Some people eat, sleep and chew gum, I do genealogy and write...

Thursday, June 29, 2017

FamilySearch on Recipes and Food
If I had started a food or recipe blog instead of writing about genealogy, I would probably be rich and famous. But then again, I don't know much at all about cooking and I do not think a lot about food. My most remarkable food achievement is frying eggs for breakfast. On the other hand, writing about a popular topic such as food has its advantages. seems to have finally figured out that recipes and food are a big draw and they have added a food section to the website.
Unfortunately, this is another section the website that you can't get there from here. There is no permanent link to the Recipe page from the startup page. There is, however, a dynamic link that may appear on your version of the homepage.
But if I sign in, the link disappears. I also cannot find the link in the FamilySearch Site Map. I guess this recipe section will join a number of other obscure and unlinked pages that have appeared on the website for a while such as and other such pages that are floating around out there. It might be helpful if FamilySearch gave us a list of all these extra added attractions to their website.

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Investigating the Levels of File Backup and Storage for Genealogists -- Part One

The main idea of backing up your computer files is to make separate copies of your files in different venues, i.e. places where the files are stored. The primary device is the one creating the file. For example, you take a photographic image of your family at a reunion. If you use your digital camera (the primary device creating the image), the image is stored in the camera's memory or on a flash memory card (the venue). What happens if you lose your camera? You lose all the photos stored in your camera. What happens when you take enough photos to "fill up" the memory storage capacity of your device (either the camera's memory or the storage card)? You either have to erase some of the photos or transfer them to another venue (storage device). If you are using a storage card such as an SD Card, you could buy another card and replace the one in your camera.

If you did this, you might have one or more "full" SD cards stacked on your desk or in a drawer. Once again, if the card (which is very small) is lost, all of the photos are lost. Putting a fresh card in your camera just allows you to take more photos, it does not backup the photos already on the first SD Card.

You could, and should, connect your camera to your computer. Some computers, such as mine, have an SD slot available and all you have to do is take the card out of your camera and insert it into the slot and copy the photos onto your computer's hard drive. In other cases, you may need a cable or some special adapter to connect your camera to your computer to make a copy of your photos. Some newer cameras come with WiFi and you can transfer your photos to a folder on your computer without a visible, physical connection.

So now you have two copies of your photos; one on the original SD card and one on your computer. If you are like me, you then erase your SD card to use it again rather than buying an endless series of cards.

What happens if your computer crashes or the file is somehow lost. You are back to space one, you have lost all your photos. If you still have the full SD card, you could copy the photos over to your computer again. But if you have erased your SD card to reuse it in your camera, you have permanently lost your photos.

Now, let's focus on the photos you have copied to your computer. The photos are only a part of all the information that is on your computer from research to scanned images of documents and everything else you have been working on. Computer crashes are real. I have been through several over the years. OK, before I write about backing up your computer, let's start over again with your camera.

Let's suppose you are using your smartphone as a camera. This is a perfectly good option and from watching people at the Brigham Young University, I am guessing most people now rely more on their phones for photos than a separate camera. Your smartphone may or may not have a separate SD card memory. Let's assume it does not. If you love to take photos of yourself and your family, you will quickly fill up the memory of your smartphone. If your smartphone has an SD slot, you could buy a few of these memory storage cards. Hmm. We are right back where we were before.

However, with your smartphone, you have another option. You could simply upload your photos to some online photo storage provider. Many people upload their photos instantly to Facebook or Instagram. However, these are not really storage venues, they are social networking programs. They may "store" your photos, but what if you want to retrieve them from Facebook or Instagram (or some other website). Do you know how to do that?

This whole process seems to be getting pretty complicated. Oh, by the way, Facebook does have an option to download the photos. This means that you could end up with the photos on your own computer.

The idea here is that a "file" (in this example a photo) is created by a particular electronic device (in this extended example a digital camera or a smartphone) and then begins its progress to preservation and storage.  In future posts in this series, I will write about how the file is best preserved and stored.

Stay tuned.

