Friday, August 3, 2012

Follow-Up Friday - Helpful and Interesting Reader Comments

It's Friday, so I'm highlighting reader comments and questions and offering my, um, unique, views in response.

1)  In Source Citations Created by Mobile App (2 August 2012):

*  GeneJ asked:  "Being an over 50 iPhone user, do I dare ask if there is an "edit input" screen?  I consider myself reasonably tech savvy. Still, I wanna know if other folks do much actual input on their phone devices. My thought is that I wouldn't want to type much in if I couldn't later later track it down and edit."

My response:  I don't see any way to edit the source citation on the smart phone.  The Hint shows the publisher information, but no source citation information is provided.  When you click on the Source in the ancestry Member Tree, you are taken to the record summary with the usual record citation.  Only in Family Tree Maker 2012 synced to the ancestry Member Tree, do you see the poorly crafted source citation that says it was created by the App.

*  Louis Kessler asked:  "I'm curious Randy. How long (say in minutes), would the procedure take to do.

What if a person wanted to do 100 such entries for various people in their tree? Would it take 100 times as long, or are there shortcuts they could take that would save them time?"

*  Russ Worthington commented:  "As you may remember, I spent some time on this topic. Here is where I ended up:

"Use of a Template

"The only difference in the Citation (Reference Note) using an FTM2012 Template and the Evidence Explained! (page 248) is in two "fields" in the Reference Note. 

"FTM2012 has "Population Schedule" followed by the Jurisdiction, while Evidence Explained has the two reversed. The FTM 2012 would look like this.

"1940 U.S. census, population schedule, Kansas, Morton County, Rolla; enumeration district 65-6; sheet number 3-B; family number 57; Lines 47 - 49; Harold Figart Worthington household; NARA microfilm publication T627, roll 1248; digital image, (

"Louis: The Time depends on 1) how you capture the Data, 2) do you have a Citation already (that would be a household citation, 3) Do you have that Source already in a Template and you are adding a Citation, 4) you have to create the Source, then add the citation.

"So, can't really answer how much time 100 people would take.

"Also, in FTM2012 we have a choice of Census Year or Census Year and Location (State and county). I chose the later. The probable average time per person (without doing a Web Merge (FTM2012 feature) would probably be a minute / person may be less. BUT the Citation is in the correct format."

My response: Thank you to Russ for responding to Louis's question.  I ran a little test to see how long it takes to create a master source, and a 1930 U.S. census citation using that master source, and also to find and use the master source again.

a.  Creating a new Master Source:  90 seconds (assuming I had a web page with the information)

b.  Creating the Source citation:  90 seconds (assuming I had the digital image on hand to review)

c.  Finding and using the Master Source:  7 seconds

So, the time depends if you have already created the Master Source, and have all of the necessary census citation information at hand (roll number, state, county, town, ED, page, dwelling, family, name, etc.)

To create 100 source citations for the 1930 census might take on the order of 100 seconds each, or about 167 minutes if you can concentrate for that long (plus whatever time it takes to find the record with the citation information.  Of course, the user may have it all written down somewhere!).  To create 100 different source citations in, say, 10 different record sets, would take 183 minutes of source citation creation time, but you would probably have to spend time finding each record to obtain the citation information.

*  Saskey asked:  "Do I recall correctly that the "transcriptions" for the UK census are less detailed than those found on the site?"

My response:  I don't know, since I don't have a subscription.  Perhaps a more knowledgeable reader can answer the question.  I thought that the UK census transcription that I showed in Searches - Post 2: English Census Records  was pretty extensive.

*  Tolley Family Historian noted:  "Many parish records are simply not available to any commercial organisations. The originals are often deposited in local county record offices and archives who are often reluctant to allow access for filming due to the fragility of some of the records. Many local government organizations see their role as being to preserve first and giving access is only a secondary consideration. There are also copyright issues or permissions that need to be obtained - many churches entered into convoluted agreements with local authorities years ago which forbade the distribution and copying of records etc. The coverage of many counties is also piecemeal and fragmentary at best - many records were kept in local churches for many hundreds of years and have suffered from water, vermin and fire."

