Genealogy from the perspective of a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon, LDS)

Sunday, August 20, 2017

Duplicate Ghost Records on the FamilySearch Family Tree

The Family Tree has come a long way since it began with its burden of the database and program. It has now been more than a year since the program was completely cut-off from the older program and we could begin to resolve the issue of millions of duplicate records. Because so many duplicate entries have been resolved, you might get the impression that duplicate entries were no longer a problem in the Family Tree. However, while working on the Family Tree, many of us who are doing intensive research still find significant numbers of duplicates.

When connecting new entries to or when searching for records using the link to, both of these programs will often show duplicate entries that are unable to be detected by a search using the resources of the Family Tree. In other words, there are still a number of "ghost" entries in the Family Tree that are undisclosed. In addition, as research reveals additional facts about a family it is fairly common to find additional duplicate entries of the family members.

One common source for finding these new entries comes when working with a family from England. I often find what appears to be a person who is not married. Some basic research soon produces a spouse. Further research shows that the couple had children. However, upon adding the names of the children, I find that individual ordinances were done for the children and are recorded in the International Genealogical Index (IGI). When I add those children into the family, I often find duplicates. The reason for this is quite simple. Since those children have never been included previously in the family, no one has ever done a search for duplicate entries.

There are also third-party programs that can assist in finding random duplicates. Even though I have been systematically checking for duplicates and merging them when appropriate, there is still a considerable number of duplicates out there waiting to be resolved. Here's a screenshot of the search using Find-A-Record, a useful utility program.

This list of possible duplicates was still produced after more than a year of work by me and my family to systematically attempt to resolve all of the duplicates in our lines. The first entry had an immediately identifiable duplicate. Here is a screenshot showing the duplicate entry from the Family Tree.

By looking at the history of this entry, it is evident that this record came from the nearly inexhaustible source of duplicates existing in the database. Since there has not been as much emphasis lately about the duplicate entries in the Family Tree, perhaps it is time to retrench and get back to the basic issues of the data set used by the Family Tree and remind all of the users that many duplicates still exist.

Friday, August 18, 2017

The Parade of BYU Family History Library Videos Continues Unabated

We like to keep busy at the Brigham Young University Family History Library. Summer at a university creates its own problems. Most of the students are on summer vacation and the academic schedule is difficult to plan around. I, for one, have also been out and about and I cut back on my usual load of videos but the other contributors more than made up the difference, especially Kathryn Grant and Bob Taylor. Here are the last five videos posted to our BYU Family History Library YouTube Channel.

Duplicates in Family Tree Part 1: Why They're There and How to Find Them - Kathryn Grant

Duplicates in Family Tree Part 2 How to Resolve Them - Kathryn Grant

Remember to subscribe to our Channel. The number of subscribers helps the videos become more visible on 

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

The FamilySearch Partner Tracks on The Family History Guide

The Family History Guide has undergone a major expansion. Learning Tracks for each of the three major Partner Programs have been added to the website. These Partner Tracks include,, and When you choose your Learning Track, the instructions in The Family History Guide are then adapted to the chosen website.

The idea here is that by choosing a different track, the Projects change and all the Goals and Choices reflect the chosen website. For example, by choosing the track, I get the following screen:

The red arrows indicate the logos that show you that you are working in the track of the website. If I change to a different track, such as, then the instructions change to reflect that website.

In case you get lost, just click on the link to the Home page and you will get back to the beginning.

This new set of instructions, added to an already valuable website, makes The Family History Guide the "go-to" place to learn about all four of these valuable genealogy websites. The website is in "Beta" release until November 15, 2017, so you can expect the changes and the content to expand.

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Where Are the Digitized Records on

Where are the Digitized Records on

A suggestion from FamilySearch got me started in making a short video showing where all the digitized microfilm records are going on the website. For some time now, I have been writing about the Catalog and its importance in the online research process. I guess my message is not getting much traction. I still find many people in my classes who do not use the Catalog to assist them and many more who have never even looked at it.

I will be writing more about the Catalog in the near future.

Monday, August 14, 2017

FamilySearch Facebook Post: Family History Centers are Now in the Home

The above graphic appeared on Facebook on August 13, 2017. It refers to a talk entitled, "Roots and Branches" given by Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in General Conference in April of 2014. Recent technological developments have underscored the fact that the "traditional" model of a FamilySearch Family History Center is undergoing a revolutionary change.

The most recent development, the discontinuance by FamilySearch of microfilm rentals to Family History Centers, removes one of the staple reasons for visiting and using the resources of the Family History Centers around the world. In reality, here in the United States, many of the smaller Family History Centers had very limited microfilm involvement in any event. Removing microfilm rentals from the Family History Centers will have an impact on the use of some centers by "serious" researchers. This result will be even more marked as the existing FamilySearch microfilm collection is finally completely (as possible) digitized and available for free online.

