu icon is three lines in the upper left. Tap it and then tap Search Historical Records.

The interface is identical to the website (DUH!). You can search indexed records by name. You can search specific collections. You can browse all published collections (something I like to do from time to time just to see what's newly added in areas of interest to me). You can search by location. On the Android you select a region and sub-region from lists to search by location. On iOS, you tap a place on a world map. You might want to take a look at my earlier post about searching for records to maximize your success.

Jump to from the iOS app

You are probably aware that, when you are on a person page on the FamilySearch website, you can click to search on,, or The iOS Family Tree app now gives you the option to search from the person page of an ancestor.
  1. Tap to go to the details of an ancestor.
  2. Tap the menu icon in the far right of the dark bar that includes the ancestor name (3 dots).
  3. Tap Search Records
  4. You can tap FamilySearch to search records from Or you can tap Ancestry to search their records.
Just like on the website, the search for Ancestry or FamilySearch auto-populates with information about your ancestor from Family Tree. 

Maps showing where ancestors lived from the iOS Family Tree app

New feature and still a little buggy. It seems to work well, except for places that have changed jurisdictions over time. For instance, it did not put up a map for my husband's grandfather who was born in what was then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. But, for parts of the world that are more stable, it works well.
  1. Tap an ancestor.
  2. On the Details page (which is what usually comes up by default), tap any event that shows a place.
  3. A small map shows with a map pin in that place.
  4. Tap that small map and a large map appears with pins in each place identified on the Details screen. This includes birth, death, burial, residence. If it's on the Details screen, it shows. It does not show places on other tabs, like the Spouses tab. So you don't see the marriage place. 
It's pretty fun and could be a nice way to show the younger folks where you family has lived in a visual way.

While I don't do my hard-core research using the apps, they do have some really good features and some of the features, like the ancestors with tasks and descendants with tasks and the new map feature on iOS are not available anywhere else. And they are handy for passing time when I am somewhere with WiFi access and in "wait" mode. And I think the audio option in the Memories and Tree apps is really good to capture memories of the elderly in our family when we visit a nursing home or at a family gathering. Record and get onto Family Tree in one easy session. Just got to remember to keep the recordings short.

Pay Attention to the Arrows

When I help people with pedigree problems--people showing who they feel are not related, or people missing who used to be there--the problem can usually be solved by paying attention to the arrows on the Landscape view of the tree (and then fixing the problems they show you).

The arrows are not terribly obvious, but once you know about them, you'll start to notice them. Let me illustrate.

Here is a portion of Family Tree.
You probably already know about the arrow to extend the pedigree and maybe even the one to show the list of children. But, what about the one beside the name of the husband and another beside the name of the wife and the one to the left of the couple box? And do you notice that not all couples show these arrows? So, click them (it pays to have a healthy case of curiosity when doing family history)!

ESPECIALLY click the arrows you see to the left of a couple box. That one means that Family Tree shows more than one set of parents for the person to the left of that couple box. And, since most of us only get one set of parents, that is often a problem. Most often it occurs because there are duplicate sets of parents, as below.

It looks like Johann Georg Brandter is also in as Brenner. Ann Margaretha is probably linked to both as a spouse. I won't go into the details of fixing this in this post. But, basically, you need to click Anna Margaretha Sachs' record. Look at her spouses.  Do some research to discover the correct name for her husband. Merge if you determine they are duplicates. In other words, take the time and effort to clean up the record. 

How about those arrows beside each name in the couple box? Those mean that each shows with more than one spouse.
Anna shows with the 2 spouses we saw in the couple box arrow list. Which tells me she is not a duplicate (one less record to need to merge). To fix this one, you need to do some research. Who was her husband? What was his correct name? Merge if duplicates; remove relationships if one is simply the wrong fellow.
Johann shows 3 wives: one is unknown. That one you can get rid of just by removing any children that show in that relationship (after you make sure they show with the correct set of parents). For the other two, some research is needed to figure out who his wife was and remove the relationship to the one that is not his wife (or merge if they are duplicates).

Bottom line--don't just ignore those arrows. Often users of Family Tree do ignore the arrows if the pedigree shows the relationships they believe are correct. This can be because they just don't want to (or don't feel they know how) do the research to clean it up, or don't have a clue how to fix incorrect relationships. But, you'll be sorry if you don't fix them--others will add stuff to some of those relationships and the tree will just get messier and messier until you feel like tearing out all your hair and giving up altogether.

