Friday, February 24, 2012

1940 US Census Project Update

 The launch of the 1940 US Census Community Project is now less than 40 days away! Thousands of people and hundreds of genealogy societies and other organizations have signed up to help provide free and open access to this amazing collection by indexing the census images to make them searchable online.

The indexing infrastructure has undergone a significant upgrade just this week as we make final preparations for the launch of this monumental effort.

Get Ready Now

Many indexing projects are now available to help you learn how the indexing software works and to help you train for the release of the 1940 US federal census on April 2. These projects include the following:
  • Iowa 1895 State Census
  • New York 1855 State Census
  • WWI Draft Registration Cards (multiple states)
  • WWII Draft Registration Cards (multiple states)
  • US Passenger Lists (multiple states)
  • 1890 Census of Union Veterans and Widows
  • Texas Births and Deaths
  • UK 1871 Census
If you haven’t already had a chance, you can download the indexing software and get started today.
The 1940 census includes those who have been called “the Greatest Generation.” Get ready to index these records to ensure that everyone can be found, every connection can be made, and every legacy can be preserved.

Spread the Word

You can help us spread the word, even if you can’t find time to participate in indexing right now. Getting others involved will make the indexing effort go more quickly.
Here are a few ways to let others know about this nationwide opportunity for service:

Who Will You Find?

If you are interested in finding a specific individual in the 1940 US Census, we want to hear from you. Please tell us who you are hoping to find and why. Send a message to .
Thanks for your ongoing support.
The 1940 US Census Community Project Team

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

FamilySearch to Launch Major 1940 US Census Indexing Project

As reported in the Church News and Events today, FamilySearch will begin publishing the 1940 US Federal Census online for free on April 2, 2012. Tens of thousands of indexers are needed to help make the digital images searchable online. You can read more about the project here. Please consider signing up as a volunteer to help index the census.

Monday, February 20, 2012

To Turn the Hearts

Last December I wrote about "To Turn the Hearts", the new guide for Family History Consultants in this post. In case you were not able to attend the Inservice meeting in January when we viewed this with many of the First and Second Ward leaders, I'm posting the link here to the video that we watched. It's excellent and well worth your time to view it.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Church News: RootsTech Defines Future of Genealogy

In the Church News today Heather Whittle Wrigley offers this excellent recap of the purpose and value of the Feb. 2-4 RootsTech genealogy/technology conference in Salt Lake City.
Three days of interactive presentations, hands-on workshops, and innovative technology may not sound much like a genealogy conference, but from February 2 to 4, 2012, more than 4,000 family history enthusiasts flocked to Salt Lake City, Utah, USA, to be a part of the RootsTech conference—a genealogy conference that is all about utilizing technology in the context of family history.
FamilySearch, Inc.—the largest genealogical organization in the world and a free service provided by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints—organizes the annual RootsTech conference, now in its second year.
The new CEO of FamilySearch, Elder Dennis C. Brimhall of the Seventy, emphasized that genealogy today involves much more than digging through old archives or viewing thousands of rolls of faded microfilm. The future of genealogy, he said, lies in technology.

Faster, Easier, More Accurate

It has only been during the last decade or so that classical genealogists, the people who understand records—how they’re stored, how to find them, how to use them to find names—have begun to collaborate with individuals in the technology industry, Elder Brimhall said.
“Most of us who grew up with genealogy in the old days always thought it was hard,” he continued. “The future is . . . to make it easier for new members who are just getting acquainted with it and for seasoned genealogists who are doing research at a much more complicated level.”
RootsTech attendee Rob Wallace compared his first experiences with genealogy to the industry today. “When I first started doing genealogy, you figured if you could find one family and get it submitted, that was way cool,” he said. “Now with the technology you can do way more than that really fast . . . and make a good, solid case for what you think is the correct thing.”
David Burggraaf, senior vice president of product engineering for FamilySearch, envisions a future where the information genealogists are researching will be interconnected across countries, genealogical societies, and time.
“There will be a lot more public collaboration,” he explained. “As we move forward—as those online records become more and more available to the public—you’ll be able to trace sources and talk to the people who generated them. Instead of the information being from religious or governmental institutions that have recorded history about people, it will be records in history that have been created by the people themselves or by people who knew them personally.”
Elder Brimhall noted that the future also holds increased interaction between genealogy and social media and mobile technology.
He cited the mobile app BillionGraves, which combines GPS location data with pictures of gravestones taken by users.
“If you can do that and apply that to almost anything you can imagine in the area of finding records and recording them and getting them into the file,” he said, “then you can see there’s enormous potential for this—a lot of which we don’t even understand yet.”
Prior to 1900, records exist for about 6 billion people. But because of technological advances in the last 112 years, especially in social media, there currently exist approximately 20 billion records from 1900 to today.
Because of the monumental growth in records, FamilySearch and other genealogical societies have recognized the need to partner in order to share information and increase the efficiency with which records are made available.
“The Church’s position on this is that we want the information available for free for everyone so that people can find their lineage,” Brother Burggraaf said. “The more partners we have, the faster it goes.”
For example, beginning on April 2, 2012, FamilySearch will partner with multiple genealogical societies to index the 1940 U.S. Federal Census. FamilySearch will provide digital images of the census online to tens of thousands of volunteers, who will transcribe the records so they become searchable. The goal is to have that information available by the end of 2012.
As a programmer with the Church’s Information and Communications Systems Department, Jeremy Robertson, who attended the conference, is interested in the technological possibilities he sees coming out of the collaboration between technologists and genealogists.
“It’s through the technology that you can really share and connect with other people,” he said. “It’s taking the pictures out of the shoeboxes in the attic and making them available to everyone.”