For the average person, living in a well-developed country, with access to the internet and who has previously done little or no family history research, online and home-based sources are perfectly adequate to find the first four generations or so. But, any attempt to extend a pedigree beyond the first few generations requires resources that are not readily available or even reliable without additional effort.

For example, a child born into my Tanner family lines and who is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will automatically have six or seven generations of extensively documented ancestry on the Family Tree. For that child to do any reliable extensions of any of the Tanner family lines would require intense and involved research. However, that may not be the case for the non-Tanner family lines. To support this changing situation, the U.S. Family History Centers will need to move to a support and training mode.

When we had a large yard and many fruit trees, the "low hanging" fruit was the first picked and the first depleted. It usually did not take very long before we had to spend considerably more effort to find ripe fruit using chairs and ladders. The same thing will inevitably happen with those working on the Family Tree. The "low hanging" fruit, i.e. those people who are easily found with readily available resources will soon be found. The only real way that progress will ultimately be made after this first gathering, will be to have people who are prepared and trained in finding and resolving the more difficult research issues.

Let me give an example. Let's suppose I was just starting out doing my own genealogical research today as opposed to 35 or so years ago. I could go onto and I would see thousands of the names of my ancestors on all my family lines. How long would it take me to figure out which of these thousands of entries were correct and which were wrong? Would I even suspect that what was showing in the Family Tree was both incomplete and in many cases inaccurate? True, I would have a huge reservoir of resources, but how would I know where to start and how to find additional opportunities to add to what was already there?

The answer, in part, is the new paradigm of the "Consultant Planner." However, this model also assumes that the "trainers" have been and are trained. For many years after I began doing my own genealogical research, I had to puzzle out the way to proceed on my own. I had no trainers or mentors. I am also guessing that most, perhaps nearly all, of the current involved genealogical researchers went through a similar process. Today, I would have access to The Family History Guide. But how would I know it existed? Last night, I taught a class to approximately 30 Temple and Family History Consultants and from the reaction of those present, very few were aware of any of the resources I talked about during the class.

I agree that much of the genealogical research that has been traditionally done in Family History Centers can now be done in the home. But how will those sitting in their homes know about the resources that are available? How will the Ward and Stake Temple and Family History Consultants know enough to teach them?

Sunday, August 13, 2017

The Impact of the Microfilm Issue

People continue to express concern over the recent announcement about the discontinuance of microfilm shipments from FamilySearch. See "FamilySearch Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm." So, during the past week, I started taking an informal poll of those attending the classes that I taught. I probably asked about 100 people who were interested enough in genealogy to come to a class on the subject. Many of these people were experienced researchers. My question was simple: how many had viewed microfilm during the past six months? I then extended the question to a year or more. What was the response? I am guessing that there were fewer than five people who responded positively to my questions.

The reality of genealogical research today is that almost all of what is passing for "research" is being conducted online using primarily the basic records, such as census records, vital records, and cemetery records. Most of my classes this week, included looking at entries in the Family Tree and analyzing the content. With very few exceptions, the sources supporting the entries looked essentially like this list:

In short, the entries were confined to the three categories I outlined above. None of these entries require even thinking about microfilm. Here, in this example, there are no records at all substantiating the birth, marriage or death of this individual.

In my recent trips to Salt Lake City to visit the Family History Library to use their microfilm collections, I see the same trend. In years past, the microfilm readers were the center of activity in the Library. In recent years, when I have been viewing microfilm, I hardly see anyone else using the machines. The reality is that much of the information that had to be extracted from microfilm in the past is now freely available online in digitized format. Unless the researcher is highly experienced and looking for an extensive variety of records, there is no longer and need to resort to microfilmed records.

Personally, I am still very much involved in microfilmed records. But then again, I clearly realize that I am part of a vanishingly small minority of researchers. As shown by my very limited and informal poll, very few people involved in family history today will even notice the change in the availability of microfilm. Now, before you write and tell me about your own particular need for microfilm, please take the time to search and see if your own needed microfilm has not already been digitized and is available online in one or the other of the large genealogy programs.

Friday, August 11, 2017

New Developments Coming in The Family History Guide

New Developments in the Family History Guide - Bob Taylor

In a rather short video, Developer Bob Taylor of The Family History Guide has outlined the new features that are currently being added to the website. Essentially, the website is being expanded to add different Learning Tracks for the Partner Programs:,, and

If you have been waiting to use these valuable programs because you didn't know where to start, I suggest you take a few minutes to see what is now available on The Family History Guide website.