Thursday, November 27, 2014

My Mayflower Connections - Soule, White, Warren, Cooke, Brewster, Hopkins and Fuller

I've posted before about my own connections to passengers on the Mayflower that landed at Plymouth in New England in December 1620.

Here are my blog posts for each core Mayflower ancestor (with the names of my Pilgrim ancestors in parentheses):

*  My Mayflower Connections - 1. George Soule (George Soule)  

*  My Mayflower Connections - 2. William White (William White, Susanna (--?--) White, Peregrine White)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 3. Richard Warren (Richard Warren)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 4. Francis Cooke (Francis Cooke, John Cooke)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 5. Stephen Hopkins (Stephen Hopkins, Constance Hopkins)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 6. William Brewster (William Brewster, Mary (--?--) Brewster)

*  My Mayflower Connections - 7. Edward Fuller (Edward Fuller, Ann? (--?--), Samuel Fuller)

See the 2012 post on this topic to see how I answered the reader comment:   "Why are you boasting about your Mayflower ancestors?  Are you trying to show that you are a better researcher than the rest of us?  Or that these passengers were somehow special?"

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

I Am So Thankful...

--- for my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

--- for my wonderful loving wife, Angel Linda, who makes every day, and every meal, special.

--- for my two beautiful and smart daughters, and Tami's husband, who work so hard to do so well in order to live securely and happily.

--- for my five precious grandchildren, so innocent and with so much potential, and so much fun to be with.

--- for my enthusiastic father, who provided a large New England ancestry to research, and passed on an undying love for the games of baseball and football.

--- for my loving mother, so patient, supportive and kind, who saved so much family history and whose ancestry provides such fascinating research challenges.

--- for my brothers, their wives and children, who are interested in the family history and remember more than I do about our growing up years.

--- for my grandparents and earlier ancestors, who worked hard, played by the rules, raised healthy families, and provided a firm foundation for their children.

--- for my aunts, uncles and cousins, who opened their homes and their hearts and shared their memories.

--- for the brave passengers on the Mayflower and other early ships who colonized New England, and instilled a republican form of government based on personal freedom and responsibility.

--- for the immigrants that populated our country, diversified our culture, worked hard to succeed, and are woven into the country's fabric.

--- for the courageous citizens who revolted to secure our freedoms, and created the institutions that are the foundations of the USA.

--- for the soldiers, sailors, marines and pilots, of every historical time, who have defended our country and kept us safe and free.

--- for the entire Constitution and Bill of Rights - especially the freedoms of speech, religion and assembly. I am awestruck that the Founders wrote such a magnificent set of documents that have stood the test of time.

--- for educational opportunities, whereby every and any person in this country can be the best that they can be, but they have to really make an effort.

--- for the free market and free enterprise economic system that encourages and rewards work and innovation, and has allowed me and my family to enjoy the fruits of our labor.

--- for the marvels of science and engineering, that drive our health, transportation, communication and entertainment industries.

--- for the wonders of nature that beautify our world, inspire us and occasionally overwhelm us.

--- for my genealogy society colleagues, genea-bloggers, blog readers, Facebook friends and Google+ circle members who challenge, educate, encourage and appreciate me.

--- for,,, GenealogyBank, Mocavo, Geni,  MyHeritage, FindMyPast, AmericanAncestors, Find A Grave, and other genealogy websites that provide online databases to explore into the wee hours of the night.

--- for genealogy software that organizes our family structures and provides incredible reports and charts to share with our families

--- for repositories that collect, preserve and provide papers, photographs, books, manuscripts and artifacts to expand our research.

--- for genealogy conferences, societies, magazines, books and newsletters that inform and educate us.

This year, I am really thankful for good health and the joys of going out to dinner with my wife on Thanksgiving (so she doesn't drop another frozen turkey on her toes and have to cook it.)

What are you thankful for on this 152nd Thanksgiving holiday?

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 3: Alford Family

Noted geneablogger James Tanner wrote Building a Pedigree From Sources -- The Ultimate Challengeon his Genealogy's Star blog on 22 November 2014.  See the post for more background.

