Lessons Learned

Do you ever have good intentions to share something and then fall flat? Well, I’ve fallen ‘flat on my face’ when trying to share some information on FamilySearch.

I recently received an email from support at FamilySearch indicating that a PDF file that I had uploaded as a memory was rejected. I received four such messages. These PDF files were created by printing one of my blog posts about an aspect of an ancestors life.

When I looked thru the guidelines for submission, the only thing on the list that I thought I might have violated was copyright. Since I wrote the blog posts and thus own the copyright, I sent a reply asking if that was the issue. Thankfully, I got a response back indicating that there was an URL that was causing the problem.

When I looked at the item on FamilySearch, I couldn’t see where I had added an URL.

However, when I opened the ‘offending’ pdf file on my computer and scrolled thru it, I discovered the problem.

There at the bottom of each page was the offending URL. Thankfully, I can edit the PDF and remove that link. So, I tried uploading a new file only to discover that the URL is somehow embedded in the document.

So, I investigated the settings on my non-business WordPress account and couldn’t find anything to allow me to print the post without the embedded URL.

Plan 2 was to go back to the post and try copying and pasting it into Word.

That got the information and the images into a Word document. Resizing the image allowed me to get the information onto one page. I then saved this as a PDF file.

I then uploaded this new PDF file to FamilySearch. When I go to the Memories for Mary Foster (where the file was uploaded) and open the memory, I can click on the file without it opening my blog. Thus, the URL is no longer embedded in the file. Unfortunately, there are links embedded in the document.

To get rid of those links, I go back to the Word document

  • highlight the text
  • right click
  • select remove link

This removes the links – but the text remains blue. Even though the text is blue, clicking on it won’t cause a page to open. However, someone might see the blue and assume there is an embedded URL. Thus, I need to change the text color.

I then save the file as a PDF and upload this new version to FamilySearch.

Hopefully, I found all of the URLs and this file will not become ‘restricted’.

Now, I have to get to work and fix the other files that have been restriced.

RecordSeek

My Source Struggle (part 1 and part 2) continues. A reader’s comment suggested that I try the Chrome extension, Record Seek. According to the reader, this extension helps create a source citation on the FamilySearch tree for web based sources.

Seeking to learn more about RecordSeek, I found a FamilySearch wiki page for the RecordSeek extension. Like most of the FamilySearch wikis, this page was very informative, including directions on how to download and use RecordSeek.

So I installed the extension and now have RecordSeek on my bookmarks bar.

I found a source that contains information regarding the marriage of Dolly Crawford to Joseph Ham on FamilySearch.

I scrolled thru this source looking for Joseph Ham and found the marriage information on page 83.

Since this source is an image and not a web page, I am unable to do step 2: “highlight information you’d like to include in the record notes.” Thus, I moved on to the next step which is to click the RecordSeek button on my bookmarks bar. This opened RecordSeek’s ‘Create a Source’ window.

Since this source is from FamilySearch, I clicked on FamilySearch and logged in when prompted. That opened an ‘Attach a Source’ window with many of the fields filled in. (Note that Family Search was entered as the source title.)

I then clicked on NEXT and that opened a window to ‘Search for an existing person.’

I then switched to the tab that had Dolly Crawford open so that I could copy the person ID. Once the ID was copied, the pop-up window for RecordSeek had disappeared behind the full screen browser. I was able to use Alt-Tab to locate that hidden window. I ended up typing in the ID since I wasn’t able to paste the ID in the box, Clicking NEXT opened an ‘Attach Source to Dolly Crawford’ window where I filled in why I was attaching this source.

When I clicked on Create & Attach, it added the source to Dolly Crawford [LLHZ-852] on FamilySearch.

Unfortunately, this process used ‘FamilySearch’ as the title of this source and not the actual title of the book it came from. The ‘Edit’ screen for this source displays what was filled in by RecordSeek.