*  Caroline Gurney offered:  "Don't be surprised, Randy. There are a very large number of parish registers, covering the period from 1538 to the present day. It will take many years for them all to be digitised and indexed. I am actually surprised at how many have come online over the past couple of years. 

"One problem is that the main players all aim at the same targets, so they all focused on the censuses first, then the GRO indexes to births, marriages and deaths from 1837 onwards and are only now turning their attention to parish registers. If one of these companies had focused on parish registers from the outset, they would by now have a great USP."

My response:  Thank you to Tolley Family Historian and Caroline Gurney for offering their perspectives.  I obviously lack their historical perspective, and appreciate their sharing it.

*  Aillin offered:  " I have been told that the site world collection so far only has 80% of the UK records from including only transcripts of the Military Pension records (not the actual record images as on This may be similar for I was told via email that the remaining UK records will be added later. "

My response:  I think you're right - there may be more records coming online in the near future.  I was also told that in email.  Therefore, we need to check later to see what has been added.  My hope is that there will be a set of Canadian records also.  My hope is also that there will be more record collections for the United States.

*  Geolover said:  "Regrettably, Y-DNA can not identify a specific common ancestor who is not tested. It cannot verify even sincerely held beliefs in paper records. Neighborhood Philanderer could sire two or three children of a woman married to someone documented. Brother and paternal uncle of husband might be actual parent of sons commonly believed to be sons of husband. And so forth."

My response:  I think what you're saying is that the link of President Obama to the Bunch line is not through this Y-DNA line, and the assertion that he has this link is based on the paper line being correct, which no one can state with absolute certainty.

*  Cormac noted:  "Now we know what Ancestry has been spending our subscription fees on."

My response:  They are making profits, and that is good.  They, as a company, choose what to spend their resources on, and Pro Genealogists is one of their resources.  Did they do this research on their own?  Was there a political angle to this particular issue?  Someone may have hired ProGenealogists to perform the research, in which case Ancestry received compensation for it.  We don't know.

5)  On has a New Look (27 July 2012):

*  Anonymous commented:  "For military history research, the changes are simply horrendous.  Last week with the old search features I made note of the total search hits on a subject they were adding new images to. On July 20, I got 809 matches. Now, using exactly the same criteria, I get 510. That's progress?

"My research interest is mainly in WWII weapons. Now, when I revise the search criteria, it takes me back to the main screen. It does not allow me to select WWII and return to that subject. Believe it or not, there were no bazookas in the Revolutionary War, but I have to reselect WWII anyway. What software can you think of that makes navigation a one way street? 

"When you go back after enlarging a thumbnail, it does not take you back to where you were and it doesn't highlight the previous selection. I have to write down where I was before. This is unbelievably primitive. Maybe I should look for my abacus.

"In the entire history of computer software, developers have striven to maintain backwards compatibility. I have lost most of the functionality that served me so well under the old search."

*  David Williams of Fold3 responded:  "Randy, thank you for reviewing our new search capability on!

"As to the Anonymous comment, without the details we can only speculate, but the reduced number of matches is quite likely due to our no longer showing each individual page of a document as a match, but grouping them by document. The results page will now give a count such as '108 matches in 56 results'.

"We will have a patch out this week to fix the disappearing category selections when a user revises the search criteria. That was a bug we did not catch earlier.  As always, please contact our support line if you run into problems."

My comment:  Thank you to Anonymous for highlighting those issues, and to David for responding to the image count issue and for committing to fixing the disappearing category problem.

That's it for this week's readers interesting and helpful comments.  I appreciate my reader's comments and hope that they continue.

The URL for this post is:

Copyright (c) 2012, Randall J. Seaver


David Newton said...

On the parish register issue again England and Wales are completely separate from Scotland. has a very, very extensive parish register collection.