If you need help fixing incorrect relationships or fixing other things you see that are wrong, check out my Table of Contents for posts that might be helpful. And, if you have a specific mess and want specific help, feel free to comment on this (or any other) post and I'll get you the info you need. With your permission, I'll answer in the blog so others can learn along with you.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

The 110 Year Rule

Latter-day Saints are usually aware that, for ancestors born within the past 110 years, certain rules apply to reserving them for temple ordinance work. If you are not one of the closest living relatives, you need to get permission from one of the closest living relatives and then submit a request to be able to do the work.

Hopefully the reason for this is obvious. We want to give the closest relatives first priority in doing the work for those they knew and loved. Or, if they are not LDS and do not want us to perform temple ordinances for their close relatives, we need to respect that too. The relatives who can give permission are an undivorced spouse, adult children, parents, and siblings of the deceased.

What if there are no living people who fit into those categories? No problem. Go ahead and click the link to request permission and fill out the form. In the section where you would say who gave permission, simply enter "no close living relatives" for the name. For the relationship, select "other" and enter "no living relative" in the box next to it. In the box where you are to enter contact info for the person who gave permission, put in your explanation regarding the close relatives.

Sometimes the folks who approve these requests will contact you and ask for proof that no living family members are living, so be prepared to gather the evidence you can find. Obviously we want to offer all who have ever lived the opportunity to accept or reject the gospel of Jesus Christ, but we also want to respect the desires of close family members, so those who review and approve or reject requests try to be very careful with these cases. Be patient and provide all the information you can to make their jobs easier.

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Sealing shows both as completed and available to request

This is the first of my posts aimed at an LDS audience. For readers who are not members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who are interested in understanding the temple ordinance jargon you'll be seeing in these posts, I can assure you that there are LDS missionaries near you who would love to help you understand. If you would like to learn more about our doctrines, let me know and I'll get you in touch with folks who can enlighten you.

The problem: you see Sealing to Parents as completed, but no parents are attached to the person. Or you see Sealing to Parents complete without parent names and Sealing to Parents available with the parents you see in the tree. In both cases, there have most likely been changes made to the parent-child relationships. At some point, parents (or different parents) were attached to this person. You can find out. On the person page, find the Latest Changes box on the right and click Show all (unless, of course, you see the parent-child relationship deleted message right there in the box.)

Wherever you see the Parent-Child Relationship Deleted message in the changes list, click it to open the All Changes screen. It's actually kind of interesting to scroll through the list to see all the changes to a record. In this record, I can see that someone added parents on the 13th of May 2015. Probably then did the Sealing to Spouse ordinance. I decided these were not likely to be the correct parents and removed the relationship a year later. But the sealing is complete--the child has been sealed to a set of parents. So that doesn't go away. If I later find a set of parents I believe to be correct and add them, I'll see sealing to parents as available for that relationship.
There are other reasons this sort of situation can exist: there is another copy of the parents out there that need merged; there is another copy of the parents out there who are showing as still living so you can't see them and merge them. And other issues I won't go into.

So, what should you do?

  1. Look for and merge any duplicates you can find in Family Tree (review carefully and only merge if you are SURE).
  2. Look at the change history to find deleted relationships that can explain the sealing. 
If you don't find duplicates, and the existence of the other sealing bothers you (it really shouldn't, but it might), contact FamilySearch Support and they can get a case to the team who can fix it. 

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Learn and Find Answers on has many overlooked and underused help and learning resources. Time you learned about them and started taking advantage of them.

First place to learn about is the help center. To get to it, go to and sign in.
Click Get Help in the upper right corner and then click Help Center.
Scroll down a tad and you'll see Select a Help Topic. This allows you to narrow down the content. Click one of the icons that applies to the area you have questions about. For illustration purposes, I'll click Search
Each page is going to have slightly different features. Some have links to getting started videos at the top and links to some often-used help content (Family Tree being the prime example). The How to Search page looks like this.
Go exploring! Click to open the various sections. In Frequently Asked Questions for any topic, at the top, is a search box. So, you can enter your own search terms to look for very specific information. I'm not going to go into all the details. Just encourage you to take a look and explore.

Next, scroll back up to the top of the Help Center Page. See those tabs at the top? More places to learn.

Let's see what Getting Started has.
This is the place for the beginning beginner to learn the basics of starting family history. If you don't need it, a friend or family member might. It's a handy place to know about. 

Next is the Learning Center. This is gold! So many courses you can take here. Carefully created by experts in their subjects. Let's take a little more time here.