I wrote The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 1: Crawford Family on Monday,  I was able to take the paternal half of the ancestry of Betty Lee Crawford back four more generations using only leaf Hints and judgment.  Yesterday, I wrote The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 2: Meyers Family and was unable to find any other records about the three known persons in the census record.

1)  In this post, I'm going to try to do the same thing with another family - the Louise L. Alford family - in the 1940 U.S. Census.  I used a neighbor of my great-grandparents in San Diego, California - actually a renter residing in 2123 30th Street, one of the properties owned by my great-grandparents.  

Here is a screen shot of the census page from

I have highlighted Jeanine Louise Alford on the screen above.  The household consists of:

*  Louisa L. Alford - head, female, white, age 38, a widow, born in Ohio.
*  Jeanine Louise Alford - daughter, female, white, age 9, single, born in California.

After entering Louise and Jeanine into the Ancestry Member Tree, I had only one green leaf Hint - for the 1930 U.S. Census that identified Charles R. Alford, born in about 1905 in North Carolina as the husband of Louise.  After four days, there were no more green leaf Hints.  I thought I was stuck on essentially empty for this family line.

2)  Today, I decided to Search for records for Charles, Louise and Jeanine.  I struck out on Louise and Jeanine - they may have died, may have moved away from California, or may have married someone and not left much of a trail in Ancestry's online databases.

I had more luck with Charles R. Alford.  There were more records for a man with that name born about 1908 in North Caroline, including the 1920 census, 1910 census, California death index, a Find A Grave record and several Ancestry Member Trees where he was a son without a spouse.  Using those records, I was able to go back three more generations in about an hour of work.

Although the 1940 U.S. census says that Louise Alford is a widow, there is a California death record and a Find A Grave memorial for Charles Ransom Alford who died in Los Angeles County, California in 1982.  There are several City Directories in the 1950-1960 time frame where Charles R. Alford has a wife named Virginia in Southern California, so he may have married again.

Here is the Family View of the Ancestry Member Tree I created, using just leaf Hints and judgment, for Jeanine Alford:

Here is the Pedigree Chart for Jeanine Alford showing the bare ancestry of her mother.

3)  If I only used Hints after I created the persons in the Member Tree, I would say that I struck out on this investigation of the ancestry of Jeanine Alford and her parents.  If a client had come to me saying that Jeanine was her mother or her grandmother, I would have asked for information about the family so that I could find more information about the parents and Jeanine herself.

However, performing a Search on for the father provided enough records, which led to Suggested Records and Hints, to help me fill out the Alford portion of the tree.

4)  So I've done three of these "Ultimate Challenge" searches, and have had a good experience with the first one, a total shutout with the second, and had to work to succeed on the third one.

I have done one more study already, and am considering doing more over the next few weeks.  To obtain a decent statistical percentage of tests like this - i.e., to be able to say that Ancestry leaf Hints can be used to find your ancestry 67.4% of the time - I would have to do several hundred.  Right now the number is 67% plus or minus about 20%.

The URL for this post is:  

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

First Look at RootsMagic 7 WebHints

I posted RootsMagic 7 is Now Available - with WebHints (FamilySearch and MyHeritage) last night and mentioned the new WenHints feature.

Note that you need to have a MyHeritage data subscription and a MyHeritage tree (and a tree subscription also if you have a large tree), and be registered with FamilySearch (free) in order to use the RootsMagic WebHints effectively.  You will have to be logged into the two sites in order to obtain the WebHints.

1)  The first thing I did was check the Help function in RootsMagic 7 to see what it says about WebHints.

2)  From the Pedigree, Family or Descendant View in RootsMagic 7, the WebHint "light bulb" is on the right side of the person's name.  Here is a Family View for one of my ancestors:

Do you see the "light bulb" to the right of the person names on the screen above?  That is the "WebHint" indicator.