For England and Wales the best coverage of actual images and indexes is a combination of Ancestry, Findmypast and Familysearch. Individual family history societies have also produced extensive indexes, and quite a few of those, although far from all, have found their way onto Findmypast.

Findmypast have a deal with the Federation of Family History Societies where many of the databases that were on the FFHS subscription site which folded a few years ago and was merged into Findmypast.

No one site has a complete parish register index and set of images for England yet. Findmypast does have a deal with the National Library of Wales which will see it have an essentially complete set of register images and indexes for Wales when completed.

Considering individual areas of England Findmypast has fully indexed images of Westminster, Cheshire, the Plymouth area, and images of the Canterbury area which will get an index a bit later this year. Ancestry has fully indexed images of the rest of the London area outside Westminster, Dorset, Warwickshire, the Liverpool area, the area of Lancashire covered by the Lancaster portion of its archives and West Yorkshire. Familysearch's images can be difficult to get to due to the ridiculous copyright situation referred to in the main post. They have indexes of Cheshire, Derbyshire, Dorset, Essex, the Manchester area, Norfolk and Warwickshire. They have images of Cornwall, Durham, Kent, Norfolk and Northumberland. At the moment live Familysearch indexing projects include more of Derbyshire and Dorset and Sussex.

Outside of the big three images of registers in the Medway area of Kent and of Essex parish registers can be found on independent sites either associated with a family history society or council.

Rumours are that Surrey will find its way onto Ancestry at some point in the future, but beyond that I don't know. Familysearch will of course keep working through indexing more and more of their microfilms. I reckon it will be at least a decade before a reasonably complete indexed set of English parish registers can be found online. That is due to the sheer volume of work involved and the number of jurisdictions involved. Still that will be a remarkable situation and the current way things are is, like so many things in genealogy, a vast improvement on even 5 years ago.

ColeValleyGirl said...

Findmypasts's collection of Welsh parish registers will not include all that are available -- some parishes have declined to have their records put online, e.g. Llanbeblig. There is a list of these parishes at

And of course, Wales is also difficult because of the high proportion of non-conformists, and the paucity of non-conformist registers available. FamilySearch has indexed those non-conformist registers that were centrally deposited, or they can be searched at the following pay-per-view site: but very many of them are still in the care of the relevant congregation or -- most likely -- lost without trace.

David Newton said...

In my opinion those Welsh parishes that have opted out are being silly. I have not heard any information about why they have opted out? Is it royalty rates for the images? Is it some kind of misguided dislike of genealogists?

I know there were some parochial church councils that would not allow the Mormons to film registers for religious reasons. I really hope that attitude has not persisted against Findmypast as it would be fundamentally wrong and completely pointless as Findmypast is not a Mormom organisation.

From my perspective the naysayers are simply cutting off their own noses to spite their faces.

Louis Kessler said...

Re: The time it takes to enter a citation:

100 seconds!? I would think it would take much less time to enter the actual event or fact itself. That is what people are trying to enter, but the citation then becomes a burden on them ... slowing them down in their attempts to enter the data.

There needs to be methods added to speed up the citation entry. It needs to somehow provide you with suggestions or drop-down lists once you've typed a few letters.

Whatever is done, the process must be simplified to take no more than 20 seconds or it will not only discourage sourcing, but will discourage the entering of the data altogether.


GeneJ said...

@ Louis,

I'm sure you have heard this from me before. Why should it matter if it takes me 10 seconds or 10 minutes?

For that matter, we don't all practice genealogy the same way why should ALL of us have to agree on one procedure for the purpose of recording our sources in order for there to be interoperability?

I take the time necessary to understand the source--for it IS the basis of the actual "facts" themselves.
If technology can speed up the process, then that is great, but in my work, sources are not cookie cutter critters.

As I recall, the point of Geir Thorud's work was to say that we don't have to all do it the same way--it's possible to have an inclusive standard that supports interoperability.