Since this process is flawed, I decided to work with RootsMagic. I have a personally created template for FamilySearch county records. I modified that template for a digital book. Then, I added a new source for Dolly Crawford.

Then on FamilySearch, I edited the source created by RecordSeek so that it would have better information.

  • Added a standardized date
  • Replaced the ‘FamilySearch’ title with the actual title of the book (copy/pasted from RootsMagic
  • Copied the footnote from RootsMagic into the ‘Where the Record is Found (Citations)’ box
  • Copied the information I had transcribed into the ‘Detail Text’ source tab from RootsMagic into the ‘Describe the Record (Notes)’ box

Since I want the source information in TWO places, RootsMagic and FamilySearch, I likely won’t be using RecordSeek. Instead, I will use my templates in RootsMagic to create the source and transcribe the record. Then I will create a new source on FamilySearch and copy/paste the information into FamilySearch.

RootsTech Connect 2021

Saturday Night Genealogy Fun

Here is your assignment, should you decide to accept it (you ARE reading this, so I assume that you really want to play along – cue the Mission Impossible music!):

1) Did you attend the free and virtual RootsTech Connect 2021 this week? What was your favorite moment, experience, session, and/or feature?

Well, let’s say I tried to attend RootsTech 2021. That is before I had a Thursday afternoon appointment and ended up under the weather on Friday.

In my limited viewing, I

  • created my playlist of sessions to watch.
  • checked out many of the exhibitors in the Expo Hall Wednesday evening.
  • watched the Main Stage opening session on Thursday morning.
  • left the Main Stage to watch a presentation by the Library of Virginia.
  • forgot that the sessions were on YouTube and finally realized that I was watching older genealogy presentations when YouTube just kept going after the Library of Virginia presentation.
  • watched several of the FamilySearch sessions on Saturday.

But, my favorite moment has to be using Relatives at RootsTech. Yes, the concept of 88,907 relatives is beyond comprehension. But the app of my phone took about the top 300 of those and sorted them by common ancestor! Using that feature, I now have a spreadsheet of those contacts with their user name, relationship, and the common ancestors. On Wednesday, I sent a message to quite a few of those ancestors. Since my list has changed from Wednesday, I could make more connections.

So, why is this my favorite part?

One of those relatives is the great grandson of my great aunt. I haven’t heard back from him yet — but I’m going to keep trying to make a connection. Hoping that he is active on FamilySearch, I uploaded the pictures that I have of his great-grandmother to the tree.

Another of the relatives is a descendant of my 3rd great grandfather, Ozias Wells. When I got a response from this relative, I went digging in my files to locate the photocopy of the Wells family Bible. Even though most of the Wells family, including her branch, stayed in Michigan, the Bible found its way to Kansas. I’ve also uploaded this resource to the tree.

But the best part was seeing all of my 5th cousin descendants of my brick wall ancestor, James Crawford.

So, I have a full to-do list: watch all of the sessions on my playlist and work on connecting with these cousins!

Thank you RootsTech for this opportunity!

Sources Struggle Part 2

Have you ever wished for an ‘easy’ button when working on your genealogy? Well, I found a “button” that makes my struggle to add sources to someone on the FamilySearch tree easier.

One of my struggles is what appears to be a lack of order to the source listing.

While starting to add sources for my grandfather, I was curious about what the options button did. So I clicked on it.

That’s when I discovered the option to put the sources in chronological order.

Using this option, the sources are now in timeline order. However, sources that don’t have dates appear at the bottom of the list of sources.

If I click on the title of the source, the source expands and shows the various actions, including ‘edit’.

Clicking on the blue ‘Edit’, the source expands. I can see that the date field is empty.

When I enter the date (1942 for above source) and click save, the source is now appears in chronological order.

Now that I have the sources on FamilySearch in chronological order, I can scroll thru the ‘Edit Person’ screen on RootsMagic to locate facts in RootsMagic that don’t have a source on Family Search. (Note: I use two screens which makes this comparison much easier. I put RootsMagic on the left screen and FamilySearch on the right screen.)