The Role of RootsTech

RootsTech’s first conference—which was the first of its kind—was held in 2011. It was designed to create a “sweet spot” where genealogists and technologists could collaborate to improve family history work, Elder Brimhall said.
“We hope that the people who come to RootsTech will, first of all, come away with an even greater excitement about this work that we’re doing—this work of finding and connecting our ancestors,” he said. “If they’re excited they’ll want to do more, they’ll talk to people, [and those people] will get excited.”
A second way RootsTech is building the future of genealogy is through its ability to connect people.
“We have a lot of people who really believe they’ve got some great technological applications, and they’re looking for partners or people in the genealogical area that they can work with,” Elder Brimhall said. “This is a gathering place for that kind of discussion.”
At this year’s conference, Terri Currier was demonstrating how to use a book scanner. “I think it’s great, because it makes life so much easier for all of the researchers out there, the genealogists,” she said. “The technology has allowed them to get things more easily and of much better quality . . . and [made it] affordable.”
In addition to connecting “techies” and “genies,” RootsTech brings partners—profit and nonprofit—together.
“Even if all [Church] members were indexing, we don’t have enough members to do all the indexing that needs to be done,” Elder Brimhall pointed out. So RootsTech provides a forum where different genealogical societies and organizations can partner to work on technological advancements that will allow them to interact better online.
Heather Miller is a two-year RootsTech participant and indexer who has experienced the way RootsTech has changed family history work.
“It was a transformative experience to see how the . . . techies are working together with the genealogists to create the future,” she said.
As a regular user of FamilySearch, as well as pay sites and other sites, she said she has seen the improvements to the genealogy industry over the past year that have come about because of the technological changes being implemented.
FamilySearch employee Penney Devey spent the three days of the conference digitizing more than 3,000 family histories provided by conference-goers. Participants received a PDF copy, and FamilySearch received permission to publish the histories on their website.
As much as the conference is about technology and genealogy, Sister Devey said, “what it’s really about is the stories.”
“It’s all about learning about your ancestors,” she said. “When we talk about tying families together, a name doesn’t do it. The stories that we get in these books are what tie our families together, because then you actually know the person, you don’t just have a name.”

The Work of Heaven

On the final day of RootsTech 2012, Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy definitively outlined the primary objective of the Church’s Family History Department, which oversees FamilySearch.
The main objective, he said, is to help more members of the Church to provide ordinances for more of their ancestors.
He then outlined steps the department will take to accomplish this goal:
  1. Provide a FamilySearch tree that meets the requirements of patrons at all levels of expertise, resulting in more members being able to take their own family names to the temple.
  2. Increase worldwide awareness of and confidence in
  3. Allow other organizations to build and contribute to a FamilySearch platform, making it accessible to a broader population.
  4. Grow the community of volunteers working on FamilySearch initiatives.
“My simple faith is that all technology has been invented and developed for the purpose of the Lord,” Elder Koelliker said. “It came into being because of the inspiration and direction of our Heavenly Father. This is the work of heaven.”
“The Family History Department is based in doctrines,” Elder Brimhall affirmed, citingDoctrine and Covenants 110:14–15: “[Elijah] should be sent, before the great and dreadful day of the Lord come—To turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the children to the fathers.”
Twelve-year-old Devin King accompanied his father, Steven King, to the first day of the conference. Brother King related his experience using new technology to show Devin and his other children where he grew up in Canada.
“It helps them understand my past and history as I teach them about their grandparents, who were pioneers and went across the plains,” he said. “Being able to track that and have it in one location is a phenomenal experience.”
Conference participant and blogger Michelle Goodrum also has a goal of engaging her children in the work. “If I can learn how to use some of these tools, then I can pool all of this information that I have in my home and through my research and put together mini-presentations for my kids that they’ll want to click on and learn,” she said.
The second part of the Spirit of Elijah, Elder Brimhall continued, is to help members take names to the temple to have them sealed.
“When members feels a desire to connect with their ancestors, we want them to be able to come to FamilySearch and [find them],” he said. “Then we help them get that name qualified and ready so they can take it to the temple and have that holy work done.”
During his October 2011 general conference address, “The Hearts of the Children Shall Turn,” Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles said that members have a “covenant responsibility” do family history work.
“The Lord has made available in our day remarkable resources that enable you to learn about and love this work that is sparked by the Spirit of Elijah,” he said. He then listed some of those resources: online genealogical services, personal computers, handheld devices, and family history centers located in Church buildings throughout the world.
That is a spirit Elder Brimhall—and thousands of genealogists—are starting to feel. “It’s wonderful to feel that stirring,” he said, “and to know inside that this is really important and that lives will be changed for eternity.”