3)  I clicked on the WebHint indicator for Frank Walton Seaver:

The WebHints screen shows me that there are 15 total Hints in Family Search;  of these, 5 are pending, 9 are already confirmed, and 1 is rejected.

4) I clicked on the "Pending" FamilySearch Hint number ("5"), and my browser opened the FamilySearch Family Tree page for Frank Walton Seaver, showing the Pending Record Hints:

I clicked on the first one, reviewed the information, and attached the record to Frank Walton Seaver.  I will do the remainder later.

5)  I closed the FamilySearch tab down, and back in RootsMagic, I closed the WebHints screen, and then opened it again to see:

As you can see, the "Confirmed" number for the FamilySearch profile has increased to 10.  But the "Pending" number stayed at 5 for some reason.

6)  On the screen above, I clicked on the MyHeritage "Pending" number link and my browser opened into my MyHeritage tree:

There were three Record Matches for Frank Walton Seaver on the MyHeritage screen above.  I reviewed and confirmed (with the check mark) all three of them.

7)  I closed the MyHeritage browser tab down, and closed the RootsMagic WebHint window, and then reopened the WebHints for Frank Walton Seaver:

The screen above shows that the 3 MyHeritage Record Matches are confirmed - in MyHeritage.

8)  Note that nothing has been added to my RootsMagic database (except the Light Bulbs).  No Events were added using these WebHints.  No source citations were created using these WebHints.  All that was changed was the number of Confirmed (or Rejected) Record Hints in FamilySearch Family Tree, and Confirmed (or Rejected) Record Matches in MyHeritage.

If the Record Hints in FamilySearch, or the Record Matches in MyHeritage, were new events for me, I could have captured a document image from the website, added an event to my RootsMagic database, created a source citation for the event (citing the appropriate website), and attached the downloaded Media item to the person and tagged it to the Event.

This is probably the most efficient way to add a Record Hint to the FamilySearch Family Tree, and a Record Match to my MyHeritage family tree.  I can go through my RootsMagic database one person at a time and add these Hints and Matches to the website trees rather than doing it within the website trees.

9)  Some potential issues:

*  I don't know why the FamilySearch "Pending" number did not reduce by one when I confirmed a Record Hint.

*  I don't know if I have to shut down the browser window in order to record the Confirm/Reject (I guess that I don't), but I think I do have to close the WebHints window in RootsMagic and then reopen it in order to see the changed Pending/Confirmed/Rejected Hint/Match count.

10)  I will look at other new features in RootsMagic in later posts.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

Register Now for San Diego Genealogical Society January Seminar with D. Joshua Taylor

The San Diego Genealogical Society's (SDGS) Family History Seminar is Saturday, 10 January 2015, in the Captain's Room at Marina Village (1936 Quivira Road) on Mission Bay in San Diego.  The seminar will be from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Information about the seminar can be found here:

The featured speaker will be D. Joshua Taylor, whose presentations will be:

Session 1: Bridging the Gap: Finding Ancestors in the United States between 1780 and 1830.
Session 2: The Modern-Genealogist: Timesaving Tips for Every Researcher.
Session 3: Our States Archives: Digital Collections and More.
Session 4: New Tools and Ideas in Research.

D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS is the President of the Federation of Genealogical Societies and a nationally known and recognized genealogical author, lecturer, and researcher.  He has been a featured genealogist on the hit PBS show, Genealogy Roadshow and NBC’s Who Do You Think You Are? with Sarah Jessica Parker, Ashley Judd, Reba McEntire, and Rob Lowe.

We are honored to have D. Joshua Taylor, MA, MLS, as our speaker and his sessions will be held in the Captain's Room at Marina Village.  The fee for this event is members $40 and for non-members $50.  This price includes four sessions by our speaker as well as the welcoming coffee/tea and pastries and a sandwich box lunch.  We have invited Elijah's Catering as a new partner to provide coffee/tea and boxed lunches. Remember Marina Village has free parking.

Please register early as seating is limited. We expect the seminar to fill rapidly.  The registration form is here.

