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 FamilySearch.org. 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 Ancestry.com 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 Ancestry.com, Findmypast.com, or MyHeritage.com. The iOS Family Tree app now gives you the option to search Ancestry.com 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 FamilySearch.org. 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 FamilySearch.org

FamilySearch.org 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 FamilySearch.org 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 FamilySearch.org 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 FamilySearch.org and Family Tree. In case you are not aware, FamilySearch.org 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, FamilySearch.org 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. FamilySearch.org 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 FamilySearch.org 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 FamilySearch.org 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 FamilySearch.org 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.