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Microfilm rental price increases

FamilySearch will raise the price of film loans in family history centers as of 15 February 2012. Short-term film loans used to cost $5 U.S but will now cost $7.50. Prices for short-term film loan extensions, extended film loans, and microfiche loans will also increase.

The price of raw microfilm stock has skyrocketed in recent months and now raw microfilms are almost impossible to find as the microfilm manufacturers are shutting down their production lines. FamilySearch is finding it difficult to purchase even enough raw microfilm stock to make duplicates of existing films. Of course, creating new microfilms is essentially impossible so FamilySearch has already converted to all-digital production for all new products and is converting older products to digital images as rapidly as possible.

You can find the full announcement of the price increase at
Reprinted from Eastman's Online Genealogy Newsletter, Feb. 11, 2012

Family History on TV

Family History on TV Family History is becoming a popular TV offering. Learn how to find out more about your ancestors by observing how others learn about theirs. Choose from one of the following. 

Monday, February 13, 2012

Slide Show for FamilySearch Wiki

Indexing App for Smartphones

Quietly released during the RootsTech 2012 conference weekend, FamilySearch Indexing is a free app for smartphones and tablet devices that has two purposes: draw in new volunteers to the worldwide indexing effort and provide new ways for them and others to index while on the go. 

The new FamilySearch Indexing app allows users to transcribe names and upload them to FamilySearch for submission.

Scott Flinders, product manager for the indexing program at FamilySearch, said the app provides a way for people to transcribe historical documents on the run.

"The constraint of the current indexing system is that you have to be at a full computer to participate," he said. "We know that smartphones and tablets are becoming more prevalent. And we also know that people love to index. We wanted to give people a chance to index while they're waiting in line or on the go with their devices."

The app changes the way indexing is traditionally done, Brother Flinders said. Instead of committing 30 minutes or more at a computer, mobile users can do one name at a time, helping them "take advantage of the smaller bits of time that volunteers have."

The app was released just five months after Elder David A. Bednar of the Quorum of the Twelve delivered his October 2011 conference talk inviting youth to participate in family history work.

He taught: "It is no coincidence that FamilySearch and other tools have come forth at a time when young people are so familiar with a wide range of information and communication technologies."

He went on to say, "Your fingers have been trained to text and tweet to accelerate and advance the work of the Lord—not just to communicate quickly with your friends. The skills and aptitude evident among many young people today are a preparation to contribute to the work of salvation."

Brother Linders, who helped create the FamilySearch Indexing app, added, "We believe this app is a manifestation of [Elder Bednar's invitation]. For younger people who have mobile devices, we think this is a way to draw them in to participate in the indexing program as a casual engagement as opposed to a larger chunk of time."

Brother Linders emphasized that the new app is a beta release, meaning that it is an early version of what the finished product will be and may contain bugs. App developers hope to more tightly integrate mobile indexing into the main indexing system, he said. Traditional indexers might be familiar with administrators and groups, goal setting and arbitration feedback, which has administrators compare original entered text with final edited results. While the new indexing app logs user statistics, such as number of names submitted, those figures won't show up online in group statistics yet.

For youth or not, many mobile users are already finding the app as useful as it is entertaining.

An Android-user, Brandon, wrote on the web that the app "makes bus rides or down time much more enjoyable" for him. The app's simple interface and "easy," "moderate" and "difficult" skill settings also have some users comparing it to their device's game apps.

Apple-device owner Matthew Jarman wrote, "The game apps on my phone are now going to have a hard time getting my attention. ... Indexing is where I want to spend my time now!"