Randy and His Girls at the Beach -- Post 335 of (Not So) Wordless Wednesday

I am posting family photographs from my collection on Wednesdays, but they aren't "Wordless" - I am incapable of having a wordless post.

Here is a photograph from the Marion (Seaver) (Braithwaite) Hemphill family collection handed down from my Aunt Marion in 2000 after her passing.

When Aunt Marion came to San Diego to visit in 1982, we took her to the beach - she wanted to dip her toe in the Pacific Ocean.  I think we went to the Silver Strand State Beach in San Diego because it provided easy access to the sand and the water from the parking lot.  It was also our favorite beach to jump the waves, build sand castles, bury kids in the sand, hunt for shells, find sand crabs, etc.  And it had bathrooms and a snack bar nearby.

The photo above shows me in the background joyfully working on a sand castle with my daughters, Lori and Tami.  The girls loved the beach, and have extended their joy to their children also.  

This may be the only swimsuit picture I have of myself!  I was skinnier in those days!

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

RootsMagic 7 is Now Available - with WebHints (FamilySearch and MyHeritage)

RootsMagic 7 genealogy software has been released and can be purchased at the website - check on "Store."  If you're a new user, it costs $29.95, if you are updating an earlier version it costs $19.95.

I downloaded the program tonight as an update, received my registration key via email, and had it working within about two minutes of pressing the Download button.

The RootsMagic website says that the updated features in Version 7 include:



  • RootsMagic automatically searches your favorite genealogy records sites including FamilySearch and MyHeritage for possible matches to your data
  • As matches are found, a light bulb appears next to each person's name
  • Clicking on the light bulb opens up a web browser with the matching records (some records may require a subscription)
WebHints  WebHints  WebHints


  • NameClean finds and corrects many common problems in personal names in your file
  • PlaceClean finds and corrects many common problems in place names in your file
NameClean  NameClean PlaceClean  PlaceClean

Compare Files

  • Compare any two RootsMagic files and display their differences
  • Share data between the compared files with the click of a button
Compare Files

Publish Online

  • Publish your family information to
  • Dynamic, database-driven sites with pedigree, family and individual views for each person
  • Can include notes, sources, and media for each person
  • Password protect your site to control access to your family data
  • See a sample website
Publish Online  Sample Website

Import Lists

  • Like to customize your files? Import lists of fact types, media, places, and more from another RootsMagic file to save time and effort
Import Lists

Backup and Restore with Media

  • Optionally include your media when you backup or restore your database
Backup and Restore with Media


  • See which groups a person belongs to with the click of a mouse
  • Check and uncheck a person's groups from a single screen

Drag-and-Drop Media

  • Drag-and-drop pictures and other files right onto a person's media screen to add them quickly

I will have to explore the WebHints later this week.  The WebHints are for MyHeritage and FamilySearch records that can are pushed to the software - a light bulb is shown when there is a WebHint.  For instance, here is a screenshot from my database:

See the yellow light bulbs on the right side of the person's name?  Those are the Web Hints.  I had to use this family because there aren't many WebHints on the earlier families!

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

RootsMagic Adds MyHeritage Matching Technologies for Powerful Automatic Research Capabilities

This press release was received today from MyHeritage:


TEL AVIV, Israel & SPRINGVILLE, Utah – November 25, 2014: MyHeritage, the popular family history network, and RootsMagic, Inc., today jointly announced that MyHeritage’s Smart MatchingTM and Record Matching technologies have been integrated into RootsMagic’s latest version of its popular genealogy software. This enables RootsMagic users to discover the life stories of their ancestors thanks to highly accurate matching between their family trees and millions of family trees and billions of global historical records available on MyHeritage. 

RootsMagic, first released in 2003, is an award winning genealogy program for documenting and preserving family history. Its latest version 7, released this week, includes among its highlights a new feature named WebHints powered by MyHeritage matching technologies that transforms the program into a powerful research tool. WebHints also include hints from genealogy website FamilySearch for authenticated users. Information sent by RootsMagic to MyHeritage for matching is never collected or shared, and is deleted after matching to ensure the complete privacy of RootsMagic users and their data.