With my grandfather, the newspaper articles and advertisements tell a story about his life not found in other records. Thus, the need to add them to FamilySearch. One of those sources is from a 1933 edition of the Emporia Gazette. Not only do I have the citation in RootsMagic, but I also have a transcription of the article.

On FamilySearch, I click on the blue ‘Add Source’ link. In this window, I add the date and create my title for the source. Then I copy the footnote from RootsMagic into the ‘Where the Record Is Found’ box. Since I have a trannscription in the details window of RootsMagic, I copy that and paste it into the ‘Describe the Record (Notes)’ box. Clicking save will add this source to the list of sources.

When I have an image for the source, I can click on ‘Add a Memory’ to get to the options to either upload a memory or to select one from the gallery.

Once the source is saved with the attached memory, an icon that looks like a photo will appear in the left column.

When I click on ‘view source’ a thumbnail of the attached image (memory) is shown.

Working with the two sets of information (RootsMagic and FamilySearch) side by side helps me see what sources are already attached and which events don’t have a source attached. The ability to copy/paste the footnote and the detail (transcription) from RootsMagic into the FamilySearch fields makes it easy to add the sources. Finding that option to sort the sources in chronological order was the key!

Sources Struggle

Do you struggle adding sources to the FamilySearch tree or is it just me? I’m not a member of their church and have only been using the FamilySearch website, including the tree, for about five years. Thus, I am still learning.

With the recently released Ancestor Discovery pages, I want to use those pages as one way to share my family history. Even though a casual viewer won’t be interested in the sources, other researchers will. So, I need to get past the struggle and figure out how I can get my sources onto FamilySearch.

Since I’m a RootsMagic user, I tried using the interface between RootsMagic and FamilySearch to upload these sources.

This is where my struggle begins. On this interface, I have a hard time figuring out whether one of my sources on the left is already on FamilySearch on the right. Once I manage to figure out a source that has yet to be added to FamilySearch, the window that opens up is the next challenge.

Since my sources could be attached to a variety of facts/events beyond the basics of birth, marriage and death, I don’t know what I’m expected to check. Then comes the ‘reason’ to attach, which I also struggle with. Once completed, the source now appears in the FamilySearch list on the RootsMagic interface.

In trying to figure out how I enter sources in RootsMatic impacts this interface, I noticed that the name of the source is how the source is listed in the RootsMagic list and how it is listed on FamilySearch once transferred. I also discovered that my ‘lumping’ tendancy hinders my ability to upload sources.

Instead of individual sources for each article in a newspaper, all of the articles from that newspaper are lumped together. Curious about how the way RootsMagic 8 uses citations, I wondered if RootsMagic 8 would lump the sources in the same way. When I looked at RootsMagic 8, the list of sources appeared to be the same.

Since one of my dad’s first cousins is active on the FamilySearch tree, I decided to see if I could learn anything from the sources she has added.

Studying sources she added as well as sources added by others, I noticed a pattern:

Name as listed in record followed by an abbreviated name of the record

The other thing I noticed was the date associated with each source. When I switched back to my grandfather’s sources page, I found that the date is not listed for some of the sources I transferred, while it is listed for other sources I transferred.

Thus, I don’t think the RootsMagic interface is the best way for me to transfer the sources in my file. So my other option is to use the ‘Add Sources’ page.

Using this screen to add a source allows me to add the transcription and add the media.

Using the add source screen would be easiest to use at the same time I’m creating the source in RootsMagic.

This is also how I will need to add all of my newspaper sources. Thus, I likely need to work with a report for the individual that includes the Endnotes to figure out which sources need added and reference back to the citation on RootsMagic so I can copy it to FamilySearch.

Using the ‘Add Sources’ screen will take longer to get my existing sources attached to my ancestors on the tree, but I understand that process. Thus, it will be less of a struggle.

