Making Difficult Research Easy and Accurate at the BYU Conference on Family History & Genealogy

Robert Kehrer discusses robo-keying as one of the most important technologies to expedite FamilySearch indexing

Robert Kehrer discusses robo-keying as one of the most important technologies to expedite FamilySearch indexing.

The day began as youth and adults gathered to hear Robert Kehrer, FamilySearch senior product manager of search technologies, present the new and upcoming features of FamilySearch during his keynote address titled, “FamilySearch: Making Difficult Research Easy and Accurate.”

It would be impossible to recount all of the features Mr. Kehrer demonstrated and discuss all of the statistics he provided in this post. He described his presentation as trying to pack 90 minutes of material into 60 minutes of time! Nevertheless, what he showed the crowd was impressive. He shared that when he first came to FamilySearch, he went incognito over to the Family History Library to experience first-hand what a visit entails for the average person. It was much more than he expected. Kehrer mentioned that statistically only about 3% of individuals are interested in the research process, which includes documenting and sourcing lineages through analysis and proof arguments, but there are many ways individuals can contribute. FamilySearch is working to make this happen.

One of the ways that those who are not interested in the research process contribute to FamilySearch is through indexing. Currently, FamilySearch has indexed 1.34 billion records, 68,569,328 records this year! There are 15,795,814 records awaiting arbitration. There are currently 450 projects and 213,184 contributors. The new indexing web application is simpler, easier, and more collaborative. It will run on all devices! For more information he recommended another conference session on Friday at 9:45 a.m. in room 2258 CONF, presented by Jennifer Tonioli Smith, titled, “FamilySearch Indexing: It’s a Whole New World!” There will be a Worldwide Indexing Event August 7-14, 2015. Mark your calendars to index at least one batch during this week :)

Some of the highlights of yesterday’s presentation included an upcoming feature in Memories that will provide a list view for easy editing, described by Mr. Kehrer as iTunes for genealogy; thumbnail images for record collections that are digitized but not yet indexed where markers can be placed for easy navigation in these records; and easier navigation in the catalog when viewing a microfilm reference number by allowing patrons to directly view the film if it has been digitized or having the option to order the microfilm. FamilyTree will soon allow sharing reservations, reminding users that FamilySearch will enforce the 110 year rule. There will soon be a direct messaging system to contact contributors to the FamilyTree. The mobile app will have a fully functioning search system. Indexes and images are now shown on the same page. When families are split by a page in records, such as censuses, FamilySearch will soon help users connect the dots so families displayed are shown together. Navigation arrows will be in place to view pages before and after. One of the most important technologies viewed yesterday was automated indexing which is performing with a high level of accuracy. Collections that have been released using this automation are noted so that if individuals find an error in the record they can provide feedback so that the record can be corrected. There will be a session on Friday, “FamilySearch Indexing, Robo-keying, and Partnering, Oh My!” on Friday by Jake Gehring at 1:30 p.m. in room 2258 CONF that he highly recommended attending if you’d like more information.

Some of the participants of the myFamily Youth Family History Camp

Some of the participants of the myFamily Youth Family History Camp

After the keynote address, the youth attending the myFamily camp loaded university vans for a day in Salt Lake City. While there, they toured the Family History Library, Temple Square, the Discovery Center, and the Church History Library.

Mary E.V. Hill teaches participants how to organize their genealogy.

Mary E.V. Hill teaches participants how to organize their genealogy.

Ugo Perego discussed the uses of DNA in genealogy as part of the DNA track.

Ugo Perego discussed the uses of DNA in genealogy as part of the DNA track.

Today Lisa Louise Cooke will be the keynote speaker at 8:30 a.m. Her topic will be, “The Future of Technology and Genealogy: Five Strategies You Need.” Following her presentation, sessions will be offered about methodology, migration, military records, and LDS ancestral research. Today Scandinavian, French, Dutch, and Italian research will be discussed, as well as a general overview of Latin American Catholic church and civil records. A track on the use of technology tools, such as Evernote and apps for smart phones and iPads, will be offered. Throughout the day presentations from those representing online subscription sites will be given by Fold3, Newspapers.com, Ancestry.com, and MyHeritage.