MyHeritage enables millions of families around the world to discover, share and preserve their family history on the MyHeritage website, mobile apps and desktop applications. In addition, MyHeritage is well known as a technology innovator. Its flagship technologies, 

Smart MatchingTM and Record Matching, which generate automatic discoveries based on MyHeritage’s huge international database of family trees and historical records, are sought after within the family history space. Leading genealogy organizations are partnering with MyHeritage to integrate these technologies into their products.

“MyHeritage matches are a very exciting feature”, said RootsMagic, Inc.’s Vice President, Michael Booth. “It was like magic to me when the WebHints were first wired into RootsMagic and I opened my file and saw all the matches appear. I spent hours exploring and discovering newspaper articles, certificates, and records that I had never seen before. Our initial testers are also reporting that they have been having so much fun exploring the MyHeritage matches that they have had to pull themselves away to test the other features.”

“We’re thrilled to provide RootsMagic – an acclaimed genealogy software among the most popular in the USA – with our powerful matching technologies” said MyHeritage’s Founder & CEO Gilad Japhet. “This partnership will significantly accelerate discoveries for RootsMagic users and will expand the tremendous reach of MyHeritage.”

This announcement follows other integrations of MyHeritage matching technologies by British genealogy software, Family Historian and Dutch genealogy services Aldfaer and Coret Genealogie. Available on MyHeritage and through a wide set of partnerships, MyHeritage matching technologies have become the de facto standard for automatic discoveries for everyone interested in their family history.

About MyHeritage

MyHeritage is the leading destination for discovering, sharing and preserving family history.  As technology thought leaders and innovators, MyHeritage is transforming family history into an activity that’s accessible and instantly rewarding. Its global user community enjoys access to a massive database of historical records, the most internationally diverse collection of family trees, and ground-breaking search and matching technologies. MyHeritage is trusted by millions of families and provides them an easy way to share their story, past and present, and treasure it for generations to come. MyHeritage is available in 40 languages.

About RootsMagic, Inc.

For over 20 years, RootsMagic, Inc. has been creating computer software with a special purpose - to unite families. One of its earliest products, the popular Family Origins software, introduced thousands of people to the joy and excitement of family history. That tradition continues today with RootsMagic, its award-winning genealogy software which makes researching, organizing, and sharing family history fun and easy.


The URL for this post is:

The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 2: Meyers Family

Noted geneablogger James Tanner wrote Building a Pedigree From Sources -- The Ultimate Challengeon his Genealogy's Star blog on 22 November 2014.  See the post for more background.

I wrote The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 1: Crawford Family yesterday,  I was able to take the paternal half of the ancestry of Betty Lee Crawford back four more generations using only leaf Hints and judgment.

1)  In this post, I'm going to try to do the same thing with another family - the Frances Meyers family - in the 1940 U.S. Census.  I used a neighbor of my great-grandparents in San Diego, California - actually a renter residing in 2119 30th Street, the address where I lived from 1947 to 1968.  

Here is a screen shot of the census page from

I have highlighted Virginia Meyers on the screen above.  The household consists of:

*  Frances Meyers - head, female, white, age 48, widow, born in Washington.
*  Virginia Meyers - daughter, female, white, age 25, single, born in California.
*  Marcella Meyers - daughter, female, white, age 20, single, born in California.

The indexing gave the surname as "Theyere" - I read it as Meyers.  FamilySearch indexed it as Meyers.  The first letter of Meyers does not look like any other M on the page, but it doesn't look like a T either.  I think the enumerator overwrote with the M.

2)  I entered these three persons into an Ancestry Member Tree, and added a husband for Frances named "Meyers," since she was a widow and the daughters seem to be her offspring.

A few minutes after entering the names, I received no green leaf Hints.  Three days later, there are still no green leaf Hints for any of them (I took the screen shot above today).

Apparently, there are no birth, marriage, death, census, family tree, or other record types hints for the three persons in the 1940 U.S. Census entry in databases.