Over 19,000

Have you attended RootsTech? I’ve never had the privilege of attending RootsTech, but I have been a ‘Not at RootsTech’ participant. This year, everyone will be a ‘Not at RootsTech’ participant by attending the virtual RootsTech Connect.

For those who were able to attend last year, they could use the “Relatives around Me” task on the FamilySearch app. This year, we can all take advantage of this technology.

To get to the screen informing me I have over 19,000 relatives who will be attending RootsTech, I simply clicked on the red ‘Join’ button at the top of the FamilySearch screen after I logged in.

I have to wait until Feb. 25th when RootsTech starts, but then I will be able to see how I am related to these other attendees.

This is just an added benefit of RootsTech. If you aren’t registered to attend, you might want to register.

It will be interesting to see what happens with all of these relatives! Join me so we can see if we are related.

Addendum:

The Site is LIVE!

There is a ‘See Relatives’ button that takes you to your relatives.

The ‘Relatives at RootsTech’ page has a list of relatives on the left with a map of where those relatives reside toward the right side of the page.

Of my over 25,000 relatives, I currently only have about 15 4th cousins or closer. The rest are 5th cousins or greater. Curious as to whether I am related to any of the ‘big’ names in genealogy, I did a search for DearMyrtle, Pat Richley-Erickson and found that we are 11th cousins. My connection is thru my WELLS line.

These results are similar to those on the old ‘We’re Related’ app: they depend on both parties having an accurate tree. So, I’ll admit right now: I don’t have my tree back that far! I have documentation back 6 to 7 generations.

So, for most of my numerous ‘relatives’, my tree doesn’t go back far enough to prove distant cousin relationships. Sorry! But it is fun to see who I might be related to!

Pondering

I recently wrote a blog post, Proving Death, based on two documents that I found in a military and pension file for an ancestor. As I was writing that post, I kept thinking about the fact that I have this folder full of images that will likely get lost when I no longer work on my family history. In addition, I have a lot of family photos going back generations.

Not wanting these documents or family photos to hit the recycle bin, I’ve been pondering where I could put them so others could also benefit from these photos and documents.

Since I have been sharing my work online for quite some time, my experience is causing me to question whether my current methods of sharing will be accessible in the future. Thus, I’ve been considering adding my photos and documents as memories on the FamilySearch collaborative tree. I was leaning toward putting the photos, etc. on FamilySearch since it is freely accessible. I also think it is the one site that will work to migrate these memories into the future as technology changes.

This decision to use FamilySearch as a way to share the family photos was finalized when I saw their Ancestor Discovery pages.

These pages are easily sharable and put the family information in a format that non-genealogist will understand. The thumbnails of the memories provide a glimpse into the attached memories. Viewers can easily access all of the memories from this page. (Note: users will need to login to a free FamilySearch account.)

So, I have started uploading more memories. I want to start with items that are buried in my notebooks and files that others may not have. This will include

  • Family Photos
  • Audio files of interviews
  • Birth, Marriage and Death certificates
  • Military and pension records
  • Homestead documents
  • Deeds
  • Wills and probate records

Yes, I have money invested in some of these documents. However, if an archive does not accept my genealogy files due to lack of space or funds to handle, then these same documents are the most likely items to hit a trash can.

Based on the Fan Chart colored to show the quantity of photos attached, it is obvious that I have my work cut out for me.

Ancestor Discovery

Have you heard about Family Search’s new feature called Ancestor Discovery Pages? I hadn’t heard of them until yesterday when I saw a Facebook post urging people to ‘google’ an ancestor’s name and check out the Family Search page.

So I did. I googled Judson Foster Crawford. The second site in the list had a familysearch.org URL. When I clicked on it I was thrilled at what I found.