And Android-user David Lifferth added his review, stating, "More addicting than Angry Birds."

Brother Linders said the FamilySearch team hopes the app will continue to be engaging, adding that future features may include "gamification," or design elements aimed at making the app more interactive with rewards, badges or unlockable features.

"As soon as you submit one name, another name pops up, and then you're tempted to submit that one too," he said. "It can become really addicting and really fun."
From Deseret News

Native American Family History Research Help

Consultant Bessie Lancaster generously shared a valuable resource for Native American Research that she received from her daughter. 

The  Mesa Regional Family History website has a lot of good information on how to do this research. The chairperson of the committee on Native American, Hawaiian, and African American Research at the Mesa Regional Family History Center is Hattie Mason. Her email address is All of the training presentations are available online so others can use them to teach others.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

RootsTech 2012: Love is the Power and Lesson

This is a recap of the talk Elder Paul Koelliker gave to the Consultants at the recent RootsTech genealogy/Technology Conference in Salt Lake City. Reprinted here from Church News.

The power and the lesson of family history work is love, Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy said at a devotional session of the RootsTech conference Feb. 4.
An assistant executive director of the Family History Department, Elder Koelliker spoke to a gathering largely consisting of priesthood leaders, family history center directors and ward family history consultants in the Church.
Photo by R. Scott Lloyd
Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy addresses RootsTech devotional for priesthood leaders, family history center directors and family history consultants.
"Part of our Heavenly Father's plan is that we were born into families," he said, adding that to Latter-day Saints the family is the most important organization in time and in eternity, as families bring happiness to individuals, help them learn core principles in a loving atmosphere, and prepare them for eternal life.
"Even before we were born...we were part of a family," he said. "Each of us is a beloved spirit son or daughter of heavenly parents, by nature and divine destiny."
He spoke of his marriage some 46 years ago when he said to himself he would never love anyone more than he loved his bride. Two years later, "a beautiful little baby girl" was born to the family. As he saw her take her first breath, he said to himself, "I will never love anybody more than I love my wife and this little girl."
Photo by R. Scott Lloyd
Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy addresses RootsTech devotional for priesthood leaders, family history center directors and family history consultants.
Within another two years, a baby boy was born, and Elder Koelliker said to himself he would never love anyone more than he loved his wife, their daughter and their son. This went on five more times as other children were born to the family, and it continued as grandchildren were born. He said it gave personal meaning for the pronouncement that the coming of the prophet Elijah would turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the children to their fathers.
"I see myself in a chain," he said. "Perhaps there are hundreds of people extending on this chain, waiting for me to take the time to show enough love for them that I will find them and add to this chain" through family history research and the providing of temple ordinances.
Photo by R. Scott Lloyd
Elder Paul E. Koelliker of the Seventy addresses RootsTech devotional for priesthood leaders, family history center directors and family history consultants.
"I genuinely feel that the power and the lesson of family history work is love. Just as our love for our children and our grandchildren is something we intensely feel, so our love for others who are further out in the chain is something we must feel."
He said the work of temples is coupled closely with family history work, explaining that there are uncounted millions who have walked the earth and never had the opportunity to hear the gospel. "Shall they be denied such blessings as are offered in the temples of the Lord?"
Such persons receive those blessings as proxies perform the ordinances in the temple and they are free to accept or reject the ordinances, which include baptism, marriage and the sealing of a husband and wife together in a binding relationship, he explained. "There is no compulsion in this process, but there must be an opportunity."
He asked regarding deceased ancestors, "Do they really care? Are they really interested in what we're doing?"
He told of traveling with family members to Switzerland. When their hotel reservation had been lost, the hotel owner found them other accommodations. The owner of the hotel told them he knew a Paul Koelliker who lived in the city. He called the man on the phone, then asked Elder Koelliker if he lived in Salt Lake City. It turned out that the Paul Koelliker there in the city had met Elder Koelliker 25 years earlier while visiting Salt Lake City and had given Elder Koelliker a list of ancestral names, but Elder Koelliker had been unable to link them to his own genealogy.
Now, in Switzerland, he again met the Swiss Paul Koelliker, who was the director of the local archives. There, they found a document containing records of their ancestry. The visiting Koellikers came away with records of 350 families they had copied by hand.
"Some might say this was a coincidence," he said, but testified that there are those on the other side helping their living descendants find names to add to their families' trees and take them to the temple "so they can receive or at least have the option to receive the same blessings that we receive."
Elder Koelliker declared, "This is the work of heaven. This is the work of love. This is the work of power and the influence of the Spirit."