3)  I decided to do a Search for all three of these persons using the "Search Records" link on the profile page for Frances:

Here are the results - note the search criteria in the left-hand column, and 1,372,477 matches (two screens shown):

I didn't look at all 1,372,477 matches because I know that the best matches are almost always in the first 50 matches.

I found no other record that showed Frances with a spouse and a daughter named either Virginia or Marcella.  I found no other record for Virginia or Marcella either.  Based on what I knew (name, age, birthplace), I searched for these three females, in selected databases:

*  1930 U.S. Census
*  1920 U.S. Census
*  California Birth Index, 1905-1995
*  California Marriage Index, 1949-1959, and 1960-1985
*  California Death Index, 1940-1997
*  Find A Grave index (only for Frances)

I also checked GenealogyBank, which has an excellent San Diego newspaper collection, and found nothing in the 1940-1980 time frame.

I searched FamilySearch records and found only the 1940 U.S. Census above.  There are no entries for these three persons in the FamilySearch Family Tree.

By searching in databases, I did find one City Directory for San Diego in 1941 that listed Frances Meyers residing at 2119 30th Street.

Evidently, during or after World War II, these three females either died, or married, and/or left San Diego and moved to another state where there are no online vital records on

4)  If I only used, I would say that I struck out on this investigation of the ancestry of Virginia (and Marcella) Meyers.  If a client had come to me saying that Virginia was her mother or her grandmother, I would have asked for information about the family so that I could find more information about Mr. Meyers and Frances.

5)  So I've done two of these "Ultimate Challenge" searches, and have had a good experience with the first one and a total shutout with the second.

I have done two more already, and am considering doing more over the next few weeks.  To obtain a decent statistical percentage of tests like this - i.e., to be able to say that Ancestry leaf Hints can be used to find your ancestry 67.4% of the time - I would have to do several hundred.  Right now the number is 50% plus or minus about 40%.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

Tuesday's Tip - Has Free Databases

This week's Tuesday's Tip is:  The website, which is a subscription site, has some FREE online databases. is the website of the New England Historic Genealogical Society (NEHGS), located in Boaston, Massachusetts.  Their emphasis is New England and New York.  There is a large collection of searchable databases behind their subscription wall, but there are some FREE searchable databases.

You can find them at (two screens below):

The FREE searchable public databases (no guest registration required) include:

*  NEHGS Library Catalog
*  Massachusetts Vital Records to 1850
*  Boston, MA: Taking Records, 1800
*  Suffolk County Court of Common Pleas -- Index and Abstract of Cases, 1756-1776
*  Middlesex County, MA:  Index to Probate Records, 1648-1909
*  Middlesex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1648-1871
*  Essex County, MA: Probate File Papers, 1638-1881
*  Jewish Cemetery Association of Massachusetts
*  Sharon Memorial Park Cemetery
*  Armenian Immigrant Marriages in MA, 1880-1915
*  Family Tree Samplers

There are Guest Databases (requires a free guest registration), including:

*  New England Ancestors Magazine
*  American Ancestors Magazine
*  Rhode Island Roots
*  Massachusetts Society of the Cincinnati
*  Gloucester, MA: Burials
*  Ware, MA Families
*  Mass. Historical Data Relating to Cities and Towns
*  Social Security Death Index
*  New York Wills, 1626-1836
*  Index to Revolutionary War Pensioners
*  Irish Immigrant Advertisements, 1831-1920

The current short-term Guest Databases (requires a free guest registration) include:

*  Rhode Island Vital Records, 1636-1850
*  Connecticut Vital Records to 1870 (Barbour Collection)
*  Early Families of New England
*  Western Massachusetts Families in 1790

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2-014, Randall J. Seaver

Monday, November 24, 2014

The Ultimate Challenge - Building a Family Tree From Sources - Post 1: Crawford Family

Noted geneablogger James Tanner wrote Building a Pedigree From Sources -- The Ultimate Challenge on his Genealogy's Star blog on 22 November 2014.