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

Post Microfilm Genealogy

How many of you out there have used a microfilm reader in the past year? I am sure that the number of people using these devices has dropped precipitously over the past few years. I have seen the number of microfilm readers in the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah, drop year after year and the number of people hunched over the images have now been replaced by people using computers.

My first introduction to doing research on microfilmed records was over thirty years ago. Recently, I have been using microfilmed record directly from the microfilm consistently since the records I need to search are not yet available digitally online. I just counted the order slips in my pile and I have ordered 32 rolls of microfilm since I started doing research at the Brigham Young University Family History Library in addition to looking at the rolls that were already in the Library. I would guess that this is an exception to the rule.

Microfilm, like reel-to-reel tape decks, cassettes, and eight-track tapes is just another obsolete recording media. Despite its central role for genealogical researchers over the years, its time has passed. By the way, CDs and DVDs are on their way out also. We will accommodate the changes and very quickly forget these media formats even existed. The apparent impact on genealogists is more of a reflection on the genealogical communities overwhelming reactionary attitude rather than the change will have over time. The increased immediate availability of digitized records will have a much greater immediate impact on genealogical research than all of the microfilm has had since its inception.

Rather than worry about the fact that microfilm is disappearing, perhaps we should focus more on the millions upon millions of records that are appearing online daily, weekly and monthly.

Monday, June 26, 2017

Official FamilySearch Press Release re: Discontinuing Microfilm Shipments

In an official press release dated June 26, 2017, announced that it would be discontinuing the shipment of microfilm to users as of September 1, 2017. The last day for ordering microfilm will be August 31, 2017. Here is the text of the Press Release.
FamilySearch, a world genealogy leader and nonprofit, announced today its plans to discontinue its 80-year-old microfilm distribution service. The transition is the result of significant progress made in FamilySearch’s microfilm digitization efforts and the obsolescence of microfilm technology. The last day for ordering microfilm will be August 31, 2017. Online access to digital images of the world's historic records allows FamilySearch to service more people around the globe, faster and more efficiently. See Finding Digital Images of Records on and Frequently Asked Questions.

A global leader in historic records preservation and access, FamilySearch and its predecessors began using microfilm in 1938, amassing billions of the world’s genealogical records in its collections from over 200 countries. Why the shift from microfilm to digital? Diane Loosle, Director of the Patron Services Division said, "Preserving historic records is only one half of the equation. Making them easily accessible to family historians and researchers worldwide when they need them is the other crucial component." 
Loosle noted that FamilySearch will continue to preserve the master copies of its original microfilms in its Granite Mountain Records Vault as added backup to the digital copies online. 
As the Internet has become more accessible to people worldwide over the past two decades, FamilySearch made the decision to convert its preservation and access strategy to digital. No small task for an organization with 2.4 million rolls of microfilm in inventory and a distribution network of over 5,000 family history centers and affiliate libraries worldwide. 
It began the transition to digital preservation years ago. It not only focused on converting its massive microfilm collection, but also in replacing its microfilm cameras in the field. All microfilm cameras have been replaced with over 300 specialized digital cameras that significantly decrease the time required to make historic records images accessible online. 
FamilySearch has now digitally reproduced the bulk of its microfilm collection—over 1.5 billion images so far—including the most requested collections based on microfilm loan records worldwide. The remaining microfilms should be digitized by the end of 2020, and all new records from its ongoing global efforts are already using digital camera equipment. 
Digital image collections can be accessed today in three places at Using the Search feature, you can find them in Records (check out the Browse all published collections link), Books, and the Catalog. For additional help, see Finding Digital Images of Records on
Transitioning from microfilm to digital creates a fun opportunity for FamilySearch's family history center network. Centers will focus on simplified, one-on-one experiences for patrons, and continue to provide access to relevant technology, popular premium subscription services, and restricted digital record collections not available to patrons from home. 
Centers and affiliate libraries will coordinate with local leaders and administrators to manage their current microfilm collections on loan from FamilySearch, and determine when to return films that are already published online. For more information, see Digital Records Access Replacing Microfilm.