This page is loaded with a variety of information and links including

  • a short biography.
  • photos and memories.
  • links to spouse and children.
  • links to parents and siblings.
  • a family time line.
  • sources.
  • meaning of the surname.
  • a world events timeline.

Since I hadn’t heard of this new feature, I searched for some background information. In early January, the FamilySearch blog post, “New Ancestor Discovery Pages Provide a Rich, Engaging Family History Experience,” introduced the pages. This blog post explains the various sections on the page. Toward the end of the post, details are provided on how to find an ‘ancestory discovery page’ for a particular ancestor.

  • Google ancestor’s name and significant dates and then look for a familysearch URL in the results
  • add the ancestor’s FamilySearch ID to the end of the URL “ancestors.familysearch.org/”
  • Use the Browse Surname Directory site to navigate thru the alphabetical listing of ancestors in the FamilySearch tree

These Ancestor Discovery pages depend on the collaborative efforts to add information to each person’s profile on the FamilySearch tree. In the example shown above, the photos and memories section is not blank because descendants were willing to upload their photos to the ‘Memories’ tab of a person’s profile.

However, the ‘Photos and Memories’ section is blank when descendants have not uploaded any photos or other memories.

There are icons on the right side of the header that makes it easy to share an ancestor’s page to Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp, or an email message. There is also an icon to ‘copy’ the link.

Unfortunately, a Facebook post is pretty boring since it doesn’t capture any of the page.

For me, these pages are a fantastic addition to the FamilySearch site! They will provide incentive for me to improve my contributions to the collaborative tree.

Media Issues

Have you seen DearMyrtle’s challenge?

When I first saw the challenge, I thought I should be in pretty good shape. After all, I scanned the family photos and attached them in my The Master Genealogist software several years ago. Since I’ve worked my way thru 5 generations of data review, I figured I should be set.

That was until yesterday when I was verifying descendants for a thru-lines DNA match on Ancestry. As I was working with a known first cousin twice removed, I decided to check FamilySearch to see if there were any additional sources attached to this cousin.

To my surprise, I found a slightly different set of parents than expected. I expected to find John Frederick Mentzer and Anna Wells Mentzer as the parents of a family of 8 children, including Mildred Mabel Mentzer. Instead, I found Fred Mentzer and Anna Wells Mentzer as the parents of one child, Mildred Mentzer. After digging thru my Mentzer records to verify that John and Anna did have a daughter named Mildred and that said daughter was married to a VanValkenburg, I merged Mildred and the two sets of parents.

Knowing that someone could object to this merger and undo the merge, I wanted to add supporting documentation to support the merge. Thus, I (thought I) added an image of the obituary for Fred Mentzer. The obituary clearly indicated that Fred Mentzer was also known as John Frederick Mentzer. It also listed the children and their residency at the time of Fred’s death. I also added a page from a Woodson County Historical Society publication that included a picture of the family when the children were young and a list of the children and their spouses.

Since my attempt to create an image of the obituary from a PDF file, did not include the entire obituary that attempt was a failure. Thankfully, I discovered the problem and have since uploaded an image showing the entire obituary.

Besides the images, I transferred 9 source records from my RootsMagic program to FamilySearch for John F. Mentzer. However, it is the images that connect the John F. Mentzer of Woodson County, Kansas to Mabel VanValkenburg of California. 

Thus, I’ve been thinking about DearMyrtle’s challenge and this experience with FamilySearch. Although I do some work with the FamilySearch tree, I primarily share my work via my Ancestry tree, Heartland Genealogy, and via my RootsMagic site. Thus, I was curious whether the images I have tagged in my RM database transferred to my Ancestry tree and/or my RootsMagic site.

What I discovered is that some but nowhere near all images have been uploaded to either location. I’ve also discovered that if I have already uploaded a source to Ancestry, any changes to that source are not uploaded to Ancestry. In other words, if I go back and add an image to a source, that isn’t seen as a change. Thus, the option to update the source is not present.