1)  In his blog post, James makes the points that:

*  Traditional genealogy began with a pedigree chart and a search for names. From my experience, nearly all beginning researchers start out the same way. They begin filling in names and they follow the suggestions from countless books, classes and websites that teach the Research Cycle.

*  It is past due time to revise this traditional approach and realize that it is no longer necessary... [an alternate way is] building a pedigree strictly from sources.

*  Today, [John] Doe can go onto any one of several online database websites and begin by filling out his name and his parents' names on a pre-constructed family history form. He could use, or other programs. 

*  If he is using either or or, all he has to do is enter a minimal amount of information about himself and his parents and perhaps a name or two of grandparents. The programs then begin to suggest sources for further information.

2)  Is this correct?  Is it foolproof?  What about "proving" your research?  My answers are:

*  Yes, it is correct.  A person can often build an online family tree and the tree provider can provide records for persons in the tree - for example, leaf Hints, or MyHeritage Record Matches, or FamilySearch Record Hints.  

*  No, it's not foolproof.  You may get stuck and have no leafs, hints, or matches.  Or you may get only one more generation back.  It all depends on the names and data entered, and whether there are records available or other researchers with trees with those persons in them.

*  "Proving your research"  is really a concept that beginners usually have no understanding of, but if they continue they eventually should come to understand that they need to cite their sources, look in other resources, consider the evidence collection for each conclusion made, etc.

3)  However, in my opinion, it is a viable way to start a family tree, and to find records and relationships for ancestors in a relatively quick process.  The records found are "low hanging fruit."  Finding other records for persons and their life events in other resources may be a longer process.  

One problem is that the leaf Hints an and Record Matches on MyHeritage requires a subscription.  Building an Ancestry Member Tree is free, and building a small tree on MyHeritage is also free.  Adding information to the FamilySearch Family Tree is free, as are the Record Hints for persons in the tree.

This online family tree process may "hook" beginners on finding out more about their family history. That is good for the beginner, for their family members, for local repositories, for local genealogical societies, and for online data providers.  It's a win-win for almost everybody for a relatively small amount of money.  

4)  I decided to try it out.  I couldn't use my own ancestral families, since I already have online family trees that would be easily found.

I chose persons born between 1900 and 1940 who were in the 1940 U.S. census.  Those would be representative of parents and grandparents of persons interested in starting genealogy research today.  I used the San Diego County census pages near those of my grandparents.  

Initially, I chose four census entries.  I may do more in the future.  I will write a separate blog article about each census entry.

My plan was to chose a person, create a new Ancestry Member Tree (kept private), enter as much information as possible from the 1940 U.S. census record, and then follow the green leaf Hints that provides nearly instantaneously.  How far back could I go? 

5)  Here is the 1940 U.S. Census page for the Earl Jas. Crawford family in San Diego, California:

I started with Betty Lee Crawford (granddaughter of head, age 5 months born in California), whose parents were Lowell A. Crawford (son of head, age 29 born in Minnesota) and Betty R. Crawford (daughter-in-law of head, age 18 born in Illinois), and Earl Jas. Crawford (head of family, age 57 born in Minnesota) and Eva A. Crawford (wife of head, age 59 born in Minnesota).  This gave me three generations to start with.

Here is the Family view in my new Ancestry Member Tree:

After just a minute or two, I received green leaf Hints for Lowell A. Crawford and Earl James Crawford.  There were no Hints for Betty R. (--?--) Crawford, mother of Betty Lee, or for Eva A (--?--) Crawford, mother of Lowell A. Crawford.

I clicked on the Hints for Lowell A. Crawford - there were 6 Unreviewed Hints:

There was a Hint for Ancestry Member Trees, one for the California Death Index, a U.S. City Directory for San Diego, a 1940 Census record, a 1920 Census record, and a Find A Grave record.

There were two existing Ancestry Member Trees with Lowell A. Crawford in it:

I could select one or both of the trees and click on "Review selected tree hints" to add names and events to my new tree.