An appreciation shoutout to Nate, Brianna, Abby, and Isabell (and others) who host conference participants at the Morris Center cafeteria :)

An appreciation shoutout to Nate, Brianna, Abby, and Isabell (and others) who host conference participants at the Morris Center cafeteria :)

The onsite computer lab houses eight computers for use by conference participants. Many more are available at the BYU Family History Library.

The onsite computer lab houses eight computers for use by conference participants. Many more are available at the BYU Family History Library.

FamilySearch will continue to provide complimentary scanning as well as hosting a computer lab onsite for attendees. This is the last day many of our vendors will be onsite in rooms 2260 CONF. The vendor prize drawing will be held TODAY at 1 p.m. in room 2254 CONF. Vendor presentations will be held from 5:15 to 6:15 p.m. in various rooms throughout the conference center. My Family Online, Historic Journals, Legacy Family Tree, Family Chartmasters, My Mission, Green Planet Maps, and SHOTBOX LLC will be represented. This evening at 7 p.m. at the Varsity Theater in the Wilkinson Center on BYU campus, Cokeville Miracle, a film by T.C. Christensen will be screened in preparation for the keynote address by this filmmaker in the plenary session tomorrow morning.

Copyright ©2015 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.

Can You Chart the Heart? Revisited

I’ve been thinking about this question in relation to the new emphasis in FamilySearch training that says “first the heart, then the chart” in genealogy and family history. It only makes sense. This idea is important to acknowledge by those who have their charts given to them, such as in long-standing New England or LDS families. Others who begin with a question, curiosity, or desire to know the unknown naturally start from the heart because there is no chart :-) The heart provides the motivation for the quest, yet sometimes our hearts are challenged. Rarely do we know this until symptoms manifest.

Equipment to Chart the Heart WPIn 1903, a Dutch physician named Willem Einthoven invented a way to chart the heart. He received the Pulitzer Prize in Medicine for this in 1924. The electrocardiogram (EKG or ECG) identifies abnormalities that provide doctors with information that helps in diagnosis and treatment. The heart exists; the chart assists. The same thing can be true in family history.

Anyone familiar with history knows that challenges within families have existed from the beginning. Without expounding, I have met many individuals over the years who resist family history and genealogy because of sensitive issues surrounding the chart. Family history can be fun if as a community we realize that one size does not fit all. Adoption and other circumstances require our understanding. I remember one student in the second grade who was asked to draw a picture of her family. She drew herself, her mom, her dad, a brother, and three sisters. In reality, her parents were divorced and she was an only child. She drew herself in her best friend’s family. In essence, she charted her heart.

The purpose of this post is NOT to address social or political issues, but to suggest ways that one can engage in and enjoy family history and genealogy by charting the way to turning the heart :-)

  • Start with anyone that you and/or your child would like to know more about :-) Consider a member of your family who has a quality or qualities that you admire. More often than not, they stand on the shoulders of those that came before them. Find out :-) Think about it; Who Do You Think You Are? finds a significant story, otherwise the majority of the audience would just tune out. Learn about your ancestor, write their story and/or a script, make your own episode highlighting a series of interesting life events. Make the ordinary extraordinary!
  • Family Roots Circle Pedigree WPPost a fill-in-the-blank chart in a high traffic area in your home, even on the refrigerator if necessary. Make sure it is laminated and that a vis-á-vis or extra fine Sharpie is readily available to record discoveries. Our chart was in the family room. Recently I decided I would erase all the ancestors and start over, more for fun than verification purposes :-) My daughter’s response was, “Mom, you do have all of this recorded somewhere else, don’t you?” My son came home that day and asked, “What happened to the ancestors!” Believe me, they notice :-) Again, the chart can start with anyone that turns your heart :-)
  • Create a chart to discover common or complementary talents, interests, abilities, and/or occupations. One can chart eye color, hair color, and/or other physical traits. [Don’t you just love military records and passport information that are so descriptive!] The point is for family members to discover patterns and what they have in common with their ancestors.

So, when I consider the titled question, my response is a resounding YES! [And, it can be a fun process.] Just like so much in life, one cannot appreciate what one has not discovered for oneself. It’s the journey, not the destination, that engages the heart and fills out the chart!

[If you have an idea for charting the heart and would like to share, please comment or send me message. At your request, full attribution or anonymity will be included in future posts. If you have your own blog and post a response there, send me the link. I would love to continue the conversation :-)]

Copyright ©2013 Lynn Broderick and the Single Leaf. All Rights Reserved.