First is the search box. Enter a topic you want to learn about. For instance, Native American Research. 
A list of courses appears. Not all will really be on-topic as the search engine interprets your search terms very broadly. But you're pretty likely to find some things of interest. Each description tells you how long the lesson takes and what kind of lesson it is. 

If you just want to explore a bit, browse the featured courses, the most popular courses, and new courses.
Some incredible opportunities to learn here!

And, you can also use the filters on the left to narrow the list of courses to specific places,
to your skill level, and/ or specific subjects,
to your preferred lesson format, and/or to a specific language. 
If perchance, you really want to learn about a specific family history topic and don't find what you need in the Learning Center, pop back up to those tabs and explore the Research Wiki.
The Learning Center has lessons. The Research Wiki has articles. Sometimes I just want to read about a topic and don't really have time to watch a video lesson. So I really like the Wiki. I use it to get tips for searching in specific places. But it also has more general topic articles about nearly any family history-related topic you can think of. 

Fairly new to are the Tips light bulbs you see at the bottom right of some pages. These are wonderful for when you are struggling with how to use a specific piece of the website, and more are coming. Click one and explore. For instance, I clicked the tips icon at the bottom of the Search Historical Records page. 
I can then click the topic I want to learn more about to see step-by-step instructions. Many of them have video illustrations too.

Now, go explore. Take advantage of all those learning and help resources to learn more about the website and to learn more about family history. You'll be glad you did.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Should I add all my living relatives to Family Tree?

In my last post, I talked about adding living generations in order to link to the deceased generations. Which raises the question of whether to add living relatives beyond those needed in order to reach the deceased generations. Should you add your children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren and cousins and aunts and uncles, etc?

Certainly, you can use Family Tree to keep a record of all of your family--living and deceased. But, it is probably helpful to understand the underlying purpose of and Family Tree. In case you are not aware, is owned by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (better known as the Mormons). The website was created because of 2 key tenets of the faith: 1) that family relationships are meant to endure beyond the grave, and 2) that all mankind will have the opportunity to learn about Jesus Christ and His gospel, either in this life or the next. So, is primarily a tool for Church members to seek records of their deceased ancestors and link them together in Family Tree. This allows them to come to know their ancestors and feel a love for them. And it gives them opportunities to offer temple ordinances to those who have gone before who might not have had the opportunity to hear the gospel during their lifetimes. So, Family Tree is designed to be primarily a record of the deceased.

Things to keep in mind as you decide whether this is the place to keep records of your living relatives:

  • Every time you create a record of a living person, it resides in your Private Space. This means no one else can see it or search for it. carefully protects the records of living people. You can't tell your family members the Family Tree ID of your living relatives--well you CAN, but it won't do them any good. They cannot search by ID and find these people. There have been rumors that the engineers are working on a way to share your Private Space records with family, but at this point you can't.
  • Of course, you can print out pedigree charts and family group records and share the information that way with your relatives. 
  • If all of your relatives create records of one another, Family Tree is going to have a lot of duplicates out there as people die. That's not terrible. You can merge duplicates. Just something to be aware of. 
Many folks, self included, find it wise to keep family history records in more than one place. You might want to poke around in the FamilySearch App Gallery for family tree software for your personal computer. Keeping your tree there as well as on allows you to keep more extensive records of your living generations. It is also a good backup of your tree data. You know that any user can change data on Family Tree. It's nice to have a copy where only you can make changes. Most of the family tree software has free trial versions so you can try them out and decide what you like before making a purchase. And they are not expensive. 

Ultimately, the decision is yours to make. You can add the living to Family Tree if you want to. 

Saturday, August 6, 2016

How do I link my tree to my spouse's (mother's, sister's, etc) tree?

You have some information about your family in Family Tree. Your spouse has information about his family. Your cousin has also added stuff. All of you just want to be able to see all of it. Why can't you?

You can--and you can't.

Records of living people are protected. You can add records for your living relatives. So can your spouse, and your cousin, and your children, and your parents.... But each of you has to add your own record of those living relatives in what Family Tree calls your Private Space. And therein lies the problem.

For most of us, at least some of our progenitors are still living. So, to be able to see all the family tree stuff another family member has put in Family Tree, we first need to create the living links back to our first deceased common ancestors.

For example, suppose my Aunt Mary has added a lot of information about my father's side of the family. But I'm not seeing those people linked to my part of the tree. My father is living and I'm sure she has him in Family Tree. But when I search for him, I can't find him. That is because he is living. If Aunt Mary has created a record for him, it shows in her Private Space. She is the only one who can see that record. Here's the solution:

I need to create a record for my father. I go to myself in the tree--that should be simple to find, since I'm in the center of the tree when I sign in. I click my name on the tree and then click my name again on the summary card that pops up.