At this point, I don't know if any of the information in these existing trees are correct, but they do have all of the information that was in the Hints for Lowell A. Crawford, and have the parents correct.  I added the family members to my tree (mainly siblings of Lowell), and then did the same for his father Earl James Crawford and his mother Eva A. Crawford.  The information provided birth and death dates for Lowell and Earl, and information on his mother, Eva Adelle Jennings.  I was able to go back two more generations on both the Crawford and Jennings lines in a short period of time.

I accepted all of the Hints except for some of the Ancestry Member Trees.  By accepting the Hints, events were added to each person, and a Source was added for each of the Events accepted.

I stopped there, although there were leaf Hints for all four of the earliest generation, and for siblings of the direct line:

If there had been no existing Ancestry Member Trees, I would have been able to add most of the information above from the leaf Hints provided.

However, there were no Hints for my starting person, Betty Lee Crawford or her mother Betty R. (--?--) Crawford.  So further research in other resources (family, repository, online) is necessary to find information about them.  There is a chance that the daughter Betty is still alive.

All in all, this effort took me about one hour - but I knew what I was doing.  What I did was not a new process for me.  I have been making and using Ancestry Member Trees for years.  

6)  In this first example, the process worked really well.  I was able to add two generations in one line in a short period of time.  If I was working with a client, I think that they would be somewhat overwhelmed and pretty happy with what was found.  I would emphasize that more information was required to draw conclusions about each of the names, dates and places - birth, marriage and death certificates, other census records, cemetery records, obituaries, military records, family records, etc.  But its a pretty good start on  a family tree.

In a real case with a client or colleague, they would probably have at least some family information, such as a Bible, vital record certificates, newspaper clippings, or living relatives that they could glean information from.

7)  I will do another one of these each day this week trying to uncover problems and find benefits to building a pedigree with sourced information.  

I won't do a similar process with MyHeritage because it takes some time for their search engines to find Record Matches for persons.  I may check out the FamilySearch Family tree to see if this family (starting with Lowell and Betty R. (--?--) Crawford) is included.  

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver

New or Updated FamilySearch Record Collections - November 16-22, 2014

I'm trying to keep up with the new and updated record collections at FamilySearch (  As of 22 November, there were 1,853 record collections on FamilySearch (up 3 from last week).

Here are the 10 new or updated collections for the week of 16 November to 22 November 2014:

*  Utah, Weber County Marriages, 1887-1938; Browse Images, added or updated 21 Nov 2014

*  Massachusetts, Boston Crew Lists, 1917-1943; 140,843 indexed records with images, added or updated 21 Nov 2014

*  Washington, County Records, 1803-2010; Browse Images, added or updated 20 Nov 2014

*  Michigan Obituaries, 1820-2006; 69,395 indexed records with images, added or updated 19 Nov 2014

*  Idaho, Southern Counties Obituaries, 1943-2013; 67,646 indexed records with images, added or updated 19 Nov 2014

*  Tennessee, White County Records, 1809-1975; Browse Images, added or updated 18 Nov 2014

*  Pennsylvania Obituaries, 1977-2010; 99,894 indexed records with images, added or updated 18 Nov 2014

*  Montana, Lake County Records, 1857-2010; 35,202 indexed records with images, added or updated 18 Nov 2014

*  Montana, Sanders County Records, 1866-2010; 5,416 indexed records with images, added or updated 18 Nov 2014

*  Find A Grave Index; 124,060,301 indexed records with images, added or updated 16 Nov 2014

Unfortunately, it is difficult to tell which collections are brand new and which ones are updated.  The asterisk they use is for "Recently added or updated."  I am particularly interested in new collections, for the obvious reasons.

In order to select a specific collection, go to and use the "Filter by collection name" feature in the upper left-hand corner.

Each one of the collections listed above has a Research Wiki page (use the "Learn more" link).  It would be very useful if the Wiki page for each collection listed the dates for when the collection was added as a new collection and the major updates also.

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Copyright (c) 2014, Randall J. Seaver