IN addition, I discovered that I have been lax in working with images in RootsMagic. I have tried to add an image or pdf file to my sources. For some reason, I was apparently assuming that the image was also being attached to the event and person. The lack of green check marks in the camera column proves that I was making an incorrect assumption.

Knowing that I obviously needed help with images, I’m re-watching the video: Pictures and Media in RootsMagic.

So, I obviously have work to do!
My plan of action is slightly different from DearMyrtle’s.

  • Work with one ancestral couple at a time
  • Verify that I have images attached to sources
  • When appropriate, attach an image to an event
  • Verify that I have photographs (already scanned and on my computer) attached to the individual with one photo selected as the primary image
  • Verify ‘Scrapbook’ report contents
  • Run RootsMagic’s TreeShare to update my Ancestry Tree
  • Download any photographs I’ve saved on Ancestry and attach to RM tree
  • Use RM’s ability to connect to the FamilySearch tree to upload sources to FS
  • Upload images to the ‘Memories’ section of FamilySearch
  • Verify that notes exist for an event and copy/paste into the NOTES on Ancestry.
  • Work thru the children of the ancestral couple, repeating the above steps

Thanks to Cary Bright who shared a checklist on DearMyrtle’s challenge, I can follow her lead and create my own checklist.

So, why am I going back over work I’ve already done (again)?

  • Improve accuracy of the data in my tree
  • Improve ability to connect with DNA matches
  • Improve quality of FamilySearch tree by sharing sources and images
  • Preserve images by having them on Ancestry and FamilySearch
  • Connect with other researchers
Join me and others in this challenge to update images! Another example of why a genealogists work is never done!

FamilySearch Tree and Sources

What are your feelings regarding the FamilySearch tree? Do you dislike it because anyone can change anything? Or, do you like it because of the ability to collaborate?

Even though I get frustrated with unexplained changes that don’t fit my conclusions, I like the FamilySearch tree. I like it because it is the one of the places where collaboration happens. When someone else makes a change to one of my ancestors that doesn’t agree with my research, I see the opportunity to collaborate. When this happens, I will often add a discussion item either questioning the change or explaining my conclusion. I also use the messaging tool to contact the contributor and inquire about their sources and reasoning.

My first encounter with this was when someone changed the birthplace for James Crawford [M9X2-NWS] and added parents. I was ecstatic! Someone had found the parents of James Crawford. They even attached a source! However, when I started studying that source in relation to everything else we knew about James Crawford, I realized that the source was for a different James Crawford and not for my ancestor. I let my discussion post sit there for a while before removing the parents, the source and restoring James’ birth date and place.

Yesterday, I was reviewing changes to individuals I monitor on the FamilySearch tree and found where a sibling of my 2nd great grandmother, Emeline Minnick [K8K7-NHW], was removed from the family. It took me a while to figure out the changes, but Emeline’s brother was merged with another male of the same name and ended up in a different family.

As I was reviewing my data to see if I had Wilson J. Minnick [LV86-BFV] placed in the wrong family, I realized that I had more information about the family than was visible to others. I have sources in my RootsMagic data that aren’t on the FamilySearch tree. I’ve found that to be true of many people in my database: I have more sources than are on the FamilySearch tree.

 RootsMagic has the capability to transfer my sources to FamilySearch. So why aren’t those sources attached? For me, I have a

  • hesitancy to add source because I don’t know how to tag it (Name, Gender, Birth, Christening, Death, Burial). Many of my sources place a person in a particular place at a particular time and have nothing to do with their birth or death. 
  • hesitancy to add source because I don’t know what is expected in the ‘reason to attach source’ box
  • reluctance to spend the time. I would rather be researching than adding sources to the FamilySearch tree.

Because of my reluctance to upload my sources to the FamilySearch tree, I know have to figure out how to separate two families that have been merged.

Thus, I’m plan to not worry as much about whether my reason for attaching a source is good enough and to spend more time uploading sources.