The End of Microfilm Distribution from FamilySearch

For some time now I have been "writing around" the topic of the end of microfilm distribution from Well, the day has finally been announced when the distribution will end. The above message appeared in the Family History section of Here is the text of the announcement:
Family History Microfilm Discontinuation 
On September 1, 2017, FamilySearch will discontinue its microfilm distribution services. (The last day to order microfilm will be on August 31, 2017.) 
The change is the result of significant progress made in FamilySearch’s microfilm digitization efforts and the obsolescence of microfilm technology.
  • Online access to digital images of records allows FamilySearch to reach many more people, faster and more efficiently.
  • FamilySearch is a global leader in historic records preservation and access, with billions of the world’s genealogical records in its collections.
  • Over 1.5 million microfilms (ca. 1.5 billion images) have been digitized by FamilySearch, including the most requested collections based on microfilm loan records worldwide.
  • The remaining microfilms should be digitized by the end of 2020, and all new records from its ongoing global efforts are already using digital camera equipment.
  • Family history centers will continue to provide access to relevant technology, premium subscription services, and digital records, including restricted content not available at home.
Digital images of historical records can be accessed today in 3 places on under Search.
  • Records include historical records indexed by name or organized with an image browse.
  • Books include digital copies of books from the Family History Library and other libraries.
  • Catalog includes a description of genealogical materials (including books, online materials, microfilm, microfiche, etc.) in the FamilySearch collection.
When approved by priesthood leaders, centers may continue to maintain microfilm collections already on loan from FamilySearch after microfilm ordering ends. Centers have the option to return microfilm that is available online or otherwise not needed. As more images are published online, centers may reevaluate whether to retain microfilm holdings.
From talking to some Family History Center Directors, I know that some centers have been told to return all of their microfilm to Salt Lake City. Unanswered questions include the following:

  • What about the availability of microfilmed records that are not presently digitized and will not be digitized until some time in the next three years?
  • What happens to the present availability of the microfilm collection at the Family History Library in Salt Lake City, Utah?
  • How much longer will microfilm readers be available in the Family History Centers?
There are probably a lot more questions. I have also been writing for some time about the future of Family History Centers given that the research done in the Centers will "all be online" in the future. But that is a post for another day. 

Sunday, June 25, 2017

LInk to Obituary for Ruth Ellen Maness

Here is the link to the obituary for Ruth Ellen Maness.

Race, Ethnic Communities, Genealogy and DNA

Throughout history, racial and ethnic disagreements have been a driving force in starting wars. During my lifetime, millions of people around the world have lost their lives as a result of "ethnic cleansing" and racial strife. In the United States, racial conflict is a constant and ongoing theme. Underlying this racial tension are beliefs based on supposition, speculation, and incomplete and inaccurate oral tradition. One outstanding fact that is starting to emerge from the widespread genealogical DNA testing procedures is that for almost everyone, both racial and ethnic purity are illusions.

The above chart has nothing at all to do with DNA testing. It is a chart showing the composition of my ancestors by country of origin taken from the Family Tree. Am I Engish? Am I Irish? Am I Danish? Or am I something else entirely? I can claim to be partly American back to the beginnings of European settlement, but does that make me a native American? What happens when I add DNA to the mix from

How much "Italian blood" do I need to claim to be Italian? How did I get Italian DNA? Who are my Middle Eastern ancestors? What happened to my ethnic purity? If there is a racial conflict between any of these groups, whose side am I on? I have "white" friends who would have been subjected to intense segregation in the southern part of the United States if their DNA testing results had been known showing that they had more than "one drop of Black blood." Because I have Middle Eastern ancestors will I be subject "ethnic profiling" and questioned when I board and airplane in the United States?

Does the fact that I share over 98% of my DNA with chimpanzees make me a monkey? See "Animals That Share Human DNA Sequences" Perhaps the 90% of my DNA that I share with mice makes me a mouse.

In the past, genealogy has been used to "prove" racial purity. What we are learning today is that any idea that someone is "racially pure" is an illusion. We are all one huge human family and we only differ from our animal and plant cousins by very small percentages of our DNA. If there is one thing that comes out of the extensive genealogical DNA testing is should be that the concept of "race" is destroyed.