Notice that Private Person banner at the top of the details screen? I am living--my record is protected from viewing by others. I scroll to Family Members (sorry--no screen shots this time. I don't want to publish records of the living). If I do not yet have a record for my father, I click Add Parent in the right column of Family Members--under the PARENTS AND SIBLINGS heading.

I enter his information: name, sex, that he is living, birth date and place. Then click Next. (You might be tempted to ask Aunt Mary for the ID of her copy of my father and then click that handy Find by ID link. But, it won't work. You can't search by ID for living people unless you created the record.)

Click Add New to add him as my father. While I'm at it I might as well add my mother too and their marriage info.

Since I'm trying to find the stuff Aunt Mary added, I next need to add my father's parents. So, I'll click his name in the PARENTS AND SIBLINGS section and then click his name again on the summary card. Repeat the same steps I used to add my father--add his father and his mother in the Family Members section.

Repeat this process until I have all the living generations added. Then I should be able to search for the first deceased ancestor and find the existing record--hopefully the one Aunt Mary added. If Aunt Mary is extra nice and wants to help you out, she can give you the Family Tree ID of your deceased great-grandparents so you can find the record she created and added all those nifty photos and documents and sources too. And suddenly the tree bursts into bloom before your eyes.

Obviously, the process is the same to see a spouse's ancestors. Add your spouse, if you don't already see him. Add any living progenitors for him and then search for the first deceased ancestor. Again, you could ask him for the Family Tree ID of the his first deceased generations so that you can find by ID and save some typing.

And, since I know that you are wondering what happens to all those copies of currently living people when they die, I'll tell you. Suppose my father is living (which, in fact, he is). I have a copy of him. My husband has a copy of him. Each of my 5 children have copies of him. Their spouses have copies of him. My cousin has a copy of him.... You get the idea. When he dies, if each person who has a copy of him in their Private Space adds his death information, all of those records become public--and duplicate records. So, somebody needs to go find the duplicates and merge them into one record.

I am not sure how is handling exact duplicates these days. There was a time when the system would automatically merge those duplicates when the death info was added. And perhaps it still does. My mother died in 2013 and I added her death info. I have not yet found any duplicates of her, and I know that several other family members created records for her. But I don't know if that is because merged the exact duplicates or if other family members haven't added her death info.

Bottom line--you can see information others have added to Family Tree, but you have to do a little leg work first and add in your living family members to provide that link to the deceased generations.

Tuesday, July 5, 2016

I'm My Own Grandma--Fixing Looping Pedigrees in Family Tree

Ever come across a Family Tree record where the person shows as his or her own parent--ad infinitum?

I wish I could find an example of this problem to grab a screen shot, but have none in my portion of the tree. But you'll recognize it if you find it in your part of Family Tree. On a pedigree view, you will see the same set of parents going back and back and back.

You look at it and feel a sinking sense of despair. How on earth can you fix such a mess? Turns out it's actually pretty simple.

Find the first spot on the pedigree where the incorrect parent-child relationship is introduced. This is most easily done by bringing up the pedigree for a child of the person.

Search for a child using the Find link in the Family Tree menu.

If you know the Family Tree ID, that is the fastest way to find someone. Or you can enter enough information on the general Find screen to limit your search results. I'll use the ID search in the illustration. Incidentally, you do not need to use capital letters and you don't need to put in the dash when you search by ID. Enter the ID and click Find.

In the results list, click the name. Then click Tree on the summary card. 

You'll come up in the tree view one generation away from where the loop starts. So, click the parent of your central person--the one who has the looping problem. This will take you to the beginning of the loop and thus to the spot where you can fix things. 

On the summary card of that parent, click the name to bring up the person details page. Scroll to the Family Members section. This is where you can see the child as his or her own parent. There are two columns in the Family Members section. You want to work in the PARENTS AND SIBLINGS column.

Find the person who shows as his or her own parent listed as a child in the PARENTS AND SIBLINGS section. Click the pencil icon beside the name of the child. On the flyout,click Remove or Replace beside the name of the child if both parents are incorrect. If only one parent is incorrect, click Remove or Replace beside the name of the incorrect parent. Click the little box to say you know what you are doing and click the Remove link. Of course, if you have the information as to who the correct parents are, you'd click the Replace link instead and put them in.

Voila! The looping pedigree is fixed.